Western Haunts
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Western Haunts

Seattle, Washington, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Shoegaze




"KEXP Song of The Day: Magazines (Self Titled LP 2014)"

As their name implies, Western Haunts’ music conjures sounds and sentiments that may have occurred long ago (shoegaze and ’70s folk rock tones are key touchstones), but their still-resonant features continue to swim in the musical bloodstream. Across two EPs and their recently-released debut album, the Seattle quartet of singer/guitarist Jake Witt, keyboardist/guitarist Michel DeBauge, bassist Sam Tyner, and drummer Nathan Witt have slowly sharpened their sweeping harmonics into something that’s nothing short of gorgeously gauzy. Witt’s high-soaring voice recalls Harvest-era Neil Young in its tone and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell in its reflective beauty, but he’s only a piece of the band’s languid majesty. The slow-burning rhythm section and DeBauge’s shimmering keyboards are just as crucial in forming the band’s sound, and the four musicians’ chemistry is on full display on “Magazines”. With a rhythmic intro that recalls “Machine Gun” in its steamrolling build, “Magazine” wastes little time in allowing the members to expand the song into a nearly six-minute flood of sound that balances its charging verses with a pair of echoing breakdowns and the clever employment of spacious vocal call-and-response sections. While “Magazines” is clearly indebted to early ’90s shoegaze, its secret is that it exchanges any noise or experimental tendencies for ones rooted in acoustic songwriting, forming a song that grows in allure as it passes, glisteningly twisting and turning into new sections before simply fading out.

Western Haunts will play live on KEXP on Thursday, March 20th at 1:00 p.m. Before that, the band will play an album release show with The Trouble Starts (who are also celebrating the release of their album) at Barboza on February 26th. Get tickets and more info on that 21+ show here, keep up with the band at their Facebook and Bandcamp pages, and below, watch the band play “The Green Room” and “Magazines” at the Vera Project. - WWW.KEXP.ORG

"KEXP Song of the Day w/Interview- A Zealot Sun"

The last time we checked in with Seattle folkadelic band silOHs, they had just launched their debut self-titled album and had caught the ears of KEXP DJs with their blend of shoegaze-tinged Americana. Today, they are on the verge of releasing their second full-length (out digitally next month), which picks up nicely where they left off. Today’s featured song, “A Zealot Sun,” is just as spine-tingly as The Maldives, as ethereal as the Fleet Foxes, and sounds like it was produced by Phil Spector.

silOHs is the brainchild of Jake Witt (ex member of Romance) who recently shared how he still draws inspirations from his Midwestern roots and what his hopes are for the coming year.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions that you’d like to share?

As a band we still haven’t played at The Moore or Paramount, which would be AMAZING! We’re also hoping to play a festival like Sasquatch or Bumbershoot this year. We may need to incorporate more pyrotechnics or wild animals on stage to land one of those…

Personally, I hope to do a little songwriting every day. Really try to develop and keep a journal/record of all the lyrics and song/project ideas that run through my head before they’re lost to the cosmos…

Where did the name silOHs come from?

I knew I wanted a name for this project that referenced imagery and memories from where I grew up, rural Ohio. But, I also wanted a name that was unique and could be interpreted to have its own meaning. After I finished writing the song ‘Silos’ I decided I liked that theme and came up with silOHs.

Your Midwestern roots were a big influence on the last album, what was on your mind when putting together the songs for Shed Your Summer Shell?

On both albums I’ve tried to write from a place that I know; the rustbelt and the Midwest. Some songs were written from a romantic, nostalgic perspective and some from a darker, more bittersweet perspective. Lyrically I like to incorporate folklore or even create a new story or mythology for a place and time. Renewal was a big theme for me on this record; Family, community, self-renewal. Questioning institutions we believe in and those that we’ve lost faith in. I also wrote about breaking with tradition and rebuilding to find identity/redemption. I think this album ended up having more of a cyclical progression. Maybe that’s why I felt that cicadas were such a strong metaphor for what I was thinking about at the time.

Your first album started out a solo project that developed into a band. Now that you have a fixed band together, did your songwriting process change?

On the first record I decided that whatever I wrote, I wanted to be able to play the songs live by myself with just a guitar. Now, after playing with 3 new musicians I felt freer to write more complex song structures and go for a bigger/lusher sound that would work live. For Shed Your Summer Shell, I had a number of song parts and unfinished pieces that I wanted to incorporate into the record. I went into the studio first to finish the arrangements and record the rhythm guitar parts. I’d then listen back to the tracks and write and record the drum parts over the guitar. After those were recorded Nate, Mike and Derrick came in separately to write and record their individual parts often on the fly. The exceptions to this process were the first and seventh tracks on the record. “Ignorant Arms” we all wrote together and “Shed Your Summer Shell” was based off of a guitar part that Nate wrote. I think that by experimenting in the studio and just being very impulsive with the parts that we wrote, there was a real immediacy and energy to the final album.

