"Songs of staggering beauty to soothe the soul and guitars to make you swoon:
Witness return to wow us with their second album"
With new record "Under A Sun" released to staggering reviews, Wigan's
Witness have every reason to feel pleased with themselves. Since their debut
"Before The Calm" was released back in 1999, their blissed-out rock has
captured the hearts of many - everyone from Jools Holland (they appeared on
Later...) to American Pie II (new song "Here's One For You" appears on the
soundtrack). Along the way, they also managed to pick up another guitarist,
Julian "Jazz" Pransky Poole to play alongside Ray Chan and singer/guitarist
Gerard Starkie when the band relocated to Bristol.
Jazz takes up the story.
Julian : "I joined the band on the tail end of the first album campaign.
John (Langley - drums) had said that they needed an extra pair of hands and I
could play the piano, but I really couldn't at that point. Their accents then
were really strong and I couldn't understand what key they were telling me
the songs were in so, I'd usually just stop half way through a chorus or
something because I got so embarrassed by asking them to repeat themselves,"
Guitarwise though, what's it like for Ray playing with Jazz?
Ray : "It's great actually," he nods. "Although when we were recording the
album, it was a hard job for the producer because there's so much going on.
He had to sit down and say "I can't hear the vocals over the guitars," so we
had to tone it down a bit. It's just whatever works for the song, just giving
them some space."
Julian : "There was so much guitar going on at one point; Gerard bought a
distortion pedal and a Gibson Firebird and I thought we were going to turn
into AC/DC!" he laughs. "We had to lose a lot and in so doing gain a lot. You
get emotionally attached to certain lines that you've been playing for over a
year and it's quite sad to see them go, but it's got to be done."
Despite this six-string editing, the guitar parts on "Under A Sun" are still
plentiful and prominent throughout. "Here's One For You" is just one of the
tracks that contains some great slide moments...
Ray : "The slide parts came in because Al (Clay - producer) was saying that
the track needed something a bit extra. I'd had the part for 18 months and
the band wouldn't let me play it but Al was like "That's it, That's it!","
So what about Witness album # 3 : will the REM / American Music Club /
Jayhawks influences pervade?
Julian : "We haven't started writing any new material yet as we've just been
on tour and concentrating on the live stuff. As for whether it'll sound the
same as "Under A Sun"..."
Both ponder thoughtfully before Ray says,
"I don't know, I think a change is good. It'll be interesting to see what
Julian : "Gerard has written about a dozen songs. They're on a similar vibe.
But the next time we record, we're going to think a little bit more before we
put something down. Not just throw 101 ideas at it... that way we can play it
live from day one."
Ray takes it one step further.
Ray : "We're probably going to do some kind of hip-hop or jazz fusion. Or
we'll grow beards and stand around with sitars."
He's joking we think. In truth, we'd prefer Witness stay just the way they