Hailing from Denmark, Witch Cross has been around since 1980, although the band experienced a breakup in 1986. Now back with a new lineup and a new sound, Witch Cross has unleashed the full-length studio CD Axe to Grind, courtesy of Hells Headbangers. Take Five caught up with guitarist/backing vocalist Mike “Wlad” Kock, who discussed the new CD and the band’s reformation.
Witch Cross was originally founded back in 1980 and existed until 1986. Now the band has reformed with a new lineup. Tell me how the reformation came about and the principal reasons for reforming.
Mike “Wlad” Kock: “Well, some years ago I had an idea that I wanted to record another Witch Cross album, so I started a Witch Cross MySpace page and later a Facebook group, and through there I got in contact with a guy called Laurent from Snakepit Magazine. Laurent did an interview with most of the members of the band and finished by asking if we would be interested in playing in front of 2000 people in Germany at Keep It True (KIT). We had no idea what was going on in the metal scene, but we said, ‘Hell yeah!’ Then we started to rehearse the old songs, and it all worked really well in rehearsal.
“We didn’t know what to expect when we played at KIT in 2012, but the reaction we got from the crowd was amazing and made us want to keep the band going for years.”
Explain the meaning of your band’s name and how it influences you musical approach.
Mike “Wlad” Kock: “When we came up with the name in 1979-80, we played a lot more occult and slower metal. And the name fitted the music really well. All the bands we listened to back then—like Angel Witch, Witchfinder General, Demon, and Black Sabbath—they all had names based on the same idea. So, we went for Witch Cross. Later, when we found out about Mercyful Fate, we changed our musical style and the lyrics became less occult. [As a result of these changes], we were soon known in Denmark as the smiling heavy metal band.
Tell me about your new full-length studio CD, Axe to Grind. What can listeners expect to hear?
Mike “Wlad” Kock: “It’s all brand new material, which we wrote over 18 months in 2011-12. The songs have been influenced by our early years and hopefully people can find links to the old stuff on this new album. There a fast instrumental track and a couple of big bold tracks on the album. We are still finding our feet, so to speak, and the next album should be even more in our new style, which still is old school but with new elements.
“We try to do songs that work well live and not only in the studio. We recorded the album in London, and it was mixed by the legendary Chris Tsangarides (Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, Anvil, Judas Priest) and mastered by Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica). We love the sound and artwork—Axe to Grind is out on Hells Headbangers.”
What inspired the track “Demon in the Mirror”? How did you go about composing the song’s lyrics?
Mike “Wlad” Kock: “The lyrics are about people who write nasty sh*t online and hide behind their computers. We normally have an idea for the chorus and then work from there. I do a lot of writing with the new singer, Kev Moore, and we just bounce ideas back and forth until we are happy with what’s there.”
Any chance of Witch Cross coming to the United States to tour? Any chance of coming through New Mexico?
Mike “Wlad” Kock: “We would love to come to USA to play and hope we can make it there next year. We want to bring our music to the people and to all our friends around the world.
“Thanks for doing this interview! Together, we are the METAL NATION!”