Seawitch are the world’s first 5G band. They’re gargantuanly good, gregarious, give it everything live, generous with their recorded output, and got no fucks left to give. Having only played their first gig with the current line up in March this year, they’ve already taken over WA’s hard rock scene and are poised to take over the rest of Australia and then, the world. Once the bloody borders open.
Once upon a time I was screaming out all the angst, and that was fun and had its place. Now I’m screaming because it feels good.Fiona Horne
Fronted by Fiona Horne, whose band, Def FX, dominated Australian airwaves in the 90s, you might be forgiven for thinking that Seawitch are some sort of superannuated shadows of their singer’s former glories. Let’s face it, that’s often the way it goes with comebacks. But not so in this case. Seawitch are more of a resurgence than a comeback and the band’s rapid rise sees Horne in some of the best form of her career.
Musing on her return to playing music after having switched careers in the noughties to become a commercial pilot, Horne said, “It’s so extraordinary, isn’t it? I’m back to being a gigging muso.” What she meant by ‘extraordinary’ was ‘unexpected’, ‘a bit weird’, ‘not what I was planning to do with my life right now’. Whereas the actual fact of the matter is that Seawitch are to ‘extraordinary’ what ‘bloody fantastic’ is to ‘this is exactly the band the world needs right now’.
I first happened by Seawitch at this year’s installation of Hidden Treasures where they played the sweatiest, most warmly received set I’ve ever seen in all my years of attending gigs at the Buffalo Club. The place went off and, when Seawitch left the venue’s tiny stage, they left behind them a puddle of highly satisfied punters, having knocked out a set of grungy stoner rock the likes of which our town has never seen.
“That (Hidden Treasures) reminded me of some of the best shows I did from very early in my music career,” said Horne. “There was a sense of vibrant, raw hunger in the crowd, and I love that it was shared across all the artists who played that night.
“I was so thrilled that we were being so welcomed and that vibe has continued.”
What Horne was too modest to say was that the line to get into their gig that night snaked the length of Fremantle’s High Street and around the block. Disappointed punters were left outside the venue, good-naturedly looking forward to the next opportunity to have their first audience with Seawitch. As an entrée to Perth’s live music scene, there would be few more worthy of the status of instant legend. It was righteous stuff.
As a performer, fronting Seawitch sees Horne in some of the best form of her career.
“I’m astonished that I’m getting up there and playing guitar the way I am,” said Horne. “I’ve barely played guitar since The Mothers and that finished in the late ‘80s. So, to walk on stage with a vintage guitar and throw it around my body while I’m pealing out shrieking feedback chords…I don’t know where that comes from. Really!
“You’ve always got a trick up your sleeve that maybe you don’t even know. The only way you’re going to find out is by trying something you haven’t really done much of before. Just throwing it out there. I’ve got that privilege. I’ve not got stuck in any kind of self-perceived space of this is what I do and what I can do.
“I feel a sense of deep connection and soul familiarity with it.”
Horne’s connection with her craft seeps from the core of her being. She’s one of those musicians who fills a room with her presence from the moment she enters the performance space. It doesn’t hurt either that, right now, Horne is loving life and loving music.
“I love the songs that David (Hopkins, guitar) and I have written for Seawitch. I love singing them and I really enjoy playing them and performing them. They’re very different to anything I’ve done before and that lends itself to finding a tone and a warmth in my voice.
“Once upon a time I was screaming out all the angst, and that was fun and had its place. Now I’m screaming because it feels good.”
Yep, because it feels good. And that’s what it’s like to experience a Seawitch show — it feels good. Gargantuanly good.
Having recently completed and released their first EP, Seawitch, and the accompanying videos in digital format, Horne is understandably keen to talk more about the music and the magik behind what it is Seawitch do.
“All the songs are written to highlight not only David and I collaborating musically,” said Horne, “but there’s also my witchcraft. It was actually David’s idea, he suggested while I was writing my lyrics that I really bring that through. I’d done that in Def FX a little bit, sprinkles of it, but these are overt, literally going through my Book Of Shadows, my book of spells, my witchcraft rituals that I’d written up. That’s what all the lyrics are and the titles reflect aspects of that, too. The lyrics are on the website as a spell book.”
The first song on the EP, ‘Initiate’, is about a witch who wants to do good, dedicating herself to the forces of magik.
“The way we compiled the four songs, we were hoping to take listeners on a bit of a journey,” said Horne. “‘Witch Hunt’ (second track on the EP) tells the story of the Seawitch who casts spells and shows the way to love and freedom, but it’s also talking about the misconceptions around the empowered female, the divine feminine, and how it’s often vilified and chased, even hunted.”
“‘Amulet’ (third up on the EP) is like, OK now you’re out there and you’re a witch, it’s a spell for making a magical charm for feeling empowered and brave,” Horne continued.
“‘Trial Of Love’ (final track on the EP) is based on a love spell, but it’s also about the things we’ll do for love. What lengths you will go to for love,” Horne concluded.
A recent article on Horne and Seawitch in The West Australian had it that Horne ‘claims to be a witch.’ Nope, incorrect. Horne is the real deal.
“The lyrics come from a true place,” said Horne, who then continued to say, “The real magik of life is way more interesting than the special effects of Hollywood.”
And then, the kicker.
“The table I have for my desk is a church altar. David and I love recycling things, there’s enough new shit in the world as it is. I work at a church altar. I love the irony of that. It has a lot of love and good energy in it, and I think it’s been a wonderful creative space to work from.”
That’s the disarming dilemma that is Fiona Horne. She’s straight up magik and like all sprites and other worldly beings, there’s always an air of mystery and cheeky humour about her. Fiona Horne doesn’t claim to be anything, she’s genuine through to her core.
Besides, she’s been there done pretty much everything, so she’s not out to impress anyone, except maybe herself.
“I love something you wrote about us,” said Horne, “where we’ve all been there done that and got no fucks left to give, nothing to prove. Maybe that’s it, too.”
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Seawitch play two Perth shows for Around The Sound at The Aardvark on 11 December and Lyric’s Underground on 12 December. Supported by Potato Stars, Paige McNaught Experience and Savanah Solomon, these will be the best shows in Perth this side of Christmas.