Hellwitch Interview With Patrick Ranieri

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When I recently saw that Hellwitch was going to be doing a 6 date mini tour and was going to be playing the “Syzygial Miscreancy” album from 1990 in it’s entirety I reached out to old-time pen pal and fellow band member Pat Ranieri (whose formed the band) for this incredible interview…..thrash those necks….

Hellwitch Interview

So you grew up in Florida if I’m not mistaken right? What was that like? What did you want to be when you were growing up?

PR: Yes I sure did! Moving to FL from outside Chicago it was bizarre not having snow and being hot 8 months out of the year! Also, kids in FL were wilder than back in IL! I remember my bike got stolen and a couple of other things that NEVER happened back in Chicago Heights! It was cool riding bikes to the malls and hanging out! I didn’t have that in IL! Also, there were concerts all the time 15 miles from my house in Hollywood, FL. at the Hollywood Sportatorium! The place was legendary! Growing up, I had NO idea what I wanted to do! I just knew I was going to college after high school! I had very strict parents and that’s what they dictated! And I did!

What were the first sorts of styles of music did you listen to? When did you discover heavy metal? What were some of the 1st bands that you heard and listened to you and do you like any of them these days?

PR: I had a 7″ record “box” that was my older brothers’! I used to sit in the basement and listen to the different singles. I remember CC Ryder, Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond-Chris), and some other kind of upbeat stuff! Can’t remember names. I always liked the faster, upbeat music! Not the slow mellow shit! I don’t know. I heard Black Sabbath on Don Kirshner’s Rock Power comp. LP that I bought at Osco Drugs when I was 9! Also on that same album, I heard Alice Cooper, BTO, and Doobie Bros! haaa! (BTO and The Doobie Brothers rule-Chris)

I found Led Zeppelin in 5th grade (1974). Then found Kiss in ’76! Then Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Scorpions, etc. around ’77-’78! I still like just about all these bands except for the Doobie Bros (Gack!). (I love em ha ha-Chris)

What event or events led to you discovering the underground? What were some of the 1st bands that your ears heard haha? Was it something you liked right away or did it take a few listens to get into it and then you were hooked?

PR: GOOD question! I was at Recordland in the Hollywood Fashion Center Mall in ’81 and was looking at Scorpions albums! The guy that worked there with kind of long hair (Joe) came up and started talking music! He shows me MORE “Warhead” and tells me to check it out! I did! Joe gave me his number and said he had all kinds of heavy music! I went to his house within a week and he was a UG scene pioneer!

He had Venom, AngelWitch, Raven, Blitzkrieg, all kinds of import albums, etc. I was fuckin DEAD! He said to bring over blank cassettes and he would dub me up! BAM! I was off and running! Some of it was….how can I put this…..okay, it was very odd hearing not-so-good production and songs that were not really like the records I was buying at the record stores! So, I didn’t like some bands at first because it sounded a bit rough. And VENOM! I was a bit afraid of VENOM! I told my one friend about Joe’s place and I remember saying, “There’s this one band, Venom…they’re satanic! It kind of freaks me out!” But, in a SHORT time, any discomfort/uncertainty went out the window! I was IN!!!! I started spreading the word to my friends and all the stuff I had on cassettes caught on like wildfire! Then, along came “No Life Til Leather” and that just blew the lid off for me! Coolest thing I had ever heard in my life! Dave’s solos were EXACTLY what I wanted to emulate! Still one of my all-time favorite recordings. (I was the same way after a few listens of the Underground, I was hooked and wanted more, more, more – Chris)

What led to you deciding to want to play guitar? Do you think you’re a good guitar player and what are some of your favorite guitar players?

PR: Kiss and Led Zeppelin! My first real guitar was a ’77 Gibson Les Paul. I chose it because Jimmy Page and Ace Frehley used them. I think I’m a good guitar player.

My fave guitarists are Jimmy Page, Randy Rhoads, Michael Schenker, Angus Young, old Dave Mustaine, Trey Azagthoth, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Jeff Hanneman.