What can you tell me about “A Zealot Sun?”

This song is about a lot of communities that are on the brink right now, struggling to get by and searching for humanity under difficult circumstances. It’s also about overcoming a turbulent history and finding a way to persevere. I started writing this song around the time of the oil spill in the gulf, and in retrospect I think some of the frustration I was feeling about holding people accountable snuck into what I was writing.

What’s next for silOHs?

We’ve just started playing with a new drummer and getting ourselves ready to incorporate songs off of the new album into our live set. We’re also starting to plan a short west coast tour this spring.

Keep your eyes peeled for those tour dates on their Myspace page. In the meantime, here they are playing “Western Haunts” live at the KEXP studios earlier this year: - KEXP.ORG

"Western Haunts: Filthy Livin'- Proof that lush pop need not come from a pretty place."

Western Haunts practices at the top of a steep flight of outdoor stairs, above a 1-800-GOT-JUNK building, in front of a parking lot of abandoned cars on a barren stretch of Highway 99 just south of the Aurora Bridge.

"When [the landlord] showed us the room, there was a big hole the previous tenant had knocked out for a rave party," bassist Derrick Wright said while motioning toward a door that separates the main practice room from a control room with a mixer and other recording equipment.

Upon moving in, the band painted the graffiti-covered walls and retrofitted the room for recording. The unheated room smells faintly of mildew, and on this particular December afternoon is freezing cold—the band is gathered around a space heater in the control room, and their breath hangs in the air as they talk. From the pink walls to the grimy plywood floors, it isn't hard to imagine the room being inhabited by a down-and-out bunch of punk rockers. But punks the members of Western Haunts are not.

This rough, hardscrabble setting starkly contrasts with Western Haunts' sound. The band's lush blend of folk, dream-pop, and shoegaze is characterized by layers of reverb-heavy guitar and Jake Witt's soaring tenor, remarkably similar to the androgynous howl of Beach House's Victoria Legrand. Paradoxically, it's a sound that might have never developed without the creative freedom the hybrid practice space/recording studio offers. "We talk a lot about our practice space," affirms Wright, "but it defines a lot of who we are."

Last January's Shed Your Summer Shell and October's exceptional Utøya EP were both recorded in the room off Aurora, and the latter nicely underscores Wright's point. The band finished writing the EP's three songs during the recording process, and it shows. Utøya's intricate layers of guitar and keyboard testify to the band's attention to detail, but are also indicative of the practice space's advantage: freedom from the time and financial constraints of traditional studios, which allows Western Haunts to fine-tune its sound in a way many new bands can't.

Still, the current situation hasn't been without its pitfalls. "During the time we were recording the first record, the people living next door were cooking meth and having sex," said Witt. It's difficult to tell whether he's being facetious.

Witt, an Ohio native, met Wright, keyboardist Michel DeBauge, and guitarist Nathan Hamlett through a Craigslist ad in the fall of 2009, intending to play drums in their already formed band. When material from silOHs, Witt's solo project, led to show opportunities and KEXP airplay, the group changed its name to Western Haunts, added Witt's brother Nathan as a drummer, and fleshed out the silOHs material into full-band arrangements. Right away, the newly formed band added a new dimension to Witt's material. "I grew up listening to a lot of shoegaze music," he said, "so I love the layers and layers of sound, and these dudes are great at building that wall."

Despite the band's increasingly collaborative nature, Witt was responsible for Utøya's thematic focus. The EP was named after the island near Oslo, Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik killed 69 people at a summer camp last July. The tragedy was highly personal for Witt, who has spent time in the country and whose wife is Norwegian.

"When that happened, it hit me pretty hard," he said. "It hit my wife really hard, because she was so far away from it and her family was right in the middle of it, experiencing it. So we just watched it on TV, and seeing the pictures flooding in was really surreal."

