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Interview with HORSE The Band bassist Dash Arkenstone

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One of the quirkiest and most original hard rock and metalcore bands on the scene today is the eccentric five piece known as HORSE the band. Horse has been together now for about seven years and has quietly built a strong fan following along the way. To describe their sound, the band jokingly refers to themselves as the first and only Nintendocore band because of references to Nintendo characters in songs and the use of a keyboard equipped with 8-bit gaming system type sounds. Horse’s brand new studio album is set for release on June 26th and they will be touring the Southern parts of the United States throughout the same month. Recently we scored an interview with the band’s bassist Dash Arkenstone to ask him about all things Horse including Nintendo, pizza and crabs.

How is the current North American tour with Light This City been going?
Dash: Light This City is awesome and they’re actually one of the few bands that I really get along with. They’re all super cool and we all have a lot in common and that usually doesn’t happen, I’m usually just passing the bands in the halls being like, “hey what’s going on,” but we hang out with them all the time. The tour’s going really well, um I mean it’s just North American, we’ve been doing North America forever and like you know, just familiar faces in every city and the same venues and the same cities you know, it gets old but it’s still cool.

Any particular shows that stand out as stellar or any shows you’re looking forward to in the future on this tour?
Dash: Looking forward to, hmm, on this tour I don’t know, maybe all of them.... They’re all pretty comical, we just get up on stage and have a good time and like half of our show is just talking, like just bullshit, people call it standup comedy you know, we’ll talk for fifteen minutes and play a song. I don’t know, San Francisco is always pretty fun, the kids there are always really cool and I always look forward to going there.

Just to touch on your music, you guys have recently been working on your forthcoming record. How is the process coming along and can you share any details of when the album may be released?
Dash: Yeah we’ve actually finished it and the release date is June 26th and it’s called Natural Death and uh, I’m pretty sure it’s June 26th, there were some issues with mastering and we might have it redone, but we need the entire band to agree on something which is impossible most of the time you know....

For the new album, you created a Youtube channel to document the recording process. How did this idea come about and how has it been going?
Dash: It was actually, I don’t even remember how we got to do it, like we had the advance for the album, we had like a photography budget and instead of hiring a photographer, we decided to buy a camera and a video camera with the money and do it ourselves. And so we just started shooting each other in the studio and then, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of it, but it’s really just a bunch of bullshit. [laughs]

You guys are self-labeled as a Nintendocore band for various reasons including game references and eight-bit influenced sounds. Are you maintaining these themes and tools on your forthcoming work?
Dash: Um, that’s a hard one because none of us even really embraces that term anymore, it was such a joke and unfortunately it made people think that we were a joke. But uh, we have the same sort of keyboard sound, but we also have a lot more orchestral sounds and our keyboard player has a different keyboard that he uses now, like he has a second keyboard. It’s definitely HORSE the band but it’s definitely more mature and hopefully people will see that we’re actually serious about the music.

That leads into my next question. Some of your lyrics are Nintendo related but you only have about three songs which reference video games. That being said, what are some of the other themes that your music addresses?
Dash: On this new album, it’s kind of all about like nature and.... I don’t even know how to explain it, I hear the other guys in the band doing interviews and they’re way better at explaining this than me. It’s just about the forces of nature and how devastating it can be and like the empty plain. It really ties together the whole theme of the album from beginning to end, like it’s a lot to take in. Originally it was nineteen tracks, we had to take it down because it was just too much music and too much to handle. But there’s no referencing to Nintendo on this record at all, the previous Nintendo references are actually, they’re all not really even about Nintendo, but I mean it’s done well for us, but we kind of stepped away from the whole Nintendo thing on this album, we let our singer Nathan write about whatever the hell he wants to.

Besides the whole Nintendo thing that’s been blown out of proportion, are there any other things which you are going to do differently on your next record in comparison to your last record or previous work?
Dash: There’s a lot of really melodic, like in between pieces that are just instrumentals in between songs, just more sound-scapy type of stuff. There’s like two of them, like I wrote these two and it’s all me which is really awesome, it’s just bass and pipe organ kind of stuff which is really off from what we usually do and fans might not even dig it but I don’t care.

On your myspace page, it lists that the sound of the band is that of a crab. Did you or the guys have anything to do with this and is there anything behind it or is it just a joke?
Dash: [laughs] That’s a funny question to ask. We were at this crab shack or like shrimp shack or something in Philadelphia, it was when we were on Warped Tour and they had these towers of beer, like they had a little dispenser at the bottom you just keep filling up your glass from. They’re these huge towers that they give you and we had about five or six of those and we just got totally hammered and our keyboardist had a crab and he just pulls it out and puts it on his head and the whole night we were calling him crab master. It’s just totally ridiculous and then we just got hammered and kept saying “hey crab, hey crab.” So that’s what that’s about. [laughs]

The word pizza: album title, food and one of Italy’s greatest exports. How and why did you use this theme for your latest EP?
Dash: This was because of this restaurant in Chicago where I am right now, they have the best pizza ever and we were on a tour and we really wanted to drop off of it for numerous reasons because I guess ticket sales were kind of up so we thought it’d be fucked up to just drop off the tour and like all the fans would be kind of screwed so we decided if we were going to drop off of it, we should at least do like an EP. So again, we were in this restaurant hammered and we came up with all these ideas for the EP Pizza and I’m surprised that we even went through with it because we usually don’t do what we say we’re going to. But um, kids seem to enjoy it but it’s probably the worst thing we’ve ever done.

Things seem to be looking up for you guys right now. What are your plans for the rest of 2007?
Dash: The album is going to come out and I hope that we get on a really kick ass tour and I hope that people hear about it. We’re actually not too happy with our label and the promotion for our record and it’s like, I don’t know if we have any plans after this and that’s really bad because we have a freaking new album coming out so that’s a bummer, I want do tour with freaking Linkin Park or something, not because I like them but I think it’d be good for us.

Ok, so really it’s day to day for you guys right now? No huge tour plans in the immediate future?
Dash: We’re not doing Warped Tour again, I don’t think they want us back and we’re not doing Sounds of the Underground which is a total bummer because I think it’d be really good for us so right now we have nothing, it really sucks. But we’re really proud of our album and I hope that we gain more fans from it because it’s really good.  [ END ]
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