Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ancient Warlocks

My significant other is a musician. A prolonged battle with ringworm forced him off the mats (he was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor at the time) and in to quarantine. Stuck in his house, unable to participate in the most central activity of his life, he pulled out an old electric guitar his brother had given him and learned to play. This was close to three years ago. He now practices every day in the living room, and twice a week with his bandmates.

It didn't take him long to start coming up with material of his own. Soon enough, a friend of his from the local rock scene (also a guitarist) noticed that he was getting pretty good. They jammed and after a few sessions, Ancient Warlocks was born.

Initially, the name was a joke. But it stuck. And two years later, they're doing pretty well here in Seattle with one 7" record already produced, and several more in the works.

I get to hear Darren play guitar all the time. When we first got together, I would sit on the couch and watch him play through each and every song, each and every riff. I'd sit there til he put the guitar down and switched off his amp. Over time, I started doing other things while he was playing, but I still listen. It's always a good time to hear him come up with new riffs, work on old ones, experiment, and just practice the established ones. But it's an entirely different experience to hear all the pieces come together.

From time to time, I'll end up at one of their group practices. There, the whole orchestra assembles; Aaron on lead guitar and vocals, Darren on rhythm guitar, Steve on drums, and Ony on bass. I get so used to hearing Darren's guitar all by itself, just one singular part of a much greater whole, that I begin to think of the songs as flat and simply 'interesting' instead of what they really are. As soon as they strike the first chord on that first song, I remember. A complex body of personality, fine tuned sound, the 'right' equipment, and the spirit of each player produces a wall of sound that always makes me move. Because every part of the musical experience is personalized, no two bands are ever the same. There is no right answer when it comes to tuning, brands of gear, how to play, how many players a band has, etc. Each instrument and component thereof is unique to it as well, so there is no limit to just how one-off a band can be.

I was sitting on the couch on the other side of the big glass window at their practice space, bobbing my head and tapping my feet as they played their newest songs for several hours. Steve always stresses the importance of 'groove', and it is something they most definitely have.

If you have a little time, have a listen.

Ancient Warlocks

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