Now at what point did you decide you wanted to start up a band or even join a band that was together already?

PR: After learning guitar on my own for a few (’78-’81) I was able to play a few entire songs. At that point, I wanted to play with a drummer! Just to jam and see what it was like. I had fun jamming with a couple of guys I met in community college in ’83. I did not think of starting a band. I just liked getting high and jamming. When I was at UF in Oct. ’84 my high school metal friend, Harry, and I were roommates and he suggested coming up with a song and recording it! He didn’t play any instruments! But said he would “sing” and do some kind of drumming.

I thought it was a kooky idea, but we were so into UG metal/tape trading that it seemed like it might be cool to make an underground recording! He came up with the concept of “Nosferatu”. He wrote most of the lyrics and then directed me to come up with a part for the verse, a part for the chorus, a solo section, etc. That was the beginning of my first real “band”.

What are some early shows you saw right around the time of the forming of Hellwitch?

PR: Around ’82 Harry and I saw Rush with Saxon! Saxon was unreal! That might be the first UG band I ever saw. Then, me and Harry and a couple of friends took a Greyhound to NYC to see Raven/Anthrax/Metallica on 8/4/84. That was a game-changer! Then Harry and I drove from Gainesville to Tampa on Halloween ’84 to see Nasty Savage at Ruby’s Pub. The stage got SMASHED UP! The wood was broken from so many bodies hitting it over and over! That was one of the most insane sights I’ve ever witnessed.

So take me through who the forming of the band came to be. Was it hard finding members who had the same vision as you did?

PR: It was easy! Dave, Andy (”86+’87 demo lineup), and I were all students at UF! Harry knew Dave (drums) from a class. He introduced us and I turned Dave onto Slayer, etc. He was just learning and had his first drum set. I explained how to play the “thrash” beat and he picked it up pretty quick! A short time later, Dave met Andy in a class and we brought him in! At first Andy and I traded guitar/bass on various songs since we were both guitarists who didn’t want to play bass! haha! We did all covers except I had the song “Nosferatu”. They became HELLWITCH by association. It was a great association! We all were on the same page. Slayer, Possessed, Death, Destruction, etc.

So the Metallica/Raven/Anthrax show you saw. How did you hear about the show down in Florida? Did you know about tape trading and fanzines around this time as well?

PR: My college roommate/co-founder of HELLWITCH, Harry Tiyler kept in touch with several bands via phone back then. Scott Ian told him about the show. We had already been tape trading for about 2 years at that time.

So how did you come up with the name Hellwitch and how about the logo? Were any other names thrown about before Hellwitch stuck?

PR: Harry and I came up with the name during a conversation about all the generic band names that were starting to emerge at that time. There was Stormwitch, Blackwitch, Witch, Hellhammer, Helstar, Hell and we both joked that there was no HELLWITCH! hahahah! We went with it because it was a name used just for the one song ’84 demo and it wasn’t meant to be serious. I created most of the original logo and Andy (ex-HELLWITCH) created the crossed “LL”.

There were no other names considered. We wanted the stupidest, most generic name we could think of. HELLWITCH was perfect!

The one song demo you put out in 1984 called “Nosferatu” was something you put out to hear what you sounded like on tape and to have people tape trade it around, etc?

PR: Harry came up with the title. Then we both worked on how the arrangement should be. He guided the song arrangement and I wrote the music. He wrote most of the original lyrics. I wrote a couple of lines. It was strictly for fun and just to goof around. After it was done (in ONE take!) I thought it was cool but shitty. We agreed not to give it to anyone. He traded it out the next day! Then, we started getting fan mail!!! Wow!

What was your 1st live show like? Do you remember where it was and who you played with? Did you play mostly cover tunes or was it a mixture of that and originals?

