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Interview: Dark Horse Talk D-Beat, Punk Festivals and Lockout Laws

Interview: Dark Horse Talk D-Beat, Punk Festivals and Lockout Laws

Fluffy / Wednesday 3rd October, 2018 1:03PM

Sydney-based D-beat hardcore crew Dark Horse have been banging out heavy riffs and hoarse vocal combinations since their 2011 collection Demo. The furious four-piece have traversed the corners of the earth, having played a slew of shows throughout Europe and Asia over the years. Fluffy chatted with the band's bass slayer Kieran Hills ahead of this week's whiplash tour of Aotearoa about their latest offering, Australian lockout laws and punk rock the world over...

Your 2017 offering Bomb Thrower is filled with urgent vocals and lightning fast drum fills. Is there an overarching theme throughout? Where was it recorded and with who?

We wrote these songs over the preceding year or so I guess, maybe a bit less. With the exception of ‘Apparently There’s More’ which is a song that me and Dennis (Dark Horse singer) did in a previous band called None Remain. We really wanted to record it to tape as opposed to digital and get a clear but still raw sound – so we made contact with a few places around the country to find the best place to do it. I really wanted to go out of town to record, just so that we could focus on it and not get caught up in everyday life stuff in the middle of it. We ended up going down to Melbourne and recording at Goatsound studio with Jason Fuller (Blood Duster) doing the recording and mixing.

We spent the best part of four days recording and then mixed pretty much via email. We are really happy with the result. The sound is exactly what we were looking for. We had recorded all the songs a month or so earlier in our practice rooms to kind of demo them and see what worked / didn’t work which helped hugely when it came to putting it all down. This is probably standard practice for real musicians but it was a new step for us.

As for themes – not really, except for the over-arching them of the hopelessness of existence and the misery of everyday life. But that is just us at our normal happy best.


You recently shared a stand alone single from the Bomb Thrower sessions titled 'Lesser Lives To Live'. What’s the deal with that? Was it omitted from the original release to comply with the time constraints that the medium of vinyl introduces?

Mainly time constraints, yeah. The more you stretch out the time on vinyl the shitter the quality of the sound. But it was also the last song we had written and we didn’t have it as solidly worked out as the others.

Earlier this year you dropped a live record from Asakusa Deathfest in Tokyo. Can you tell us a little about your experiences playing in Japan?

Touring Japan is probably my favourite touring I’ve ever done. This was the second time we had been over there but the first time for a full tour. We played eight shows and did the whole thing with a band from the states called Invidiosus. We hooked it up through people we met the first time we were over (Ryohei from Final Exit) and with friends (Will from Palm and James form Sk8niks who works at Hokage in Osaka and booked that whole part of the tour). The most amazing thing about touring Japan is the ridiculously high quality of all the bands you play with. Really, every band we played with just blew my mind – even a rainy Monday during a typhoon in Iwata we played with bands that put 100% into everything and just absolutely killed it.

Then there is the people – we did the whole tour by train. This is kind of unthinkable in most places but works great in Japan. So easy and relatively cheap. Wherever we went the people were super nice and friendly and helped us out all they could – from accommodation to food to sight-seeing we were looked after really well.

Asakusa Deathfest was incredible. It is put together by Naru from Butcher ABC / CSSO etc. He had put us on the Obscene Extreme fest in Tokyo a couple years previous and was happy enough (or polite enough) to have us again. The whole thing was really well organised and there were some great bands – Coffins, Viscera Infest. The sound guy was a bloke from the States who recorded everything and then for a fairly small fee mixed and mastered it later. I like live recordings and this one works for me.

The last gig of the tour we played with two of our absolute favourites: Terror Squad - who we had played with in Sydney when they toured Australia, and Self Deconstruction – who we played with the first time we were over and helped again with this tour. Was the best party with the best people.


You’ve played a bunch of ruckus festivals all over the show, including Melbourne’s FilthFest, Brisbane’s Total Attack and Byron Bay’s Distort Byron. Share with us, if you will, your most raucous tour tale?

Yeah – we like playing festivals. We’ve played Obscene Extreme in Czech, Japan and Australia and this year played the amazing Dark Days fest in Tasmania. I’m not much good at raucous tales but we always enjoy ourselves. Fran and I have been playing in bands together since the 90s and have toured a lot and we both agree that touring is the most fun you can possibly have with your friends. We like getting to look around and check shit out while on tour – not just see bars and guest rooms. When we were in Japan we had a day off in Osaka on Halloween and wandered through the town where there were tens of thousands of young Japanese people all dressed up in amazing costumes from Disney to anime to Hitler?!?

In 2013 you contributed a rendition of Discharge’s ‘The Nightmare Continues’ for CVLT Nation Sessions covers of Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. How did you guys get involved with that project?

That was before I joined but it basically amounted Freddo (previous guitarist) sent a demo to them to check out and they liked it and asked if we wanted to be on it. They recorded it at The Brain where the first LP was recorded. There is a cool video to go with it that is floating around YouTube somewhere.


What effect has the introduction of Sydney’s lockout laws in 2014 had to the musical climate surrounding your band? Has it grinded gigs to a halt or does DIY punk ethos find a way around these things?

This probably had a greater effect on other styles of music. Most of the punk / hardcore venues are not within the lockout zone anyway. It has knock-on effects though with generally less of a party atmosphere in town. Not a huge deal for me although I do quite strongly oppose the laws on principle.

For that matter, what’s the punk scene like in Sydney at the moment? Is it thriving away or could it do with a breathe of fresh air?

Sydney’s scene is bloody great. So many amazing bands right now I cannot keep up. A few DIY gigs and a few cool licensed venues keep it running pretty well. I’m kind of old and probably a bit out of touch but there are a ton of younger people doing awesome stuff. From running spaces, to making bands and putting on outdoor shows, to producing merch to recording and releasing stuff. People always have a bit of a nostalgic look back on ‘the good old days’ but I see these days are as good as it has ever been.

Tell us a little about your splits with Inebrious Bastard and Black Jesus. How did you meet up with those guys?

We’ve known the Inebrious Bastards forever. We’ve done bands with some of them, been married to some of them, probably our closest mates in the active punk scene so there just had to be a split at some point. Black Jesus we have done a bunch of shows with and a wee bit of touring with and just get on well. Good people, great music.


What’s Dark Horse’s plans for the future?

Well, we’ve just hit a temporary snag where our drummer has been taken down with an illness that could last a couple months but we’ll get through that too. Then, NZ in October – which is really exciting for me as it will be the first time I’ve played there since 2008 when I played Punkfest with Vae Victis. I used to live there and moved over to Australia with my band S*M*U*T in '93 so going back is great.

Then we are looking to demo our next run of songs later this year so we can record properly again next year for either another LP or maybe a split 12” with some poor unsuspecting band somewhere. Then July next year we go back to Europe again. We are in the process of nailing down a couple of festivals to base the tour around. And then… who knows? We all want to go back to Japan with a side trip to China as well. I guess we just keep doing what we’re doing cos we’re having a shitload of fun doing it.

You can catch Dark Horse on tour throughout Aotearoa this weekend. The crew are smashing ear drums at Auckland's Whammy Bar on Friday 5th October with Spiteful Urinator and Slughugger, and at Wellington's Valhalla with Tired Minds, Bus Puncher, Unsanitary Napkin, Pvnisher, Stress and Molenaar. For tickets for both shows head along over here.

Links
facebook.com/DARK.HORSE.HARDCORE

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