Horse The Band Interview

Band Name: Horse The Band
Interviewed: Erik Engstrom
Date: 2009-08-25

Previous Horse The Band Interviews
The Gauntlet: How's everything going?

Erik: Good. I am on this massive road trip with my girlfriend. We are in Palm Springs right now and headed to Canada. We are kind of doing a west coast national parks thing.

The Gauntlet: You are allowed in Canada?

Erik: I don't know. As far as the band goes, we are OK. We got arrested once. No one has a DUI. Several years ago after a show, everyone in the band was drunk except me and our straight-edge tour manager. We stopped to get gas and our singer had this fake cap gun and took the orange tip off. He fell out of the van and just started firing the gun in the air while screaming and holding a bottle of whiskey in his other hand. We just laughed and went on our way. About 30 secs later I had a shotgun pointed at my head with 26 cops behind us. They shut down the freeway and wanted to know where the gun was that we robbed the gas station was at. We were outside in the freezing cold for 3 hours. We were soaking wet having just got off stage too. They took Nathan to jail over night for questioning. We didn't do anything wrong, it was just a big mix-up.

The Gauntlet: Vans carrying trailers make the best get away vehicles after an armed robbery.

Erik: Definitely.

The Gauntlet: So getting a little vacation in before the upcoming tour?

Erik: Yeah. We are going to take out Iwrestledabearonce. We were just going to go out but then we wanted a support band so we asked them. Them we are going to Europe on a big packaged tour. It will be a fun, no bullshit tour over there. Then we come back and support Norma Jean and The Chariot in the US. We haven't toured the US in a while. We toured here about a year ago and that was it.

The Gauntlet: Why no love at home?

Erik: It started as the last tour we were on before that was with GWAR. We were just really bored and hated the whole touring scene and how corporate it had become and how many managers and booking agents were involved. Everyone had like 400 angles going at the same time with money and politics. It just wasn't fun. That pretty much made us not want to tour again here. We also liked being away so much and did some big European tours. I think we are ready though to come back and tour our own country. We also had a hard time getting on tours here as we had a bad reputation with people who were in control of the scene, but that is all OK now. People were mad as we wouldn't show up on time, but now no one can question our work ethic as we have done a lot of tours. No one can question whether we are serious or not about playing and making music.

The Gauntlet: In the past, would you agree with the assumption you weren't serious?

Erik: No, we always were. We were serious about how stupid we thought everything was and not playing by the rules of the game. We started booking our own tours but that takes a lot of time and effort. It wasn't a joke to us. We love playing shows. We want to play anywhere if someone gives a shit. We started doing tours were we had to be at the venue at 2pm and sit on your ass for 8 hours. We'd go to the city and show up when it made sense for us to be at the show and we got in trouble for that. That and drinking too much. As long as we played the show and well, we thought it was OK. People just thought we weren't serious. We were always there to perform.

The Gauntlet: The band's sound has really evolved over the last few albums.

Erik: Thanks, that is good to hear as I just read two reviews that said nothing has changed and we sound exactly the same. I was like 'what the fuck, did you listen to the album?'

The Gauntlet: It was actually hard to get the CD to play. I had to use my daughter's Hello Kitty disc player and even then a lot of the tracks wouldn't play due to the watermark promo copy protection on the advance.

Erik: I have been hearing a lot of that. I think with the reviews, they didn't make it to the end of the CD. There is so much crazy stuff at the end that they didn't even mention. We have evolved pretty naturally; we aren't trying to change genres but trying to create emotional and energetic music. We want to keep it to something not being done by anyone else. I think we have changed a lot. We have had a different drummer on every album and write music to their strong point but at the same time I think that our current drummer can play any style and well. He is super solid in everything and doesn't try to show off. Just our experiences in touring really did something to us. It is pretty hard to explain but it is in the lyrics and the music itself. There is more pain and a broader understanding in the album but not an answer.

The Gauntlet: Even the song titles have less of a tongue and cheek quality to them now.

Erik: Yeah, definitely. All our favorite bands are super visceral live bands from the late 90's: Neil Perry, Page 99. When you listen on CD it doesn't show but when you see them live everyone is going nuts. These bands know how to show true emotion. For Nathan it is Cave In and for me it is At The Drive-In and new wave-ish stuff that is so honest that it is making a bigger statement. We want the kids that can still feel emotions to get chills when listening to our albums. The kids that will actually take some and it might make them feel weird through their whole body but yet still connect at the live shows and just lose your shit. We kinda wrote it with that in mind. Dave and I went in saying that this album needs really strong melodies and we didn't want a second that goes by without a well thought melody in at least one instrument. Dave really loves making rhythms. He'll write a guitar part and then the drum part and make them cluster-fuck with each other. I would then write a lead over that chaos. We really pushed Nathan hard on the lyrics. I think we made him almost go crazy, but he loves them now. We were editing with him every step of the way and being really heavy handed with what we liked and didn't like. We got a certain style out of him that wouldn't have happened. It is all him though.

The Gauntlet: The final track, "Rape Escape" is done with a piano right, not keyboards.

Erik: That's right. It is not me playing either. We got my favorite classical pianist, her name is Valentina Lisitsa. She is Ukrainian born and a piano prodigy who was able to leave her country and tour. She played with Hillary Hahn, the best violin soloist in the world. That is how high of a caliber she is. She is arguably the best player of our generation right now. There might be three or four others. She is young and bursting on the scene. She just destroys. She takes the song and understands it the way the composer does when he was writing it. The piece that she plays for us was written by a Russian composer who wrote it like one hundred years ago after his best friend shot himself in the face. It is a loaded piece. I wanted her to add something to it and I gave her a few adjectives. She said she could make something up but already knew of a piece. She recorded it at home and broke a string while recording. That is crazy to do on a piano. It is pretty insane. It is one of the hardest pieces to play on piano. She just destroys all others that have played it before. I can talk about her all day. She is just amazing.