In the coming months, Western Haunts plans to record material for a follow-up EP. If Utøya's expansiveness and nuances are any indication, the new songs will represent a band growing into its sound—and its practice space—which is among the most interesting in town. - Seattle Weekly

"GRAMMY.COM Interview at Capitol Hill Block Party"

Video Interview - GRAMMY.COM

"Western Haunts, Live Preview"

Western Haunts live up to their name...with songs that unfurl in layers of percussion, drum, recorder, guitar, and, finally, mellow vocals that sound less than human. - The Stranger

"Western Haunts @ Beauty Bar Live Review"

I arrived at the venue at 8:30 sharp, somehow it slipped my mind that this was Beauty Bar time we were talking about. The flyer to the Western Haunts show said it was supposed to start at 8:30, which actually meant 11:45. I wandered Fremont a little bit, every so often I’d walk past and try to see what was going on through the dirty windows. Eventually the band did a sound check, which sounded flawless. A few minutes later, I watched the band excitedly leave the Beauty Bar in search of food, taking pictures with their cell phones of the neon signs that surrounded us. They seemed genuinely excited to be playing in Vegas and it put a smile on my face.

Waiting outside for the show to begin, harmonies reminiscent of Fleet Foxes with a hint of Wild Nothing flowed out the double door entrance. The show finally began, opening up with “A Zealot Sun” from their January 2011 album “Shed Your Summer Shell“. Inside, the small stage was cluttered with keyboards, a lap steel, guitars, drums, effects pedals sprinkled through out, and of course the five burly dudes from Seattle. Records often portray bands sounding different than their live performances and usually it’s a bit disappointing, but I can honestly say that this band puts on an amazing show without sacrificing any of the ambiance. Needless to say the show was worth the late start. - Arts Vegas

"Western Haunts Dial Up the Heft, Reverb on "Blue Blooded," Plot West Coast Tour"

When I checked in with Western Haunts back in January, the band was coming off the release of last year's excellent Utøya EP and had plans to record another before the year was out. That new record is the five-song Ambassador EP, which will be out later this month. Its first single, "Blue Blooded," wouldn't have sounded out of place on Utøya, with its dramatic crescendos built on layers of organ, pedal steel, and reverb-heavy guitar. (This might actually be the most reverb-heavy song Western Haunts has recorded, which is certainly saying something.) And while no one will mistake Western Haunts for Black Sabbath, "Blue Blooded" is heavier and denser than the band's previous work, especially during the song's muscular intro. - Seattle Weekly

"KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle- Song of The Day- Pharaoh"

You might recognize today’s artist as SilOHs, a Seattle band we’ve featured a before on the song of the day podcast. They went through a name change this spring, taking their new name from a song we featured last year. Now known as Western Haunts, singer/songwriter Jake Witt and crew release their second effort this year which was in response to the tragedies that befell Norway and Japan. (The title of the EP is taken from the island in Norway where youths were gunned down.) But there can be beauty in sadness, and this collection of folk songs drenched in an ambient haze, are proof. Today’s song, Pharaoh,” is anthemic. Lush melodic layers and sweet harmonies, on par with those of Fleet Foxes, make your heart soar “and give hope to those living through tragedy.”

You can catch Western Haunts TONIGHT at The High Dive with Pacific Nomadic. More info and dates on their Bandcamp page. Here they are performing their namesake song in the KEXP studios last year: - KEXP.ORG

"KEXP 90.3 FM Song of the Day: silOHs – Western Haunts"

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you locked Neil Young in a studio with My Bloody Valentine, you just might get your answer from local singer/songwriter Jake Witt (The Uprights, Ex. Romance). SilOHs reunites Witt with long-time collaborator and Soda Farm Studios owner Jonas DeVarona (The Uprights, Ex Throw Me the Statue, Ex Romance) who are in turn joined by members of Sun Sirens. It originally started out as a solo project for Witt but after falling into the familiar territory of Soda Farm Studios with his long time cohort last summer, it evolved into a fully-fledged project as it became necessary for more musicians to help Witt layer his original folk tunes with shoegazey ambiance. SilOHs treads into the realms of folkadelica similar to fellow Seattle band The Duchess & The Duke, but with more of an alt-country flavor. - KEXP.ORG

"Seattle Weekly Utoya EP Review"

Western Haunts are a local five-piece fronted by songwriter Jake Witt, and their new three-song EP, Utøya, is one of the most compelling local releases I've heard all year. Intended as a tribute to the victims of the recent tragedies in Japan and Norway (the record shares its name with the Norwegian island where the majority of the shootings in this summer's terrorist attacks took place), the record melds dream-pop, folk, and alt-country but can't be pigeonholed into any of these genres. It's a fully developed and sophisticated listen, and it's currently streaming on the group's Bandcamp page. - Seattle Weekly

"Seattle Weekly Live Review"

Ever wonder what life would be like if Band of Horses had stayed good after Everything All the Time? Look no further. The band you need, Western Haunts, played the Rendezvous last night, bringing a full-throttle show to a sparsely-populated room that seemed more suitable to the Showbox or even the Paramount.