PR: The first show was July ’85 with local legends, Roach Motel in Gainesville. We did our only 2 originals, Nosferatu and Satan’s Wrath. Then, covered by Exodus and Metallica. Maybe Slayer?? I don’t recall. about a 30 min. set.

In 1986 you put on a 4 song demo called “Transgressive Sentience”, with 2 new members. Now with this demo, did you send it to many fanzines at the time getting many reviews as the underground was getting strong by 1986?

PR: We sent it out to every fanzine, and big tape trader we could! It blew up pretty quickly!

Another demo followed in 1987, followed by another in 1989, in which you did a cover tune by Death, choosing the song “Archangel”. Why did you pick that particular tune?

PR: Archangel is one of my all-time favorite DEATH songs. It never appeared on any album and was pretty much discarded by DEATH. I supported it and wanted it to get some attention!

By 1989, death metal and still thrash metal were exploding. Major labels were signing thrash bands, and Death metal was all over, especially down in Florida, labels such as Roadracer, Metal Blade, Earache, Noise, and Relapse, were all around and bands were turning and selling records. Were you at this time sending your music out to indie labels in the hopes of getting signed?

PR: We were. We shopped for all of those labels and more. Wild Rags was the only good offer at the time.

Did you ever get a chance to visit Ace’s Records down in Florida? If so, what was the store like? If you did, I imagine you were there for hours ha ha?

PR: I went there once. It was fuckin’ overwhelming, of a corpse. It was in a strip mall and was just godly. I remember my friend Ken Karnig and I holding up albums and looking at each other from across the isles of records saying, “Look at this!” over and over! I bought a few things, but it was just too much for one visit. Plus I was stoned! haha!

Were you dubbing all your demos doing the dual cassette deal? Did you have any idea about how many demos you were selling? Was the feedback from your music mostly positive?

PR: I had 2 cassette decks for most of those days. I got a speed dubbing deck in ’93 or so. We sold around 500 of the ’86, probably 300 of the ’87, and maybe 200 of the ’89. BTW, I STILL sell the original demos that I DIY at my house EXACTLY the way I did back then. Now the sales numbers are over way over 1000 for the ’86 and ’87. The 94 has sold about 600 so far as well. The feedback was almost always positive. I think maybe 1 in 10 was neutral or negative.

So in late 1990, you release “Syzygial Miscreancy” on Wild Rags. Were the songs ready to go when you signed a deal with him? Now did you sign a deal or was it more of a handshake deal of sorts?

PR: We threw together Sentient Transmography during the last couple of months before entering the studio. I had some parts written, Tommy came up with 1-2 and we put it all together. It was a written contract!

What was it like working with him? I had no problems with him when the band Symphony of Grief I was managing at the time released an EP with him. Did you ever get a chance to visit his store over the years? In the long run, do you feel that release helped you out?

PR: It was good at first! We had a great relationship that consisted of him selling our ’87 demo in his store a box of 12 at a time and then paying me for it. We recorded and submitted the artwork. He did all the layouts and printing. But, when it came time to pay what he owed in royalties things went South quickly. When the album was released he gave us regular sales updates totaling thousands of copies worldwide. Then, when it was time to pay, he said most had been “returned” by the record stores and not sold. Total scumbag move. In retrospect, it was a GOOD thing the album came out on W. Rags. He had worldwide distribution and did good promotion. Now, that album is kind of cult, I guess, and I get offers to re-press it on every format.

Now in 1992, you released your one-song demo track from when you started and a live track from my stomping grounds G. Willikers in Pennsauken, NJ. What are some of your memories of playing this club?

PR: Yes, the Nosferatu 7″ I released myself on no label! Just pressed a 7″! 500 copies. G Willikers was great! That was THE place for UG metal in the Philly/South Jersey area, I believe. It was a hot little sweatbox! haha! I remember they had a sign on the front door. “keep the door closed! A/C is on!” Yeah, it was about 90+ inside the club! All the area UG metal guys came out and it was just unreal. King from Deceased was right up front the whole time. Jon from M. Creation lent me a bum guitar cord that bit me in the ass during some of the show until I swapped it out onstage. Brutal. Good sound! The sound guy gave us a soundboard recording of the show which I’ve released. It was a great club, great metalheads, great time!

