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Locals Only: : Horse Flies

With Readymaid on hiatus, Jason Snell and Andrew Higley saddle up their Chocolate Horse

By Ericka McIntyre · June 2nd, 2004 · Locals Only
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The Chocolate Horse
Jacob Hand

The Chocolate Horse



Combining saw and bow, upright bass, French horn, acoustic guitar, trumpet, piano and a beat machine affectionately dubbed the "R2Beat2," local trio The Chocolate Horse have been creating eclectic musical "one-liners" for several months. But they are already emerging as one of the scene's most interesting acts.

Since local Art Rock/Indie favorites Readymaid went on hiatus last fall, two of that group's members, Jason Snell (guitar, vocals, beat machines) and Andrew Higley (French horn, saw & bow, trumpet, piano), have kept busy with this new project. Paul Brumm (upright bass) was added in February.

"This project was something totally different than Readymaid; it was more personal, and I had more control of it," Snell says of the Horse's genesis. "At the beginning it was very selfish. Now, being able to play with Andrew and Paul, it's not selfish at all. It has evolved in that way."

"Readymaid was stopping with shows for a while, and I had a 4-track and just wrote little one-liners, just really quick, simple songs, just one line, get in/get out," he continues. "A lot happened at once with (the songs), so I recruited Andrew. We've been friends for a while and he can play pretty much any instrument. We had a couple of shows, and then we really wanted to record this stuff. We had always wanted to work with Paul, so we recruited him, and said 'Hey, you want to play some and maybe make a record?' "

"Jason really wants to do a vinyl record and most likely we're going to put one together before the end of the summer, probably a full-length right off the bat," Brumm says.

Snell is emphatic about the recording's format. "Vinyl is definitely what I want to do," he tells me. "But I thought it would be cool to do both ends of the spectrum -- put the songs online so people can buy the record with the art, download it all ... or they can get it free. I want to give people MP3s who want them and then if they want to buy the record ... it's like hi-tech and no-tech. People who like vinyl will buy the vinyl, and people who like CDs ... well, a lot more people are just downloading MP3s and burning them anyway, so my idea is to just skip the middle man."

Regardless of the format in which you acquire the group's recording, you will be very pleased with it. Listening to the music of the Chocolate Horse is something akin to stumbling across a music box in the middle of the desert. Except this is a desert created by Dali, so everything is off-kilter, but more interesting and beautiful because of it.

The sweet, simple melodies stretched over the group's unusual instrumentation gives the music a dreamy, surreal quality.

When you hear Snell's voice, you immediately think of Tom Waits. He has that same whiskey tone. Snell counts Waits among his major influences, while Higley counts among his "the street performer in Bath (England) I learned to play saw from."

"I was on a trip and I had a bunch of time to not do anything and there was a street performer in Bath and this guy would go sit in the city square," Higley tells me. "He had a CD of background music and he'd play over it. He was incredible. So I just sat around and watched him."

"Andrew came back, went and bought a saw and that afternoon, he was hitting two octaves on it," Snell says. "Pretty bad ass."

The Horse's main goal is to finish their record. They all have a lot on their musical plates, as Brumm also plays with local acts Filament and Keynote Speaker and Readymaid (now a quartet) is about to come back out of hiding for this year's A.M. Holiday concert at the Southgate House on June 11.

"We're just taking our time," Snell says of Readymaid. "It's been kind of nice. We had been playing a lot shows and had a lot of songs we wanted to record, and people coming and going, so it was good to relax a little."



THE CHOCOLATE HORSE (
The Chocolate Horse
Jacob Hand

The Chocolate Horse



Combining saw and bow, upright bass, French horn, acoustic guitar, trumpet, piano and a beat machine affectionately dubbed the "R2Beat2," local trio The Chocolate Horse have been creating eclectic musical "one-liners" for several months. But they are already emerging as one of the scene's most interesting acts.

Since local Art Rock/Indie favorites Readymaid went on hiatus last fall, two of that group's members, Jason Snell (guitar, vocals, beat machines) and Andrew Higley (French horn, saw & bow, trumpet, piano), have kept busy with this new project. Paul Brumm (upright bass) was added in February.

"This project was something totally different than Readymaid; it was more personal, and I had more control of it," Snell says of the Horse's genesis. "At the beginning it was very selfish. Now, being able to play with Andrew and Paul, it's not selfish at all. It has evolved in that way."

"Readymaid was stopping with shows for a while, and I had a 4-track and just wrote little one-liners, just really quick, simple songs, just one line, get in/get out," he continues. "A lot happened at once with (the songs), so I recruited Andrew. We've been friends for a while and he can play pretty much any instrument. We had a couple of shows, and then we really wanted to record this stuff. We had always wanted to work with Paul, so we recruited him, and said 'Hey, you want to play some and maybe make a record?' "

"Jason really wants to do a vinyl record and most likely we're going to put one together before the end of the summer, probably a full-length right off the bat," Brumm says.

Snell is emphatic about the recording's format. "Vinyl is definitely what I want to do," he tells me. "But I thought it would be cool to do both ends of the spectrum -- put the songs online so people can buy the record with the art, download it all ... or they can get it free. I want to give people MP3s who want them and then if they want to buy the record ... it's like hi-tech and no-tech. People who like vinyl will buy the vinyl, and people who like CDs ... well, a lot more people are just downloading MP3s and burning them anyway, so my idea is to just skip the middle man."

Regardless of the format in which you acquire the group's recording, you will be very pleased with it. Listening to the music of the Chocolate Horse is something akin to stumbling across a music box in the middle of the desert. Except this is a desert created by Dali, so everything is off-kilter, but more interesting and beautiful because of it. The sweet, simple melodies stretched over the group's unusual instrumentation gives the music a dreamy, surreal quality.

When you hear Snell's voice, you immediately think of Tom Waits. He has that same whiskey tone. Snell counts Waits among his major influences, while Higley counts among his "the street performer in Bath (England) I learned to play saw from."

"I was on a trip and I had a bunch of time to not do anything and there was a street performer in Bath and this guy would go sit in the city square," Higley tells me. "He had a CD of background music and he'd play over it. He was incredible. So I just sat around and watched him."

"Andrew came back, went and bought a saw and that afternoon, he was hitting two octaves on it," Snell says. "Pretty bad ass."

The Horse's main goal is to finish their record. They all have a lot on their musical plates, as Brumm also plays with local acts Filament and Keynote Speaker and Readymaid (now a quartet) is about to come back out of hiding for this year's A.M. Holiday concert at the Southgate House on June 11.

"We're just taking our time," Snell says of Readymaid. "It's been kind of nice. We had been playing a lot shows and had a lot of songs we wanted to record, and people coming and going, so it was good to relax a little."



THE CHOCOLATE HORSE (thechocolatehorse.com) plays the Southgate House on Friday for the Culture Queer CD release party.
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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