are re-creating the way you experience music with their strictly instrumental, ambient post-rock. Their recent single "New Bones" is a gorgeous testament to haunting soundscapes and darkly melodic instrumentation. It's as chilling as it is inspiring, and it creates a solid ground for contemplation and imagination to grow from. We had a chance to catch up with guitarist Brian Morgante, who shed some light on creating emotion through instrumentation, the band's new 7" split with Half Hearted Hero
[which "New Bones" comes off of], and their take on the current state of DIY in music. This Q&A's a bit lengthy, but Morgante offered such passionate insight, we couldn't help but share a good chunk of it with you. Give the song a spin, read the interview, and grab the 7" split from the band's webstore
PureVolume: Were you always a strictly instrumental band, or did you incorporate lyrics at one point?
Deadhorse’s Brian Morgante: Deadhorse actually started as a side project for my solo music. At the time I was in a band called Awaken North Wind, and I was also touring with some acoustic songs for a while. Things started slowing down with Awaken, and I had a lot of vision to make the solo songs into full band. We started messing around with it, and had some fun with it in the process. After a while, we wanted to stick to it, and things with Awaken fell apart. At this point, we had to start writing music that was our own, and when we all sat down and talked about it, we really wanted to give the instrumental route a try. At that point we started writing the songs for our first full length We Can Create Our Own World. Seven tours, one EP, one Cassette, and two years later, here we are!
PV: Do you find you have to work harder at composing scores that will resonate emotionally with fans, since you don’t have the lyrics aspect that so many latch onto?
BM: Personally, I’ve actually found it easier to work at composing scores, soundscapes, and atmospheres. I’ve been writing songs for over ten years now, and the music and feeling I was always trying to portray came very easy. When it came time to write lyrics, I would hit a lot of walls. When it came down to it, there’s a lot more responsibility in conveying a particular and personal message to complete strangers. Deadhorse really opened up the whole picture for us when it came to this process. We want the listener to work right along our side to really bring these songs to life.
With [the split EP] in particular, we’re trying to bring back the idea that we’re all meant for amazing things, and it’s our responsibility as a community to stop building so many walls based on genres, morals, clicks, religion, politics, etc. We’re all capable of learning from one another, and just as capable to share our experiences and abilities with those around us. To convey these ideas through dynamic and atmosphere rather than specific lyrics, it allows the listener to go to a place where those ideas can find peace within themselves. We’ve heard countless stories from people, and not a single one has been remotely similar. That is what we’re fascinated by each and every day in this journey. We hope as we continue to shape these scores, they will take on more ideas like this, and we can all learn things from one another and ourselves that we never thought we could.
PV: How did your split release with Half Hearted Hero come to fruition? Had you worked, or toured, together previously?
BM: We have never worked or toured with Half Hearted Hero -- in fact, we have never even met one another! The bigger idea behind the 7” is actually thanks to the men behind the curtain. The split was put out by both Broken Circles Records
[our label] and Animal Style Records
[Half Hearted Hero’s label]. [Label owners] Brent and Matt wanted to do a split 7” with one band from each of their labels and release it together. Something that is obvious right from the get-go with this release is how different the music is, and we love that. For quite a few years things have been quite separated [in music] and it’s been discouraging to see. The scene I’ve always imagined is one where people can come from across all lines and backgrounds, and see the good that is in all of it. We want to work with every type of band out there that simply has passion for what they do, and are sincere in the way they share it with the listener. I don’t care of its punk, pop, folk, hardcore, whatever.
PV: Do you have plans to continue working with Half Hearted Hero in the future?
BM: We hope that we can do some shows with Half Hearted Hero this year. They are great guys and a hard working band, and we’d be honored to finally connect with them. I think it’s well overdue since this release. It’s almost like we’re in one of those mysterious online, late night AIM chat relationships from high school [laughs].
PV: Your offering [“New Bones”] on the split clocks in at over six minutes. Is this typical for your pieces, since they’re fully instrumental, or did you intentionally want to create something on a larger scale for this project?
BM: A six minute song is actually short for us [laughs]. Almost all of the songs on the full length are well over six minutes. When we were planning the release, Brent told us ‘I know you like to write songs that go on for days, but you have exactly six minutes to get your point across on this release.’ With all post-rock, it’s a common theme to see songs that go one for quite a bit of time. There’s a lot of build up, a lot of emotion, and a lot of release. Sometimes songs need to be ten minutes long, other times they need to be a minute long. We’re in the process of writing songs for our upcoming, second full-length this year, and we’re actually challenging ourselves to keep most of the songs shorter than every before. “New Bones” was the first glimpse into this process at six minutes, and the second new song, “Tired Lungs,” -- which is going to be a new, unreleased track on the cassette we’re putting out -- is under five minutes.
PV: You’re releasing the split on 7” vinyl. Is it important to you to stay true to these older formats for listening to music?
BM: We’re music makers, we’re music lovers. Music is music no matter what format it’s released on. I think anyone who strives to put out music loves to see it available in any format imaginable. After releasing We Can Create Our Own World ourselves on CD and through digital download, we teamed up with Brent and Broken Circles and were able to release the full length as a 12”. This was the first band I was in that was ever able to do this, so the first day we opened up the package, and I was able to actually put the music I worked on and helped write onto a turntable, it’s an experience that is hard to explain until you’ve been there. Later on, when we were then able to do a 7”, it was the same thing all over again, being able to see a single released like this.
PV: You’ve also made the decision to release your album, Live at The Office Recording Studio, on cassette. Vinyl’s become increasingly more popular but why, especially, are you looking to release on cassette?
BM: The cassette sort of came out of thin air with our friends Jake and Mike. They have been good friends for a long time, and Jake has talked to me for years about starting a cassette label. He finally got the resources to do so, and approached me about doing the live release as the very first release on Ethic Records
. We’re all about getting behind projects like this, and more importantly helping our friends out. We had never even put thought into releasing on cassette, but this just sort of worked out. We were only ever going to have that live album as a digital release, and here it was given the ability to be something listeners could hold in their hands and take with them. No matter what format, new or old, we just think that is special, and strive to see it come to life no matter what it is.
PV: As a dominantly DIY band, what promotional approaches do you find most effective for getting your music out there?
BM: We believe that bands should work for everything, and push hard for what they believe in. We are all broke punk kids that have never been handed a thing in this life. We wrote some songs, we figured out the best way to record them, release them on our own, and started hitting the road. We personally did all of our own PR. From there, we hoped the music would speak for itself, and get passed on and on down the line. As we continue to grow, we’ve been able to get some help from like-minded friends. From the outside people might say ‘Wait a minute, they work with a label, they have booking agents from US, Europe, and Canada, and they have a press guy. What’s so DIY about that?’ Things get to be too much to bare, and if you can find other like-minded people to join forces with you, it has nothing to do with handing over the reigns, but simply adding another piece to the puzzle. We just want to show people that DIY is more like what our friends in Kalamazoo say. “DIT – do it together.” We would be lost without the wonderful family we’ve created from this.
PV: What is your take on the current state of DIY in music? Do you wish you saw more of it, or do you think that it’s become a more dominant route for band’s to take?
BM: When it all comes down to it, I think that DIY is really making a solid comeback, and I’m constantly amazed at all of the great people, bands, organizations, etc. that I am able to meet and work with because of this. When you really think about, everything in the world started as a DIY idea, and the more involved I am in something like this, and sort of seeing “worlds collide” at times, I really am starting to understand and appreciate that idea a lot more. I want to see more people step out of their comfort zones and continue to push forward with their dreams and aspirations. I truly believe there are very big things inside of each and every one of us.