Witch Taint: ARE YOU READY?

March 27, 2018


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez


Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready to have your faces melted?!

This isn’t just an idle threat when it comes to watch­ing a Witch Taint show. 

It’s hard to describe the expe­ri­ence of attend­ing one, but we’ll try might­i­ly here. Witch Taint is com­posed of long-time friends Dave Hill and Phil Costel­lo. Dave Hill is a long-time met­al­head and in 2004, pos­ing as Lance, a base­ment-dwelling (his mom’s) teen and self-pro­fessed King of Black Met­al of Gary, Indi­ana, Hill con­tact­ed Math­ias, head of a Nor­we­gian black met­al record label implor­ing him to sign Lance’s band, Witch Taint to Math­ias’ label. A hilar­i­ous set of email exchanges ensued. 

Hill decid­ed in late 2016 to bring the email exchanges to the stage, but he need­ed a part­ner for the stage show, and Costel­lo, while most­ly a musi­cian, appar­ent­ly has been on call to Hill as some kind of weirdo”, which is exact­ly what the stage show needed.

Most of what I do has an ini­tial repel­lent effect; then if peo­ple give it time, it’ll be oooooo it’s the best, isn’t it? It’s like hero­in.”Dave Hill
Nat­ur­al chem­istry of a long-time friend­ship, and Costel­lo’s 3 min­utes of YouTube research on Nor­we­gian accents, result­ed in a fan­tas­ti­cal and mul­ti­me­dia expe­ri­ence. There’s music, there’s dia­logue, there’s cos­tumes, and, nec­es­sary to the suc­cess of any black met­al show, there are goats. Hill says most of what I do has an ini­tial repel­lent effect; then if peo­ple give it time, it’ll be oooooo it’s the best, isn’t it? It’s like hero­in.” I’ve been blessed to see not only one of the ear­ly Witch Taint shows at the 2017 SXSW Fes­ti­val but then once more when Hill and Costel­lo brought it to Out of Bounds Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val. The show keeps evolv­ing, and see­ing it at the 2018 SXSW Fes­ti­val, it’s clear that this odd mix of email read­ing, live music, videos, and more are a for­mu­la for suc­cess for the dark duo.

Beyond Witch Taint, though, this duo has per­formed togeth­er a num­ber of times. You can thank Hulu and iTunes for giv­ing you a chance to watch the sole sea­son of King of Mia­mi where Hill trav­els the mean streets of Mia­mi with his silent body­guard Costel­lo in tow. Costel­lo will stop at noth­ing to pro­tect Hill in his quest to take over Mia­mi and their chem­istry is obvious.

As it was when I sat down with them. While Hill often takes the lime­light in his endeav­ors, he and Costel­lo have a nat­ur­al rap­port that comes through in this inter­view record­ed just hours before the Witch Taint SXSW show. You can tell that their long friend­ship and musi­cal col­lab­o­ra­tions allow them to almost near­ly fin­ish each other’s sentences. 

You’ll want to take a lis­ten to the inter­view to hear about the musi­cal col­lab­o­ra­tions before King of Mia­mi and Witch Taint. From Val­ley Lodge to Dia­mond­snake to Tragedy to Satani­cide to Chil­dren of the Uni­corn, their musi­cal col­lab­o­ra­tions run just as deeply as their friend­ship. With every oppor­tu­ni­ty to work togeth­er, it’s clear this duo doesn’t take them­selves too seri­ous­ly. That’s a use­ful les­son for all of us.

Hill and Costel­lo are head­ed to Lon­don for 2 nights and then Ger­many for the Wack­en Open Air (the world’s largest heavy met­al fes­ti­val) over the next few months, but you can bet your black met­al eye­lin­er that they’ll be bring­ing the show to even more dark venues in the future.

Be sure to check out Dave Hill’s new album by his lat­est band, Paint­ed Doll.

Phil Costello