Last week California trio L.A. Witch conjured their strong, second release Play with Fire via Suicide Squeeze Records. The band — guitarist/vocalist Sade Sanchez, bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English, packed the record with reverb-heavy, grunge, punk rock’n’roll, multiple elements of rock history and seemingly effortless cool. We caught up with Ellie to talk about the new album and surviving quarantine.
Hey there! How’s your day going?
It’s going really well other than getting a flat tire!
Oh no! Sorry about the tire! Could you introduce yourself to any of our readers who might not know you?
Hi! I’m Ellie English and I play drums in L.A. Witch
Where are you right now?
I’m at home in Los Angeles.
You’ve done almost non-stop touring in the last few years. How are you feeling about being grounded?
It feels really good to be home for a while. Being in one place allows some time to practice the activities I can’t do while touring. I actually get to enjoy my garden and spend lots of time with my family and animals.
How did quarantine affect the completion of the album?
Luckily it didn’t! We had the album finished before the world shut down. It has been hard to practice and meet up with each other since the pandemic started though. We also lost our regular practice space because of COVID.
What is your writing process?
Usually someone will come up with an idea, like Sade may have a guitar part or Irita a bass line, and we just jam on it. Each of us brings our own ideas and we start creating a structure together. Somewhere in the middle of forming the song and adding a structure, Sade will add in lyrics and then after jamming some more and working out the parts a song is created.
What is the overarching theme of Play With Fire?
I think lyrically Sade was able to communicate a lot. Social issues, personal triumphs and tribulations, and even motorcycles. Musically, each of us has such an extensive taste. The album shows a lot of love for different genres and it shows our personal growth together as well.
Who are your musical influences for this album? While the album overall is reverb-heavy punk/ grunge rock, I also hear surfer-rock, blues, country and psychedelic tones.
It’s really hard to say because I listen to so much random stuff. I feel like I found myself thinking a lot about The Stooges. I was also thinking a lot about Hal Blaine who, at the time, had recently passed away. I also find that my friends and bands we tour with can be really inspiring. We had just done a quick tour with Mad Walls and their drummer John has the coolest style. Also Steph from The Coathangers is always amazing to watch. I get drum inspiration from a lot of people. There are a lot more people I could add. I’m not sure what specifically influenced the album but I know it’s always inspiring being around creatives and great musicians.
Have you taken on any new hobbies in the last months? What’s your go-to when the world seems even more insane than usual?
I took a Spanish class. I’ve been doing lots of random stuff – mostly sewing and messing around on the drums. I’d say my go-to when the world seems a little too crazy is tv shows that I love and always make me laugh like Metalocalypse, Living Single, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Golden Girls, Home Movies and so on. Also just working out, playing drums or sewing helps me focus and get my mind off the things that may be bothering me. I find the best thing to do when trying to change focus is to take on something completely new that I haven’t tried before. Like building something, reading a new book, researching something or drawing.
Finally how do you take your coffee?
I like it hot, always! And with a little bit of cream or milk (almond or oat or coconut), whatever is available.