WarHorse Talk Reunion at Maryland Doom Fest 2019

In case, like me, you’re still reeling from the wallop of an announcement for the lineup of Maryland Doom Fest 2019 next June, I’ll just say there’s a ton of stuff worth highlighting up and down through the lineup. One thing that stuck out to me particularly, however, was the fact that Massachusetts’ WarHorse will reunite for the festival. Of course, the band is known for their 2001 debut/swansong long-player, As Heaven Turns to Ash… (discussed here), which was released on Southern Lord and well ahead of its time, but the history of the band goes back earlier to the mid-’90s and is the root from which acts like Conclave, Second Grave and Faces of Bayon stem, which is not to mention that drummer Mike Hubbard currently bashes away behind the kit for Gozu.

Guitarist Todd Laskowski (also Sin of Angels and others) passed away in May 2018, and founding WarHorse bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne — also a bandmate of Laskowski‘s in Desolate — was inspired to revisit the band in his honor. It’s not a minor decision. Original guitarist Krista Van Guider — who will also play Maryland Doom Fest 2019 with her current outfit, Benthic Realm, which also features Conclave drummer Dan Blomquist, giving a direct Orne/Van Guilder tie — will once more take on that role, and she, Hubbard and Orne are currently planning a set that will span all eras of the band’s nine-year run.

It’s not a major-planned reunion-thing. It’s not a comeback. They’re saying as of now that it’s a one-time happening, and whether or not that proves ultimately to be the case — there’s just about no way they won’t get offers for more — to talk about anything else beyond this one show would be baseless and, frankly, needless speculation.

One show, for now, is enough.

I had to talk to the band. It’s as simple as that. I wanted to find out more about how the reunion happened and what it might lead to, how Maryland Doom Fest wound up as the setting, and how they were feeling about revisiting WarHorse material. After all, these aren’t people who’ve disappeared and are returning out of nowhere. Benthic Realm have a debut EP out (it’s in the next Quarterly Review; stay tuned), Conclave released their debut in 2016 and Gozu are signed to an imprint of Metal Blade and touring with Goatwhore. So, you know, it’s not like they’ll be taking the stage for the first time in over a decade next June, even if it’s the first time in however long they do so together.

All three members of the band were kind enough to offer comment:

warhorse

Jerry Orne:

It’s a slightly long story, I’ll try to keep it short.

We have talked about putting the band back together many times, but for one reason or another, sometimes many reasons it never happened.

When Todd passed away last May, it hit us all really hard. Losing a longtime friend is always extremely tough. And in this case, it had the extra sting that I would never be able to hear or play these songs again.

Later in the summer, I was having a few drinks by a campfire. I started going through some of the old songs on my acoustic and I just had the feeling that I had to do something.

I got in touch with Mike Hubbard and original WarHorse guitarist Krista Van Guilder and floated the idea of doing a one-time tribute-type show. Maryland Doom Fest seemed the obvious choice, but we didn’t know if they are anywhere else would be interested. As luck would have it, a theme of this year’s Festival is the 20th anniversary of the first Stoner hands of Doom Festival, held in Manassas, Virginia, in 1999. WarHorse was on that show.

I guess it’s one of those stars aligning kind of things. Honestly, we have nothing else in the works. This isn’t a reunion or tour or anything like that. We’re getting back together just for this one show. It sounds cliche, but it’s literally about the music. We have no plans to make merchandise or new releases or anything. Just friends getting together to play. Dan Blomquist is involved with coordinating all this. He’s been really helpful.

Given the up and down history of the band, it is bittersweet, but I am thankful to have the opportunity to play these songs again with two of my longtime friends (and original lineup). And to play at an amazing Festival, with all the history of our band and every band is really something. It was always a music that held us together, even when the band was destroying itself.

Todd’s mother gave me his SG. It’s the one he recorded and toured with. We are bringing it with us to the show. So this has grown into an anniversary, reunion, tribute kind of thing.

Mike Hubbard:

I’m pretty excited about the reunion show. It’s been a very long time since I’ve played with Jerry, and even longer since playing with Krista. I’ve always been very proud of what WH did, so when people still show an interest in the band, and the album, so many years later, it’s pretty incredible. We’ve discussed possible reunions in the past, but I wasn’t ever in the right headspace to do it. That was a dark time in my life, and a lot of shit was tied to those memories.

A part of me thought a reunion would amount to living in the past, and I wanted to focus on the present and the future. But when this opportunity came up, and then hearing the positive responses to us potentially playing, it finally felt like it was time to do it. The original Stoner Hands of Doom was our first “big” show, and being invited back as a sort of anniversary thing is pretty cool. It’s a good bookend for that chapter of my life.

Looking forward to revisiting those songs, and that playing style. It’s very different from what I am doing with Gozu, and I am curious to see how the years will affect the songs.

Krista Van Guilder:

Not much to add aside from looking forward to sharing the stage with two friends after such a long time.

We’ve remained friends over the years, but everyone has been off doing their own thing. I think Todd’s sudden death renewed Jerry’s interest in reforming for one show and I think Dan just thought it would be awesome to see us all together again. The entire recent discussion regarding reuniting really happened via text — quite a few actually.

WarHorse, As Heaven Turns to Ash… (2001)

Maryland Doom Fest 2019 event page on Thee Facebooks

Maryland Doom Fest on Thee Facebooks

Maryland Doom Fest website

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One Response to “WarHorse Talk Reunion at Maryland Doom Fest 2019”

  1. Deanne FirkinGood says:

    This will be a most beautiful thing to be a part of….see you in June ?

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