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Chalk Horses

Chalk Horses

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Wednesday 13th June, 2012 11:28AM

Chalk Horses is the new, Auckland moniker of formerly Wellington band Rifles. We caught up with Chalk Horses to discuss the name change and what else has been going on with the band over the past couple of years.

Why have you guys changed your name?

The name change makes complete sense to us as a band and is something we've been talking about for quite some time. It became really clear once we acquired Txom as our new drummer that we were entering new territory - not only in regards to the style of music we were writing, but also the overall sound of the band: moving from having a bassist and heavy-hitting drummer to no bassist, a more restrained percussive approach as well as experimenting with guitar and vocal loops. From here, it didn't take long for us to start discussing new band names.

How has the sound of the project changed?

There is a certain continuity in sound from Rifles to Chalk Horses due to Thom's distinctive vocals and the funny way I strum the guitar. But, these similarities are subtle and the overall change in sound is marked. The music seems to be getting more melancholic but we're retaining our driven rhythms and introducing new textures and melodies.

What have you been working on lately?

Aside from working on our live performances (with all the issues surrounding live loops), we're currently mixing an album that we recorded in February with Shannon Walsh at his parents' bach in Matarangi. There's still a lot of work laying ahead of us, but we'll be armed with wine and whisky and hope it'll be out before long.

What is influencing your sound at the moment?

As we're in the performance part of the musical cycle we're not writing too much at the moment, so it's hard to pinpoint any current influences. That being said, we're definitely inspired by lots of things: Sandringham curry, tea with 'bits' (as we call it), tremendously fancy wine and films like Mike Leigh's Naked.

Tell us about your writing process and progress thus far.

Thom and I began writing for the album as soon as I moved to Auckland in 2010. That was even before we had recruited Txom, so by the time he joined, there was already a few tracks ready to go. After he joined, we moved on from those first tracks to where we are now. So the album represents not only a shift from Rifles, but also a progression from pre-Txom songs to with-Txom songs.

Recording was a fun process. Partly fun because there were regularly scheduled backyard cricket matches, ocean swims and nobody else around save Jeremy Corbett, his wife and their baby. But, mostly fun because we were juuuust able enough to avoid these amazing distractions and get the job done.

You were originally a Wellington band and have relocated to Auckland. What differences have you noticed in the respective music communities?

Our experiences in the two cities have been very different ones. In Wellington we were much more active in the music scene, playing and attending lots of gigs even while writing new material. When we moved to Auckland, we saw it as an opportunity to isolate ourselves and craft whatever is was that we wanted to do. So, in that respect, we feel a bit detached from the Auckland scene, only now getting the chance to explore what's what.

How do you feel about the Auckland music scene so far?

It feels to me as though it's heading in the right direction here in Auckland. We have a good crop of musicians, bands and venues who are all starting to work together towards a flourishing scene - much like what we had in Wellington a few years ago. Gotta keep up the momentum, though. That's the hard part.

And the New Zealand music industry more generally?

Speaking personally, I've never had anything to do with the NZ music industry for better or worse. Thom's attempted to deal with various institutions in the past, but nothing seems to have ever eventuated. No experiences are good experiences?

What is the plan for Chalk Horses in 2012?

Of course, our first priority is releasing the album. Then, simply put, we'd like to play shows in cool places, wherever they may be. We have other goals too, but these are the most important right now.