Ancient Warfare rides the sonic terrain at Blind Bob’s

By Justin Kreitzer

Photo: Ancient Warfare’s (l-r) Derek Rhineheimer, Echo Wilcox, Rachel Yanarella, and Emily Hagihara photo: Ann Sydney Taylor

The Southern Gothic genre owes a lot to writers like Tennessee Williams and Cormac McCarthy, the first season of True Detective, and a boatload of heavy-lidded shoegaze bands with their feet on the reverb pedal.

Add Ancient Warfare to that list. The Lexington, Kentucky, band recently released their impressive debut album, The Pale Horse, in 2015 to great acclaim (Pitchfork called it “coolly understated and compelling”) and is set to play Blind Bob’s this Friday with likeminded psych-rockers Salvadore Ross.

The quartet is led by singer/guitarist Echo Wilcox and comprised of multi-instrumentalist Emily Hagihara, bassist Derek Rhineheimer, and cellist Seth Murphy. The band creates moody, cinematic soundscapes that are captivating and all-encompassing.

In anticipation of their show at Bob’s, the Dayton City Paper spoke with Echo Wilcox* about racehorses, her love of grunge, and what to expect from Ancient Warfare live.

For the uninitiated, how and when did the band form? 

Echo Wilcox: The band originated in late 2009 as a raw two-piece project. My good friend, Azniv Korkejian [of Bedouin], who played drums, and I were both studying at SCAD University in Savannah, Georgia. This lasted only a few months before Azniv moved out West to pursue sound design and I moved back home to Lexington to continue with the band and record The Pale Horse with friend and producer Duane Lundy at Shangri-La. It was during that time I got in touch with Emily about playing drums, and it was an instant match. Ancient Warfare was my first band so it was a learning process and still is, but Emily I really had an instant connection and could read each other so well. We continued in the studio and with local shows, but soon realized we needed another member to fill out the sound a little further. That is when we asked Rachel Yanarella to join in on violin. This was really glue between Emily’s percussion playing and me on guitar. The three of us toured a little here and there but soon realized again that we wanted some more instrumentation. After a few folks [got] in the mix and now a few years later, Ancient Warfare is a four-piece with Derek on bass and Seth on cello.

Since you are based out of Lexington, is the band named after a racehorse?  

EW: Although I did ride horses throughout most of my life, the name of the band was not named after a racehorse. Incidentally, a friend of ours recently named his racehorse after our band, so that sort of happened in reverse!

Your sound incorporates elements of dark blues and folk with country-leaning ornamentation, atmospheric dream-pop, and psychedelic garage-rock, which led you to share the stage with The War On Drugs and Horse Feathers. With such a full and dynamic sound, who are some of your less obvious musical influences?

EW: I grew up listening to a lot of early alt-rock so I always lean towards that grungier side of things. But at the same rate, I love all the classic earlier stuff like doo-wop, blues, and big band-type genres. Specific artists that I find myself listening to regularly are folks like Cat Power, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, PJ Harvey, and Neil Young. The list is endless, really though.

Your debut album, The Pale Horse, was released in the summer of 2015.  Where are you in the creative process for your next release?

EW: We are currently recording a song called “Underground” for the second edition of Duane Lundy’s recording project called 10in20. The concept is recording 10 artists in 20 days, with each band having a video accompaniment. Also expect to hear an EP in the near future that will be quite a departure from The Pale Horse. We’ve been working out of Derek’s home studio.

How do you think your sound has evolved since the last album; have you experimented with any new ideas for this new collection of songs?

EW: The Pale Horse spanned over the course of four years, and in that time, the band has evolved from the original stripped down two-piece into a much more realized project, instrumentally and sonically. Specifically, the last couple of years we’ve been moving in a much more aggressive direction with some heavier elements to the mix.

The propulsive, plinking piano and catchy, girl group harmonies of the standout single, ‘Gunsmoke’ sounds like a fun one to play. What is your favorite song to play live and why?  

EW: Yes, “Gunsmoke” is a fun one. That song is very direct on the record, so we mess with it a bit live to make it more interesting for us to play. We like playing our new material most but reimagining some of the moodier songs like “Darlin,” “Tusk & Mouth,” and “Rolling Tides” is also something we love perhaps more so now than we did around the time the record came out. We’ve been spending so much time on the new material that coming back to these songs is also fresh, like starting over again. There is a certain meditative feel. And some of my most memorable moments during the recording of that record were these songs.

What can we expect from an Ancient Warfare show?

EW: You can expect it to hit a lot of different moods. The live show is a continuous stream of music—most of the songs are intertwined with sonic/melodic pieces. It can be demanding in that sense, but hopefully it is something that one can connect with.


Ancient Warfare performs Friday, March 10 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in downtown Dayton. Salvadore Ross is also on the bill. Show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit or 

*Editor’s note: The online version of this article has been corrected here to Echo Wilcox.

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Justin Kreitzer
Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at

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