Having been to hundreds of shows in my life, it’s pretty rare at this point that I get blown away by a totally unknown band – but that was exactly the case with Yidhra when I saw them play the Complex in Glendale, CA a few months back. On a great sound system, with Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages projected behind them, these dudes’ COC/St. Vitus/Trouble-derived doom rumbled straight to the pit of my blackened soul. Their debut full-length, Hexed, came out on Friday, September 13, and it was produced by the legendary Bill Metoyer (Corrosion of Conformity, Trouble, D.R.I.), and as long as you turn up the bass on your speaker loud enough it does a pretty good job of capturing their live devastation. I sent guitarist Dave Krocker a series of questions over email so the Decibel readership can get to know them as well. The full album is streaming on Bandcamp, and I’ve embedded it below for you to enjoy while reading Krocker’s responses. WITCH QUEEEEEN *giant riff* –
How did the band form?
I was introduced, through mutual friends, to Grant Story, a vocalist who wanted to start a Doom band. I met Grant, showed him a few riffs I had and we seemed to be on the same page so we got the ball rolling. The usual search for the rest of the members began… cutting to the chase… a couple of months later we were ready to play our first gig. Yidhra was about to face some unknown obstacles in these early days (it was early ’08)… our drummer had to leave, and shortly after Grant was in a horrible car accident. He became paralyzed from the neck down as a result of this accident. Wondering what was going to happen to Yidhra… since I was a founding member, Tom Harris (bassist) and I decided to keep the band going.
Another mutual friend set up a benefit show for Grant and wanted Yidhra to play, so I asked my long time friend, Ted Venemann, to stand in as vocalist…Ted and I had been in another band together so I was comfortably aware of his musical tastes and abilities so it worked out. Ted enjoyed helping out and decided to remain in Yidhra. We did a 4-song demo in the summer of ’09 which was very well received… though the revolving door of drummers was a small issue, the old “2 steps forward 1 step back” kind of thing. Once we found Chris Hannan we were set. Dave Krocker ~ Lead Guitar and B/U Vocals, Ted Venemann ~ Lead Vocals, Theremin and now Rhythm Guitar too! Tom Harris on Bass and Chris Hannan on Drums.
Did you have any influences that might not be so obvious?
Well, not really… Ted and I grew up playing punk rock, and back in the late 80’s when punk and metal started to blend we were both influenced by the usual suspects… Tom’s musical tastes are much like ours… Chris’ are a little more geared towards classic rock, which is great… he likes KISS and SABBATH, which is just fine by us!
What drew you to the Lovecraft/occult themes?
When Grant and I were trying to come up with a name, he being a H.P. Lovecraft fan, stumbled across the name Yidhra… we thought it sounded cool so we went with it. When it came to deciding what to do with the band after his accident… everybody in the band are huge fans of horror so it made sense to keep it. That being said, we didn’t want to just be a “H.P. Lovecraft” band… we want it to be a bit broader… but, obviously, keep it dark.
What does the name mean?
Yidhra is the Lovecraftian “Dream Witch”… the witch of all witches. She can take on any form and given the chance, will devour you.
Which came first, your love of horror material or your love of metal? Or do they feed into each other?
They definitely feed each other… I’ve been a fan of horror since I was a young kid and of course bands like SABBATH, KISS and ALICE COOPER. The combination just makes sense. As for the other guys in the band I’m sure they feel the same way… no doubt about it.
How does the songwriting in the band work?
Generally I come up with a riff, and skeleton structure of the song (musically, I mean)… bring it to rehearsal and work it out as a band. Once Ted has a vocal melody it will go through the arrangement process again to work out the bugs. After that Ted writes the lyrics. Since we’ve recorded the album, Ted has been playing rhythm guitar on some songs… so he’s been bringing riffs in too…. which is great, because I may have a riff and secondary part but need something else for the bridge or break-down and he’ll come up with something that usually fits perfectly. I do have to admit… it’s pretty fuckin’ heavy with 2 guitars!!!
What was it like working with Bill Metoyer? Did he bring any new insights to the album?
Working with Bill was great! Super nice guy…really easy going. Basically we just plugged in and played… he let us do our thing. Really, it was that simple… being familiar with his work we trusted that it would sound good. And fortunately enough, he ‘got’ us as a band and it all worked out.
What’s your favorite thing about playing doom metal?
The vibe, heaviness, volume…. everything about it!! It’s all about the RIFF… sure you can play fast, but something gets lost. Shit, even bands that play fast have those slowed break downs, right? We are a band that tries to write ‘songs’ and set a ‘mood’… when I’m talking to someone unfamiliar with us or doom I say this: Imagine walking through a graveyard at night, it’s foggy… but the fog is weed smoke… ha ha ha ha… DOOM is just HEAVY!!!
Why should people choose you for their doom metal needs?
It’s a little hard answering that question without sounding arrogant, ha ha ha ha ha. Yidhra is a good band, we write good songs (or at least try to). Look, I might not be the greatest guitar player in the world but I mean what I play. I like what I’m doing… and I’m sure the band likes what we are doing too, that’s what matters. If people can sense that I think it comes across through the music… and hopefully they will be into it too.