Having listened to their albums (released under their old name, SilOHs) and the recent Utøya EP, the muscle they demonstrated was something of a surprise. On record, songwriter Jake Witt's soothing vocals and the meticulous multi-part arrangements remind more of another bearded Seattle Sub Pop act. Live, they cast aside delicacy for volume, with compelling results. Plus, it's doubtful Mr. Pecknold would ever play a blue-glitter electric guitar.

With the stage crowded with two multi-tier keyboard setups in addition to the regular detritus of a rock band, it was comforting to see all the gear used judiciously and to good effect. Each member contributed something to the sound, and the energy they brought was of a band in sync and gelling creatively.

Bassist Derrick Wright, in addition to sporting an awesome mustache, kept things visually interesting by moving around and getting funky with the instrument. Nathan Hamlet played a Rickenbacker from behind his keyboard tower, occasionally throwing in a stunning wash of lap steel that gave a freaky edge to any song. And Nathan Witt accomplished the impressive feat of drumming and providing primary backup vocals at the same time.

Though at times the volume overwhelmed Jake Witt's vocals, the result was a sonic bath in the best possible way. They seemed comfortable getting a little psychedelic, a direction welcomed among all the play-it-straight folk acts crowding the city these days. The new songs they played sounded the tastiest of the bunch, so it's safe to say Western Haunts is one to watch.

Get your fix: Western Haunts play the High Dive December 9th with Pacific Nomadic and Case + Ctrl.

Overheard: "We choose our friends on the excellence of their outerwear," Jake Witt cracked after the show, noting the proliferation of sweaters and fur in the admittedly Arctic venue. - Seattle Weekly

"Shed Your Summer Shell w/ interview"

I recently had the opportunity to exchange e-mails with Jake Witt, lead singer of the the Seattle band, SilOHs. I have been hearing bits and pieces of SilOHs on KEXP's Morning Show (Seattle-90.3)and have been enjoying their eclectic mix of Americana folk-rock and shoe-gaze psychedelic. We recently sent over some interview questions for the band to answer and they graciously complied. We have answers from Jake as well as other band members including Derrick Wright (Bass),Michel Debauge (keys, vocals and percussion, and Nathan Hamlett (guitar, lap steel, vocals).

Enjoy the interview and keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming LP (Shed Your Summer Shell) release on January 11th. I have listened to the record multiple times and think it’s really great. We have included a sample MP3 below.

You have started to receive some airplay on KEXP, an important milestone for any artist but especially for a Seattle band. Have you felt the buzz yet? How?

Jake: The exposure we’ve received from KEXP has been amazing! They truly support local music in a way that is accessible for artists who are just starting out. It has impacted every part of what we do. Higher profile shows locally and a bigger audience nationally and internationally. They’ve selected us twice for the Song of the Day Podcast, which has probably had the most impact for us outside of Seattle.
Nate: Listener powered radio is very important in any major city , Seattle is very blessed to have people who devote there lives/jobs for the love of music locally and global.

Your sound reminds me a lot of the Fleet Foxes, Grand Archives, and Band of Horses. Is this a sound that is expressly cultivated in the Seattle music scene? What do you think are some of the common influences or techniques among these groups/What do you think sets you apart from these groups?

Jake: I’d say that there is a collective consciousness for a lot of artists drawing from common influences right now. Particularly during turbulent periods like wartime and social/economic struggle I think that a lot of artists try to find their own voice by drawing from music that feels most authentic and…American, I guess. Folk and Roots Music, Spirituals/Gospel and even classic rock artists from the late 60’s and early 70’s seem accessible at a time when we’re questioning who we are and what our place in the world should be. Personally I’d say that the weather in Seattle might have something to do with the “cloudy” or “ethereal” sound that a lot of NW artists have incorporated into their music. I think maybe what sets silOHs apart is our Shoegaze/Psych influence and interest in more abstract soundscapes and textures.

What musician/band would you love to open for?

Jake: Neil Young or My Bloody Valentine
Nate: Tom Ze would be amazing...aiming pretty high for that one

What has been your favorite venue to play?

Jake: Probably the Tractor Tavern in Seattle as a band. Solo I played at Neumo’s in Seattle for a concert series called The Round. It brought together 3 different artists to play intimate acoustic sets and improvise on each other’s music.

What would be your ‘dream’ venue?

