If you haven’t heard of Seawitch, it’s time you did. They are one of rock music’s most exciting new bands hailing from Perth, Western Australia. They have a debut album coming out later this week called Well of Spells and I can assure you these sonic fuzz wizards are set to make sure rock stays relevant and maybe even blow up a bass amp or two along the way. Seawitch is fronted by former Def FX lead singer and real-life Witch, Fiona Horne. Interestingly, Horne has been a practising Witch for almost two decades and she has written fourteen books on Witchcraft. More recently Horne’s charmed life has spilled over into music and it’s easy to hear how her band and song lyrics are inspired by her Craft. I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Horne on the eve of their album launch show later this week. Here is some of what we talked about.
Fiona, a few years ago during the pandemic you said, “The world needs witches right now.” As a modern witch (yourself) and a figure of hope and healing what can we still learn from modern witchcraft?
Thank you for your kind words Rob. More than ever now, Modern Witchcraft is a vital spiritual and lifestyle path for an ever increasing number of humans. It was my dear friend, High Priestess Phyllis Curott who first said ‘The world needs her Witches’ and I echo her sentiment. Wicca (the religion of Witchcraft) has been for two decades and still is, one of the fastest growing spiritual paths in the world – and technically in the USA is the fastest.
This sustained and rapidly increasing growth is in answer to the dominance of the patriarchal religions of the past that emphasize oppression and destruction.
Significantly Modern Witchcraft’s advocacy for positive equality, empowerment for the individual and community and respect and love for our Mother Earth – who gives us so much -offers a healing path forward from an unsustainable past.
Summed up modern Witches know: ‘We are part of a sacred world and so we are called to live in a sacred way.’ In these embattled times the world really does need her Witches.
Fiona, as a practicing witch how does that influence your approach to music?
Most specifically with Seawitch, every song is a spell. I draw from my book of shadows (a Witch’s record of her magick) and from spells I have written that have been published in my books to weave the lyrics of Seawitch together.
Writing songs is like conjuring up a spell … you have an intention to create a transformative mood and experience to share with others, and then you take the practical steps like placing words and rhythm into music … and a song is born. When people listen and enjoy, the spell you cast has worked!
You have had success in almost everything you have done professionally from being an author to commercial pilot. But what brought you back to music to create your new band Seawitch?
That must start as a love story. I was living in the Caribbean and flying airplanes – then covid struck in March 2020 and the aviation industry was grounded. An old boyfriend from 30 years ago reached out to me via Instagram messages. That was Dave (Spiff) Hopkins. He convinced me to join him on the other side of the world in Western Australia… and make music together! We had first met in Sydney in the late 80’s when I was singing and playing guitar in my girl punk group, The Mothers and he was playing guitar in a surf skate rock band called Hellmenn. We dated briefly then, but life led us in different directions. Def FX ultimately took off for me, and he moved back to WA (being originally from here) raised a family and played music locally.
On May 28th 2020, I caught one of the last repatriation flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne and he drove across the country in his troopie to ‘rescue me from my tower’ (being the Marriott Hotel I was locked up in without an open window for two weeks upon arrival.) We drove back across the country together with all the necessary passes and approvals, to his home in the Southwest where we did two weeks iso and went into his home music studio and wrote a song a day – which became Seawitch. And our debut album ‘Well of Spells.’ He also made me play guitar again. He handed me a white vintage Fender Stratocaster and said, ‘You can have this if you play it.’ He didn’t need to twist my arm hard.
What influenced the band’s hard rock sound?
Dave’s and my shared love of late 60’s early 70’s heavy rock, like MC5, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Stooges, Budgie… and later 90’s bands like Kyuss and Fu Manchu. I’ve always loved hard rock… from when I was a little girl and heard Stairway to Heaven on my little yellow AM radio, I felt my life change and knew that ANYTHING is possible when music can make you feel this good.
Can you briefly introduce the band and how you all met?
Our bass player, Brad Miller and Adam Sciullo (our new drummer who is touring with us and will be on our next album) are old band mates of Dave’s from his band M16’s who had a following during the 2000’s over here in WA. The bonus of these three is that they have established musical chemistry – literally when Adam joined the band recently, he came in to the studio, and knocked all the songs out of the park in one jam! Personally, I love the privilege of performing with gifted musicians. Def FX was very formulaic – we sampled other people’s songs, layered them, and then played over the top. In Seawitch we write from scratch – some of my favorite moments in the band are when we are jamming in Davy Jones Locker (Dave’s home studio) and just going off on musical journeys together enjoying the sounds and feels with no necessary destination in sight.
You chose to release Witches Forever as your first single from your forthcoming debut album Well of Spells. I understand it is a song about resilience, courage and survival. How did you deal with the personal nature of a song like this when you were writing it?
This song is based on part of my book, Art of Witch. It is my manifesto on practicing the Craft for 30 years. ‘Witches Forever’ is a poem in the book… but I added the second verse after having a profound vision.
And as such I am most personally connected to this verse:
‘Dressed in holy flame, the rope now spells my name, standing in the wind and rain I feel no shame – my soul is born again.’
Those lines came to me in a vision – I thought of all the women in the past burned at the stake and hung as they were declared Witches. But the things that sought to desecrate them and destroy them they were now empowered by – the flame is holy (like the Holy Spirit), and dresses her, does not burn her. The rope is removed from her neck and is laid on the ground spelling the witches name in its coils. She stands naked in the wind and rain but there is no shame – instead her soul is born again as she leaves this world – to return again one day as Witch.
I felt connected to that ancestral thread when I wrote Witches Forever.
Can we talk about your exciting new single Force. What can you tell me about how it came to life?
Musically Dave was jamming on a riff that sounded a bit like Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith – the guitarist from MC5. It had this wild and free feel and inspired me to put together lyrics from a spell for clearing away negative energy. You invite the Archangel Michael to lend his flaming sword and cut away that which prevents us from being free – as the chorus goes: ‘Give me your sword/ Cut it away/ Free me’.
I’m looking forward to hearing the new album in a few weeks. But before I let you go Fiona, what’s running through your head at the moment in anticipation of its release?
I’m really looking forward to launching Well of Spells by touring Victoria over the Halloween weekend – Seawitch’s first trip outside WA! We are joining a bunch of great bands for the Do The Pop Festival in Port Jackson on Saturday 29th October, then playing a sold out show on Sunday 30th with USA legends, STONER who are touring.
Then our own ROCK N ROLL HALLOWEEN BALL at the Tote on Monday 31st – with our good friends, HOSS, Electric Purrs and DJ Jane Gazzo. Tuesday is a public holiday so everyone can stay up late! And yes, dress up if you dare!
Real Witches know that the 31st October is Samhain – our festival honoring the dead and our ancestors if you are in the northern hemisphere, and Beltane – our fertility festival, if you are in the southern hemisphere (these Sabbats are seasonal).
But real Witches love the commercial Halloween too and I can’t think of anything that I would like to do more than rock out with my band!