|Origin||Los Angeles, California|
|Genres||Alternative rock, neo-psychedelia, psychedelic rock, experimental rock, shoegaze, drone|
|Labels||Bomp!, Birdman, Mute, City Rockers, Tee Pee, Cargo, Zap Banana|
John Christian Rees
Earl V. Miller
|Past members||Ryan McBride, Bob Mustachio, Jenny Fraser, Jana Risher, Mimi Sato, Corey Lee Granet, Jeff Levitz, Jen Chiba, Caleb Sweazy, Laura Grigsby, Hunter Crowley, Bobby Tamkin, Anton Newcombe, Theresa Saso, Danny Hole, Jason Anchondo, Bobby Martine|
The Warlocks are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1998 by guitarist/singer Bobby Hecksher. The band's music has ranged from psychedelic rock to drone music. There have been many changes in personnel since their formation, with Hecksher the only constant member.
Formation and signing to Bomp!
The band was founded in 1998 in Los Angeles by Bobby Hecksher, adopting a name used by both The Velvet Underground and The Grateful Dead in their early days. At the age of fifteen, Hecksher moved to Los Angeles from Florida with his family. Hecksher's first instrument was cello, eventually moving on to bass guitar. Hecksher's grandfather owned a radio station.
In the years preceding the formation of the band Hecksher was busy with a number of other projects in Los Angeles, including Charles Brown Superstar, Don Knotts Overdrive (Hecksher left DKO in 1995 and the band eventually changed their name to Headset due to legal threats from the actual Don Knotts), and Magic Pacer, played bass with Beck on the Stereopathic Soulmanure album and also with The Brian Jonestown Massacre for a brief period.
The Warlocks formed in 1998, playing their first gig on July 4, 1998. Receiving comparisons with White Light/White Heat-era Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3, the band signed a two album deal with renowned indie label Bomp! Records in October 2000. Supposedly signed in Hecksher's blood, the contract with Bomp! Records yielded the band's debut release in 2000, The Warlocks mini-album. This was followed by the release of their first full length record, Rise and Fall, in 2001. Rise and Fall received a four and a half star review from Allmusic, with Bryan Thomas describing it as a "solid effort". Hecksher continued working as a games tester for DreamWorks until at least 2001.
Birdman and Mute contracts
After the release of Rise and Fall the band split with Bomp! Records, and signed with Birdman Records. The EP Phoenix was released by Birdman in 2002 and was followed by a full length album of the same name (Phoenix), which was also released in 2002, to positive acclaim. Phoenix included a collaboration with Peter Kember (Sonic Boom), of Spacemen 3 and Spectrum, on the song "Hurricane Heart Attack". "Shake The Dope Out" and "Baby Blue" were also released as singles. The group toured the US and overseas with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Raveonettes and Interpol.
Following Phoenix, The Warlocks signed to Mute Records and released Surgery in 2005, the album produced by Tom Rothrock. The record represents a departure from their earlier psychedelic sound into dreamier pop territory, while retaining the band's hard edged brand of rock. The songs on this record are shorter and more structured than some of their previous work. The band has criticized the final production of the record as having been too clean and polished in comparison to the original work the group had presented to the label with intent to release. The recording of Surgery was fraught with pressure from the label to produce a more radio friendly album. "Come Save Us" was released as a single. Surgery received a mixed reception from critics; A PopMatters review by Stephen Haag rated it at 6 out of 10, while a Pitchfork review gave the album only a 1.7 out of 10 rating, with Nick Sylvester describing the album as "A mopey bunch of trite sap O.D.-type tales almost as unstomachable as the band's former crapothecary hymns." Prefix gave the album 8.0 out of 10, describing it as "far more approachable" than their earlier releases. The album's lack of commercial success led to the end of their deal with Mute.
In the years after Surgery, the band toured internationally and sustained changes to the lineup, leading up to the 2007 release of Heavy Deavy Skull Lover on Tee Pee Records. The album was, according to Hecksher, recorded over a single weekend, with the band members quitting afterwards. The album is considered darker than their previous work, with the band exploring a more experimental direction. A review in Spin described the album as "funereal" and "sluggishly unrealised", while Allmusic called it "uneven". Heavy Deavy Skull Lover was recorded as a four piece and marks a brief hiatus from the band for founding member John Christian Rees, who later returned before work began on their 2009 album, The Mirror Explodes.
The years following The Mirror Explodes saw two online releases by the band, available through Bandcamp, as well as a reissue of Rise and Fall via Zap Banana/Cargo in October 2010 which included previously unreleased rarities, and artwork by Darren Grealish. The first of the online releases, the highly experimental EXP, was released on January 1, 2010 and was recorded by Hecksher alone. The second, Enter At Your Own Skull : Unreleased Volume One (a compilation of B-sides, demos, and outtakes), was released on June 9, 2011. Besides the online releases and Rise and Fall reissue, the years after The Mirror Explodes were filled with intermittent touring and more line-up changes, resulting in the band solidifying as a five piece.
