An Horse is an Australian two-piece, featuring Kate Cooper on guitars and vocals and Damon Cox on drums. Their first album “Rearrange Beds” was released on ITunes in December of 2008 and will have its’ physical release next week.
We were fortunate enough to interview Kate shortly after they arrived in the U.S. for a tour leading up to their appearance at SXSW. Generally, we favor an “Interview Magazine” approach to printing these interviews because it eliminates any sense of editorial bias. In this case, we wouldn’t be doing the band justice. Her words alone are not enough to convey the honest enthusiasm, integrity and sense of wonder that the band clearly embraces.
Many of the bands that we interview claim a complete ignorance of the music that came before them and we are left to believe that they were dropped off by a spaceship with their songwriting abilities created in a vacuum. Kate won’t have any of that. When asked about comparisons to to other bands it becomes quickly obvious that she is a “student of music”. She has listened to everything she can and it informs but doesn’t define their music. When asked about this writers’ comparison of An Horse to The Spinanes, she jumps at the reference.
KC: Of course, I know them. Manos was a great record and I’m honored to be considered with them in the same breath.
Rather than try and distance herself from a similar sounding record, she embraces it and spends the next several minutes picking my brain about whether I saw them live, how they (also a two piece) were able to make the record translate live and what happened to them. This isn’t the sound of a vain musician denying their influences. It’s the sound of a brilliant musician trying to learn more so that she can continue to evolve.
The same rings true when asked about the bands they’ve toured with. An Horse opened for Tegan and Sara on their first American tour in 2008. More recently, they toured with Death Cab For Cutie in Australia. Our attempts to get them to dish on both bands failed miserably.
TDOA: What was it like touring with Tegan and Sara?
KC: They were incredibly nice to us and became great friends. Touring with friends is amazing. Touring with them is one of the highlights of my life.
TDOA: Any good dirt on Death Cab?
KC: They were absolute gentleman. So friendly and so supportive. They were the equivalent of Tegan and Sara for that tour.
When the subject shifts to South By Southwest, the enthusiasm and excitement remains, but with a subtle hint of humility that makes this band even more precious.
TDOA: Who are you excited to see at SXSW?
KC: Well, the most important thing when we’re there is that I don’t want to be disappointed in myself.
I want you to go through your Rolling Stone collection from 1967 to present. Find me one interview where the band says their primary concern is making sure their performance meets their own standards. I doubt you’re going to find Mick Jagger, Britney Spears or Travis Barker waxing poetic about the fragility of their self-esteem and the need to make sure their performances exceed their own expectations. An Horse has the talent to recognize (without realizing it) that by meeting their own expectations they are sure to satisfy a nation of millions.
Kate and I spend a few moments discussing bands playing SXSW with her referencing The Drones and a lengthy debate over the merits of watching PJ Harvey (Kate loved her last album. Me: meh.). Did I mention Kate’s very sweet and has already learned the talent of not saying a bad word about anyone?
A question discussing the differences between Australia and America for a band trying to make it, turns into a discussion of what is best described as An Horse’s mission statement.
KC: We want to make great records for a living. I want to connect with people. I want to be an authentic person.
She makes it clear that Australia is a much tougher market to crack (?!) because distribution is so difficult there. The geography of the country, coupled with what Kate describes as an almost “mafia-like” control of the industry, makes it difficult to succeed. (Pause. Pray that the Live Nation/Ticketmaster deathstar never gets there greasy hands on An Horse. Continue.)
Our time with Kate, goes quickly. She’s an electric personality and has the ability to make someone comfortable in conversation even while her bandmate narrowly avoids crashing into oncoming cars. Lyrically and musically, An Horse are the same. Immediately engaging while taking you down paths that will challenge your perception of music. This little two-piece from Australia will blow your mind with the denseness of their sound.
There are defining times in music history where each of us has an opportunity to see a band before they become mammoth. This is your time to make An Horse your friend.
As previously mentioned, An Horse will be appearing on David Letterman tonight! The album is available on ITunes now.
Fun side story: Letterman never shakes the hand of a band unless he really likes them. He has decent taste in music, so watch to see if Dave leaves his desk tonight to say hello to Kate. ….fingers crossed.