Monday 19 October 2015

‘Riding a horse called War’: Q & A with Dave Vickers (A Horse Called War)

By: Steve Howe

Occasionally a band comes along and then disappears just as soon as they emerge, indeed it is only after they are gone, that you realise what an incredible band they were and that is case with today's guests, A Horse Called War. 

Releasing a well received demo in 2006 and a brilliant debut album one year later, A Horse Called War sadly split.  Fast forward 10 years and they are back, refreshed, rejuvenated and set to hit the road for some upcoming shows in November.

In one of his last articles for The Sludgelord, Steve Howe hooked up Dave Vickers from the band, following the announcement of their reformation, so if you're a fan of Eyehategod, Corrosion Of Conformity, Pantera, Weedeater, perhaps now is the time to acquaint yourself with A Horse Called War. 

SL). A Horse Called War, welcome and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How are things at HQ?

Dave Vickers). No, no, no, thank you for putting this together!  Things are good, it’s the weekend, it’s Saturday.  It’s been a fairly chilled day and I’m now relaxing for the evening, tunes up, beer in hand, it’s all good!

SL). Let’s kick things off then, could you give us the lowdown on the band?  How did you guys come together? 

DV).  Back in 2005 four of my best mates and I started a band to rip off our favourite bits from the bands that formed the soundtrack to the smoking and drinking sessions of our teenage years.  We recorded a demo, our original bassist left, we got a replacement (none of us had ever met him at the time and we’ve been stuck with him ever since).  We recorded an EP and hooked up with Calculon Records for the release.  We played shows and kicked arse up and down the country, received good reviews/good press etc… split up in 2010.  Reformed in 2015.  Boom!  We’re back motherfuckers!!!

SL). Quite the history already then. When you began writing and recording original music, what sound were you going for and how would you describe your music in your own words for those unfamiliar with the band?

DV). Despite the usual Iron Monkey/Eyehategod references we’ve always tried to do something not completely generic, but it is a tough question,  to make it sound interesting and not sound like a dickhead at the same time, but I’m going to anyway…  Perhaps a thick slab of a disgusting sludgecore in a nasty stoner bun with a filthy crust dressing, hardcode punk sauce and a little doom on the side.

SL).  You mentioned earlier that you guys split in 2010.  I know myself running The Sludgelord, there are many conflicting demands that can make it difficult to juggle everything, such work, relationships, children etc.   Obviously it would have been a difficult decision, can you tell us about that? 

DV). I was working away a lot, cancelling practice/shows/etc… it was really shit.  I think that contributed a lot to the overall atmosphere within the band.  Shane and Cooper weren’t getting on for whatever stupid reasons.  Cooper left (what a cunt).  We got a new drummer but it wasn’t the same.  I think we all kind of lost interest after that.  

SL).  Sorry to hear that man, but I completely understand, often there just isn’t enough time in the day and invariably something has to give. Moving on then, despite the obvious pressures you highlighted, you released an incredible debut EP back in 2007 called ‘Stumble At Every Hurdle’, which received a ton of great reviews. Did that surprise you at the time? The praise you received must have been flattering for such a young band.

DV). It did and it didn’t.  On the one hand, fuck yeah we were surprised at just at how well it was received, who wouldn’t be, it was kind of hard to believe?  We got a ton of awesome press and we were blown away.  But on the other hand, we always felt like had a decent release on our hands and we had confidence in what we were doing (not that we really knew what that was).

SL). Fast forward to 2015 then and A Horse Called War are back. What was the motivation to get the band back together, The Sludgelord are particularly excited to hear of your return.    

DV). Thank you very much, that means a lot.  It nice to hear.  January time maybe..?  I was at Cooper’s house, we were reminiscing about the “good old days” and talking about how brilliant the scene seems these days.  The idea of a reunion was floated about between the two of us. I asked the other guys if they were up for it.  Simple as that really.
SL).  So what's the plan for A Horse Called War in 2015, any tours planned, new material coming soon?  

