Currently based in Brighton (although singer Lisa Elle was actually born in Sweden), Dark Horses first met up at Needle Thrill, the hub of Brighton’s drone rock scene, but any further quizzing about their past is met by Lisa with an insistent “What came before is of no importance other than to influence our collective sound and attitude today. The time is now. Now is the time.” This laudable unwillingness to dwell in the past is also matched by a flagrant disregard for the niceties of band membership as the line-up boasts one member, Ali Tollervey, who doesn’t play anything but a camera (!) and another, the delightfully named Tommy Chain, who, whilst he could feasibly be referred to as a percussionist, actually spends most of his time thrashing around with a chain (wah-hay), they also all sport stylised black leather jackets, or ‘colours’, not unlike Rocket From The Crypt’s band tattoo (if a little less permanent).
In fact it’s fair to say that most of the old gits at TM-O towers were quite taken with Dark Horses without hearing a note played, so the fact that their album (Black Music, out now on Last Gang) is actually a glorious mish-mash of motorik beats, blurred electronica, post-rock racket and ice-maiden vocals - al la Siouxsie Sioux’ with a just a touch of the Cocteau Twins Elizabeth Fraser – was a huge great cherry on the cake. And if they are also given to gnomic utterances like “we all live with the unknown, the unseen, to face the darkness is to find peace, in fact to live in light.” it’s still far more entertaining than the usual vacuous old todge that spills from most bands lips. Clearly we are supposed to listen to the music and any questions we have will be answered there, not in dull, old fashioned nonsense about where they grew up…
Still we’re nothing if not dull and old fashioned so we fired off a few questions to singer Lisa Elle anyway beginning with what are the Dark Horses colours and why do they need ‘em?
Lisa: “The Dark Horses 'colours' are our unique insignia worn in humble homage to the great tradition of outlaw motorcycle gangs. Only true 'Horses are allowed to wear them, they unify to liberate.”
See, we told you! Dark Horses are part of that great tradition of bands where you really have to ‘join the club’ rather than merely enjoy the music, they have an agenda, and whether it’s fully realised or not doesn’t really matter, it’s something too few bands today have any concept of. Another thing that is immediately apparent about DH are the numerous influences they display proudly on their [leather] sleeves like the Velvets, krautrock, psychedelia and hip hop etc, so we asked Lisa who brings what to the band?
Lisa: “Andy (Bang – lead guitar) - Abandon and a heavy texture which is neither learnt nor controlled, yet requires a particular skill, it's just the way we like it. Bobby (Waterson – guitar, synthesizers) - An understanding of musical infrastructure and harmony which we tend to build up only to break it apart again. Sometimes you gotta know the rules to break em. Harry (Bohay-Nowell – bass) - Earthquake vibrations and a hip swing. Stevie (Ingham drums) - A sensitivity and dynamic control, he knows that power is not necessarily found in volume. Tommy (Chain – percussion and generally belting stuff) - Hunger, blood lust and grooming. Ali (Tollervey – camera) - Silence, subtlety and light manipulation.
To summarise, as a collective, there's a range of influence to call from, it's this indefinable mix which keeps the danger and the unpredictability.”
Total Music: We have to ask, given that he doesn’t actually play anything, what exactly does Ali add to the music?
Lisa: “Ali is a key reflector, as a DJ he has a real understanding of music and never ceased to inspire us with his observations and ideas. Plus he is a walking encyclopaedia of hip hop chops.”
Total Music: How does your music differ onstage from the recorded versions of the songs?
Lisa: “Heavier. On record we afford a more delicate hand but live there has to be room for 'mistakes' room for the energy in the room, room for sweat, room for fear, room for love.”
Total Music: Tell us about the links with Kasabian and BRMC?
Lisa: “We have been blessed enough to find these like minds and, purely through the music and the passion, we have crossed paths and linked arms.”
Total Music: How did Richard Fearless get involved in the recording of the album and what did he bring to the party?
Lisa: “Richard Fearless is the greatest producer, he deeply understands and combines Detroit rock n’ roll with Detroit techno and he makes a mean Mojito.”
Total Music: So what’s on the cards for you in 2013?
Lisa: “We are hitting the road full force (on a U.K tour with Artrocker in March) along with writing the next L.P. We want to find fans further afield. We’ll also be curating our own photography exhibitions.”
Dark Horses debut album Black Music is out now on Last Gang and the band will be touring extensively throughout the year, you can find out more about them and check out the music at