Jake: I grew up watching Austin City Limits. I’d KILL to play ACL…There is also an amazing venue in Newport, KY right across the river from Cincinnati called The Southgate House. It’s an old historic mansion built in 1814 that’s been converted into a tri-level concert hall, bar and gallery. I played it years ago with other projects, but it is my very favorite venue. A sold-out, homecoming silOHs show in the main ballroom would be a “dream.”

Michel: Personally, I'd love to play at the Moore in Seattle...I have a bunch of great memories from inside that place and it'd be surreal to actually perform on stage there.

What album (other than your own) do you wish you had written and why?

Jake: Can’t do just one…
CSNY- Déjà vu/Ohio. The harmonies MAN, the harmonies…
Beach Boys- Pet Sounds. Sorry, cliché I know, but brilliant and experimental.
Sigur Ros- ágætis byrjun. The layers of lush orchestral sound.
Michel: I'm constantly blown away by Grizzly Bear's Yellow House. That album never seems to get old for me.
Derrick: The Slow Wonder - A.C. Newman and Holiday - The Magnetic Fields
What are some other musicians/bands that we may not know but you're excited about?
Jake: Some great Seattle artists we’ve played with are Motopony and Yuni in Taxco. Some other Seattle up and coming bands I like are Sleepy Eyes of Death and The Maldives.
Michel: Also check out Beat Connection and Woodsman if you haven't.
Nate: Nate: Speed Dealers Moms (new electro/noise collaboration with Aaron Funk (Venetion Snares) & John Frusciante)

What is your musical ‘guilty pleasure’?
Jake: Tom Jones…brilliance.
Michel: Um...every once in awhile I throw on some T.I...Is that bad?
Derrick: I listen to Third Eye Blind's debut album more often than I'd care to admit.

What has been the best complement that you have rece - Ignatius Record Review

"DJ quotes, Silos LP"

"SilOHs is Jake Witt, frontman for The Uprights and Ex. Romance drummer's side project. Great job on the record."
-Kevin Cole KEXP

"Really dig the new record."
-Don Yates KEXP

- KEXP 90.3 FM

"CityArts Magazine Review"

A native Midwesterner, Witt names both Neil Young and Spiritualized as major influences, and you can hear it in his music. Tapping into both Americana roots and a little bit of psychedlia for his songs, SilOHs creates fluid patchworks that sound simple and beautiful, but are deceptively complex. - CityArts Magazine

"Silos L.P. Review"

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you locked Neil Young in a studio with My Bloody Valentine, you just might get your answer from local singer/songwriter Jake Witt (The Uprights, Ex. Romance). SilOHs reunites Witt with long-time collaborator and Soda Form Studios owner Jonas DeVarona (The Uprights, Ex Throw Me the Statue) who are in turn joined by members of Sun Sirens. It originally started out as a solo project for Witt but after falling into the familiar territory of Soda Form Studios with his long time cohort last summer, it evolved into a fully-fledged project as it became necessary for more musicians to help Witt layer his original folk tunes with shoegazey ambiance. SilOHs treads into the realms of folkadelica similar to fellow Seattle band The Duchess & The Duke, but with more of an alt-country flavor. - KEXP Blog


Still working on that hot first release.



Gradients, Western Haunts latest self-released full-length, is truly a product of its environment. Challenging circumstances, including stumbling upon an armed burglary attempt on their studio and nightly rounds of gun fire, threatened to curtail the Spring 2015 recording and mixing sessions. To say this made for a tense creative energy in the studio is certainly an understatement. To say that Gradients doesn’t deliver on the sonic embodiment of driving tension and the rush of cathartic release would be a mistake. Gradients is a lush, vast, glacial album that walks in the footsteps of its 2014 self-titled predecessor. However, what differentiates Gradients from the rest of Western Haunts’ discography is the distinct incorporation of 80’s New Wave and Post-Punk influences, making Gradients their most upbeat and dynamic release yet.

Western Haunts music con be heard across the nation on CMJ radio stations and programming on MTV and FUEL TV. Live Western Haunts have been touring and playing bills with artists the likes of Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Jessica Lea Mayfield (Nonesuch Records) and The Moondoggies (Hardly Art). The band has been a featured studio performer on KEXP, performed at premiere music festivals such as Seattle's Bumbershoot, Capitol Hill Block Party, The Denver Times Underground Music Showcase and curated shows by Seattle's City Arts Magazine and Seattle Weekly.

CSNY, Neil Young, Beach Boys, Built To Spill, Fleetwood Mac, My Bloody Valentine, Spiritulalized, The Zombies, Pink Floyd, Electric Bob Dylan, Cocteau Twins, Swervedriver

Band Members