The notion of comfort is antithetical to the art of Blacktracks. Hailing from the moody landscapes of Spokane, Washington, the duo has made a habit of trading in the hard-to-grasp currency of emotional evisceration. Their songs exist as tributaries that flow through dark corridors of human vulnerability. Yet, it’s precisely this unyielding journey through emotional complexity that has garnered the duo a committed following, while making them an enigma of sorts in the alternative music scene.
Our exclusive chat with the band reveals an intense preoccupation with the ways in which pain shapes the human condition—a thematic epicenter around which orbits their latest single, “Witches,” an affecting follow-up to their last year’s “Casual Drugs.” While the interview will be presented in full below, it’s pertinent to highlight that lyricist Jake Jerome sees the new track as a narrative continuum of its predecessor. “Witches,” he remarks, is “an ode to the fragile fragments of ourselves we lay before the altar of the infernal priestess.”
The track is more than just a song; it’s an experiential immersion into a disquieting dreamscape, one colored by Jerome’s poetic spoken-word lyricism and intensified by Ben Hoagland’s hauntingly potent instrumentation.
Together, they’ve fashioned a sound that is almost tactile in its rawness, blurring the lines between music and emotional venting. “It’s about losing touch with reality and being under the visceral spell of your own stupor,” says Jerome.
The evocative amalgamation of words and music in “Witches” seems to linger long after the final note has died down—like an eerie aftertaste, both troubling and beguiling.
As with any piece of work that warrants your full attention, “Witches” defies easy consumption. It’s designed to challenge, not coddle; to unsettle, not reassure.
The accompanying video, directed by Wes Marvin and shot in Spokane, aims to visually manifest this sonic unease, giving it another layer of existential heft. And for those who want to dive even deeper into the world of Blacktracks, there’s exclusive merchandise on offer—a tactile keepsake of an otherwise intangible experience.
The band is also embarking on a five-date Northwest US tour to promote the single, and they’ve got a full-length album simmering on the back burner, with more details yet to be announced.
9/9 – Richland, WA
9/10 – Eugene, OR
9/12 – Roseburg, OR
9/14 – Portland, OR
9/15 – Spokane, WA
And so, it is perhaps fitting that Blacktracks choose not to place a neat bow around their artistry. There’s no resolving chord that brings closure to the lingering dissonance. “Witches” is not an answer, but a question posed to the listener, a challenge that resists easy definitions and leaves one pondering long after the sound fades away.
Check out our full interview below.
You describe “Witches” as an “aural hallucination and a mouthful of shattered glass.” Can you unpack this vivid description a bit more for us?
Yeah totally. At the core of “witches” we are talking about a period of time where I was deeply ill and experiencing psychosis. It’s about being vulnerable in the mind and losing your grip on reality. It’s about a miscommunicated fucked up game of telephone that haunts the lense you’re looking at the world through. It’s about chewing on whats hurting you instead of just spitting it out.
The pairing of Jake’s poetic spoken-word with Ben’s haunting production creates an intense soundscape. How do the two of you approach the collaborative process?
It was really organic actually. I’ve been living in Oregon for some time now and Ben has been in Utah but we are both from a really small town about 20 minutes outside of Spokane Washington and the scene we grew up in. We both found ourselves home for the summer visiting family, seeing friends and collaborating with our mutual buddy Kevin Rogers. (who tracked this song) I’ve got a lot of respect for Ben and always wanted to work with him, so one day we just got together at my dads house and tinkered on some stuff while we were both in the same area. He brought this really creepy riff to the table and then i put vocals over it.
It seems like “Witches” is a continuation of the narrative from your previous single, “Casual Drugs.” Is this part of a larger storytelling project?
Yes and No. Different story but more or less from the same bizarre & existential period of my life. There is definitely cohesion in that sense with this entire record.
In “Witches,” you talk about “being under the visceral spell of your own stupor.” Do you think this stupor is a universal feeling, especially in today’s societal climate?
