Warhorse playing Roadburn & 1st NYC reunion show, talk reuniting, doom metal now & then, and more
2001 seemed like a great year for Massachusetts doom band Warhorse. After a series of demos and EPs that brought them underground acclaim, they released their debut full length and now cult classic As Heaven Turns to Ash via Southern Lord before heading out on tour as support for Electric Wizard who were playing their first-ever North American shows (Continental in NYC included). In 2002 they traveled Europe with Electric Wizard, but as drummer/vocalist Mike Hubbard tells us below, the band almost didn't make that trek due to breaking up. By 2005 they were done though, but in 2019 -- much to our excitement -- they returned with a performance at Maryland Doom Fest and then Psycho Las Vegas, and are now scheduled to play Roadburn and their first NYC show since reuniting at Saint Vitus on February 1st with Yatra and Green Dragon (tickets).
Guitarist Todd Laskowski -- who very sadly passed away in 2018 -- left the band in 2003 and was replaced with Grief's Terry Savastano (now in Come to Grief) who stayed on guitar for sporadic live shows until the band officially called it quits in 2005. With Terry back in the reunited band, the lineup of the trio is the same now as it was when they called it quits that year. More in our chat with Mike...
Take us through the decision to cool off in the early 00s.
Mike Hubbard: Not sure if “cool off” is the right term. Things had just come to an end. Lots of frustrations and baggage all came to a head. We had all but broken up, when the offer to tour Europe [in 2002] with Electric Wizard came up. It wasn’t easy, but we felt it had to be done. After that we all went our separate ways. A while passed, and then [bassist/vocalist] Jerry [Orne] started jamming with Terry, and asked if I was interested in playing drums. I had known Terry from Grief, so it was a no-brainer. After a few rehearsals, we all liked what we were hearing, and decided we could and should start Warhorse back up again. We had a pretty good run, but then life got in the way and we couldn’t do it anymore.
What was the doom scene like at the time?
When we first started, there wasn’t much going on, at least that we knew of. Little by little, we started getting exposed to other bands doing what we were trying to do. Sleep, Electric Wizard, Acid King, Cathedral, etc. Mix in some late 80s early 90s death metal and that’s what we were going for. It took a while, but we finally found our spot.
We caught your set at Psycho Las Vegas and it was great. What were the circumstances and the initial spark to reunite and play Maryland Doom Fest.
Thank you. Psycho was an absolute blast to play. We had talked about doing some sort of reunion before, but the timing was never right. Closest we came was around the time when Southern Lord was talking about doing a reissue of the As Heaven Turns to Ash LP. [Guitarist] Todd [Laskowski] and I had been jamming, writing some new material, but it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t until after we lost Todd in 2018 that Jerry reached out to me to do a one off tribute/memorial for him. I felt like that was a really great way to honor his influence on us and agreed that it was time. We approached Maryland Doom Fest about doing it, and they were gracious enough to invite us to play. It was also the 20th Anniversary of the very first Stoner Hands Of Doom Festival, which we played. So it was a good fit. It was great to see all of our old friends from back in the day and play a special intimate show for them. It was emotional. Thankfully, the buzz about us doing that show is what led to us being invited to play Psycho. So the one-off became a two-for. The support has been amazing, and we’re having a lot of fun playing these songs again. We’ve all grown as players in the time away, so that brings some new energy to the material, which we hope people will dig.
How has the doom metal landscape shifted in your time away?
So many bands are taking the doom recipe and pushing it into all sorts of areas that we didn’t think we possible back in 2000. The amount of heavy, creative bands out there right now is amazing. To even be counted in their ranks is an honor.
What do you think is the definitive Warhorse track and what do you think makes it so crucial?
I would say "Black Acid Prophecy" best represents what we are trying to do. It has all of the elements we try to incorporate pushed to the maximum. After that, maybe "Scrape" and "I Am Dying." But really, we love them all.
Any new material in the works?
Nothing just yet. But it is something we have talked about. Jerry and Terry are both active in their other bands (Jerry is in Conclave and also Desolate; Terry is doing Come To Grief) so there isn’t a lot of time beyond rehearsing for the shows. But I would definitely not rule it out.
When was the last time you played NYC? Is this the first of possibly more dates to come?
Pretty sure it was back in 2003, with Unearthly Trance, at Northsix, 66 6th Street. Hard to forget that address! It was supposed to be Spirit Caravan, Evoken and us, but they both had to cancel. Since Psycho, we’ve played a couple local shows, with another one in Boston [last] week. We’ve got Saint Vitus on February 1st, which we are really excited to do. Then we’re doing Roadburn in April, and Monolith on The Mesa in May. After that, we’ll see. We’ve got a few other things in the works.
And lastly, can you can you list a few albums you've been listening to lately? New band recommendations? Favorites of 2019 or the last decade?
Lately, I can’t stop listening to Subrosa, Amenra, Black Mountain, Elephant Tree, Holy Grove, Brume, Pinkish Black, Sleep Live at Third Man, the last few Baroness records, Whores, Been getting into some 80s/90s goth/darkwave lately. Stuff like that.
Warhorse -- 2020 Tour Dates
Feb 1 @ Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY
Mar 21 @ Geno's Rock Club, Portland, Maine
Apr 16-19 @ Roadburn Fest
May 28-30 @ Monolith on the Mesa Fest, New Mexico