Metal Band Rises From the Ashes of Relationship Destruction
Meet Witchrot, the Toronto metalheads who went viral for announcing their exceedingly messy “extended hiatus.”
Photo supplied by Witchrot.
Lots of people have been or will be cheated on, it’s just kinda a sad fact of life.
Relationships wither and sometimes people stray. For most people this is a personal thing that stays with them, for most this isn’t what they become known for—but most people aren’t in a Toronto metal band called Witchrot.
For those of you who missed it, Witchrot was a relatively obscure metal band in Toronto. They had recorded an album which got some notice on blogs and were opening for bigger bands. You know, just doing what most unknown bands have to do in order to grow an audience. Then the bass player’s long-term girlfriend hooked up with Witchrot’s guitarist, and Peter Turik (the bassist) blew up the band in epic fucking style.
He also posted a picture of a guitar he smashed up.
Well, the internet saw this breakup notice (well the “extended hiatus” notice) and decided to blow them up. The post went viral and began popped up on music sites across the world—Consequence of Sound, NME, Rolling Stone France, Kerrang!, People Magazine and many more picked up on the story—and all of a sudden the world knew the name Witchrot, their cheating guitarist, and their dead (but not actually dead) drummer.
Somehow, someway, Turik has been able to turn his heartbreak into a net positive for his band. They gained a ton of free publicity (and you can let your cynicism decide what this means), decided to move forward (minus the guitarist, of course) and were able to parlay the attention into a headlining show at one of Toronto’s best-known venues, Lee’s Palace, which they’re calling “The Resurrection.” This being a rather unique situation, and Witchrot calling Toronto home, I decided to reach out and see if Peter would talk to me and surprisingly he agreed.
Peter invited me over to talk at his place. It would work great, he said, because he has a ton of room ever since his ex-moved “all of her shit out.” VICE met up with Lea (Witchrot’s lead singer) and Peter to drink some Jameson with our morning coffee, eat his uncle’s pickled beets, and talk love, heartache, metal, and virality.
VICE: Thanks for having us. So, I guess, what's it like going viral for something like this? It's gotta be weird.
Peter: It's funny. Like I said man, anyone who takes social media too seriously... you gotta get your priorities straight, you know? It is surreal, but it's funnier than anything else because people just love it, they're going nuts.
Lea: All my friends from LA have texted me being like, isn't this your band, is this for real? Even my ex-boyfriend who moved to Abu-Dhabi messaged me like 'hey, what's going on here.' It's funny but at the same time, it's an amazing opportunity.
Peter: Yeah like some blog in Bangladesh called us a steel band.
So, how did you find out about it?
Peter: I use my ex-girlfriends iPad for movies at night and I saw a message pop up on messenger and thought it was my account. So I clicked it and I just saw a message and it, you know, kinda made itself clear.
How did it progress from there?
Peter: I confronted my girlfriend and it just kinda unfolded from there and I'm single now. I haven't seen the guy since and nor do I ever want to.
Were you guys tight?
Peter: Yeah man, put it this way, I loved both of them a ton.
When did you smash the guitar?
Peter: The day I found out, one of my buddies found out and he came to my house and we just had a day of hanging out and talking about this situation. We just realized that this is what happened and let's surrender to this realization because there is no way in hell we can rectify it. So I smashed that guy's fucking guitar. It was a shitty guitar anyways before I went to smash it the headstock fell off.
So that’s when you made the post then?
Peter: Well, a little after that. You know, man, I wasn’t expecting the whole world to know. I just figured like we had to cancel some shows and I didn't want to burn any bridges with promoters so I wanted them to know I had a, you know, good reason for cancelling. [laughs] Seems like people responded pretty well.
I thought about posting it but I didn't do it for a bit and eventually, when I did, it was just important that I explain the gravity of the situation. I wanted to continue the band. And with all the traction we got with this post it would be fucking stupid not to continue.
Lea: Just the opportunity to carry on forward was good enough for me. Regardless whether it blew up into some unexpected publicity or not I would have been stoked to continue it.
When did it blow up?
Peter: We were at work. At mine, people were like, 'hey man Kerang just hit you up,' then, later on in the day, buddy was like 'Rolling Stone France just hit you up' and the whole day at work was like... watching to see who was the next to hit us up.
