Focus on Pagan music —
If you think “Pagan music” consists solely of music suitable for Elvish weddings, drum circles, and chants about the Goddess, you may need a healthy dose of Icarus Witch. The brainchild of bassist (and proud Pagan) Jason Myers, Icarus Witch has been featured in heavy metal magazines Metal Maniacs, BW&BK, Outburn, Hit Parader, Pit, Explicitly Intense, Unrestrained and Classic Rock. They’ve brought the Goddess to the mosh pits of Hamburg, Germany’s Headbangers Open Air Festival, and have played alongside luminaries like George Lynch of platinum ‘80s rockers Dokken and Frank X. Aresti of prog metal gods Fates Warning. Kenaz Filan was able to catch up with Jason in his Pennsylvania home just before he took off for the band’s summer “No Rest for the Witches” tour opening for one of their all-time favorite bands, Y&T. Icarus Witch will be promoting their recent release, Draw Down The Moon, this time with former Dirty Looks guitarist/backing vocalist, Christopher Shaner as the new frontman and DiAnno guitarist, Ed Skero on 2nd lead guitar.
K Icarus Witch released its first EP, Roses on White Lace, in 2005. What were you guys doing before then? How did you all come together?
Jason Prior to Roses, I had been living in L.A., working in the record industry, doing A&R, art direction, publicity, and various jobs that allowed me to build up the business knowledge and contacts to help launch a band of my own creation. Although California is still the epicenter of the music business, I felt I would have a better chance of finding the right musicians for this classic metal style back in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, an area of the country known more for its blue collar work ethic and traditions than trendiness.
photo by Jason Cioppa.
L-R: Jason Myers, Steve Johnson, Christopher Shaner, Ed Skero, Quinn Lukas
K You’ve shared the stage with some pretty well-known acts -- Black Sabbath, Yngwie Malsteen, Metal Church. Any stories about playing with the stars?
Jason Nothing I can divulge without breaking our code of the road! Seriously though, every famous group that we’ve opened for so far has been hospitable and seem to enjoy the fact that we are an upstart band carrying the torch for the kind of vintage metal that they helped pioneer. The fact that we were invited to open for Heaven & Hell on what would sadly be the final performances of Ronnie James Dio’s is an honor that I will always cherish.
K AOR metal isn’t exactly the hippest genre on the planet, but Icarus Witch plays it with passion and panache. What drew you to this style of music?
Jason I suppose part of the draw is nostalgia for the kind of metal I remember first hearing my older brother Matt & his friends cranking when I was a child. We all grew up hearing these amazing arena rock bands that played with fire and passion, but still managed to create melodic hooks with which you could sing along. As metal progressed, it became more extreme, more violent, and more technical. Unfortunately, the natural tendency to continue pushing the limits has led to what I consider a dumbed-down hybrid that relies too much on anger, speed, and macho stereotypes to create an effect.
As for “being hip,” that is part of the problem of the American music scene in the past decade. Most people are so worried about what their peer group will think that they lose their sense of self. We decided early on that we were going to play what was in our hearts regardless of what the “cool kids” would say. Turns out, there are a at least a few thousand traditional metal music lovers out there who feel exactly the same way as we do and the fans always thank us for standing up for this (almost) lost art.
K Since, after all, we’re a Pagan magazine, some talk about your religion would be in order: how does Paganism influence your life and art?
Jason I’ve been a practicing Witch since I was 13, the same year that my paternal grandmother passed away and I began playing bass. She had a large impact on me, introducing me to many of the wonders of nature as well as giving me my first acoustic guitar. When she died in the winter, I became too ill to attend her funeral, hallucinating with fever and starting to chronicle what would be a lifelong pursuit of the mysteries that lie right beyond the thin veil of this reality.
I have always used spells and meditation to further my musical and business pursuits and struck my own deal with the Light Bringer to launch this current vision. Again, there are so many musicians who perpetuate the Christian or Satanic extremes yet I find it strange that there are so few openly Wiccan, Druid, or Thelemic musicians who represent the natural beauty of Paganism.
Before I left the City of Angels [Los Angeles] in 2003, I held a séance ritual seeking guidance. I wanted to create the ultimate classic metal revivalist band that would also embody the spirit of the Pagan path, even if just subliminally. The name “Icarus Witch” came to me and the vision began to fall into place as I followed my muse back to the green hills of western Pennsylvania. As part of invoking and acknowledging the energy of this dream, I made a promise to myself to give credit to my faith in traditional Magick. That’s why this interview — in Pagan-owned and operated media — means more to me than all of the others I’ve done for Draw Down The Moon.
K What do you see in the future for classic metal rock — and for Icarus Witch?
Jason Looking into my crystal ball, I’d say that classic rock is on the rise again. It’s cyclical; younger fans are starting to view it as cool once more, and that’s great for us. It goes together with other styles, like the revival of vinyl LP records and vintage fashion. I don’t feel that the classic rock music scene will ever reach the popularity (or excesses) it did in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but it is once again becoming possible for musicians to build a respectable career if they remain patient, consistent, and focus on writing great songs. Even in a time of single-song dominance and instant downloads, there is a thirst for great music, it’s only the delivery system and business structures that have morphed. Blessed Be Rock-n-Roll!
Find out everything about Icarus Witch online at: http://www.myspace.com/icaruswitch and http://icaruswitch.com/
Interviewer KENAZ FILAN is the author of Vodou Money Magic: The Way to Prosperity through the Blessings of the Lwa. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.
This article first appeared in Witches&Pagans #21
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