Feature Friday- Deadhorse

Posted: March 4, 2011 by Is This Revolutionary? in Interview
Tags: , ,

There almost always is something wrong with a band. Either their music sucks, their members are garbage or they’re in music for the wrong reasons (trying to make money, get famous…etc.). Deadhorse is a shining exception: their EP was absolutely incredible (one of my first 5/5’s), they make music for the love of it (and have a serious DIY attitude to boot) and the people are just some of the nicest people you’ll get to know. That’s why I sat down with them to talk about the past, present and future of their band, and just post-rock in general.

Ben: How did Deadhorse begin?

Brian: Deadhorse began as an idea to put a full band sound to acoustic music that I was making.  Rachel and I thought it would be something fun to do on the side from my main band at the time, “Awaken North Wind”.  I was doing a lot of the acoustic shows regionally, and basically it was just getting boring.  I was missing doing something with a bigger sound, and figured it was worth the try.  We got some friends together, made a set out of those songs, and started playing out.  This made Deadhorse originally an indie band with vocals and everything.  After a while we were getting bored with those songs and decided to start the writing process together.  We were having a good time with the songs, but everyone was capable of writing some new and exciting material, so we figured why not?  When we started this process, however, we decided to go full instrumental.  It was something some of us had always wanted to do and had a passion for, just never pushed forward with the vision.  After talking it over and messing around with some ideas, we decided it was worth a shot.  From there we started writing the first pieces from our full length, and the rest is what has brought us up to today.

Mikey: The truth is Deadhorse started  out as a metal garage band. Brian (vocalist) and four brothers from Ireland made up Deadhorse. Brian developed a drinking problem which forced the Ireland brothers too quit the band and head back home. After losing his voice, Brian decided to take the band in another direction and to just play instrumental music.

B: What was the recording process like?

Bri: The recording process was long and drawn out over a period of several months.  We had started recording “We Can Create Our Own World” in Dec. of ‘09 and the process went all the way up through June of ‘10.  We were writing the songs in the middle of recording with some friends, and pieced things together when we had the time, and when they had the time in between other projects.  It was hard to be patient at times, but when it all came down to it, it was worthwhile to do it like this our first time around.  We had a lot of fun working with our friends Eric Buman and Mark Graziano here in Erie on the project.  They are certainly not “by the book” type guys and always like to have fun and experiment.  We tried all sorts of crazy things, crazy micing patterns, and everything in between.  We are quite excited to start the process all over again, to be honest.

Mikey: Truth is we just put a tape recorder in the middle of a basement. It was easy and it only took 3 ½ days.

B: What fuels your D-I-Y mentality behind your production of CD’s/merchandise?

Bri: Honestly, DIY is all that any of us have ever known [laughs].  We like to keep it simple, and we’re certainly not shooting to land the interest of some big label that has big money to push their big ideas on us.  That sort of world just doesn’t exist anymore, and definitely does not exist in the post-rock world.  We are all punk rock kids, and come from crazy punk rock backgrounds.  In all of the other bands we have been a part of, it has always been DIY.  Deadhorse was to be nothing different, but we really wanted to try and push the envelope this time around, wanting to consistently put out DIY merch of all type that we were proud to stand behind for years and tours to come.

When it comes down to it, it’s a lot more fun and rewarding to do it yourself.  It gives you a blank canvas to really throw your own ideas on, and make something that you can say “WOW” to.  You don’t have to put a cd in a jewel case just because thousands of other bands have done the same.  You don’t have to make 8 color cartoon kiddie shirts just because that’s what sells these days.  Sure, market your band and your products in a way that’s appealing, but make sure you’re happy about every aspect of those creations.  After all, it is your music that is behind those ideas!

Mikey: Truth is we like money and doing nothing ourselves. I’m swimming in money right now!

B: What bands have served inspirational to you and your music?

Bri: We all have very different backgrounds when it comes to music, and I could really rattle off a huge list for myself personally.  As far as the writing in this album goes, I can give you a basic list of bands that we really enjoy:  Further Seems Forever, Sigur Ros, Twothirtyeight, Dignan, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mono, This Will Destroy You, Crass, Giants, As Cities Burn, Poison the Well, Scarlet, One21, Mewithoutyou, Caspian, Braveyoung.  I mean, I could go on all day, honestly.  We enjoy bands that enjoy what they are doing, and you can just see it in everything that they do.