In 1993 a 3 song EP called ” Terraasymmetry” came out on Lethal Records. How did come about and what was it like working with them as I have different things about that label?

PR: Well, we were signed to W. Rags to record “Terraasymmetry”! But, when things went South and I called Ricardo out on it, he dropped us. This happened after we recorded the EP! Morrisound was not happy being stuck with W. Rags’ bill! Luckily for them, we signed with Lethal and Michael Piesch (another scumbag P.O.S.) paid the tab for the recording, and put it out. Michael was the WORST rip-off imaginable. He released the EP and then we never heard from him again. No copies, no contact, nothing. I had to buy my copies of it from a distro. in Japan!!! If I ever catch him, it will not be good.

Now the next year, you went back to releasing a demo tape. Was this available to the public or more for labels? Now in this demo, you play everything but the drums. What happened to the other members besides Joel?

PR: It was for sale and to promote the band. That was a rough time! Joe “Witch” had been dismissed for the 3rd (!) time in ’93. I had worked with a few different drummers and only Joel could kind of do the job. Craig (bass)was doing another project since we had no drummer for many months. When we were preparing the ’94 demo songs, Craig didn’t come back into the picture so I took it upon myself to do everything but the drums. From late ’93-’94 we were only 3 pieces so Craig was the only member not present on the recording. Our bassist, Jesse Trevino, had moved away in ’93.

In later 1994 an almost 4-hour VHS live tape was released!! Was that by the band? What made you decide to have something like this released at this time? Looking back what do you think of the quality of this release and is it still for sale by chance? It’s also a nice mix of different shows from different places too.

PR: Well, I was always selling a VHS comp. of our live shows/rehearsals/TV appearances beginning in ’86. Finally, in ’94 I decided to make a more comprehensive compilation of all the video stuff I had. I have always handled all the merchandise for us, so it was indeed “by the band”, but I’m the one who put it all together. Thanks for the compliment, Chris! I tried to mix it up with promo video/live/rehearsal/interviews, etc.

So after the VHS release in 1994, nothing was released from you guys until 2003. Did the band take a break, actually even break up, and then you re-started it? With the 2003 release was the band even around as it was a compilation release?

PR: The band split up from ’98-’04. The ’03 release of “Final Approach” had a dual meaning at the time. It was a new song that appeared exclusively on that comp AND it was the band’s “final approach”.

So what goodies are on the “Final Approach” release and how did you come to hook up with Progressive Arts Music?

PR: Final Approach contains the first album, EP ’91, Nosferatu ’84 demo, ’94 demo, and 2 songs that were unreleased at that time. The owner of P.A.M., Eric Hoffman, is a local, long-time supporter and he approached me about doing some sort of final HELLWITCH release since we had been disbanded for years with no reformation in sight.

So in 2005, the band is back and with the same line-up from before pretty much and you did a promo EP called “The Epitome of Disgrace”. Would you say the band’s sound had changed much considering it had been such a huge gap in between releases?

PR: Not really. Those songs were all written in ’95’-96. They were revamped a little in ’04-’05 and then recorded.

Also in 2005, you released a 4-hour DVD called “Video Miscreancy Volume 2 (1995-2005)”. How much fun was it putting this together? Did it bring back a lot of memories and stuff like that?

PR: I don’t remember putting it all together, honestly. I just remembered that I was really happy that we finally had a promo video!

In 2008 we were treated to 6 new songs via split CD with the band Storming Steels, with a release called “The Twin Bestial Forces” on Metal Zone Distro. How did this come about and how was it going into the studio to record some new music after so long?

