Horse Interview: “Focused, active inclusivity is really important to a music scene.”

Photo by Shane J Horan.

Horse play the Cosmonaut Birthday Party on March 3rd.

You know, there’s quite a lot of similarities between Cork metallic hardcore quartet Horse and an actual horse. They are both powerful, agile beasts that are known for their speed and endurance. They’re both imposing and physical presences and they both love the outdoors. However, Horse are just a tad more entertaining. Just a tad.

We had a sit down with Kieran Hennessey (guitar/vocals) and Declan Synott (bass) to discuss their upcoming plans, the Cork/Irish music scene, and their upcoming appearance at the Cosmonaut Birthday Party.

Overblown: Your most recent release is a split with Cork band Bisect. How’d that come about? How do you know those lads?

Kieran: I know Fab from Bisect going back a few years purely from bumping into each other at various gigs. I had seen them many times through the years, both when Christof was their vocalist and Phil Langero. We had also played some gigs with them back when Ghost of Medina were still going. As for the split, I think it was accidental more than anything. We had recorded ‘Drone’ and ‘Dragging’ with Eamonn Coleman Recording and at roughly the same time he was mixing ‘Shut UP’ and ‘Pissed off People’ for Bisect. I bumped into Fabrizio in our practice space in Dublin Hill and we got talking about possibly releasing a vinyl split. Horse had only put out a digital release prior and we were really interested in putting any follow-up recordings out on vinyl. 2 bands sharing the cost of a 12’’ appealed to both bands!

Overblown: Before that, you released the fünderland EP in 2015. What’s the story with the umlaut?

Kieran: John Heffernan, who was the original vocalist came up with the name ‘funderland’. He wrote pretty much all the lyrics for the ep. I’m not sure where the umlaut came from to be honest. No deep artistic meaning, unfortunately. Kinda like the band in general. I probably channelled my inner Hüsker Dü when I added it!

Overblown: One of the tracks on that EP is called ‘Galgotha’. Is that named after the hill near Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified? Why is it called that?

Kieran: I believe so but to be honest I don’t know why its named that. Again, it was named by John. I never question lyrics or song names. Purely because I’m terrible at writing lyrics and naming songs. I must actually get onto him and ask him what the song meant to him. Watch this space.

Overblown: It’s been a long three years since that release. Do you have any new music in the works? How does it compare to that EP?

Kieran: Three years already, Jaysus. Not the most prolific are we? But yea, there’s a decent amount of new music in the mix. Our most recent gigs have all been songs that we haven’t recorded. With the exception of ‘Drone’ and ‘Falcon’. The sound of the band has changed quite a lot in the last while and to my ear sounds a lot different to anything we have previously recorded. Declan brings a disgusting amount of filth on the bass which allows the guitar gain to drop back a lot which is great. And Mini’s vocal effects have become a real staple in the sound too. We uploaded a new tune we recorded live in the Spailpin a few weeks back called ‘Reject The Arches’. Paddy (Cullen) from The Altered Hours recorded the whole show live for us on the night. And Emmet O’Riabhaigh from Shookrah mixed the track. I think this gives a good idea of where the overall sound of the band is going.

Overblown: You’ll be playing at the upcoming Cosmonaut Birthday Party with a pretty tasty line-up! Excited? How did you get involved?

Kieran: Ya, it should be a great night. Cormac (Daly) has done an awful lot in a short time so it’ll be great to celebrate his first year with great bands. He’s a sound bloke and helped us out a lot with the charity gig we ran just after Christmas. He was good enough to provide a PA and do sound for free on the night. Be good to pay him back for his efforts.

Overblown: I think the Cork music scene is quite vibrant at the moment. Do you agree? Why/why not?

Kieran: Fully agree, there’s definitely an awful lot going on right now which is great. Helped a lot by the energy and impetus coming from promoters and festivals like The Quarter Block, Cosmonaut, Box Gigs, Pyre, Subtle Beast. Lots of great bands and musicians doing the rounds too. Cork has always been teeming with musicians but losing venues like The Quad and The Print Shop had an impact. Thankfully places like An Spailpin Fanach, the Poor Relation, The Roundy have filled the void.

Declan: I agree, there are a lot of people working hard, and some great bands and musicians – Hex, The Altered Hours, Roslyn Steer, Antakya Remains, and God Alone all blow me away every time I see them live. I could probably sit here and list off bands all day though really, it’s a small town really so the scene feels tightly knit but the quality and enthusiasm is there in spades.

Labels like Penske and KantKope have been putting out some great stuff, local and further afield. Cork has also recently had Fort Evil Fruit move down, they’ve put out so much incredible stuff (including the recent Crevice album) it’s nice to have people like that around, so enthusiastic and with great taste.

I also think Gash Collective, who are based all over Ireland but have strong ties to Cork, particularly via Ellll, are doing brilliant things, focusing on female identifying and LGBTQ music makers. That’s something I think we need more of around; that focused, active inclusivity is really important to a music scene.

One thing I think we’re definitely missing is a solid DIY venue, though hopefully, The Kino will fill that gap. I’d love to see something in the city where bands and artists can do their thing outside of any profit-motivated owner. Looking at places like Jigsaw in Dublin makes me really yearn for something similar here.

Overblown: What Irish bands are floating your boat at the moment?

Kieran: Tonnes of great Irish bands around. No Spill Blood, Rest, 10 past 7, Hope is Noise, Shifting, ShitHäat, Destriers, Crevice, Magic Pockets, Fixity… The band that has impressed me hugely in the last while has been God Alone. We played an all-ages show with them in YMCA last September and I was blown away. They have an incredibly exciting and mature sound for such young lads. Really sound bunch of lads too

Declan: Lots of great stuff at the moment, along with the bands mentioned above, bands like Sissy, Overbite, Black Spring, Landless, Woven Skull, Gourd, The Bonk and Alien She are doing very exciting things. I’m always trying to keep up with what’s going on around Ireland, there’s always something great happening, often crossing genres and scenes, something I’m always happy to see happen.

Find Horse on Facebook.

Follow Overblown on Facebook and Twitter.