Interview and Review by Sian Eardley
Photo by Simon Bamford
Party…Horse. Party Horse. It’s a good, strong name for these electro glam warriors, currently voyaging around the country with disco-loving Chew Lips. (And yes, in-case you’re wondering, they do love to party and they rather like horses, so they bunged the two concepts together and hey presto!)
Anyhoo, when the assignment came round to interview this hip and happening band, I set to work on looking them up. On their MySpace webpage, I was wowed by the trance sonic sound of “Lazer Beam’, an 80’s funk tune integrated with Space Invader blasts, producing a cosmic coolness. I was even further delighted by the fact that such an advanced and awesome sound was produced by a twosome – a married duo to be precise. This, I find to a construct in their appeal and charisma, it’s a new approach that we don’t really see too often in music nowadays. This ambitious, young, and fashionable couple are soon to ride on top of the world with their infectious and body popping music fantasies. To actually meet the band was even more of a pleasure. Northern Dave hailing from Sheffield as a more sane, blonde Noel Fielding, and his intriguing wife Ursula, who was quite quiet during the interview (but soon came to life on stage!), spent a few minutes with me on their 9th day on their leg of their tour, telling me what they made of their first venture to Stoke, what they have in store for their performances, and what lies ahead for Party (the) Horse in 2010….
(It has to be noted the band was quite accustomed to the lingo of Stoke – apparently even the men call one another ‘Duck’ further up the A53.)
Stoke Sounds: So guys, what do you make of Stoke?
Dave: I dunno really…seems like any English town really…all the shops are all here and that…there’s lovely countryside driving down here:
SS: So have you come straight from Sheffield?
D: Yes we had a gig there last night
SS: Do you prefer playing up there to anywhere else?
D: Not really, no. In fact, I prefer to play out of Sheffield really because y’know, you play in front of your friends…y’know it’s fun but it’s just that your friends have seen you a lot and you get really nervous.
SS: How long have you known Chew Lips?
Ursula: Well we met a year ago at a festival…and we started e-mailing and stuff
SS: What festival was that at?
D: We played Rockness last year and we just got together really. Chew Lips were playing after us, we didn’t really know who they were then, it was a chance meeting. We’ve done some songs with their producer, so that’s how this all came about.
SS: Are you playing any festivals this year?
D: Yeah, we’ll play Tramlines – sort of Sheffield’s festival, which started last year. We’re not sure yet, there’s a few things being worked out…Hopefully getting to make an album this year is the aim really.
SS: How come you decided to release ‘Lazer Beam’ first?
D: I just think it’s a strong song. The sound is a good representation of where we’re at; it’s got the right feel. ‘Lazer Beam’ is a strong title, like ‘Party Horse’, it’s quite striking, it’s not like ‘I need you’ or ‘I don’t love you anymore’.
SS: It’s a good dance song. It’s pretty out there…
D Yeah – it was gonna be called ‘Can you feel my Lazer Beam?’
U: Yeah, but it was too long
SS: Have you done any more work on your album?
D: Not really, no…we just keep writing songs, I think we’re going back in the studio soon, but our producer’s very busy and he’s also been stuck abroad with the volcano thing.
SS: Is it true that you’re on your own label?
D: Not really. We wanted to put out a single but we haven’t got a record deal, but we just want to put it out as a download, ‘cause we’ve got this tour and it’s good to have something people can purchase and have, and then you also get reviews and blogs and get to speak to people…A release is something to aim for… It’s not really about the sales at this point.
SS: I love your MySpace Promo pictures (See the site!) and flyers with the tape. Tell us about it!
D: Yeah, it’s quite unusual, like as if we’ve been kidnapped…maybe that could be the theme for the next video…?
SS: What band influences have you got?
D: Many things really, we listen to loads of different things, we like music quite direct and quite bold. We like a lot of Prince and just party music, maybe even more dancey music.
U: It’s not just music we get inspired by but also films and TV shows, to capture a feeling, more so than being a genre.
D: Yeah we’re not a genre, we’re just loose, we’re just pop. We’re not an indie band, we’re not a rock band, we’re not a full electro band. We just kind-of make pop songs really…
SS: You say horror films are a big influence in your material?
U: Not so much the dirty ones, we like thrillers.
D: Yeah, like The Exorcist is probably the best horror film, but I also like Halloween.
U: We like haunted things…
D: We just like to be scared; it’s a good feeling.
SS: Tell us about the name – the fabulous ‘PARTY HORSE!’
