While the news has had time to sink in with the passing of time, it was a big ol’ shocker when Witch Mountain vocalist Uta Plotkin announced she was stepping away from her post after five years of fronting the Portland doom heroes. According to drummer Nathan Carson, he and the other members [guitarist Rob Wrong and bassist Charles “Charles Dingus” Thomas] received the disheartening news via phone shortly after returning from a European tour a few months ago. Plotkin and Witch Mountain are on the tail end of their pairing – opening for Nik Turner’s Hawkwind across North America – and from there the band will begin seriously entertaining CVs from hard-working, golden throat-ed individuals willing to jump into the fiery fray surrounding their recently released fourth album, Mobile of Angels. You will definitely be reading a lot from the remaining members about their present and future, so we tracked down the departing Plotkin and somehow managed to get the normally reclusive vocalist to answer a few questions about her departure from the band.
So, you’re leaving Witch Mountain after this next tour. What were the factors leading to this decision and when did you make it?
I’ve been feeling restless for about a year. I joined Witch Mountain in 2009 looking for a learning experience and just experience in general. I had started my band, Aranya a year earlier and was new to the scene and new to running a band. I worked fanatically those first few years, but as I passed out of my twenties and into my thirties, I found my priorities changing and my inner vision shifting from something ecstatic and all-encompassing to something more personal. With three albums behind me in Witch Mountain, I feel I’ve accomplished what I needed to here and as it’s taking up more of my time, it’s harder to justify neglecting other parts of my life and creativity.
Was it a difficult one to make and was it difficult bringing it to your band mates?
Of course, this was a difficult decision that kept me up nights. I’m making big changes in my life and that’s never easy or comfortable. Luckily my bandmates took the news with maturity and understanding.
Are you leaving the world of metal/music? What are you going to be heading into and what is the next chapter of your life looking like?
I don’t intend to stop making music, metal or otherwise. This next year will be an incubation period for the next phase. After this fall tour I’m moving onto my friend’s farm in Oregon City where I’ll have plenty of time and space to work on a solo album and continue my training in web development and programming. Also, Aranya might record one more album early next year before I go hermit.
What would you say were some of the high/lowlights during your time in the band and what aspects did you like/dislike about being in a touring band with a rising profile?
Writing and recording with Witch Mountain has been a special treat. Rob and I write well together and recording with Billy Anderson demonstrated to me what a good producer can do to take your music to the next level. Being in Witch Mountain made me a better and more confident performer. As far as touring, getting to see more of the world through the lens of underground music was something I’d dreamed of for a long time. But the pace and intensity often overwhelm me. The attention too, despite being mostly positive, makes me uncomfortable, which doesn’t bode well for me as we gain in popularity. I’m a private person and the internet is not for private people. Over the last few years too, I’ve been turned off by the business of music, its falsity, its cynicism, its shameless, empty bragging and how it makes some people treat and talk about others. But I’ve met too many positive and inspiring people in music to let that get me down for long.
With your time in Witch Mountain, how do you feel you changed as a person, what lessons did you learn that you feel you’ve been able to apply to your everyday life and what mistakes do you think you’re now better equipped to avoid?
This is a hard question to answer right now. I feel very different than I did six years ago but the changes just kind of feel related to getting older. Ask me again in a year when I have a better perspective on all this. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the principle that guides my life better than any other I’ve come across, and that’s to follow my heart.
Witch Mountain + Nik Turner’s Hawkwind (remaining dates)
09/18 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
09/19 – Rock Island, IL @ RIBCO
09/20 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
09/21 – Saint Paul, MN @ Turf Club
09/22 – Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret
09/23 – Saskatoon, SK @ Vangelis Tavern
09/24 – Calgary, AB @ Palomino
09/26 – Vancouver, BC @ Venue (early evening show)
09/27 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
09/28 – Portland, OR @ Star Theater