PR: Storming Steels approached me about doing the split and I recall, they were fans and even had a song called “Hellwitch Possessed”! I thought that was very cool and I was flattered! haha! So, we went for the deal! We had just been in the studio in ’05. In ’08 we recorded our 2nd full-length “Omnipotent Convocation”. It was cool to record the 4 song promo. Things have changed a lot since the ’94 recording technology.

Pat, how did you and the band keep up the morale and just write and make music after so many years at this time when so many other bands would have packed it in?

PR: Well, we didn’t from ’98-’04 and we did pack it in! haha! It was just a lost cause over the last 2-3 years (’95-’98). Shitty drummers, no label support, etc. When we reformed, it was FRESH and fun again!

Were you able to play live much and how hard was it putting together a set list with so many songs to choose from? Did you ever get to go overseas to play or Mexico or Canada at this point?

PR: Starting in ’04 we played regularly around FL and out of state a few times. We didn’t play outside the continental US until ’14 when we played in Puerto Rico. It was easy to assemble a setlist. After a while, you know which songs “clunk” live and which are crowd stirrers! Now with 3 albums, it’s a bit more challenging.

So after a few years, in 2008, you returned on a split release on Metal Zone Distro with 6 tunes. How did you hook up with them and how did it feel going back into the studio to record some new stuff?

PR: They are great supporters of HW. (They have a song called “Hellwitch Possessed”) They contacted me and we worked out a deal. We didn’t go into the studio to record anything. All the tracks on it were previously released.

Did you also notice how the underground had been changing with the first My Space by 2008 Facebook was strong fanzines were long gone for the most part and a lot of stuff was on the web. Did you have your website at this time? Did you play many shows in 2008 or tour at all?

PR: Yes, the migration from print to online was interesting. I remember STILL doing about 1/2 snail mail and 1/2 email in the early 2000s! I first purchased hellwitch.us as our first official web domain (because hellwitch.com was taken). Then, around 2012 hellwitch.com became available and I scooped it up! Of course, we had MySpace as everyone else did. Then came Facebook, of corpse. We played some local shows in ’08 but spent most of the year working on Omnipotent Convocation. No tours in ’08.

In 2009, you hooked up with Dave Rotten and Xtreem Music and released a full-length called “Omnipotent Convocation”. How did you end up working with him? Did you get any type of budget and/or play any shows overseas at all? 
PR: We hooked up with Xtreem in ’08 and signed a deal. It was a fair deal. He paid for most of the recording. That was all. Very little promotion. No tour support. I still meet people who say, “I didn’t even know you guys put out an album in ’09!” But, he was very cool and loved the band. Xtreem RULES!
What are your thoughts on your album from 2009? You also did a Death cover “Infernal Death”. Why that particular tune? 
PR: I think it’s great! Great riffs! High energy! Lots of sparks! The album was a very collaborative effort. Craig (ex-bass), JP and I wrote most of the songs together. On the first album and new album, I wrote 85%-100% of the music. I like the production and even though we did the newest album with the same producer, I think “O.C.” has a better sound. We covered Infernal Death as Chuck was a good friend of mine and we have been performing that song live since ’85. Also, it’s one of the best DM songs ever written. Also, I used Kam’s satanic ’85 demo lyrics, NOT the gore-based “S.B.G.” lyrics! When I first read the new lyrics (Chuck was showing me his lyric notebook while he stayed at my house in ’86) I was VERY disappointed!
But, he wanted to steer away from Satanism/occult lyrics and focus on death/gore lyrics at that time.
Now you didn’t release anything from 2009 till a 2016 live album. Did the band break up after that Xtreem Music release? 
PR: Technically, no, but we didn’t do anything together until 2011. Joe “Witch” was a nightmare in the studio while recording “O.C.”. All 3 of us were not interested in working with him after that recording. But, when we were offered a tour in 2011 we started up with him again. It ended up being good as he had made some lifestyle changes and was a MUCH more rational person to be around.
Speaking of the 2016 live album, it was put out by Ka-Rye-Eye Tapes. Never heard of this label, who are they?. What year was it recorded and was it from one show or a bunch? 
PR: It was a guy with a label. That’s about all I know! haha! I met him at the show for the first time. He used an audience recording from Indianapolis in 2015 that sounded pretty clear. Also, it is about 75 min. which is LONG for a Hellwitch set! Anyway, a little while after the show he asked if we would be interested in him releasing it. It sounded pretty decent and he said it would be limited to 100 copies. I thought it would be a pretty cool UG project, so we went with it. I’m happy. It sold out immediately and it’s become quite a collectible! I still have 2 copies for sale! plug plug!
So in 2017, you were back in business with a 7″ called “At Rest” for Pulverised Records. Were these 2 new tunes written and recorded for this 7″, or were they 2 leftover tunes of sorts? 
PR: Well, yes and no. We wrote “Megalopalyptic Confine” during 2015-2016. “At Rest” was written in ’93 but revamped in 2016 for the 7″.

