Interviews, PDX Pop Now 2014

Interview: Sad Horse Speak about Band Names, Bagels, and Fake IDs at PDX Pop Now! 2014

July 28, 2014
Sad Horse. All photography by Aaron Sharpsteen
Sad Horse. All photography by Aaron Sharpsteen

The second band that I was lucky enough to sit down with is a band that has been gaining traction as a live band not to miss in the city’s confines, Sad Horse. With spastic and clever songs that usually don’t come close to breaching the 3 minute mark, Sad Horse’s lean setup and sound are appealing to a wide variety of music fans. Their two-piece nature also makes them very easy to round up for an interview. We all sat down in the beer garden next to the stage at PDX Pop Now! for a chat.

So for these events I do like to have a chain letter effect thing going on. I interviewed a band last night, Spellcaster, and they gave me three questions to start off this interview. First question, and I’m sorry in advance: Why is your horse so sad?

Geoff Soule(GS) – Are you recording this?

Yeah.

Elizabeth Venable -…Indigestion? I don’t know.

GS – I’m so sick of this band name, I wish we could take it back. We’ve been trying transition to the acronym form…

EV – SH

SH…

GS – …but its just not sticking. The last cassette we did has no Sad Horse on it, just that form. We didn’t sell very many of those.

Sorry again for that. Second question comes from my mentioning that you used to be in Fuck from the Bay Area, they asked about the transition from the Bay Area to Portland. Why did choose Portland over the Bay Area? Have you chosen? Etc.

GS – I got really tired of the big city. I think Portland is the perfect size for a city. It’s big enough to have everything that someone could be interested in, but not too big. Not yet anyways. We don’t have to deal with big city problems on a daily basis. I don’t think it will get that way, I think there is really good city planning.

I agree. So the size mainly?

GS- The size, and the politics are comparable.

You’re talking about the liberal tendency?

GS- Yeah. The weather is the main obstacle for me, I grew up in San Diego, so I’m used to perfection all the time. But I’ve been here for 10 years so…

Did you move too?

EV- I was born in Indiana, but I’ve done a lot of moving around.

Oh! Where in Indiana?

EV- Terre Haute.

Sad Horse
Sad Horse

I’m from Peoria, IL.

EV- I know Peoria.

I’m not just wearing this St. Louis Cardinals hat to be ironic, I am actually a Cardinals fan.

EV- I believe it.

Cool. Last question from Spellcaster: What’s your favorite variety of cream cheese? I think they were thinking flavor: strawberry, honey…

EV – I like plain, but I like it on an onion or garlic bagel.

Plain with a garlic bagel?

EV – Or an everything bagel?

But nothing in your cream cheese?

EV – No, you don’t need it. Plain.

Ok. Those three questions are now done. And you’ll get to ask three questions for the next band. To start my questions, how much of the set you just played is recorded? Could I listen to all of those songs?

EV- Yeah, I think so.

GS- Everything except for the cover. There was at least one off that cassette I mentioned, SH.

EV- There was one on the New Moss compilation too.

But most of them are on Purple on Purple Makes Purple?

GS- Yes.

Cool. I remember when I first caught you, and I was thinking “Where can I buy this?” I feel like I listened through that LP and it didn’t sound familiar. Maybe the songs just sound different to me live. Not saying that I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t recognize it. Is there maybe a difference live? Maybe the songs are more spastic?

GS- That LP is a couple years old now, I actually just re-listened to it the other day for the first time in a while, and I was impressed. It does capture the live sound, for some of the songs, and then for some of them we did do some overdubbing. In general I think the recordings are stripped down.

EV- I think that is true. I think we are pretty entertaining to watch, with any band you can miss that element. There are some bands that you don’t necessarily have to see them live to feel anything more about their music, you might even feel less, but that’s not us. I think we’re kind of goofy, and inviting.

Sad Horse
Sad Horse

I’ve seen you two or three times and its always been enjoyable for me. You do seem to play with an eclectic mix of other bands, you seem to get on these bills with bands with different sounds. Have you ever felt uncomfortable at a show? Like “What are we doing here?”

GS- Nothing is jumping out of my head.

EV- I’m sure I have felt like that, but not often. If anything I prefer to play with different kinds of bands. People like to think “Oh, we are going to set you up with another two-piece, punk rock garage kind of thing.”

I have to be honest, there are sometimes when I remember my playing days and this band Bagheera, a two piece, man-woman rock band, and I think “Oh, they should play together.”

