DARK HORSES are a group who are about spectacle, romance, mystery, the transcendental. They are about manifestos. They say: “If it feels slow, play it slower.” This was written on the wall of their studio. They are about music, but also a lot about the things that exist around the music, that a lot of people in 2012 seem to have forgotten about. They say: ‘We look good so you can hear our music.’ They also say: “We wear black because Rock’n’Roll is dead.”
All of these things are important.
It depends who you ask, some say one balmy night siren singer LISA ELLE found half her band hustling leather clad under Brighton pier, or maybe they found her from hanging out at ‘Needle Thrill’, the fabled club of Brighton’s tiny drone scene and lets not forget the return of BOBBY the ‘Motorcycle Boy’. The facts are irrelevant, but the calling is constant:
“To inspire and to challenge, an empowering agenda aiming high for integrity, invention and grace.”
Their sound encompasses all sorts of reference points, from the obvious -Kraftwerk, Spacemen 3, Radiohead to all kinds of other music old and new: Country, soul, pop, psych, hip-hop, whatever. Lisa: “and for spiritual courage John Lee Hooker and Billie Holiday are never far away.”
BOBBY: “Lisa’s vision for DARK HORSES was a collective of individuals creating SONIC SOUL MUSIC with resonance and panache, which can simply translate that when I’m on stage wearing the Dark Horses colours, I play with a greater conviction and thus hopefully a greater heartfelt connection. The Horse colours are like a uniform that lets me walk freely.”
Lisa’s view is clear: “DARK HORSES is an attempt to passionately fuse sensuality with substance, we see the world with cold fury and a tenderness, we’re vulnerable yet defiant.”
“We are a chapter that upholds the commitment and loyalty of the outsider fraternity.”
Among DARK HORSES number are Ali Tollervey, who does not play an instrument, but uses a camera and is considered as important a member as any other. Lisa: ‘Ali is pivotal, on stage with us every show, we find it stimulating to have visual feedback, it helps us develop sonically as well aesthetically and paradoxically this seems to allow us and our fans to participate more in the moment.
ANDY BANG simply adds: “To a Dark Horse a camera is as important as his distortion pedal.”
Another seemingly superfluous yet utterly important member is TOMMY CHAIN, whose name comes from his thrashing of a metal chain as a percussive element. There had been a chain on the recorded version of a song called ‘No Dice’, and it was decided that this would be a crucial element to bring to the live set.
Having someone enigmatic onstage in a personalised leather jacket whose sonic purpose is to thrash a steel chain is a clear statement of intent: it’s theatrical, confrontational and sexual. That is DARK HORSES. Live, their songs are in the main either opiated slow or upbeat, either way they pulsate. The guitars are played correspondingly dirty and loud, or gentle and soft.
Others share their enthusiasm. DARK HORSES have already found kindred spirits in the likes of A Place To Bury Strangers, Tame Impala, Black Mountain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, all of whom have invited them on the road, recognising a band who have the same mentality as they do, that being: “Rock’n’roll is sorely lacking in the sort of heroes we want/need, so let’s be our own.” The latter Black Rebel’s Robert Levon Bean duets and co-wrote ‘Radio Offshore’, the AA side of the ‘Radio’ single. Kasabian, too, are disciples: Serge heard them and immediately wanted them – then only a few gigs old – to open for his band on their arena tour. “We were thrown in the deep end,” says Lisa. “It was terrifying, as it was wonderful.”
The bond was then further forged to the extent that Tom Meighan contributes guest vocals to the beautiful ‘Count Me In’, a song that now sits at the heart of Dark Horses debut album ‘BLACK MUSIC’.
Another brother/hero/admirer who has played a significant role in the genesis of what is the Dark Horses debut– in a much deeper way -is the Death In Vegas’s mainman RICHARD FEARLESS. He uprooted them to Michigan’s legendary ‘Key Club’ a former brothel, converted to recording studio. Whilst they bed hopped with The Kills, Fearless pumped the recordings through SLY STONE’S original Flickinger N32 mixing desk.