The band announced their first commercial release for several years in 2013 with the upcoming album Skull Worship, also via Zap Banana/Cargo (distribution). Skull Worship was released on November 26, 2013.
The band's music has been described as psychedelic rock. In 2008 Hecksher said of the band's sound "...even though it's seemingly chaotic, achieving our sound is a really specific process. We need all these big, hollow-bodied guitars going through old Fender amps with reverb, or it won’t work."
In 2007 bassist Jenny Fraser described the songwriting process: "Hecksher writes the skeleton of the songs and everyone writes their own parts. He always draws the picture and we paint it in."
|October 16, 2001||Rise and Fall||Bomp! Records
|November 5, 2002||Phoenix||Birdman Records
|August 23, 2005||Surgery||Mute Records|
|October 23, 2007||Heavy Deavy Skull Lover||Tee Pee Records|
|May 19, 2009||The Mirror Explodes||Tee Pee Records|
|November 26, 2013||Skull Worship||Zap Banana
Online albums and compilations
|January 1, 2010||EXP||Bandcamp
|October 25, 2010||Rise and Fall : EP and Rarities||Zap Banana
|June 9, 2011||Enter At Your Own Skull : Unreleased Volume One||Bandcamp|
|November 11, 2000||The Warlocks||Bomp! Records
|August 13, 2002||Phoenix||Birdman Records|
- "Baby Blue" (2003), Mute
- "Shake The Dope Out" (2003), Mute
- "Hurricane Heart Attack" (2003), City Rockers
- "It's Just Like Surgery" (2005), Mute
- "Come Save Us" (2005), Mute
- "Isolation"/"Red Camera" (2006), Bomp!
- Davidson, Mike (2003) "Drone Rock Wizards - The Warlocks", Gigwise.com, September 23, 2003. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Kot, Greg (2003) "The Warlocks' magical musical show", Chicago Tribune, March 21, 2003, p. 3 ('Friday' section)
- Neuberg, Eva (2001) "The Warlocks, Bobby Hecksher’s Latest West Coast Headtrip", NY Press, April 10, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Ritter, Travis (2006) "A Witch of a Show", Houston Press, February 23, 2006. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Appleford, Steve (2003) "Black moods, black magic", Los Angeles Times, December 25, 2003, p. E28
- Inman, Jeff (2007) "Space Oddity: The Warlocks Kick Out The Psychedelic Jams—Just Don’t Call ’Em A Jam-Band", City Weekly, June 11, 2007. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- John Zeiss (November 6, 2007). "The Warlocks, Interview in the Dark, Dark Night interview". prefixmag.
- Mills, Fred (2001) "The Warlocks The Warlocks", Broward Palm Beach New Times, April 5, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Thomas, Bryan "The Warlocks Biography", Allmusic. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Jacks, Kelso (2000) "Record News", CMJ New Music Report, April 17, 2000, p. 19. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Thomas, Bryan "Rise and Fall Review", Allmusic. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Simpson, Dave (2003) "The Warlocks: Phoenix", The Guardian, March 14, 2003. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Robbins, Ira "Warlocks", Trouser Press. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Kenneally, Tim (2003) "The Warlocks", Spin, January 2003, p. 33. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Haag, Stephen (2005) "The Warlocks: Surgery", PopMatters, August 22, 2005. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Sylvester, Nick (2005) "The Warlocks Surgery", Pitchfork Media, September 27, 2005. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- "The Warlocks Surgery" Prefix, March 5, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Lymangrover, Jason "Heavy Deavy Skull Lover Review", Allmusic. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- "The Warlocks cast a heavy spell", Metro, August 26, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Righi, Len (2007) "Warlocks bassist detects meaning beneath chords of 'Skull Lover'", Taiwan News, November 30, 2007. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Anderson, Stacey (2007) "The Warlocks Heavy Deavy Skull Lover", Spin, December 2007, p. 126. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- "Album Reviews: The Warlocks: The Mirror Explodes". Pitchfork. 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
- Morris, Chris (2000) "What's Selling This Yuletide at Indies; Warlocks EP Offers a Tasty Preview", Billboard, December 23, 2000, p. 57. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Straub, Daniel (2004) "The Warlocks: "Drogen gehören zu unserer Musik"", laut.de, February 4, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2013
- Gowing, Liam (2013) "Elliott Smith: 'Mr. Misery' Revisited, 10 Years After the Singer-Songwriter's Controversial Death", Spin, October 21, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013