Windhand: Virginia Doom Merchants Master the Slow Stomach-Churning Rumble
"I have to be careful I don't eat too close before we're about to play."
Who: Known for their snail’s-pace stoner metal, imbued with artfully placed feedback, this Richmond outfit has released three albums since it formed in 2008. “I met the rest of the band by answering a Craigslist ad,” Windhand frontwoman Dorthia Cottrell says. “It said they wanted a vocalist who likes Electric Wizard, the Melvins, and Sonic Youth. When I first joined, their songs were faster, but when it all came together, we developed our current sound.” Windhand’s latest, Soma, unveils slow-churning tracks that last from six-and-a-half minutes to almost half an hour. While that may sound grueling, it affords the songs an emotional depth that’s moving in a way rarely approached by other doom bands; but it can also trigger some unwanted movements. “It always, always, always makes me feel like I have to take a shit,” Cottrell says. “The rumbling shakes my bowels really bad. So I have to be careful I don’t eat too close before we’re about to play.”
Crushworthy: One of Soma‘s most interesting features is the way Cottrell’s vocals are buried in the mix, sometimes forcing listeners to strain to make out her lyrics. “When I first met Dorthia, she always used to say, ‘Turn the vocals down. I don’t like my voice,'” guitarist Garrett Morris remembers. “And I tend to not like loud vocals on records, so it just sort of became our thing: having the vocals low. It’s almost like the guitars are crushing her and she’s trying to weave through all the feedback. It all sort of melts together. It gives it this ambient, ghostly feel.” For her part, Cottrell says there are other benefits. “It makes people turn the music up louder,” she says. “Music always sounds better when you turn it up.”
Oh, Judas Priest: Thanks to some creepy imagery and seemingly witchy song titles (Soma‘s 30-minute closer “Boleskine” is named after a home that occultist Aleister Crowley once owned), some fans wonder if Windhand walks the Left Hand Path. Morris says that’s not the case. “I like old horror movies, and we’ve all been drawn to the darker side of things,” he explains. “Of course, we’re all Black Sabbath fans, and I think with our band, it’s not always necessarily deliberate. Some of the occult references have more to do with how the occult blends in with nature, not just, ‘Here’s your inverted cross type’ thing.” According to Cottrell, the only ritual her band partakes in is more aesthetic. “We sequence and gear our albums for vinyl because we love the ritualistic aspect, the way it sounds when a needle hits it,” she says. “Also, if you play it backwards, you can hear the Devil.”
Metal Has Been Bery Bery Good To Me: As Windhand have garnered more attention, Morris has found himself answering some pretty strange questions — the same ones he’s been answering for most of his life. “Everyone always says, ‘Didn’t you used to be on Saturday Night Live?'” he remarks with a laugh, mainly because he bears such little resemblance to the actor and former SNL cast member of the same name. “I was born before Saturday Night Live started, and I was actually named after a baseball player named Wayne Garrett. My dad was a big Mets fan, so he named me after this guy who played third base.” While Morris has embraced the coincidence, changing his Facebook pic to that of the actor and joking with a former coworker improbably named David Spade about starting their own “comedy thing,” it still generates far too many questions. “Somebody actually asked me not too long ago if he was still acting,” Morris says of the other Morris, now on 2 Broke Girls. “Like I would know.”