Now also in 2017 the very cool label Iron Bonehead Records released a 10 LP (!!!) set called “Compilation of Death Series – First Possession: Hellwitch”. It has: Disc 1: unreleased 1985, Disc 2: unreleased 1986-1987, Disc 3: early demos, Disc 4: Syzygial Miscreancy 1990 lp / Terraasymmetry 1993 ep, Disc 5: live Pennsauken, New Jersey 8/2/90, Disc 6: Anthropophagi 1994 demo / Epitome of Disgrace 2005 ep, Disc 7: live Huntsville, AL 8/20/06, Disc 8: Omnipotent Convocation 2009 lp, Disc 9: live Miami, FL 06/05/11 and Disc 10: live Ft. Lauderdale, FL 2012+2013. I’m going to assume this was their idea. This was limited to 500 copies. (100 black/gold splatter and 400 black). Each record came in its customized jacket with an insert. Includes a twelve-page A4 booklet with liner notes. Have all been sold and what was it like putting it together I’m sure you have a copy. Is it as unholy looking as it sounds?

PR: It was the brainchild of Gabriel Gattaca Kremscher from “Compilation of Death” books, magazines, box sets, etc. He approached me with the idea. Initially, I thought we could do a 5 LP box but he wanted MORE!!! I could hardly refuse as he was so enthusiastic and supportive about the whole thing. It was actually to be our “30th Anniversary” box set, but like everything in life, it was delayed for many reasons. Gabriel and his partner Joseph did a great job organizing the project. I spent about 50-75 hours digitizing cassettes, scanning images, emailing files, and writing info. for the booklet. The ’85+’86 LPs contain recordings that I NEVER traded out or released before! Incidentally, when I was digitizing the tapes, I listened to the one-man demo I did for the song “HELLWITCH” in ’85. Hearing it after decades inspired me to revive/rework it! Eventually, it came to appear on our newest album! If it wasn’t for the box set, that song would most likely never have been visited again! Patrick from Iron Bonehead is another great brother in war who wholeheartedly supported this project. Gabriel, Joseph, and I designed all the layouts, etc. and Patrick released it on his mighty UG label! I’m not sure how many copies Patrick has left, but we have sold out of the gold splatter version and I have only about 4-5 of the black vinyl left and that’s all! They are still available on our Bandcamp, Ebay, .com, and Storenvy sites!

It is a badass piece of work! I might also add that the vinyl versions of those ancient cassette recordings (’85-’87) sound BETTER than the actual cassettes they came from!! Wow! The mastering/pressing is SUPREME!

What did you guys do from 2017 until COVID hit?

PR: We toured the US 2-3 times. Played festivals in the NE US. Toured Asia, Singapore, and Thailand. Worked on new songs. Recorded demos. Played around Florida constantly and just kept worshipping SATAN!

When COVID hit did you pretty much just write new music and hope for the best when you would be able to practice and play live again or were things less strict down in Florida?

