INTERVIEW: FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS by Elena Childers
Has anyone else been feeling like life is just a simulation lately? Like, the pandemic and everything is just another level you have to beat in this videogame called “Life?”
That’s how psych-garage rockers Frankie & the Witch Fingers felt when they were camped out at a ranch during the beginning of the pandemic. It was before the vaccine and before we really knew anything. When everyone was afraid to even be near each other—it all felt so surreal. So, to feel a little alive again, Frankie & the Witch Fingers got together with Levitation and did their live session in their pandemic bunker.
The video starts off with the band inviting everyone to join them as the colors around them start to glitch and blend together. The music starts to reverberate in your mind and you get sucked into Frankie & the Witch Fingers’ trippy version of the metaverse during the height of lockdown.
I called the band up recently while they were in the middle of recording new music to chat about the making-of and the behind-the-scenes of this pandemic-baby session.
Read the entire interview with Frankie & the Witch Fingers below:
Elena Childers (EC): Hey! How have you guys been? I haven’t seen you since pre-pandemic.
Nikki Pickle (NP): We’ve been doing really good. We’re in the studio right now recording!
Dylan Sizemore (DS): Yeah, we’re getting ready to head out in the middle of May for our Europe tour.
EC: Oh hell yeah! Tell me about this Levitation Session you got going on. It starts out hella trippy. What’s the theme you guys were going for?
DS: At the time, it was pretty early on in the pandemic. It had been so long since shows had happened and since we had even gotten to play in front of a crowd. So, the idea was to bring that feeling back through the video. Our buddy Dave, who did a lot of visuals for the video, “Shitshow Dave,” had the idea to start by inviting the audience into the place we were playing in. We had been working for a couple of weeks inside this like… hanger. Just to give everyone a feel of where we were and the environment we were in and to invite them into it.
EC: So where were you guys exactly?
NP: We were in Pioneertown, which is near Joshua Tree in the high desert in California. We were at our friend’s ranch called ‘Super X Ranch’—our friend Alice’s ranch. She gave us the entire place for basically like a month, probably more like two or three weeks. We had full lockdown. Everyone had to have tests to come in; once you were in, doors were locked; we were like a complete space station cut off from the outside world just making music.
EC: That is so awesome! Sounds wild. You must’ve gotten into some other shenanigans other than music in such an amazing place?
NP: We made a lot of food! We had synth jams. We frolicked in the moonlight!
Josh Menashe (JM): It was like camp!
NP: Yeah, like band camp with all of your friends. It was really fun and really necessary after being locked down for so long. I feel like it was a game-changer for everybody to get together again after we had been scared to be around other people and only talking over Zoom. Just to be able to touch each again and like hug was really important.
EC: So it must’ve felt like a very nice breath of fresh air?
DS: It had been months since the band had been together or played music. And then it was a great excuse to have friends who we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. To work with them and see them and spend time with them.
EC: Love that. Tell me about your choice of songs you guys played.
DS: We chose most songs from the album that was released around that time, Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters, and sprinkled a couple of old ones in there to make it a bit of a variety of our past.
EC: What do you want people to walk away with when they catch this session?
DS: I think visually because there is a mixture of VHS footage and live footage of the room where in and mixing that together gave it this… I wanna say simulated feel? Because a lot of the album is about being in a simulation and we were really hyped on that concept and theme at that time. So it worked out the way the video did. Even the way Levitation set it up, it felt very much like a simulated concert or something.
NP: Like, you could be there remotely. Download your avatar into this space to be with us.
EC: The Metaverse!
NP: Yeah! Let’s meet up in the Metaverse!
EC: Sick. Do you think the experience with the session will help inspire anything you’ve got cookin’ for the future?
JM: Possibly. I can see going back out into the desert. It was really refreshing to be out there.
NP: Yeah, we actually went back this weekend and we got to walk through that space again for the first time since we had recorded.
JM: Yeah, we totally like uprooted that airplane hanger in her ranch. We had to move so much stuff out just to set up. It’s almost unrecognizable when you walk in.
EC: Wait… An airplane hanger???
NP: It was actually a beekeeping area. It’s as big as an airplane hanger, but it was used for beekeeping. It has like collected honey in it, but you could easily fit an airplane in it.
EC: Wow. So cool. We have to wrap up, any other feelings you wanna share from when you were in the midst of making this session—since it was at such an uneasy time during the pandemic?
NP: I think it was like… well, everyone was so locked down at the time and really worried about germs and there were no vaccines at that time. It was like, “oh yeah, we remember how fun it is to be around each other. We remember what it’s like to party with our friends again and not feel like phobias about being around people.” It was like extremely necessary, very fun, very unifying—we all felt this sense that we were all on this mission together, even the people who were there just to help out, we were all contributing to this greater vision.
EC: Well, thanks so much guys! Hopefully, I’ll catch you guys in New York again soon.
DS: Yeah, we’ll be in New York in July, so hope to see you there! Good to hear from you again!