The Warlocks are the latest West Coast headtrip from singer/guitarist Bobby Hecksher, formerly of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Magic Pacer and Charles Brown Superstar. While the band's name may conjure up associations with early Grateful Dead or the Velvet Underground, Bobby says he's determined to make "Warlocks" his own, going so far as to sign his contract with Bomp! Records in blood. The band's massive, druggy sound and penchant for instrumental jams remind one of Hawkwind and the Stooges, with, yes, a little Velvets and Spacemen 3 thrown in. Their self-titled EP, released last fall, included heavy, primitive rockers ("Caveman Rock," "Angry Demons") as well as pretty psychedelia ("Song for Nico," "Cocaine Blues"). I spoke with Bobby before the Warlocks made their first appearance in New York.
So you're calling me from your work? Where do you work?
I work at DreamWorks. I'm a game designer.
Is it fun?
It's a lot of fun. They're really cool with the whole rock band thing. They're very understanding, that's the nice thing about it.
What kind of special workplace needs do you have as a result of heading up the Warlocks?
Well, they just let you do what you want. As long as you get everything done you're supposed to be doing, in your own time, they don't really hassle you about, you know, normal work hours, or anything retarded like that.
With so many people in the band it must be hard to rehearse?I mean there's eight of you, right?
Yeah, it goes between six and eight, so it's a lot of work for me, but when it works it's totally all worth it. It's fucked being the ringleader sometimes. But I guess I wouldn't have it any other way when it sounds amazing, you know? When it works.
I was wondering?who is George Hecksher [listed as Spiritual Advisor on the back of the Warlocks EP]?
Ah, George is my uncle. He's the kind of guy that, you know, tells you to keep going when all the shit hits the fan.
So he's not like your dealer or anything?
My dealer. No. No. He's just my inspiration sometimes.
The EP kind of reminds me of Hawkwind. In a good way, I mean. I like Hawkwind. I think they get a bad rap.
Well, Hawkwind is?in my opinion their first two or three albums are really amazing, but after that it's all like a wash. They just don't have very many great albums, I think. They have their fanatics, though?this guy I work with, he loves every single thing they've done.
What's your favorite drug combo?
You know?I was really not into pot. But lately I've been into pot and coffee. That's an awful thing to say. It's not very entertaining. I wish I could say, yeah man, I did six speedballs last night. And then I drank some beer. And I had acid on top of it. It was the ultimate, man. No, sorry.
What was this thing with you signing the Bomp! contract in blood? Does that mean that Greg Shaw [head of Bomp!] is the Devil?
Yeah...I'm sure he'd love to get that quoted. [Laughs] Can you start the article that way? We'll get in real good. I dunno...it just felt right I guess.
Do you write all the lyrics yourself?
Lately the band's been helping, doing some music together, but for the most part I kind of write everything and orchestrate everything.
I think there's a lyric on "Song for Nico" that goes, "It feels so good to be ashamed." So what have you done that you felt ashamed of?
Well, in that context...it's kind of embarrassing I guess, man, I don't know. I'm too embarrassed to say it. Christ. You know when you have like, relationships that don't last that long, and you're a prick all around, and you don't know why you're being a prick, but it feels kind of good to be a prick sometimes? That's kind of what I mean.
It was kind of ballsy to put these two instrumentals on this six-song EP.
You haven't even seen the album yet! One is almost 15 minutes, man. That's what I'm trying to do right now. I'll probably go back to more of a song structure like "Cocaine Blues" in a little bit, but right now I'm trying to make jams interesting. Not the kind of jams where it's like fucking cheesy guitar center, you and all these people with creamer guitars doing solos and crap, nothing like that, I'm trying to make it entertaining and fun to jam, fun to listen to people jam.
It's a little more massive...
Yeah. It is structured, that's the thing. Like "Jam of the Zombies" is completely written out. We play it just like that.
Hmm. I really like Jen's bass sound?the big heavy bass. What had she been doing before you hooked up with her?
Well...that's the thing about the Warlocks. I mean it changes members. Jen isn't playing with us right now. We had four guitar players and now we just have three, and two drummers, and one of the guitar players plays bass. The real honest truth, the reason why she's not playing with us anymore, is that her playing simply got sloppy. I don't know if she just didn't practice or what, but I really try to keep it together. It's hard sometimes, but you've gotta play well, you've gotta concentrate on what you're playing.
So?you design games? You're like a game head?
Yes, I am a total game dork.
What's your favorite game right now?
Well, I've always been a big fan of Half-Life and I can't wait for Team Fortress to come out.
Do people assume that "Cocaine Blues" is an old song? Like the Memphis Jug Band or Johnny Cash? Do you know those songs?
Yeah, I know them. There's one by the Grateful Dead, too. I don't really care. It's like saying the [name] Warlocks is taken. Sue me. Whatever, man. I'll put Warlocks with two s's at the end. I'll put dots all through it, like W-dot-A-dot...
No, I think stars. W-star-A-star-R...
It's funny to confuse people. I even wanted to do a single that looked exactly like a Grateful Dead album, but that might be a really bad idea.
Are you excited for the tour? Is there anything you want to say about what's coming our way?
Well, it's extremely difficult to take that entire mess on tour but we're gonna do it. We've been working hard and it sounds supergood. To go on tour with all that stuff, the light show, the fog machine, the drummers, the guitar players and the jams?I really hope we get to convey some kind of?something. [Laughs] Some kind of something?how's that?
The Warlocks open for Nikki Sudden (of the Swell Maps) Thurs., April 5, at the Village Underground, 130 W. 3rd St. (betw. 6th Ave. & MacDougal St.), 777-7745 and Sat., April 7 at Maxwell's, 1039 Washington St. (11th St.), Hoboken, 201-653-1703.