PR: When Covid hit, my oldest brother (who lives alone) almost died. (that sucks, thankfully he didn’t-chris). I spent months back and forth to his home taking care of him. Also, I had an ongoing throat irritation for months and thought it might be cancer! Tests proved it wasn’t, but I was directed NOT to scream anymore as my vocal cords are damaged. (So much for that advice.) So really, we didn’t get together at all! I worked on songs alone at home when I was able. It was a brutal stretch! Even worse, we were about ready to record the new album when Covid hit! Totally fucked things up!

So when did you start to gather up and record the music that would be on your newest release “Annihilational Intercention”, which came out the day before my birthday ha ha?

PR: We recorded demos of 4-5 songs on the album from 2017-2022. We booked studio time at the end of ’21 and recorded in mid ’22. We had some delays with the recording as our 2nd guitarist recorded his tracks at his home in Georgia. Then, the label had to fit us into their release schedule which ended up being 6 months after the recording was finished. Very cool that the album came out before your birthday, Chris. Did you hear it on your birthday?? haha! (no unfortunately ha ha-Chris)

How did you end up hooking up with Laurent and Listenable Records? Did you approach him or did he approach him? Any chance of him bringing you guys overseas?

PR: A mutual friend told me he was a big fan and was interested in signing us. No, Listenable doesn’t offer any tour support. At least to us! haha! I think Gojira may get some perks! haha! It’s okay though as we’ve played in Germany and have booked our overseas shows for later in ’24.

Your drummer Brian Wilson, who has been in the band since 2015, he also plays drums for out-of-control ego man Yngwie Malmsteen. Has that ever caused any conflict? Wonder if Yngwie would bring you guys on tour ha ha?

PR: No, he does not. That ended over a year ago. However, there were a couple of scheduling conflicts that arose when he was with “Lars Donut”. We used a session drummer for those occasions. Lars liked HELLWITCH when Brutal Brian played it for him. That was cool to hear! I WORSHIP Yngwie! He’s fuckin’ GOD! (oh he is a great guitar player, but an out of control maniac-Chris)

So what was the experience like playing over in Germany? How hardcore are the fans over there? Did you play just one or several?

PR: It was pretty epic! The thing that struck me was fans there purchased a lot of the “DIY” merch. we sell (i.e. cassette demos, CD-Rs, DVD-Rs). Domestically, fans seem to purchase the official, pro releases more than anything. We sold a record amount of merchandise. The crowd was cool and even pitted a bit which I hear is not the norm for them). The sound was really good and they set up the stage like a battle line with wooden stands wrapped with barbed wire as a barricade between the crowd and band! Also, a large wooden pentagram was placed right in the front center of the stage. It was badass! 666! Went to an outdoor market that had dried sausage, freshly cooked sausage sandwiches, and all kinds of beer and food. It was pretty crowded which was interesting as it was 30 out and snowing at the time! wow! Berlin ain’t for the weak! Our agreement with the promoter was to do an exclusive show, so that was what we did.

How many times over the band’s career have you managed to make it overseas? What would you say are the craziest crowds you have played in front of?

PR: We’ve played overseas 7-8 times so far. The craziest crowds we’ve ever performed for were in San Jose, CA in 2014 or some of the Miami shows in the mid 80s. Also, we did a couple where people went nuts in our area in 2014 as well. At one place, my front tooth got chipped from the mic bashing me in the mouth from the barrage of skankers.

Now you mentioned you have some shows booked overseas this year. Where are you playing?

PR: We are playing the Keep It True Rising Fest in GER. and possibly the En Flammen Fest, but that one’s not confirmed yet. There are also a couple of others, but we’re still working on the details.

Have you ever seen or signed any Hellwitch bootleg stuff whether it be vinyl, CD, cassette, T-shirts, etc? What do you think of bootlegs?

PR: I have! I don’t recall what at the moment as it’s only happened a couple of times. I think bootlegs are great! Hell, I still have my 12,000+ hour death/thrash/black/punk/metal video collection which I sell copies of to this day! I think it’s a compliment to the band when someone bootlegs their stuff. There’s a bootleg HW long sleeve on Ebay right NOW! hahaha!

