Known as the “Zambian Beatles” during their 70s and 80s heyday, WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc) will release their first album in nearly 40 years on Friday, entitled ‘Zango’.
The new release arrives hand in hand with the confirmation of a series of UK dates – with the band due to perform in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol this Winter as follows:
WITCH UK LIVE DATES
28 NOV 2023 / UK / Earth, London
1 DEC 2023 / UK / District, Liverpool
3 DEC 2023 / UK / Band On The Wall, Manchester
4 DEC 2023 / UK / Lost Horizons, Bristol
The rousing, bustling new album also includes the featured highlight “Nshingilile” (which translates to “Let Me Ride” in the Bemba language – a Bantu language spoken primarily in north-eastern Zambia), which WITCH also release today.
The single nods to the heart of the ‘70s Zamrock movement, blending traditional African rhythms with heavy psychedelic rock, blues, funk, and garage. “Nshingilile“ features guest lead vocal from Keith Kabwe, former bandleader and vocalist of Amanaz — another beloved Zamrock band of the era.
WITCH lead singer Jagari explains: “”Nshingilile” is a self-consolation and encouragement for a believer to trust in the power above, blood and name of Jesus as the protection against the enemies’ schemes and ultimate condemnation. Keith Kabwe, lead singer of fellow Zamrock legends Amanaz, and also nowadays a Pastor, wrote the words, and I arranged the music/instrumentation.”
Kabwe continues the story; “The song “Nshingilile” simply means ‘protection’ or ‘help’. Especially when you are in deep trouble and all your friends turn their backs on you and there is no one else to run to, the only option is God. Friends can let you down, your father, mother, brother and sister all stop winking and smiling at you, but God is always there to get through to you.” WITCH guitarist Stefan Lilov notes: “Keith is the ultimate Rock’n’Roll Priest figure.”
The story of Zambia’s greatest rock band WITCH is the story of Zamrock itself. Back in April 2023 they electrified the world with the news that they would be releasing their first record in an extraordinary 39 years.
The most incredible thing about WITCH’s story may well be that they are here to tell it. The WITCH story begins in the ‘60s. As idolisers of British and American rock stars like The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, Emmanuel ‘Jagari’ Chanda and his friends clung to copies of Melody Maker as the sounds of British radio permeated cities like Lusaka. By the mid’-70s, they were at the centre of an explosive scene performing their own brand of riotous rock-and-roll music infused with percussive African rhythms and a world-is-ours mentality. They called it ‘Zamrock’, and WITCH (We Intend to Cause Havoc, to give them their full name) became infamous for their seven-hour live shows and incendiary on-stage antics.
The press dubbed them “Zambia’s Beatles” as they became renowned by fans all across Africa. But just a few years after their heyday, the band fizzled out. Economic crises, social restrictions, and the AIDS epidemic would spell the end of their first incarnation after lead singer Jagari’s departure in 1977. The band went through a disco-inspired metamorphosis in the ‘80s under the leadership of keyboard savant Patrick Mwondela — but by the mid-decade, that too was in decline. And Zamrock — still an obscurity in the West — was already but a figment of the past.
The revival came in 2011, when Now-Again Records reissued a career-spanning collection of WITCH’s music. It would be the first time their work was widely available outside of the band’s native Zambia — though, sadly, by this point, most of the original line-up had died. Crate-diggers and connoisseurs went wild, inspiring filmmaker and fan Gio Arlotta (today the band’s manager) to journey to the country to find the original band’s last surviving member. Once Zambia’s biggest rock star, Jagari was now a gemstone miner in his late ‘60s.
Gio’s subsequent film, titled ‘WITCH: We Intend To Cause Havoc‘, was released in 2019 — it documents the reincarnation of the band with a new line-up ahead of their first-ever live shows in Europe and America. With great acclaim received from international festivals and cinema audiences, and with the new WITCH fulfilling Jagari’s long-harboured dream of performing to fans all over the world, this Zamrock legend finally confirmed its place in rock’s history books.
Empowered and inspired by the rapture at shows in London, Los Angeles and Lusaka — and festivals like SXSW, Desert Daze and Green Man — WITCH veterans Jagari and Patrick, both now in their musical prime in their 70s, returned to the studio in 2021 with an international consortium of players from the new live band. They include Dutch multi-instrumentalist and solo artist Jacco Gardner, drummer and fellow Dutchman Nico Mauskoviç (Mauskoviç Dance Band), Bulgarian guitarist Stefan Lilov (L’Eclair), and German guitarist JJ Whitefield (Poets of Rhythm).
Amazingly, the recording was to take place over two weeks at DB Studios — the same studio where the original band’s sensational 1975 album Lazy Bones had been made some 46 years prior. “It was almost a kind of unintentional Zamrock museum, with this gigantic archive of vinyl records of all the Zamrock bands,” says Jacco – who also helped produce the new album.“We were amazed to find all of the original equipment there that was actually used in the ‘70s. One of the local engineers, Michael Linyama, was basically just soldering in the back room the whole time we were there to get all the phaser and fuzz pedals they used in the ‘70s working again. Jasper Geluk, the sound engineer for my solo tours, some WITCH shows, and groups like Altin Gun, Allah-Lahs and L’Eclair, made all the tape machines work – and this complicated analogue process using the original equipment ended up being a big part of the sound.”
The album ‘Zango‘ is set for release on 2nd June 2023 as the first release on new Partisan imprint Desert Daze Sound.The spell of Zamrock has lost no power despite its years of dormancy. As Jagari says himself on the album’s closing track, it’s “like the story of the phoenix, the bird from the ashes. Zamrock has resurrected from its decades-long slumber.”
1. By The Time You Realize
3. Nshingilile (feat. Amanaz & Keith Kabwe)
4. Streets of Lusaka
5. Unimvwesha Shuga (Hanna Tembo & Theresa Ng’ambi)
6. Avalanche Of Love (feat. Sampha The Great)
7. Malango (Hanna Tembo & Theresa Ng’ambi)
8. Stop The Rot
9. These Eyes Of Mine
10. Message from W.I.T.C.H.
FIRST NEW ALBUM IN 39 YEARS: ‘ZANGO’OUT THIS FRIDAY 2 JUNE VIA DESERT DAZE SOUNDPRE-ORDER/SAVE HERE
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