HORSE the Band (USA) (December 2009)

HORSE the mf'ing band

FUCK IT” – The mantra of The Pioneer. With these resonating words, HORSE the Band, latched on to legacy with their very own hands and set the precedent for every band claiming the avant-garde title. Here are the facts: At the moment of inevitable disillusionment for the artist, a defining juncture for any band, HTB rose to the challenge where many before had fallen. Announcing brazen plans, the band was met with rancor and jest, a response the vanguard is familiar with – a 40-country tour of earth, booked, funded, planned and survived by the band? The misanthropes jeered, the flouters doubted, while HORSE the Band played 73 gigs in three months over 45 countries worldwide and persevered to tell the tale.

And tell the tale they have, echoes of the story soaked in ether and pinned down on their latest and most arduous release; Desperate Living.

Read more, including the exclusive interview with Lord Gold from HORSE the Band below.

Musically, the journeys and responsibilities undertaken are as torrid and formidable as those on the road, and the band as relentless.  Released in October 2009, Desperate Living is an innovative and honest release from a heretical and observant band, sensitive to both the beauty and pain of their creative responsibilities. One gets the impression of salient disclosure; an intrinsic and veracious account from the collected and cultivated experiences of HORSE the Band. With an austere assumption of disquietude from the listener, complemented by the ferocious and perceptive lyrical palette presented in orchestrated landscapes and drenched in the essence of 100-year-old suicide laments, captured and tortured amongst growls and saccharine hooks, Desperate Living is an album with weight.

In theory, HORSE the Band define the ideal of the underground movement. From their very inception in 1999, the band was oblivious to precedent and with this naivety fostered a subgenre of KORG synthesized savageness. Once exposed to a broader audience, HTB managed to maintain creative integrity, playing with every named band in the scene, while touring the world on their own terms. However, in practice, the repercussions of the authenticity, substance and verity of the ideal has been exposed, and the double edged sword has been chronicled in Desperate Living in all its stark detail.

Calibreed caught up with Lord Gold for a little more info from the band, although after reading their official Biography here, there is probably nothing else you would ever need to know. It is crucial reading.

Nathan Winneke, David Isen, Erik Engstrom, Daniel Pouliot.

First off: Earth Tour. Was there serious discussion in the HTB camp about calling the tour ‘Earth Tour Except That Africa Place’? A man cannot judge himself until he has tested his worth against the Dark Continent. Was it the snakes or the AIDS? It’s actually rather nice here – does Africa feature in any of HtB’s upcoming plans? In Zulu, a horse is ‘ihashi’.

Haha, we actually went to Africa on the tour, but to Egypt. I ate McDonald’s at the airport, it took 30 minutes to get the food. We also had to almost bribe their security to get our bags through. But we just yelled at them. Then we left. But, no! We want to come; it just didn’t make sense on Earth Tour Leg 1. We still want to come to South Africa, and hopefully a few other countries. I really wanna play in Zanzibar too. We are trying to work it out. If a promoter can get us there and back at no cost to us it’s on!

Back to past conquests: 45 countries, 73 gigs in 3 months and $942. These are figures that have earned Horse the Band a reputation. Do the numbers speak for themselves about the reality and ‘true wealth’ of touring, and is the idea of what else is left after something of this scale daunting?

Well, we thought we would lose money. David and I told the band we might make a little or probably break even, but we both expected something horrible would happen and we would come home with an unprecedented, crippling band debt. But, it all worked out pretty smoothly and successfully. Probably because we are both so intelligent. Obviously there is no money in touring Asia, flying every day, for a band of our size, but there is some money in Europe and Australia… So we basically used 6 weeks of dates in “profitable” countries to pay for 6 weeks in “fun” countries. And yeah, for a while there was a weariness of “we’ve seen it all” and now have to live the rest of our lives bored, but it went away after a while. That was good. At the moment though I am still totally sick of flying and convinced each time my plane doesn’t crash my chances of not dying on the flight are drastically lowered.

The official video for ‘Murder’ filmed live in Belgrade, Serbia. HD recommended.

The band has hinted at ‘A Natural Death’ being close to the end of HTBs run, and Earth Tour being a response to escaping the monotony of being on the road.  The band also moved over to Vagrant records in early 2009. These experiences seem to have directly impacted on the sounds and themes of Desperate Living, which is noticeably in a different vein to previous releases. Can one take optimism away from this new venture of sound, and the mindset of the band?

I think Desperate Living is our most sad and pained album ever, but it has a bright side to it. Mentally the band is in a better place than ever. It’s like we had to play psychologist for ourselves and by pushing it to the limit through estrangement and physical punishment, exhaustion, and experiencing things that no other bands or reviewers or “music people” will ever see or think of or comprehend we somehow made it through and und our place in the world, or something. We made a really honest album. As for what to take from that for the future… Haha, I don’t know. I think we are done trying to have this band exist within the US’s “industry” model. We are just friends who play music and now we will only play when we want to with bands we like and in places we want to go. We aren’t trying to make it our job anymore.