Mikey: Truth is we like anything you can sip a beer and head slam too.

B: What’s behind the name Deadhorse?

Bri: The name embodies the idea of music in general.  We have seen such an extreme change in the dynamic of what would be considered the “underground” these days.  What once made you an outcast, and someone most of the world didn’t want to relate alongside, now turns you into an artistic and creative individual, something that is interesting and different, and in some cases, “popular” and “trendy”.

The whole attitude behind shows, music, punk rock, hardcore, etc. has shifted on all fronts, and because of that, we have seen a shift in what is being represented out there with any sort of counter-cultural branding.  Everything is a dime a dozen, and sad to say that a lot of times it is hard to differentiate between what is sincere and what is a scheme to try and climb some ladder to recognition and riches.

Because of this, it’s almost like those who do still see the beauty in being an outcast so to say, or being part of a world that we all helped create, a world that took us in when everyone else rejected us, we are the horses being beat to death by a lot of the garbage that continues to be put out over and over again.

Make no mistake – there is something beautiful and creative in each and every individual, and if people would stop worrying about impressing everyone around them, and just did what they loved, we wouldn’t have this problem.  So when it all comes down to it, it’s to send a message out to those who can look at the current state of things within some of the more major factions of the “underground” and shake their head alongside of us.  We are all the dead horses.

Mikey: Truth is we stole it.

B: How difficult is it to convey emotion without the use of a vocalist? What was the reason you guys don’t actually have a vocalist?

Bri: When it comes down to it, it has almost been easier to convey emotion without a vocalist.  If songs have very specific messages behind songs that might even be fueled by pride, hate, racism, prejudice, religion, etc. it can really pigeonhole their audience.  It can be quite the turn off for people that might not see eye to eye with what the singer is bantering on about.  Because of this, the entire emotion the band is trying to create as well can be lost.  Without having extremely specific messages, or lyrical anthems, our music is 100 percent open to interpretation.

This isn’t saying we don’t try to take a stand for something though.  Once again, with our roots, there really is no point in creating something just to create it if you’re trying so diligently to share it on the stage.  If you want to create to create, that is fine!  When it becomes public though, we feel an importance for connection with those we will be sharing with.  To go along with the previous paragraph, this has it’s obvious drawbacks because you cannot please everybody.  This is why we try to stand for something more universal, no matter what you’re specifics might be.

Every show we play, before we start I always give a short little speech about who we are and what we do.  What it boils down to is this – some bands have nothing to say, and others have entirely too much.  Regardless, most of the time, people do not want to hear it.  We are not here with our music to get you to do anything, or change in any way, or agree or disagree with us at all.  We just want to remind everyone that we have  a lot of power within ourselves to create serious change.  As individuals and collectively, we are all meant for amazing things.  A lot of times, we hold ourselves back from what we’re truly capable of.  We just want to remind people that these songs are an idea of that celebration/revolution.  We invite them to embody that idea in any way they may see fit with the music we are playing.  It will always be 100 percent unique for every person standing in that room, as well as the five of us creating.  That is a beautiful thing in and of itself, and something I am truly proud to stand behind.

Mikey: Truth is we rely on stage violence to convey emotion without vocals.

B: After the decent success of your first album and high rankings on the Post-Rock poll, where do you see Deadhorse heading now?

Bri: We are just going to keep doing what we have been doing all along [laughs]. 2011 is going to be a busy touring year for us.  We are actually leaving tomorrow morning  for just over a month on the road with our friend William James, who does “Punk Rock Performance Poetry”.  We’ll be home for a few weeks and then we’re going to head right back out most of April/May.  End of May and into June will see us hit the west coast for the first time.  We just released our full length on vinyl through Broken Circles Records, so that is definitely something we’re excited about sharing with the world this year.  We are going to have music featured in some phenomenal documentary soundtracks, as well as have some incredible short film/music videos of our own to some of the pieces off of our full length.  More tours to follow the summer, fall and winter, as well as appearances at a couple of festivals around the country.  We’re still keeping our fingers crossed to get overseas as soon as we can too.  Shooting to do something in Europe and Japan as soon as we possibly can.

