Friday, October 9, 2009

Interview: Warren Hatfield

posted by Free Press Houston @ 8:37 AM


By Omar Afra

The name alone ‘Warren Hatfield’ just reeks of metal. Come one, it’s one stinkin’ vowel away from ‘Hetfield’. But the Golden Axe founder and Valiant Thorr Guitarist is as humble and approachable as a hometown hero should be. Having toured the globe and slayed legions of metalheads with divine shredding, Hatfield still manages to keep an authentic charm.
How do the Golden Axe tunes come about? Do you write together in a jam context or does the archangel Gabriel bring you the tab written in lamb's blood?

Well sometimes I write the stuff post satanic ritual while still in a trance like state due to the lasting touch of the dark one, but most of the time James and I just get together and try to rock each other’s faces off. Gabriel has helped on a few, but uses email these days instead of the ancient ways. He's quite hip to the times. I also get compelled to write riffs in the middle of the night. Something wakes me up and puts the music in me and I gotta get it out.
What was the song that you heard as a child that motivated you to learn to shred?

My father took me to see the Ramones when I was all of 5 or 6, so that really put the goodness into me. He also used to play guitar, mostly surf tunes and watching him pick all crazy really took hold of me. The first time I new I had to play shreddishly though was when I heard Metallica. That shit blew my mind like a visit to an evangelical church. Frickin' awesomeness poured from the speakers like sweet nectar of some forbidden delicious fruit. It changed my wee brain forever.

Tell me some other guitar-slingers in Houston you fear?

The Mighty Orq Jimmy Raycraft and the dude that used to play for jug 'o' lightning. Oh, and James Love, my band mate. And I don't exactly fear them, cause they are all exceptional gentlemen. Watching any one of them play is inspiring and instructive. I just fear their amazing grasp on the guitar. Each one of those guys blows my damn mind every time I witness their skills.

Tell us your #1 all time fave Thorr story.

Well, that would be a recent event that just happened over this last June. We were taking a break in the south of France, Hossegor to be exact, and we had a chance to play on this day that celebrates musicians of all kinds. It is like a holiday for musicians, and you can legally set up your gear and play wherever you want. We rented a flatbed truck set it up as a stage and just drove around playing for everybody we could. We would stop and jam a bit then move to another location. We started to amass this amazing crowd of people who would follow us everywhere we went just like the pied piper. By the end of it we had been jamming for like two hours solid and had a posse of about 70 cars and people on bikes and on foot and on skateboards following us for several miles until we ended up on the beach for one last full gig. It was ridiculous and something that I will never forget. A most excellent time. Oh, also the entire tours with Motorhead. Those guys are the fucking tits.
Friedman VS Hammet. Winner is?

It used to be Hammet all the way, but then Friedman took the cookie. I still love Hammet, and steal ideas from him constantly, but I enjoy Friedman as a player a lot more. Both are F-ing radbad.
Most important thing one must do before picking up an instrument?

Be interested and dedicated. I see people get guitars or whatever and try to play and then just get bored or say it's too hard and stop. When I first started I couldn't put the damn thing down and I sucked harder than a black hole, but I didn't care about being awesome. It was just mystifying to hold the guitar and hear it make all these weird sounds. I used to practice or play any chance I could, sometimes for like 6 to 7 hours at a time. I wouldn't even realize the time had gone by and I would get hollered at by my folks for making racket and not doing homework and chores. I still get that way from time to time. I did put a lot of grueling practice in. The more you put in, the more it gives back.

Fill in the blanks: Houston is the center of the musical universe because_____?

It's a weird, apathetic, wacky place. We don't have the competition that other major cities have, but we still have a huge amount of talented radical people, who love to write awesome music and play. If you live in a place where it's almost built in, people start to get stagnant and boring. You have to fight to be different and good here, and I think people usually come up with the best stuff when they're getting the crap kicked out of them by their environment. I wish more people would support the Houston music scene, cause it is a diverse and exciting scene, with everything from bluegrass to black metal. We really do have it made here and people should be proud of that. There are great places to play and rehearse at and like anything else, if we put our hearts and soul into making it awesome it will be. Live long and prosper. Warren.

Golden Axe plays the Westheimer Block Party November 15th

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