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The Warlocks: Casting a Hazy Spell

 
story by tim mcmahan


 

 

Lazy-i: March 19, 2003


The Warlocks
w/ Little Brazil, End Transmission
Friday, March 21
9 p.m.
Sokol Underground

13th & Martha
Omaha

$7


Life on the road -- and on stage -- can be rather crowded when you're sharing a van with seven people. Just ask Danny Hole, one of the drummers for Los Angeles neo-psychedelic rockers The Warlocks.

That's right, I said "one of the drummers." Hole sits alongside fellow stickman Jason Anchondo, both manning full-sized drum kits. If that wasn't enough to crowd the stage, add two guitarists, JC Rees and Corey Lee Granet, bassist Bobby Martine, organist/vocalist Laura Grisby, and the band's frontman, guitarist/vocalist Bobby Hecksher.

"We go from extremes," Hole said. "During our tour with Interpol, there were some stages where Jason and I were 30 feet apart. Then there are some clubs where we can barely get the two drum kits together without hitting our knuckles on each other's cymbals."

The band, who just finished a European and West Coast tour opening for Interpol, has been lovingly compared to the Velvet Underground and "Sympathy for the Devil"-era Rolling Stones. On Phoenix Album, their new LP released on California indie label Birdman Records, there's a distinctive '60s psychedelic vibe going on, especially on the shorter, more poppy songs like "Baby Blue" and "Moving and Shaking," which would sound right at home playing in a bedroom adorned with black light posters, lava lamps and a 6-foot GTO bong.

The CD's medium-length tracks (6- to 8-minutes each) are all about getting a groove on. The white-blues chugger "Hurricane Heart Attack" sounds like stoned-out Gutterball; the hypnotic "Inside Out" is classic Velvets sung in a nasal Tom Petty, while "Stone Hearts" starts off like Velvets' "Heroin" before kicking into something reminiscent of Brian Jonestown Massacre, complete with teeth-grinding guitar solos and plenty of feedback.




 

 

 

But it's on the long, head-trip numbers that the Warlocks really cast a spell. The fuzzy, 9-plus minute "Cosmic Letdown" has all the subtlety of Led Zep in full "Kashmir" mode, growing from a single, repeated guitar riff, slowly building into a big metal monster. CD closer "Oh Shadie" has enough backtracking and sound effects to make any Meddle-era Pink Floyd fan grin like an idiot. That one clocks in at just under 15 minutes.

Hole says he knows the long songs are going well on stage if he can get lost in their hypnotic trance.

"If it's all going well and it feels good, you don't have to think about it," Hole said, adding that he synchronizes his play with co-drummer Anchondo by ear, becoming so in synch that they finish each other's fills.

"The long songs are about creating an atmosphere and trying to get the audience as well as myself into a certain plane for the duration," he said. "The songs have a structure, and you either keep to it or deviate from it, as long as it's not boring and is leading people down various avenues. There's a feel and intuition and balance between all of us. Everyone's bringing their own flash to it and it all maps out in a loose way."

Though their origins are in Los Angeles, Hole says they have no real allegiance to the city known as a make-you-or-break-you rock Mecca. "It just happens to be where we live," he said. "We're not scene creamers, so to speak. We're not cherished in this town, either. We're no hometown heroes. L.A. can be a tough city to play for anyone. The people are unenthusiastic and too cool for school. It's a huge metropolis and the people there are spoiled for choice."

Regardless, he said the band has won over large crowds at places like the Fillmore, where most of the audience didn't know who they were… until after their set. Hole said there's no reason for bands to escape to L.A. to make it.

"You can be a great band from the middle of nowhere," he said. "The cool thing is for bands to not sell out their home towns. Being in L.A. can be a hindrance or not. We could be anywhere, I guess. Then again, maybe this band could only come from a place like L.A."



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Published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader March 19, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 


"We're not scene creamers, so to speak. We're not cherished in this town, either. We're no hometown heroes."