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The Warlocks Interview
by Alexander Laurence

The Warlocks are what rock n' roll is all about; something sonically dangerous and out of control. Something mysterious and deadly. They emerged from the hedonistic hills of Los Angeles on the day that Anton Lavey died.

After a few months of playing shows, the Warlocks were brought to the attention of Greg Shaw, co-owner of Bomp! Records. In October 2000, leader Bobby Hecksher scrawled his name in his own blood on a two-album record contract. Their first release, a six-song EP, arrived a month later. The second, Rise And Fall, was released in October 2001. Both releases received critical praise in the pages of CMJ New Music Report. Those who wanted to rock ande were sick of pussies like The Vines took notice.

The Warlocks have now toured across the US numerous times. They headlined their own tour, and have toured with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Nikki Sudden. In 2002, the Warlocks signed with Birdman Records, and released a second EP called "Phoenix."

I spoke with JC Rees in his secret satanic lair in Hollywood where many animals have been sacrificed. Luckily this happened before my visit. Around 6pm, I caught Rees and a few other band members just waking up. The Warlocks will be releasing a new album in November.

JC Rees: guitar
Corey Lee Granet: guitar
Jeff Levitz: guitar
Laura Grisby: Tamborine, organ, and vocals
Danny Hole: drums
Jason Anchondo: drums
Bobby Hecksher: guitars and vocals


AL: Are you involved in the occult?

JC: Who isn't? If you are involved in rock and roll.

AL: Do the Warlocks have other jobs or do you concentrate on music all the time?

JC: The Warlocks are not financially independent, so we all still have jobs. Bobby and I used to work together giving away money at a payday advance scam. We have also worked in record stores and guitar shops. One member was working in the fashion industry once designing clothes.

AL: You have songs that range from three minutes to thirty minutes. Why such extreme lengths in songs?

JC: It's all about creating a mood and a feeling. It's an aural experience. It's an aural rollercoaster ride. We hope that you get more than what you pay for, in the recordings as well as in the live shows. The bands gets off in the studio and on stage. Being in the studio allows you the time to do a little bit more. You can add on bits that you couldn't do in the live show. There are also aspects of the live show that you can't capture on tape.

AL: Are most of the recorded tracks live takes of the band playing together?

JC: For the majority of the recordings I would say "Yes." But there are a few tracks that we have experimented with. We go in individually and see how that goes. If we have the time, we can experiment in the studio more. Sometimes things don't work out.

AL: Bobby is the main songwriter. Does he write things on guitar and present them to the rest of the band and then you jam and work things out?

JC: I think that is a good description of what happens. We have about forty songs now.

AL: Some of the members of the Warlocks have been in Brian Jonestown Massacre at some point?

JC: That's a fact that has been overemphasized. One of our drummers plays with BJM. When we were doing the first record, Anton (from BJM) played drums with us. In exchange, Bobby sat in as the bass player for BJM for a few months. Bobby did some records as well as some live shows. Jeff Levitz was in the band too. The Warlocks existed before any of us played in BJM. I guess it's sort of incestuous.

AL: What other bands are you friends with?

JC: Not that any members were in these bands, but The Beachwood Sparks and The Tide are friends of ours. We know James from The Electromagnetic.

AL: Do you feel more comfortable in the 1960s than today? Many people compare you to psychedelic garage bands.

JC: I think that comparison is strange. I think that we live more in the 1980s. We are like The Butthole Surfers and The Flaming Lips back then. All that was what they called "College Rock." Those bands may have drawn from the 1960s. I don't think that we are going for any 1960s garage sound. You are going to get those comparisons that you would never expect. Just because we are on Bomp Records people make those comparisons. The label shouldn't dictate what people think about music. Unfortunately that happens sometimes.

AL: What should people expect from your live show?

JC: A fine performance. A wall of sound. An entertaining evening of mind expanding and mind blowing music.

AL: There is a lot of guitar feedback.

JC: A lot of feedback and a lot of sound.

AL: What other bands do you like?

