Interview: An Horse
An Horse may be the improper use of an indefinite article, but it’s also the grammatically incorrect tongue-in-cheek name of an up-and-coming, Australian indie-pop-rock sensation.
The band consists of only two members: Kate Cooper (vocals, guitar) and Damon Cox (drums), who met while employees at a record store in Brisbane, Australia. Both have been playing in bands since they were teenagers and decided while working together that they should try playing music with one another.
“We wanted to be creative and had talked about playing together for years, and finally did it, and it was great,” Cooper said. “We didn’t even intend to even make it into a big deal.”
Yet one thing led to another relatively quickly and within no time at all, An Horse was touring with Tegan and Sara and then with Death Cab for Cutie.
“[There was a] weird synchronicity how it all worked out,” Cooper explained. “That’s what finally made us decide [to keep going].”
Currently, the band is on tour throughout the country supporting Kaki King. But the two have been on the road since March, playing SXSW and Germany, and even earlier this year, supporting Tegan and Sara on their Canadian tour. After they finish the California leg of the current U.S. tour, they’ll head over for another German tour and then back to Canada, before rounding out the summer with a handful of festivals.
An Horse is signed with independent label Mom + Pop Records but recently was licensed to German label Grand Hotel van Cleef as well, which has afforded the band many things, including wider exposure to new audiences.
“We get the best of both worlds,” Cooper said of the relationship with both labels.
The whirlwind road to success had been good for the band, because Cooper and Cox have been pushed to grow as musicians, by outside forces, as well as by one another.
“We just play better with each other now,” Cooper shared. “You get to this point where you’re like ‘Holy sh-t! I’ve been playing music for 13 years. This is the most time I’ve spent doing anything! I must be pretty good at it.”
But that doesn’t mean they’ve changed or taken on rock star personas.
“I feel like the one thing that we’ve always been is…really honest,” Cooper said.
She likened her lyrical process to keeping a diary, in that she writes about what she thinks, experiences and feels.
“The songwriting has just gotten better,” she said. “It’s when I’m not trying that they sound good.”
As vocalist for the duo, it makes sense that Cooper is the one who writes the songs’ lyrical contents.
“I usually just sit at home and quietly write,” she said, admitting she does a lot of songwriting in the bathroom. Cooper then gives the semi-finished tunes to Cox and they eventually get together and “flush them out."
Of course, this is sometimes complicated by the fact that Cooper lives in Canada and Cox lives in Australia, but they manage to make it work, particularly because they are on the road so much.
As far as the crowd back home is concerned, Cooper said they aren’t very popular or well-known in their native Australia, which she attributes to the fact that the two had only played a handful of shows together before they were picked up to tour with Tegan and Sara.
"We have a much healthier following overseas,” she shared.
But the pair also recently re-released 2009’s full-length, “Rearrange Beds,” on an Australian label, and hope to gain a greater homeland following because of it.
“We’re going to desperately push the record there,” she said.
In addition to an EP and a full-length, An Horse also has a newly released remix EP, aptly titled “Beds Rearranged”. It features five songs that have been remixed by such names as Tally Hall, TV on the Radio and The Phenomenal Handclap Band.
Cooper described the whole process as scary and simultaneously thrilling to have someone changing the music and taking away the band’s control over the final sound result.
“I like that vibe” she admitted. “It’s like someone taking your art and f–king with it. It was nice that it was forced out of our hands.”
Additionally, the band appreciates the new take on songs they’ve heard and played more times than they might like.
“I’m a little bored of some of the [old] songs,” Cooper said. “[So] I’m loving that we have a whole bunch of new songs that we’re playing right now…like a handful of them.”
The new songs will be included on An Horse’s next album, due out this summer, and both Cooper and Cox are excited to test them out on audiences.
It’s a break from being on the road last year that allowed the band to prepare the new batch of songs. The balance kept the two from getting too burnt out, and gave some time for them to rework their current repertoire.
“It’s kind of like you go around in a cycle,” Cooper explained. “Just w
hen I thought I could never play this record again…”
When not performing, Cooper says she loves movies, with current obsessions ranging from “Point Break” and its upcoming sequel, to “The Net” with Sandra Bullock.
She also admits to frequent Goldie-Hawn-athons with her sister: moments when the two are able to “revel in her brilliance.”
“You can judge me all you want,” she said with a laugh.
But even on the road, after shows there is nothing Cooper enjoys more than going back to her hotel room and watching late-night AMC offerings on television. Well, that and chocolate.
In the meantime, the band plans to keep writing songs and touring, as long as its viable and they enjoy doing it.
“I’m pretty sure I’m not going to fire myself any time soon,” Cooper said.