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Ready for the witching hour

A psych-punk band with a Burbank pedigree brews up a following.

April 24, 2014|By Nicole Charky, nicole.charky@latimes.com
  • Punk-psych rock all-girls band L.A. Witch plays Desert Daze Festival on Saturday, April 26.
Punk-psych rock all-girls band L.A. Witch plays Desert… (Courtesy of Kelsey…)

Drummer Ellie English and singer-guitarist Sade Sanchez won the battle of the bands at Burbank High back in 2007. Now in their 20s, the reunited duo crafts haunted garage rock with bass player Irita Pai in a psych-punk band called L.A. Witch.

"When Ellie and I first met, we were 17, driving around listening to Blonde Redhead and Autolux," says Sanchez, a Burroughs grad who started jamming with English, a Burbank High grad, while they were teens.

On Saturday they join Blonde Redhead, Autolux and some of their favorite artists — along with Angeleno friends Mystic Braves and Froth — at Desert Daze Festival in Mecca, Calif. Psych-rock fiends will drive roughly three hours from Los Angeles to camp lakeside at the Sunset Ranch oasis for sweaty performances by the Raveonettes, Liars and Vincent Gallo.

"We're playing with bands that I listened to in high school," says Pai, who was still playing in now-dissolved band Silver Drones with Sanchez when they formed the new group and landed a residency at the Silverlake Lounge as L.A. Witch. When they fell into a drummer funk, and lost their original player to New York City, they juggled to fill the spot.

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That's when English rattled her way into the all-girls' crew. "We had recently just reconnected," says English, who joined the band last year. English grew up watching her father, Michael English, a musician and elementary school special education teacher in Burbank.

"He would tour during the summertime," says English, also a teacher. Her mother Carolyn teaches ninth grade math in Burbank.

In time for the upcoming desert performance, English, Pai and Sanchez released their first official music video this week for the song "Get Lost," a track off their self-titled EP. The group's melancholy escape song was written about Sanchez's former boyfriend and band mate.

"I was with the same guy for a few years, so every song, when L.A. Witch started, was basically about him. Even when I was with him," says Sanchez, whose echoed lyrics "I don't need nobody else/just take me where you go/to get lost from myself/get lost from my soul" are fused with reverb-heavy guitar soaked in heartache and burn.

The video was shot at the Salton Sea, with the local community watching and joining, the ladies climb into abandoned shanties, jump on nasty beds and smash windows in the film, layered with mounds of dusty, lost footage.

"We've had people approach us about making a video," Sanchez says.

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