JC: I am a big fan of The Kills. Interpol is good.

AL: Have you played CMJ before?

JC: No we have not. We have sort of avoided it. We did play at South by Southwest last year. It's not that we are necessarily opposed to these showcase events, but it's not a priority for us. We are excited. CMJ should be really fun this year. We are playing on Halloween. We are doing two shows. I am afraid that Alice Cooper/White Light Motorcade might step on our crowd a little bit.

AL: Do the Warlocks adhere to any political philosophy?

JC: Political philosophy? Make love not war. (Laughter). I don't know. I would say that we don't because none of us care about that. I care about the homeless and things like that, but we are really too lazy to do anything about it. We have a hard enough time taking care of ourselves. Maybe when we are rich and famous we could do something and help out other people. Our band may be the most broke bunch of guys that I have ever hung out with.

AL: When does the new record come out?

JC: It has already been reviewed and sent out. We will probably be selling copies on this tour. But it will actually be in record stores around November 15th.

AL: I heard that you play at some odd places in Los Angeles.

JC: We have played The Troubadour, Spaceland, The Smell, and The Fold. But we have also played some unexpected places where you wouldn't see bands, like parties at someone's house. We have played about a hundred shows in Los Angeles.

AL: What do you think about this focus on New York bands?

JC: Well, I like most of those bands like The Strokes and Interpol. I am happy for them. It's good for the bands who are good, and the bands who suck. It was just like what happened in Seattle: all the good bands got attention, all their friends got attention, and of course a whole lot of shitty bands got attention. It's up to the listener to see what they like. It's great when a scene explodes. Maybe LA will be next?

AL: Have you read any books recently?

JC: The one about Andrew Loog Oldham. It's fantastic. I read a lot of science fiction: J. G. Ballard and William Gibson. I like Philip K. Dick. What do you like to read, Jason?

Jason: (in background) I don't know. I just read the newspaper. I used to study history.

JC: Actually I should say that most of the guys in the band are history fanatics. "Rise and Fall" is named after a history book.

AL: Did someone in the band do a college degree?

JC: I did a degree in television production. I don't work in television so it was a waste of time. Actually two guys in the band have art school degrees. I think that they went to Cal Arts and Art Center.

AL: Have you seen any good movies recently?

JC: I liked The Kid Stays in The Picture. 24 Hour Party People turned out so much better than I thought it was going to be. I remember about a year ago when it first went into production, I was really excited about it. Then I heard that they were going to have actors doing it, I thought it was going to suck. It turned out to be really good. I wish that they would have gone into The Happy Mondays more. There were so many more bands that they could have featured but there's only two hours.

AL: Do you have any other hobbies besides music?

JC: Jason can tear apart a Vespa and put it back together in twelve hours. Most of the members of the band are involved in art and photography. Jeff is very reclusive.

AL: What happened to your relationship to Bomp Records?

JC: Bomp Records is a great label with a lot of history, and there are no hard feelings with them. We may put out something with them again. But Bomp Records doesn't advertise or promote bands. They let the label sell itself. We wanted to take it further. Birdman is not a bigger label. Birdman hasn't been around as long. But they want to sell records. There is going to be more promotion.

AL: Are you going to check out some other bands at CMJ this year?

JC: We are only going to be there for two days. I am going to try to make an effort to see some other bands, but unfortunately I don't have a list of who is going to be there. I am sure there are bands that we would want to see. Actually half the band could care less. They would rather sleep. We are touring the South the two weeks before that. So we will be very tired by then. The tour will continue on till early December.

AL: There will be a lot of mind expansion. What are some of the cities like?

JC: In Chicago, we get a lot of hip, younger people. In Memphis, we get a lot of old dudes with beer guts and facial hair. We are surprised. People come out because they read something or they hear a song on the radio. Old dudes who like Hawkwind or Can come to see us sometimes. Kids who listen to college radio heard us back to back with The Datsuns and The Von Bondies.


Website: www.thewarlocks.com



--Alexander Laurence

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