Do you know or have you ever heard a band doing a Hellwitch cover tune?

PR: Yes, when we toured TX in ’91 with Exhorder, the opening band in Houston, KRULLUR did Torture Chamber! They weren’t going to since we were playing with them, but we demanded they play it! hahaha! There’s also some band from Russia that does Torture Chamber! Their name escapes me at the moment. (Sorry, Russian dudes!)

Is there any other cover tunes planned up your sleeve in the future?

PR: For me, I’m hooked on doing Necronomicon by SACRIFICE. That song was/is a big influence on my style. But, we’ll see.

How hard is it to put together a Hellwitch setlist?

PR: Well, it’s been pretty easy as we’ve been doing the “S.M.” album in its entirety for the last year. So, we add a few songs to that and it’s a set! We’re no longer doing that so it will be a bit more challenging moving forward. We’ll now definitely be playing more from “O.C.” than we have in the past few years.

Plans for the rest of 2024 and beyond? Can you ever see the band ending?

PR: As our 40th anniversary onslaught continues this year we’re planning a national tour with a legendary band from Canada in July. Since it’s pending, I won’t mention any names. We’re also playing the Milwaukee Metalfest, some European festivals, and more local shows. The only way I can see the band ending is when I’m not able to play the songs with the respect they require. Fortunately, at 60 my hands work great and my voice is holding pretty strong! Blleeeeaaaaarrggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!! See?!

Do you have a copy of everything you have released? If not what are you missing?

PR: I do! But, I only have one copy of the ’89 “Purveyor of Fear” 7″. I’m not happy about that! haha! I’m always looking for another backup!

Please plug any social media or websites the band has. Also, plug any merchandise the band has and where people can get it and if you’re not ready to kill me for all these questions ha ha and you have a spare t-shirt I’m a XXL.

PR: Sure….we got a couple…






AND my concert video site:


(over 12,000 death/thrash/black/punk/rock/metal concert videos!)


You can find our merch. at any of the stores above! We prefer Storenvy purchases, but hellwitch.com is great and so is bandcamp!

We have our new album “Annihilational Intercention” on ltd. ed. slipcover CD, and colored vinyl as well as our other releases on CD, cassette, DVD-R, and more! Just got 3 different VERY limited (only 100 made) new patches in stock as well! Email us, message us, and come at us with sharp objects! We answer all messages personally!

P.O. Box 2341
Hollywood, FL 33022

Thank you, Chris, for the in-depth, finger-wrenchingly long interview of ultimate obliteration! We appreciate it very much! You are a legend in the scene and for that reason, I will spare your life…despite making me answer millions of zany questions! 666! On a more somber note, Chris, we are completely out of XXL-XXXXL sizes at the moment. We WILL have more made in the coming months. I will keep you posted! In the meantime, we do have other sizes available for our less “husky” fans.

I bet when the band started you never thought in 2024 you’d be answering questions about the band ha ha?

PR: Oh HELL (witch) NO I didn’t! I have a faint memory of BELIEVING back then that this rough, raw, brutal, chaotic, disharmonic, anti-mainstream type of music could NEVER last!

Obviously, I overestimated the civility of the music listening population! Fuckin’ savages!!! 666! And that’s a glorious thing! I’m glad it has gone on for so many decades…. with more to come!

Pat mega horns up for doing this long interview and telling everyone the whole history of the band from the 80’s till 2024. Any last words the floor is yours and hopefully, I’ll see you next time you’re in my neck of the woods so to speak.

PR: Thanks again, Chris! It’s been a torturous pleasure knowing you and M.C. for decades now! Yes, we better see you when we’re cutting necks in the woods near you! HELLWITCH is going stronger than ever in 2024!~ Help us celebrate 40 years of mutilation by kicking a Christian in the balls! Their puny god can’t save them!!! But we can! 666! Hail METAL!

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