An Horse: Grammar Nazis
After going from after-hours jamming in their local record store to a slew of international shows, Brisbane duo An Horse have the accomplishments of a band that have spent years in the making. Tour with Tegan and Sara? Check. Death Cab For Cutie? No sweat. Manchester Orchestra? Them too. Throw in some shows at SXSW and an upcoming slot at the Lollapalooza Festival and you’re looking into the lives of Kate Cooper and Damon Cox. Currently playing shows the world over in support of their second album, Walls has been highly praised by the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin, and follows their 2009 debut, Rearrange Beds. BLUNT sat down with one half of the Brisbane indie rock twosome, Kate Cooper, to chat living abroad, the perks of being in a duo and grammar pet peeves.
You’re playing the Annandale tonight. Are you excited to be back on home turf?
Yeah, it’s great. We just played Brisbane last night and it was awesome, so it’s really good. We’re very excited to be playing.
When you look at the fact that you’ve played SXSW and you’re heading to Lollapalooza later this year, how do these major festivals compare to playing more intimate club shows like the one you’ve got on tonight?
Well, SXSW, it’s not like Lollapalooza, it’s more lots of little shows, so that doesn’t really compare, but playing festivals is great. It’s always weird sound though, because you’re always rushed in with no sound check, but these shows at home are awesome. Really exciting, you know, they’re our own shows, so we can play for a long time and just generally enjoy being back.
Last I heard you were living in Canada…
Yes, and Damon is in Melbourne.
How do you guys write songs together when you’re both living so far apart?
Oh, we get together when we have to. It’s only two of us, so it’s not really an issue.
Then again, since it’s only two of you, is it more of a challenge being in a band with just one other person?
I think it’s much better. There’s less people, you can travel more easily and there’s less cooks in the kitchen, so I thoroughly, no, highly recommend being in a duo.
I know you guys aren’t siblings, but do you ever fight as though you are?
Yes, sometimes, but not all that much. We’re like brother and sister in a good way; we get along pretty well considering we have to spend so much time together and we know each other pretty well too, so we know when to kind of disappear and give the other person time and that sort of thing.
I know you two were working in a record store together, is that how you first met?
Yes, we worked at Skinny’s Records in Brisbane and we worked together for about two years before we started actually playing music together.
And that’s how Tegan and Sara came across you? Was that just random? Did they just happen to walk into that record store?
It didn’t actually play out like that, we met them at an in-store and then a few years later, they asked us out on tour.
That must have been awesome…
They were good friends of ours by then, I mean of course it was awesome, it was really cool and they’re very supportive girls, so it’s pretty cool that they took a chance on us.
You opened for them and you’ve also played with Death Cab For Cutie. Who’s next on the agenda to play with?
Well we just finished a bunch of shows with Manchester Orchestra, who are an awesome band from the States, and we’ve played with Cage The Elephant, Silversun Pickups… We’ve just been really lucky to play with some awesome bands.
You actually said in an interview once that you’d most like to work with Kylie Minogue and Larry David. Now Kylie, I get, but working with Larry would have to be simultaneously brilliant and frustrating. Why’d you choose him?
No, no it wouldn’t because we’re very similar… I feel like we would be kindred spirits
I’m guessing you have Larry David moments?
‘Walls’ was released in April and has been seeing a lot of praise worldwide. How do you feel about the album having gained so much attention overseas?
For the most part, our career has been overseas, so I’m glad that people like it, I mean, I always think it could get more attention than it does, but I’m very happy with how the record’s going and I’m very happy that other people like it. Ultimately, I just care about what Damon and I think about it, and we really like it, so the fact that other people want to listen to it is pretty cool too.
I guess that kind of says something about our music industry when our own artists are doing better overseas…
Well some are, some aren’t. You know, there’s a lot of bands that are huge in Australia that aren’t really big overseas, it just depends where you kind of base your career or where you find people who believe in you, and it just so happens that a whole stack of people in the States wanted to work with us and believed in us, I mean, Damon and I have played in other bands in Australia for years and have had kind of no success, so I mean the fact that the guy who signed Pearl Jam signed our band is something of a cool thing to think about.
While we’re at it, what was the idea behind the album?
I’m not sure if there was one intentionally, but I guess at the time it was about being away and distance; missing people and constantly travelling and then when you get down time, just being in a new place. I guess it’s just kind of universal themes of disconnection.
I know it’s not from that album, but the film clip for ‘Postcards’ is awesome. Where did the idea for that come from?
Well, we needed to make a really cheap video, and we had worked with a couple of people who we’d worked with in the past and we kind of sat around and brainstormed ideas and it was actually the cheapest way to make a film clip. I don’t exactly remember how the idea came about, but we were pretty happy with it. It was pretty funny… It was done in four hours on a digital take with just one continual take done over that time.
Once you make a film clip like that, does it kind of set a precedent? Are you then always thinking of more cool and quirky ideas for clips?
To be honest, film clips really bother me because I think they’re a waste of money. I mean I like the fact that you kind of have to be creative to make them happen because they’re just so expensive and usually budgets don’t match that, so it does push our creativity, definitely. I guess it just comes down to the fact that when we do anything, we like to be doing something in the best way we can do it and what we think is the most creative. It’s more just trying to come up with something that we’re really happy with.
I know this album’s only just come out, but have you been writing songs in anticipation of the next one?
I actually haven’t had a day off since the record was released about two months ago, so I haven’t really done anything except eat and play music on tour.
Finally, “An Horse” stems from the grammatical use of ‘an’ before hard and soft ‘H’s. What’s your biggest grammar pet peeve?
Ooh, you know it’s probably the incorrect placement of apostrophes regarding ownership.
Like “it’s” and “its”…
YES! It’s so simple. I mean, I make the mistake often too, but it just drives me crazy. It’s painful to watch. I also hate ‘text talk’… It just drives me insane!