DV). We’ve been incredibly lucky this year and played with some awesome bands at some excellent shows, it’s been a blast.  I can’t thank those involved enough, cheers guys you know who you are!  Actually, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce a little 4 date tour/weekender coming up in November with our brothers in Burden Of The Noose and support from SYP.  It’s all been arranged by South Cost Noise Society.  Check the flyer!  We’re recording new music right now!  We should have some release details for you soon.

SL). What can people expect from the forthcoming UK tour?  

DV). The five of us rocking out as hard as we can and having as much fun as we can!  That is all your gonna get.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The horse giving 150% and destroying all in its path! 

SL).   I think it is fair to say we have a thriving underground scene at the moment and much has changed since your time away.  Have you been actively involved with the scene during the last 10 years or so? 

DV). Nope, I kind of lost all interest in the scene and anything new.  I was still listening to music, but just the same old shit! The break has done me good. I’ve had a lot of caching up to do. There’s so many great bands out right now killing it!  Carter and Shane have been playing in William English for a few years now so they’ve stayed a little bit more in touch with things than I did.

SL).We mentioned that the UK and Ireland scene is thriving at the moment and for me is probably one of the best. Are there any bands you like or would like to perform with?  

DV). We’ve probably played with most of them that were on our wish list this year.  There’s still a few more I can think of off the top of my head, Diesel King, Iron Witch, Bong Cauldron, and Harrowed would all be nice!  I’m sure there’s loads more if really put my simple mind to it.

SL).  With new material on the horizon, what is the band’s approach to song writing, is it a collective approach or is it down to one individual?

DV). In the past it was always a collective, but to be fair I would say I contributed the most.  I’d often come to practice with an outline for a song or a few riffs and then everyone would chip in to get shit finished.  The new stuff has mainly been me but its early days yet.  We’ve only got a couple of new tunes.   We are due a big writing session soon with input from everyone.

SL).  It is probably fair to say the low point for the band was disbanding, but what have been your own personal  highs and lows during your time with the band and what would you change if you could do it all again?

DV). Highs… Calculon helping us (cheers Podge), that was quite a big deal for us at the time when you consider Calculon had been putting out stuff from bands like Sourvien, Church of Misery, Charger, Black Eye Riot and Lazarus Blackstar.  All the great press, all the great reviews, the few awesome shows, the people we met.  It was all brilliant.  To be honest, wouldn’t change a thing. I’m not sure about the others though!   It’s made us the band we are today and I think we’re enjoying ourselves more today than we ever did.

SL).  Let’s talk about your studio and live set up, what are you playing? 

DV). Simple, stage and studio. I don’t think you’ll see us rocking a pedal board with five different fuzz pedals and three vintage/boutique amp heads into four cabs coloured anything but black anytime soon.  Coopers the only one that likes to mix it up a bit.  He places a five piece kit on the latest stuff we’re recorded, whereas he’s playing a four piece on the road.  He uses a few more cymbals in the studio too.  Everything else stays the same.  Bass into overdrive pedal, into head.  Guitars direct into heads.  We play around with vocals a bit in the studio, layering and stuff, chucking in the odd whisper and shit like that.

SL).  Who are some of the bands influences?  Any particular band or album that stands out.  

DV). Raging Speedhorn’s first album.  I heard that and I was like “what the fuck is this? I’ve never heard anything like it”.  I was soon dialling up on freeserve and asking Jeeves what band’s sound like Ranging Speedhorn.  That opened me up to “sludgecore”.  Of course you then get into Iron Monkey and Eyehategod from that.  There’s loads of bands that stand out, Charger were a massive influence in the early days, as were Mistress.  But bands like Palehorse, Murder One, My War, Matter, Lazarus Blackstar, Labrat, Dukes Of Nothing, Cathedral, and Orange Goblin have all inspired us in one way or another

SL).  Thank for you David. Do you have anything to say to your fans before we go? 

DV). We’ve got no fans!  But Party on dudes!  And… be excellent to each other!

Band info: facebook | bandcamp | twitter