D: Well, we like to party and we like horses…. it’s got a nice ring; we wanted it to sound fun when you hear it.
SS: Tell us more about being a duo…
D: It’s very, very simple and also very nice for us not to have to go round with many people…it’s difficult to sustain being in a band at the best of times.
SS: What do you make of current music – do you think ‘mainstream’ and ‘indie’ has got a bit boring?
D: There are some great bands but we’re just a bit tired of that sound. We just need something a bit fresher… not just chequered shirts and beards – smelly men!
SS: What are you planning set-wise?
D: Well, we’ve got smoke, lights…
SS: Are you going to do your own tour at some point?
D: We’ve done some stuff of our own, but yeah we’ll be going back to that after we finish this tour, but it’s good with other bands, we get on really well with them. We’ll see what happens in the summer.
A couple of hours later, Party Horse goes live at Stoke Sugarmill:
The electro, elegant funk etiquette has been set tonight, with a Bowie/Bolan aura in the air. After a rather dismal first act, Party Horse was able to inject the life back into the audience with a rocking synthpop spectacle. Fairy lights around Dave’s guitar and Ursula’s set-up was a fantastic little touch never seen before, a minute detail, but effective in leaving a very distinct impression of awesomeness.
A sinister sounding intro swept across the stage as they leapt on amidst a storm of smoke to set up the drama. It was more than a mere gig, it was a theatrical and musical array of aural splendour, and more memorable. They unleashed the energetic and feet-tapping ‘Lazer Beam’ which did blow me away, the superb sound quality sounded just like the polished record version, all achieved by ‘mono e mono’. Ursula’s fun-loving grooves came into play, transforming the stage into a dance floor, a vision of glamorous rock Irene Cara, yet with more cool, and the way she moves her hands and body is like a sensual dimension, another instrument in motion with the synth and guitar fitting the sound perfectly.
It was a power-packed half an hour set, and they really do make you wanna get up and shake your bootie. It’s upbeat and feel-good music, but with added depth in the lyricism, making it even more different to what we’d usually expect or be accustomed to. It’s funky baby, and their chorus of ‘we’re shooting stars’ they clearly resonate as a glittery cascade onstage, defining their musical repertoire.
Quite comically, Dave and Ursula combine together as a modern-day, electric pastiche of Cash and Carter on stage, with their tiffs in-between songs as they fight to talk to the audience, again, adding to their charisma and the fact that they’re more than just your average band with a dream. They also played out ‘Chinese Takeaway’ (on their MySpace page too), which was really enjoyable as it was given an amplified sustenance when performed live, and another unique touch seen is their ability to make the mundane (a takeout meal) into something lusting and sanguine, as a successful piece of energy pop. Their tunes simply flow ‘in [their] blood’ and are intensified by the boogieing going on –onstage.
Besides the electro feel, Dave’s guitar work and funked-up solos were very fresh and impressive, leaving you with the happy feeling that you definitely get more than your money’s worth with these guys. Then, more surprises, out come the sparklers! Just when you couldn’t think it, even more glitz and glam was added to their sonic antics and was left to beautifully glitter away on Ursula’s synth. Again, a very unique touch to add to the memory of the set, and acting as a metaphorical supernova of the band. This was followed by a swap of guitar (which had an autobots logo on – very cool, and very 80’s), and the unleashing of ‘You don’t have to go to New York to Have a Good Time’, which I can personally guarantee will stick in your head for days, it’s that good. It was the true pinnacle of their show, even people at the front were clapping in beat to it, with the chanting and feel-good chorus, which transpired the essence of Kiss’s ‘Rock n Roll All Nite’ vibe, and could certainly be very interesting if performed acapella style.
Not to say it to be biased or courteous, but Party Horse were, and are, so, so good. A bit like a pringle, once they pop there’s no stopping their electro musical array. This is where music really is at – at the moment. It’s at its best, more lively and fresh than the monotonous manufactured indie, released track after track on a production line.
It’s zeitgeist baby, and damn good for it! As per usual, I’d urge you to see them, if and when they return with their album in tow. For an unknown, yet undoubtedly talented upcoming band, the pair have got a stellar air of vocals on them, as seen in their finale – a mainly vocally dominant song with an 80’s tropical beat, a lamenting song of ‘bereft’, but an example of their beauty and zest all the same.
A solid imprint of a performance overall – a marriage of love and a marriage of music, which will faultlessly take your breath away, I’m all for Party Horse. The only downside was the CD they had on sale at the gig didn’t have that stupendously good ‘New York’ track on it!