The album and its musical, lyrical and character contents seem very self reflective, close to home and openly honest when undressed.  Is this creative expression cathartic, or confessional?  Does the personal and emotional investment into the work tie you closer to the albums? With this in mind, if all the HtB albums were your pets, would you have a favourite? Does Desperate Living still have that new puppy dog smell?

Desperate Living is really the only thing we have done that I have felt expressed something we were feeling in a very effective way. It is both confessional and cathartic, we feel especially close to the music. Listening the parts of the album still gives me chills, both lyrics and instrumentation. Usually, especially if that part is something you wrote, that wears off quickly but it hasn’t for this album. It’s the definite favorite of the band by a long-shot, maybe with mechanical hand coming in a far off 2nd.

Within context of the band, is Desperate Living Horse the Bands ‘matured’ release?

I mean, we aren’t trying to be “mature”. The word seems to grow more idiotic every time I hear it. I don’t think I even know someone who is “mature”. People are all just fucking crazy. I would say we were the most successful with expressing the feelings we set out to express on this album. We were more honest, we had more to say and more relevant things to say, and the album came very naturally because so many intense emotions were so fresh in our minds.

The band features some interesting surprise guests from unexpected musical influences. Did you initially approach them as fans of their work when discussing collaborations? Are there musical or lyrical synonyms that HtB relates to with these artists?

Yeah, we were either superfans or close friends and appreciative of their talents. Getting to work with Jamie Stewart and Valentina Lisitsa especially, for me, was so surreal that I went through a phase where I questioned if my life was real or a computer simulation experiment to see what happened if a person kept getting everything they dreamed of. I feel that especially for Jamie and Valentina, we feel the same way about music but express ourselves very differently. There is a common intense emotional thread and passion that ties us together. I wanted to bring their sensibilities into “heavy” music because it’s so powerful. I thought combining tortured fringe piano composition and whatever you can call what Jamie does, supernatural noise manipulation combined with heart-wrenching melody, with heavy music, would be explosive.

The official music video for ‘Shapeshift’ featuring Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu.

Valentina Lisitsa. Having her agree to feature on the album must have been a pretty big deal. Did you receive any specific feedback on ‘A Natural Death’ after first approaching her and giving her a copy of the album, and what has been her response to Rape Escape? Was there a ‘Holy Shit’ moment when first listening to her contribution to the track, and molding it into the HtB sound?

Haha there was like a “Holy Shit” year, or at least a “Holy Shit” 8-9 months after I met her and she emailed me saying she was serious about a guest appearance. Val didn’t make any specific comments about A Natural Death other than saying she was into it. But she was so ready to collaborate with us, so excited. It was easily the most excited I had been about hearing what something was going to sound like. She loved how the song turned out, she absolutely loved it and said she couldn’t wait for people to hear it and for critics to not understand it and get angry. She is the real deal. A true artist. So cool.

The Stay Human project – In a war of this magnitude, does the fight ever feel futile, and have you noticed any recent issues we should be aware of and concerned about? I hear that the Colony Collapse Disorder could be attributed to electro-magnetic radiation. Could CCD be a scary analogy for what’s on the horizon for the human being? On a side note, apparently “one out of every three bites of food that we consume is due to the work of honeybees, serving as crucial pollinators in agriculture and farming communities”. Are the signs and portents being ignored? Where are the bodies?

I don’t know! I am scared.
But, the weird thing about trying to preserve humanity… A lot of what you are trying to save is the ugliness, the perversity. By saving humanity you ensure future atrocity, infinite atrocity. And infinite beauty. So… It’s weird. But I guess as the only observers who are able to reflect on our actions in serious, sarcastic, artistic, whatever, ways we may as well keep ourselves around so we can keep doing it.

The official (edited and uncensored) music video for ‘Lord Gold Throneroom’.

In a simplified essence, is The Stay Human project a celebration of living at the top when you’re at the fucking bottom?

I don’t think so. Most humans will never ever know how to do that or feel what it is like. It’s hard to explain. Maybe something more like the beauty of preserving the highs and the lows. But only a select few humans will be the go-betweens. The cloudwalkers…

Has the internet killed the intimacy of music, making it consumable and disposable, or has it brought art to new wider audiences?

Both. The good thing is you can still make music intimate if you want to; most people are just too stupid to do it. The main problem being they enjoy the music they listen to, but only because it makes them feel cool to think about other people thinking about them liking those bands of the moment. The only bands that get disposed of are the ones that weren’t vital in the first place (most of them). The Internet also spawned a music journalism industry, in order for them to keep making ad money they must create and destroy trends as quickly as possible. Oh well.

Any last words for the starving third-world Africans out there?

Anything I have to say is worthless to anyone living a real life. But at least I didn’t come take pictures of myself holding your children when I finished college.

Support Horse the Band. It’s the right thing to do:

DOWNLOAD Desperate Living from iTunes and recieve 10 bonus tracks.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise specified, all content belongs to Calibreed Productions and can’t be used or replicated without consent.


~ by Calibreed on December 6, 2009.

2 Responses to “HORSE the Band (USA) (December 2009)”

  1. beautiful 🙂

    lekka read, awesome band!

  2. Baden, you make me moist

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