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Writing and Wrestling with Wicca Phase Springs Eternal

From Scranton to Melbourne, the singer talks his Australian tour, recording in the woods and hypothetical wrestling gimmick.

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Last decade came the rise of the internet-era in music. Rapidly we saw the growing population of URL-based communities on Tumblr, Soundcloud, Datpiff and more, creating a way to consume music without ever taking a CD off a spindle. It created a scene of limitless sounds in rap music, where acts like Bones, Yung Lean, Lil Ugly Mane and more garnished their rhymes with the sounds of ambient, black metal and emo. In this world, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal was born. 

Fast-forward to February 2020, Wicca (real name Adam Mcllwee) in an empty Max Watts, anticipating his first Melbourne show on his first Australian tour. This comes 7 years into this musical project he started to blend the sounds of indie, emo, electronic, and hip-hop, which he extended into his highly influential collective Gothboiclique. Even his stint in the band Tigers Jaw from 2005-2013 didn’t see a trip down under.

But in reality, this trip couldn’t come at a better time, fresh off a 2019 that saw the release of his debut album Suffer On and the creation of wrestler Darby Alin’s entrance theme on AEW. With the soon to be filled venue as our backdrop, Wicca and I talked about everything from recording in the woods with Lil Zubin to his current favourites in pro-wrestling. Even though Wicca’s been in the game for a minute, it seems like he’s just getting started. 

Hey man, How’s the tour so far?
It’s good. I had no idea what these shows would be, but they’ve been good.

You used to play with the band Tigers Jaw. How does performing as a solo act compare?
Well, it’s all on you, as a solo performer, which is good and bad because you get all of the attention, but there’s also more pressure if something goes wrong. Creative control is another thing too, I can do whatever I want, and there’s no pushback.

Georgia Maq is supporting tonight, and you’re touring the US with the band Citizen soon. It seems like mixed bills are becoming a regular thing in the rap and indie/pop-punk world. Why do you think this is?
Now that beats and electronic music has become so easy to make, more people are doing it. I think that has infiltrated the stage. Other people would probably say that there’s some lyrical correlation, and that’s just another reason why it works.

It’s been a year since your last album Suffer On. How was 2019 for you?
I feel like 2018 was a weird year. I stopped working full time to do music and had a lot happen that I didn’t anticipate happening. I signed with Run For Cover and toured way more than I ever had before. In contrast, I knew what 2019 was going to be like. I knew there was a clear rollout and a clear touring schedule that I would follow. It was all pretty planned out, and I feel like now I’m back into that cycle of getting ready for the next album. It’s time to write more, release projects, see who I can work with, and what I can do differently. Last year was good, but it was like the textbook “this is what you do after you release an album” year. 

Do you think anything has changed about you as a person over this past year?
I don’t know, it’s so soon. It feels like Suffer On just came out, and it feels like this project is still pretty new. Every day I’m still waiting for something to happen where it’s not gonna work out. There is a lot of turnaround in the music industry, and a lot of it is trend-based. So if the trend you’re a part of dies off, you’re kind of done. So that’s what I’m thinking about at all times. I’m never really content with anything. I haven’t been so successful in the past year that I can coast for the next 5 to 10 years. I’m not trying to be pessimistic or down or myself for the sake of it. Things have been good, and I’m happy, but at the same time, I’m sceptical of everything that has to do with music.

One of my favourites from Suffer On is ‘Does Your Head Stop?’, which I interpret to be an ode to overworking. Do you ever take time to allow your head to stop?
No [laughs]. If I’m not working all the time, I feel like I’m being lazy, and I feel like I’m squandering the fanbase that I have now. So no, it’s a constant pressure. If there’s a day or week or month where I haven’t written anything or recorded anything, I’m upset about it. And that’s a day to day thing. It motivates me to get things done, but the pressure can be so much that I’m like “I have not finished this song in a month, maybe I should go find a real job.”

You recently went to the woods with Lil Zubin to record. What was that trip like?
It was good, those trips always work out well. That’s how Misery Club records, and it’s how Døves and I mostly record. There’s something about having a finite amount of time away from home. You don’t want to squander the 4 or 5 days you have there and you’re far enough removed from everything else that the only thing you can do is work on music. So that combination of things, for whatever reason, results in productive recording and writing sessions. We never go in with anything written, and it just seems like those circumstances work for us. 

It has been a year now since you’ve been on Run For Cover Records. What are the benefits of being with an indie label as opposed to a major?
Having creative control over whatever you’re doing is a big thing. You can be offered a tonne of money, but no one tells you that you have to make that back before you can continue with your career. You could be given $500,000 for your first album with a major label, and you could spend half of that on a house or being dumb. Then you have $250,000, and still have to record 5 more albums. Whereas now, I’ll be getting to the point where I will be asking Run For Cover for more money for the second album, and I don’t have to worry about the money from the first album. I guess some people just want to be famous, so I could see why signing with a major label would be advantageous in that situation. But you can be famous independently.

I saw that you recently made the theme song for AEW wrestler Darby Allin. What’s it like getting involved in the wrestling world?
It’s pretty weird because it’s a corporate thing, but the entity behind AEW is pretty hands-off in terms of stuff like entrance songs, and promo videos. I had been trying to meet Darby, and he had an indie show canceled in a city when I was on tour. He came to a few shows after that, and then sent me 2 or 3 references of different slow plodding, crusty songs. So I just wrote the track and recorded it with Will Yip, and that was it. It’s kind of a pain because I own the song, so whenever (AEW) posts a clip of him on Facebook or Youtube it gets flagged because of copyright. So I constantly have to send emails stating “I own the song and are allowing AEW to use this” [laughs]. 

Who are your favourites in Pro Wrestling at the moment?
I’m rooting for Darby, for obvious reasons, but also because he’s been positioned well where he’s not overexposed. So people miss him when he isn’t on TV for 4 or 5 weeks. I’m also really rooting for Jungle Boy. I feel like we’re on the ground floor with him where he wasn’t a super popular indie wrestler. Jungle Boy was wrestling in the indie scene for 6 to 8 months before he got a major TV deal, and that’s exciting. I think he’s naturally talented and will be a future star. He’s someone that they can build upon in 4 to 5 years or even 8 years, he could be the guy for them. 

What would your wrestling gimmick be?
I have no idea, I think I would still use the name Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. I think I would just be like this. I would be a musician that performs to 300-500 people and then goes to a wrestling gig. I think people would hate me for that. I can get good heat [laughs]. 

Lastly, what do you have planned for 2020? Maybe a Gothboiclique album?
Gothboiclique will record this year, I don’t know when it will come out. Suffer On took a long time to come out, and that was just me, so I imagine a Gothboiclique album could take a little bit longer. Realistically I see that happening in 2021. But hopefully, some singles come out before the end of the year. I’d like to record the second LP for Run For Cover, and I have a full-length project with Døves that we’re putting out online for free. I have an EP with Darcy Baylis coming out on Run For Cover this year. Yeah, lots of stuff planned. 

Wicca Phase Springs recently dropped his Doves-collaboration project ULTRACLUB4K. You can listen here

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