Mikey: To Hollywood

B: What gear do you use?

Bri: A whole lot.  It would be quite silly to type out an entire list of every single thing we use.  If anyone is wondering about anything specific we might use,  just send us an email, Deadhorse814@gmail.com and we’ll tell you all about it [laughs].

Mikey: Range Rovers and toasters (big shout outs to my boyz lenny and peanut butter & pimp)

B: Erie, Pennsylvania’s pretty small. Do you guys know the guys from xRepresentx?

[Laughs] Yes, we know them well.  Tyler Long, our bass player before Mikey, was the bass player of xRepresentx as well.  He did all kinds of national and international touring with them.  All of the members are friends of ours, and they are definitely a great band to have representing our area, no pun intended.

B: Besides from Deadhorse, it seems like someone in the band has a pretty successful side business. Can you fill us in?

Bri: I don’t know so much about successful as of yet, but most of us have little things we do on the side.  Personally, I make buttons for bands, businesses, organizations, events, etc.  It’s called Out of Step Buttons, and you can order any amount of buttons you may need.  I also have hundreds of defunct band buttons that people can choose from on the site, so that’s a lot of fun!  www.outofstepbuttons.storenvy.com if you want to check it out or order some buttons!

Rachel makes a bunch of awesome handmade jewelry that she sells at our shows on the road.  It is supposed to be up online here in the near future as well, but we can’t keep it in stock long enough to every put up on the internet!  She makes beautiful necklaces, feather earrings, hair pieces, etc.  sometimes she’ll even sew bags and shirts.   Everything is one of a kind, and goes over extremely well, as well as adds a different dynamic to the entirety of the merch display!

Garrett plays drums with an internationally recognized guitar legend named Neil Zaza.  He doe all of that crazy riff show off rock-n-roll sort of thing.  He also does a lot of graphic design work, and film work.

Mikey and Seth are superheroes that save the world from crime, but we cannot reveal their super identities.

B: Our fans have been dying to ask you this: what is the meaning of life?

Bri: The meaning of life, hmmm.  This is most certainly a question that we have never been asked.  There’s the very simple joking way we could answer this question, and then the more serious route we could take.  Maybe we could try both.

Sometimes I feel people might look at this question as something far more vast and scary than it needs to be.  I feel the meaning of life is to simply live it to the fullest.  It goes right a long with the message in our music.  We are all meant for amazing things, find out what those amazing things are, and do them.  Don’t let yourself get stuck, and don’t just stop trying because  you think you can’t do something.   The meaning of life would be to LIVE life, don’t be a passive observer of your own time.

Mikey: I was trying to think of something witty for the funnier side of it, but I got nothing [laughs].

B: What was your first exposure to post-rock?

Bri: My first exposure to post-rock was through a great friend named Jon McClay.  I was in a god awful metal core band called The Sensory that was touring around the country.  He was the singer for a band called A Girl A Gun A Ghost.  We toured together many many years ago, and fell in love instantly.  At this point I was into a lot of heavier stuff, but I was starting to stray away from that being a full time listening thing and branching out into a lot of different genres.  I was getting more into a lot of indie stuff, and continued to search for more.

We were on tour, talking about this very thing, and we stopped at a little independent record store that had a ton of great albums.  Jon asked me if I ever listened to much instrumental music.  I told him no, but from the way he was describing some of these epic bands to me, it felt like something I would fall in love with.  He handed me an Explosions in the Sky album to purchase, and after that, I was hooked! [laughs]

B: With many post-rock bands being created and many more being recognized publicly, where do you feel the genre of music as a whole is moving?

Bri: The genre, just like any other genre, will continue to adapt and evolve as time progresses.  No one wants to put out the same album twice, and no one wants to hear the same recycled bands.  We’ll continue to see all sorts of elements played into the genre as a whole, and people branching out farther and farther to put as much creativity they possibly can into everything they create.  The future is always something to look forward to!

Mikey: Hollywood

Check out Deadhorse’s Facebook Page Here

Check out our review of their album, We Can Create Our Own World, Here


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