EV- Right. People want to group similar things, which is natural I guess.

GS- We’ve did a tour with another two piece band, Hungry Ghost, which is Sara Lund on drums and Andrew Price on guitar. Sara was in Unwound, Andrew used to be in Irving Klaw Trio

And they are a two piece?

GS – They were, they added a bassist. We’ve done tours with other two piece setups, it is usually a convenient set up.

That is what I was going to say, travelling must be a lot easier. Switching subjects for a bit, how many all ages shows do you play?

GS- We play that girl rock camp almost every summer, its not exactly free to the public like this is though….

EV- I mean, you can go there, but its not advertised.

So with that girl rock camp, and you on vocals, would you consider Sad Horse a female-fronted rock band?

EV- I think we’re pretty even. To play that camp you have to be at least half. I love playing it, its super fun, but it is Geoff’s favorite.

Really? Why? Not that that is unexpected.

GS- They are very enthusiastic. Well, not all of them. Some of them are scared, and some of them are staring into the corner, but most of them are very responsive. It’s a different energy with kids, and they seem to like us for the most part. Its very gratifying.

Sad Horse
Sad Horse

I know this is kind of a lob of a question, but do you think an all ages scene is important for a city like Portland?

GS- Yeah, absolutely. We both work at this bar downtown, Slabtown, and the owner is really working to make it so that all ages shows can happen, and maybe turning the back room into another venue. There really isn’t a bar like that in Portland.

I think there is a different vibe too, underagers seem to be more enthusiastic, because the venue isn’t just another room to drink in. I ask that question to everyone, and everyone of course says “Yeah!” but no one actually owns property, and apparently the OLCC is a bit hard to work with.

GS- We’ve had to jump through a lot of hoops to start that process.

Well, we can’t risk 18 year olds drinking, that would be the end of the world.

EV- Right.

GS- That’s interesting, I was reading an article recently about this flood of high quality fake IDs from China, there’s apparently this website you can go on and get a quality fake.

Wow.

EV- I haven’t heard of that.

That’s cool. I’m not the biggest fan of “the law.”

GS- No, it’s bullshit.

Are there any plans for the future? Recordings, tours?

GS- We are working on a double LP for  Mississippi Records.

Wow. A double LP?

EV- It should have everything we’ve ever recorded, except for a couple things. We are shooting for the end of the year.

So with the length of your songs, what is a double LP classified as?

EV- There are going to be about 50 songs.

Fifty? Five zero?

EV- Well, most of them are less than two minutes.

GS- About 20 minutes a side, 4 sides.

That’s awesome. That is really cool. Who else does Mississippi Records usually put out?

GS- They put out a lot of old style, blues and world music records. Every once in a while they put out more current bands.

Do you prefer to produce and record your own stuff? Or are they going to hook you up with an engineer?

GS- I think mostly everything we are going to be putting out has already been recorded.

Sad Horse
Sad Horse

Is that something that is done in house?

GS- The LP was done at a friend’s studio, then last summer we did some recording at another friend’s studio. I prefer to let other people do the recording.

Why is that?

GS- Well, you have less control, but you have to like, split your brain between playing and recording, between these two different tasks. I’m not very good at it also, so I feel like with other people it might sound better.

That is interesting, and sounds like what I heard from another man-woman duo, Hot Victory.

EV- Yeah they are great.

Ben is a sound guy, and he mentioned that too, the split in consciousness. He used to do both, all that crazy drumming and then figure out how to record it. I think convenience is a big part of it. And now I think its time for your three questions.

EV- Do you know the band we are asking the questions to?

Usnea, they are a doom metal band.

EV- A doom metal band.

Yeap.

EV- What does it stand for?

What does it mean?

EV- What does it stand for…like, it would be better if they came up with an acronym.

Ok, so like an acronym or an acrostic?

EV- Yes. When are they playing?

Tomorrow, around 5:45. You can get weird with it too.

EV- I think I’m overthinking it.

GS- Khanate…well…that isn’t really a question. How do you feel about…Khanate is amazing. Yes or No?

Ok.

EV- True or False.

GS- True is the correct answer.

Ok, so make your name into an acrostic, Khanate is amazing, yes or no…and then…one more.

EV- Best recurring dream? Recurring dream theme.

Can it be best or worst? Or is it only best?

EV- Well, most memorable, or most interesting. Whatever they think fits that description.

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