A DIFFERENT EXPLOSION The Warlocks

Fuzz, feedback and
drone merchants get highly combustible.

BY FRED MILLS

 

The Warlocks are in the middle of a U.S. tour with the Black Angels that’s presently
snaking its way through the South and will be heading westward, wrapping July
24 in Los Angeles.
They’ll spend the bulk of August in Europe and the UK, and then in October they’ll go
Down Under for a 5-date Australian tour. So this is as good as any time to let
head Warlock Bobby Hecksher recap the scoop on his group’s latest album, Heavy Deavy Skull Lover (Tee Pee),
alight with more fuzz, feedback, drones and moans per capita than a boxful of
Velvets, Can, Suicide and Spacemen 3 platters.

 

Hecksher’s helmed the band since 1998, steering a shifting
lineup that’s sometimes numbered up to eight members across four full-lengths.
For 2005’s Surgery the band signed
with Mute and tapped the services of superproducer Tom Rothrock (Beck,
Coldplay), but the dalliance with the big leagues proved brief, as his musical
ideas clashed with the marketing plans of the label. The new one, then, borne
out of what was, for Hecksher, a near-crippling frustration with dealing with
the music industry, is the most uncompromising record he’s ever made.

 

If you get a chance to see the band live, don’t pass on it:
yours truly caught ‘em at SXSW a couple of years ago and left with my earwax
righteously cleaned out and my cranium fully uncorked.

 

***

 

It’s been intimated
that being on Mute and working with Tom Rothrock wasn’t altogether pleasant, or
at least not how you wanted it to be. The press sheet says you came close to
“giving up music completely,” in fact.

 

I was just frustrated and upset for a while. The record we
wanted — a much darker, harder record — was rejected by management/label and
they wanted to change it to something nicer and more radio friendly. I’m not knocking them for it — it’s
just what happened. Management/label also got a lot of shit together and helped
The Warlocks grow in many ways. So in the end I am grateful for their
involvement. I still say there are some great songs on there that did come out
just right, and we move on.

 

Going into the making
of Heavy Deavy Skull Lover, what did
you have in your mind that you wanted to accomplish?

 

I wanted to make an album with a series of odd chord changes
and themes. “The Valley of Death” and “Moving Mountains”
for example. Initially I wanted the whole record to sound like that but just
not enough time to focus it. Isn’t that always the case! It turned out pretty
weird! Which makes me happy.  [The
album’s] about what drugs, greed, egos and delusion does to people. It’s also
about a loss to someone near and dear to me. It’s also about David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and
a rattle snake.

 

 

You’ve stripped down
to a quartet for the album after being notorious for fronting an ensemble twice
that size —why? And I read about your putting an ad out for additional players
via MySpace, but that you ultimately ditched that idea…

 

The ones that were in natural communication were the people
I decided to make the record with. Also I’ve been trying to get better at
guitar playing so that’s a cool thing too. I play all the guitar on this one! [The MySpace strategy] just didn’t work
for me — so many people responded that I just couldn’t tell what’s what. I gave
that up and found people more naturally. I think the touring line up will
always revolve a little depending on how I’m feeling and what’s suits the set I
want to do. Today we are at a six piece and it sounds great!

 

Heavy Deavy Skull Lover: sounds like the greatest B-movie
bad-trip/biker gang/sexploitation title never filmed. Discuss.

 

I like that, pretty awesome description. “Deavy” is a made
up word.  It means “an event” or “something
unexplainable is about to happen” — like a bang, but with a different kind of
explosion.

 

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