Lea: Yea, my phone crashed it was so intense. I was at work cutting hair and it was like 'what the fuck is happening' and the push notifications blew up.
So you guys are moving forward, does that mean you’re going to be taking over, uh, the lead guitar duty?
Peter: I mean, yeah. I already fucking did really, in the studio I played the lead.
You guys got unheard of promotion for a band your size. What's the other band you're in [Crazy Bones] think of this? Are they like 'Hey! Why couldn't this have...'
Peter: 'Why couldn't have one of us cheated on you,' you mean? [laughs] I was sitting with one of them when I got the message, yo you're shit is blowing up. We've been laughing for a good while. It's still very funny to us. They're just pretty much stoked.
All the outlets who covered this didn’t really know what to do with that final line “also our drummer is dead.” So, I guess we can definitely say, the drummer is not dead, right? Because that at the end of the post threw some people through a loop.
Peter: I can say he's definitely still among us. I'm kinda surprised how many people took it seriously. It's social media if you take it that seriously, you're an idiot. That's not reality, you know. He's definitely not dead. He read the initial post because I ran it by him and he said 'that's cool but add that I died because it's funny.'
Some people who are just learning about the story are so happy to learn that he's alive and it's so fucking dumb. Lots of people were concerned about him.
Lea: That's the thing, it's one thing if you're writing things among friends it's one thing but when it goes viral like that everything takes on such a new gravity.
How are you keeping your mind off what happened and kinda keeping yourself sane during this crazy little ride?
Peter: I just like... don't think. The more you think the more fucked up you get, you know? Clear my head, don't think of anything, just be conscious, and as soon as an emotion comes in I just need to realize that's all it is, an emotion that's attacking me like a virus.
You seem remarkably chill for someone who just recently went through this, I was kinda expecting someone angsty or morose.
Peter: Well, I'm not an emo kid, man. [laughs] Some of the comments have been messaging me and being like 'you're a fucking pussy man' and it's funny. I've come to love the haters. I don't really give a shit. You know how rappers are always saying they love the haters, well I get it now. The haters are probably are the best part of the whole thing.
Have any of the messages been good?
Peter: Yeah dude! Lots have been really good, the number of people that have just messaged me directly saying like 'hey man, just wanna let you know like I've been through this to' is huge. And that's cool and all but there are a lot of people writing to me to say they like the music and that's awesome.
This is the number one thing I've learned being in a metal band and just a rock band is that no other scene has been as friendly or as appreciative [as metal]. Everyone has been saying stuff like 'I love your band man, you guys are cool' and sending nice messages.
Lea: I honestly have thought about maybe that being part of the reason why it was so widespread because the metal community of all communities is so tight-knit and protective of their own.
"Well, I'm not an emo kid, man." —Peter Turik
So, Lea, this is your first band experience, right? What's that been like?
Lea: It's funny because all my friends who have been in bands forever like for years and years are like 'oh yeah, first band right?' Cool, just exploding all over the world.' But that's what's so ridiculous about it. We know so many people that are just so accomplished and talented and been playing for years and years and years and would just die for this kind of publicity—and are very deserving of it—and then like... it's just crazy what the internet will pick up.
Peter: How many times do you see a band and you go and check them out online and they have like no following. It baffles my mind all the time, how come there are so many bands out there but nobody knows them and then this happened. It’s bullshit.
They just don't know how to play the game?
Peter: Well the game is bullshit, it's fucking bullshit. The amount of money that goes into PR is ridiculous. So at this point, we got like millions of dollars of free PR for pretty much free. It's a joke.
Lea: You can't even pay for that kind of publicity.
When it first blew up, was it like 'what the fuck?'
Peter: Yeah, I was with a friend and he was like 'what the fuck? You've already passed the likes on my band, you know how hard we worked for those likes? This is fucking bullshit.' [laughs] Then I saw Consequence of Sound shared it and I was like 'wow, this is big.' Then it was like, there ain't no stopping it, the internet took control.
Did the free publicity taper off the anger?
Peter: No... I was kinda already past that already. The first three days I was pretty bummed and after that, I kinda realized I had to clear my head and not let those emotions lead my life. I just had to force myself to drop it. I was pretty content with myself so when all this happened it was like 'wow, I knew I would be alright but the universe just gave me a big ol' high five.
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