March 2000 - SLOW HORSE
The self-titled debut from SLOW HORSE, that has been released in 1999 through Freebird Records, delivers an unique variation of good Doom. Great riffs, an intense atmosphere, honest lyrics make their album to a very good one, not to forget the cover of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' that is more sounding like an own composition. So it was about time to get in contact with vocalist and guitarist Dan, who live's in New York.
Your debut is really amazing! But let's start with a usual question. When did you form the band and is this your first group?
This isn't my first band, no. I've played in bands for twelve years. I was in a hardcore band called MISTER SOFTEE, then a speed metal band called VOMITORIUM, and then an avant math-rock band called NECRODESTRUCTICON. SLOW HORSE came after all those things. The history of SLOW HORSE has been pretty unstable so far; it's been three bass players and three drummers in three years. I must be incredibly difficult to deal with. Anyway, I just finally found replacements for the second drummer and bass player last week, so I'm really hoping it works out. Not playing for eight months has been, shall we say, not fun.
How much time did you spent in the studio? Is this a self-financed album?
We did the recording really quickly. The stuff on the CD is from two separate sessions, but each one was just one day of recording and one day of mixing. Everything was completely self-financed, and that was actually pretty much why we had to work so fast. But if there was an upside to having so little money, it was that we did all the instrumental tracks live, and in the end I think the recording really benefited from that. It has a great live feel, and it's raw as all hell. In all the bands I had ever been in before, we always recorded everything with separate tracking, and everything would always come out sounding really dull and stiff. This was the first thing I ever did that was recorded live, and I thought it made a huge difference. I will never go back to recording the other way.
Personally, I like about your sound that soulful heavyness with plenty of different emotions. Sometimes I also found traces of bands like Grief or Eyehategod. Can you agree, and what are your musical influences?
Well, in terms of the emotional quality of the music, that's always been a very high priority for me. I wanted to play slowly, and in a low tuning, but to me that was more so that the music would have a powerful emotional content, like LOW or the SWANS. But I always wondered if it wouldn't be possible to do stuff like that in the context of something really heavy, like the MELVINS, SLEEP, BLACK SABBATH, that sort of thing.
I'm also heavily influenced by stuff like NEIL YOUNG and BOB MOULD, and I wondered if it wouldn't be possible to incorporate those elements as well. Ultimately that was really what I was hoping to be able to get across, and when you think about it that's a pretty tall order. Something with the melodic sense of NEIL YOUNG, the depressing slowness of LOW, and the heaviness of the MELVINS. But I think we've gotten away with it to a certain degree, and I'm hoping we can push those elements more in the future. I want to make music that's emotionally affecting on a lot of different levels.
Are the lyrics a reflection of your daily life?
They're totally autobiographical. That's where stuff like BOB MOULD, and especially NEIL YOUNG, comes into it for me. I've always liked that they write lyrics from their own experience, my favorite writers usually do. It gives music a certain immediacy, I suppose. I'm not saying I'm as good a lyricist as those guys, I'm not. On a good day I have maybe one per cent of the talent that they have. But I feel like I'm writing honestly, and that's the main thing. My own experience is really all I'm qualified to write about anyway. Actually, it's paid off for me in a lot of interesting ways. All my lyrics were written about specific events in my life, but as time passes and those things fade from memory, I've noticed that the lyrics stay valid for new situations in my life. They still apply. It sort of reminds me of something Robert Crumb said, that he's not really drawing to make a specific point but rather that he's revealing something to himself as he's drawing, and I feel the same way about my lyrics. I'm not trying to get a certain point across or communicate anything to anybody, I'm just trying to make a little more sense of things for myself.
I really dig the cover of Chris Isaak. You didn't destroy the yearning within it. Why have you chosen this song and have you seen the movie'Wild at Hear'? Do you like David Lynch?
I really like that song a lot, that was a big part of my decision to cover it, but I was certainly conscious of the fact that we might be seen as just totally taking a big shit on that song. But I think we did it the way you should do any cover; it's not a note-for-note copy but rather it shows the band putting its own spin on the song, like VOIVOD did with 'Astronomy Domine'. But at the same time, I also thought it would get people's attention, and that was certainly another big reason. I saw 'Wild at Heart' when it came out, but to be honest I didn't really care for it that much. David Lynch is kind of hit-or-miss for me. I think he's done some brilliant stuff, but he's also done some things that were literally hell for me to sit through. But he absolutely has his own distinct style, and the things he did that I liked, like 'Blue Velvet' or 'The Elephant Man', I thought were completely brilliant, and they more than compensate for the other stuff he did that I didn't like.
Are you a huge film fan, Dan? I ask for it because of the outlook of your homepage as well as the back cover of the album, that shows a scene from 'The Shining'.
I'm a huge film fan, Kubrick in particular. He's my favorite director. It sounds pretty pretentious, but I'd love it if I were able to create music that left as strong an impression on the listener's mind as his movies do. But for now, I'll just have to settle for using his pictures and hoping that people's associations with 'The Shining' will affect them in ways that the music can't.
Please, what can you tell me about your record label Smoking In Bed Records. What have you released so far?
Smoking in Bed Records isn't really a proper label, except for when it comes time to do my taxes. There are no other bands on the label and there never will be. I have no interest in running a label, and I'm not much of a businessman anyway. I think if I tried to turn Smoking in Bed Records into some kind of a legitimate business entity it would go bankrupt overnight.
Is there a Doom scene in New York? I only know Blood Farmers, M-Squad and Pale Divine. Are you in contact with that bands?
As far as I know, SLOW HORSE has the entire New York City doom market completely cornered. I have never seen another doom band that comes from this fucking city, ever. Usually, after we play a gig someone comes up to us and tells us that no one else is playing this music any more, and I was never even aware anyone ever did in the first place. I've heard of M-SQUAD, but I don't know anything about them, and PALE DIVINE aren't from here, they're from Pennsylvania, I think. I wish they did come from here though, because I really liked what I've heard by them.
Ah yeah, you're right! Whenever I think about New York, the CBGB is in my thoughts. Has SLOW HORSE ever played there?
Our very first show was at CBGB's, at their "audition showcase". That's what they call it when they book you on Monday at 2 in the morning, and then see what kind of a draw you can get. That particular show was legendary in the annals of SLOW HORSE History. A friend of mine brought his girlfriend to the show and halfway through the second song she ran outside and vomited. She claimed that the bass frequencies actually made her physically ill. That was a treasured moment in my life, that's for sure.
What can you tell me about the future plans for SLOW HORSE? Will there be a new album in 2000 or any tours/shows?
We don't have anything set up yet. I just replaced everybody a week ago and we have to rehearse and all that fucking crap. Once we're ready though I want us to play out and record pretty relentlessly, so we'll see. O.K. thanks for the interview! We'll stay in touch.
Thanks for your time, Dan.