Getting to Know Windhand

Getting to Know Windhand

Windhand is more than a heavy, lyrical doom ensemble — it’s a mood.

Not often do I obsess over band the moment I first hear them, but Windhand has allowed exactly that. Their music is dark and beautiful — fully equipped to handle a heart like mine. At the Fine Line on Thursday night, I lost myself entirely in their seductive sound, and reached a new height of rock and roll ecstasy I hadn’t experienced in a very long time.

Windhand resonates with me as a sexier, more experimental Black Sabbath. Because of this, I was into it right away, even before I saw them live in concert. I don’t freak out over any band quite like Sabbath. They transform me, and it’s easy to submit myself fully to their music. This kind of crazed admiration came out of nowhere, and I feel like it’s happening all over again with Windhand.

Before the show began, I had the opportunity to detail my enchantment to the lead singer and songwriter of the band, Dorthia Cottrell. I told her that their music made me feel as if I was listening to a part of my soul; an explainable state of mind that no one else could possibly understand. She obviously did, and her relaxed attitude served as a comfort throughout our entire conversation. We talked about our dogs, karaoke bars, our favorite bands from high school, and the emotional relationship we have with music.

Dorthia Cottrell has been playing guitar and writing her own songs since she was 14 years old — something she said has helped her power through many difficult moments in her life.

“It does make me think about shit more,” she said. “But you have to get rid of the poison. It’s a good way to deal with it and confront it.”

In a business dominated by labels and quick assumptions, the members of Windhand have no time for it. Instead, they focus all their attention on creating music together, and that’s about all that makes sense to this band of regular people.

“I would drive myself insane trying to please everyone, so I just try to do something that doesn’t suck too much.”

As a compilation, their latest and fourth full length: Eternal Return struck me right in the heart, and reminded me how it felt to feel. It’s interesting how we all go through things in life that stay with us. They tend to resurface when we least expect it, and music, especially the lyrics and the emotions behind it, is the catalyst of that.

“I would drive myself insane trying to please everyone, so I just try to do something that doesn’t suck too much.”

“We all went through a lot of life changes in between the last record and this record; we kind of grew up a bit little more,” Dorthia said. “We started writing and it actually came out faster than normal. I think we were all just pent up.”

Before I had the chance to ask her about Pilgrim’s Rest, one of my favorite songs off Eternal Return, I anticipated that there was a great deal of sorrow behind the acoustic lullaby.

“Our friend Jon [Rossi] from the band Pilgrim passed away while we were writing it,” she explained. “That was in the back of our minds for a lot of the songs that we wrote. It’s really all about that.”

Music has helped me deal with many things in my life, and I feel like the music of Windhand in particular could help many people. I’m thankful for Graham, my friend and co-host of The Pit, for introducing me to Orchard — the one song that struck my obsession in the first place. After that recommendation, it was over, and I can’t even put into words how much fun it was to see it performed live.

On stage, Windhand sounds just like their recordings — a part of the creative process Dorthia says is always the most intense: “You’re making something that’s permanent,” she said. “All the songs on this album are about real stuff that we all went through.”

Windhand’s performance of  Feather – the last track off Eternal Return – was richly trippy. Mid-way through, I was fully involved with what was happening on stage. In that moment, nothing else mattered, and I couldn’t help but sing along with Dorthia’s spooky, wordless harmonies.

It’s all about longevity with Windhand. It’s their secret sauce; what makes them attractive and spellbinding. The drowning out technique they like to use at the ends of their songs adds to their music’s overall eeriness, all while allowing their songs to mold together blissfully. My three favorite performances of the night were all from Eternal Rescue: Grey Garden, Diablerie and First to Die. I loved watching Dorthia headbang her way through these performances. If I wasn’t in such a trance, I would have been on her level, but I was so mystified I could barely move.

Windhand is my new favorite band; my forever mood. I like that I know how to react to it; it knows how to move me and is a part of me. It was humbling to take some time away from my own head to focus on Dorthia Cottrell’s emotion. A real rock and roll spirit lives inside her, which I can relate to deeply when she sings. I have developed a greater understanding of myself and the things I desire since listening to her lyrics. The excitement this music gives me is a clear part of my being, and seeing Windhand in concert at the Fine Line Thursday night made me feel secure in that.

Candice & Dorthia Cottrell of Windhand

Like Windhand? You can hear them on The Pit hosted by Woody, Graham and Graves from 10pm – midnight every Saturday on 93X! 

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Nov 8, 2018 at Fine Line

Old Evil
First To Die
Forest Clouds
Grey Garden
Red Cloud