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Warhorse: Psycho Las Vegas Preview

30 July 2019

Photo: Warhorse

One of the quirkier twists in this year’s lineup for Psycho Las Vegas is that, after doom legends the Obsessed — originally named Warhorse — help close out Saturday night, another doom band named Warhorse will kick off the final day’s performances on Sunday.

The latter band — from metal mecca Worcester, Massachusetts — originally lasted from 1996 to 2005. They only released one proper studio record, As Heaven Turns to Ash, on Southern Lord in the middle of their career. To be clear, Warhorse didn’t cop their name from the Wino-led Obsessed, who the Big Takeover spotlighted yesterday. Rather, Warhorse derived their handle from yet another project titled Warhorse, formed by Deep Purple bassist Nick Simper in the early 1970s.

All of this is to say there will be one and only one Warhorse playing at Psycho Las Vegas, which kicks off with a daylong pre-party August 15 and ends August 18 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. As vocalist/drummer Mike Hubbard explained in a recent email interview with the Big Takeover, what started as a one-off reunion event between himself, vocalist/bassist Jerry Orne and guitarist Terry Savastano blossomed into something bigger upon Psycho’s invite.

Here is what Hubbard — who also drums for Gozu, which played the festival three years ago — said about what Warhorse have in store for Psycho, why they’re feeling no pressure about their much-anticipated performance, and the bevy of bands he’s amped to see perform in Vegas.

Why are you particularly excited to play Psycho? From your point of view, what makes the festival special — both from a performance perspective and as a personal experience?

HUBBARD: We are beyond excited. Psycho is such an amazing festival. It’s a chance to play in front of a huge audience, many of whom have traveled from all over just to be a part of it. The reunion started as a one-off, but when Psycho asks if you wanna play, you say yes. We are stoked. 

If you’ve played the festival before, what memories do you have of it? If you haven’t played it before, what are your expectations?

HUBBARD: It’s so well-organized. Backline is great, and stage production is top-notch. They take care of you from when you arrive until you leave. They make every band playing feel like they are important. Definitely one of the best festivals I have ever played.

Do you have any surprises planned for your Psycho set, whether they be songs you wouldn’t normally play, added stage elements, etc.?

HUBBARD: The plan is to just crush the set like we always do. No gimmicks or surprises. Just three dudes letting it all go. Doesn’t matter if it’s 20, 200 or 2,000 people, we play every note like it’s our last.

Do you prefer playing in the heat or in the cold? Indoors or outdoors? What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing at the time and on the stage where you’re scheduled to perform?

HUBBARD: Definitely prefer playing indoors, but I have had some great gigs outside. A beach in Ravenna, Italy, comes to mind … . We’re first on Sunday, at the House of Blues, which is awesome. From what I have seen, there isn’t another band starting until after we are done, so we’re the only game in town for that hour. Then we have the rest of the day to hang out and catch all the amazing bands after us.

Tell me something that happened to you in Vegas that was supposed to stay in Vegas.

HUBBARD: Not. A. Thing. It’s always been super-wholesome. Honest …

What other bands are you most excited to see perform at Psycho?

HUBBARD: Too many to list, but tops are the Misfits and Opeth, obviously. Clutch, [Mark] Lanegan, Old Man Gloom, Black Mountain. Pretty much everyone on Saturday. Uncle Acid, Power Trip, Amenra, Vio-Lence, Kadavar and Twin Temple are on my list as well.

What friends of yours are also playing at the festival? Who are you planning or hoping to hang with in your downtime?

HUBBARD: Sad we’ll be missing our buds from way back in High on Fire. Yob and Goatwhore are playing Friday as well. All great dudes. The Obsessed are playing Saturday, so we hope to run into Wino for sure. He was always super to us in the past. Been a while, so it will be cool to hang out if we can.

What can fans and newcomers expect from your performance(s) at the festival?

HUBBARD: The heaviest set of tunes we can execute. Period.

For previous installments of the Big Takeover’s Psycho Las Vegas preview series, check out our interviews with:

• Colin H. Van Eeckhout, vocalist for Belgian post-metal purveyors Amenra
• Jason Shi and Scott Key, singer/guitarist and drummer, respectively, for melodic hard-rock masters ASG
• Jay Bentley, founding bassist for politically progressive punk pros Bad Religion
• Stephen McBean, singer/guitarist of long-running psychedelic-rock project Black Mountain
• Jean-Paul Gaster, drummer for “the quintessential American rock band,” Clutch
• Jeff Walker, vocalist/bassist for extreme-metal behemoths Carcass
• Greg Meleney, vocalist/guitarist for Portland psych-rock mainstays Danava
• George Clarke, vocalist for shoegaze/black-metal powerhouses Deafheaven
• DJ Painkiller, an L.A.-based metalhead who will be spinning between sets
• Darkest Prince, lead guitarist for black-metal punks Devil Master
• Victor Vicart of Scottish progressive-metal quintet Dvne
• Laura Dolan, vocalist for Cincinnati rock ’n’ roll purists Electric Citizen
• Todd Fink, frontman for electro-pop punks the Faint
• Zack Simmons, drummer for blackened death-metal demigods Goatwhore
• Emil Amos, drummer for experimental post-rock band Grails
• Julien Chanut, guitarist for French sludge-doom band Hangman’s Chair
• Tony Campos, guitarist and founder of thrash revivalists Hell Fire
• Nashville cosmic-riff connoisseurs Howling Giant
• Gabriel Franco, vocalist/guitarist for gothy post-punks Idle Hands
• Joshy, drummer for crusty death/doom-metal outfit Ilsa
• Johanna Sadonis, vocalist for “heavy magic rock” band Lucifer
• Invincible crooner and former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan
• Stuart Braithwaite, founding guitarist/vocalist for beloved post-rock legends Mogwai
• Kelly Finnigan, frontman for Bay Area psychedelic-soul quartet Monophonics
• Thomas Eriksen, centrifugal force behind true Norwegian black-metallers Mork
• Teddi Tarnoff, frontwoman of “Vegas-based dirty rock ’n’ roll band” Mother Mercury
• All-female Motörhead tribute band Motorbabe
• Wino, godfather of doom metal and frontman for the Obsessed
• Mikael Åkerfeldt, frontman for Swedish progressive-metal kings Opeth
• Ben Bloom, frontman/guitarist for funk-soul octet Polyrhythmics
• Ethan Lee McCarthy, frontman for blackened-doom trio Primitive Man
• Tobias Grave, frontman for shimmering post-rock trio Soft Kill
• Experimental rock, alternative hip-hop and dance music guru Tobacco
• Derrick Vella, guitarist of death-metal arsonists Tomb Mold
• Niklas Källgren, guitarist for Swedish fuzz fanatics Truckfighters
• Los Angeles Satanic doo-wop duo Twin Temple
• Kevin Starrs, frontman of British fuzz royalty Uncle Acid and the deadbeats
• Sean Killian, vocalist for cult-favorite Bay Area thrash band Vio-lence
• Bruce Lamont, frontman for experimental heavy-jazz project Yakuza and Led Zeppelin tribute band Led Zeppelin 2
• Aaron Rieseberg, bassist for Oregon doom-metal dealers Yob

Also, don’t miss our special feature in which Deafheaven’s Clarke and Mogwai’s Braithwaite discuss their mutual affection for each other’s bands, whether Deafheaven should play their Mogwai cover at Psycho Las Vegas — and the possibility of a collaboration between the two projects.