Oh gosh probably. For better or for worse I think we’ve all seen first hand in the last few years how deeply subjective reality can be. What a weird time to be a passenger on the earth train.
The music video for “Witches” was shot on-location in Spokane. How important is your local setting to the aesthetic and message of Blacktracks?
It’s a vibe for sure. Google “Rathdrum witches” when you get a second. Spokane/N.Idaho share a community and there’s some spooky lore to unpack about the area that both Ben and I grew up in. We filmed this in the dead of winter in Spokane so it was cold, dark and gloomy. I think we tapped into that for sure.
Wes Marvin directed the music video for “Witches.” What was it like working with him, and how did his vision align with your artistic goals?
Wes is an amazing artist and musician to say the least. This was the first project we worked on together and i fucking loved the ways our minds operated in a creative setting. I knew right away I wanted to work with this guy more…so much so that I actually invited him to join the band. Wes is now the full time drummer in Blacktracks.
Your music seems to tap into the ‘sub-senses’ and offers something more existential. Is this a conscious effort to break traditional musical structures?
Thank you! I dont know how intentional it is but it does kind of defy genre and allow us to dance around the different cul de sacs of the scene. Not being pigeonholed to any 1 lane has been a huge blessing for us despite it being unorthodox at times. We love mixed bill shows and just want to play with whoevers cool and weird.
You have a new full-length album in the works. Without giving too much away, what can fans expect in terms of evolution or continuity of your sound?
We totally do! You can expect the blacktracks you’ve come to know but in a much more developed fashion. We are leaning into our strong suits as songwriters and being really mindful about the entire release. It differs from our singles in a great way tbh.
“Pain is fleeting and it is timeless,” you say. How does this paradox influence your music-making process?
I think pain is the entire point truthfully. I do all of this because deep down I absolutely ache. I think there’s some kind of alchemy at work when we use pain as our vehicle to create art and drive us towards meaningful experiences. It’s fascinating and somewhat mystical how something horrific that festers inside you can be the engine that delivers you to fulfilling experiences.
Jake, your lyrics are described as raw, unfiltered, and deeply personal. How do you find the courage to lay your soul bare in your music?
I’m not certain. I think being completely vehement and vulnerable is the only things thats ever made sense. People connect with us on that level because they can sense the veil of this being a “performance” is really quite thin. I’m going to get up there and be completely visceral and authentic with you.
You’re kicking off a Northwest tour soon. Are there any venues or cities you are particularly excited to play in?
Yes definitely! Road dates are the coolest. We did two weeks this last spring with our sister band Spooky and it was so much fun getting to check out new venues/scenes every night. We’re so excited to go back out.
There’s a good handful of spots we really love but notably really excited to play John Henrys in Eugene again. The sound system is incredible and we have a lot of good friends in the area from my time living there.
The Uptown Theatre in Richland is also really great. They have a kick ass all ages scene and took really good care of us on our last go around.
Our hometown show at The Big Dipper will also be really cool. Monumental shows and the community Ryan Levey has curated is amazing and we’re really grateful to be a part of it.
All the shows will be sick.
Given the heavy emotional themes in your music, what do you hope your audience takes away from your live performances?
I hope the audience is able to take away something uniquely personal to themselves. Something that can only be fully understood through the lense of each persons own lived experience. We always get a lot of really vulnerable and authentic feedback about where our sets take people and its powerful.
Are there any local Washington or Oregon artists or bands that you feel are doing innovative things in your genre or adjacent ones?
The PNW scene is thriving right now so I love this question. One of the only acts I know of who approach a live performance in a similar way to Wes and I is this group called FLESH PRODUCE from Seattle. They are seriously weird and seriously sick. Definitely check them out.
Huge shouts out to NURSER from Seattle. FLORIDA MAN from Seattle.
PSYCHIC DEATH from Spokane and a ton more. I really could go on and on.