By Jamie McGregor – 29/10/2017
After first watching Horsebastard back in August this year I felt compelled to learn more. I’d gone to Maguire’s Pizza Bar in Liverpool to catch up with Famine, a three-piece Powerviolence/grindcore act based in Leeds but found a Horsebastard too.
Seeing that a band called Horsebastard were also on the bill that night served as a clincher to get down there and from that moment on, I just had to go back.
I liaised with the band’s bassist, Pete, for the best part of 2 months, we eventually found a good time to meet up for a chat about the band. Back to Maguire’s we go….
I parked up at about 8:30pm. I walked around the corner onto Renshaw Street. I’ve never really paid much attention to Halloween to be honest but clearly, a lot of people go all out and there is an impressive dedication to the cause in Liverpool. So, after traversing the streets dodging Jason, Hellraiser and a few zombies, I made it to the venue safe and sound, only to find these creatures were all in Maguire’s.
I approached the band and joined them on the couch for a chat about all things Horsebastard.
We started out talking about the origins of the Liverpool based band. With the current line-up being stable since 2012. Bob the guitarist explained that “we try to keep as busy as we can, we aim to release something every year but nothing’s rushed, that’s not our style.” The general tempo of the band being quite rushed, life always finds balance I suppose.
After Pete, feeling the pain of the night before, sat back down with a beer I began by asking more on the origins. Horsebastard are a rocket fuelled Grindcore act that I described in my last article as the equivalent of being in an audio wind tunnel when watching them live. Pete went on to say “Our band is influenced by a number of acts: Discordance Axis, early Brutal Truth, Gridlink and lots of other grindcore/punk bands past and present.” Coming from a punk background, Pete added that “…. it’s definitely shaped how I approach the music but after playing so long together, it just starts to become something on its own, more and more natural, always perfecting how we can Horse-ify a new song at every turn.”
For their recordings, Pete explained the painstaking attention to the sequencing of the tracks, “We don’t necessarily think of the material as individual tracks, we’re always looking to bring the material together, a cohesive work, songs as chapters or movements of an overall piece, like classical music but Grindcore” (laughs). “Tonight, we’ll be opening with tracks from our split E.P with Ape Unit, from Italy, as the first block.”
This was interesting to me, a band that doesn’t think about songs, but blocks of songs. The average length of a Horsebastard track must be under the one minute mark so really, a ‘block of songs” can be thought of in normal terms, as a song. “The songs are only 30 seconds but the number of beats and hits are probably the same as a 3-minute song”
On playing the fast-paced style, “It’s all muscle memory really, the body knows what my head probably doesn’t!”
I asked about the European tours they’ve done over the years, this only leading to the interesting topic of the ‘community’. “It’s not really a case of a particular genre or style, we don’t think of it as a ‘metal’ scene or a ‘punk’ scene. It’s more of a ‘D.I.Y’ scene. We look after each other. I’ve been putting gigs on for the last 15 years or so, you make contacts and sometimes the favour is returned. That’s the real secret behind the European tours. You get out what you put in.”
We also talked about “taking part and maintaining”. To elaborate, when I was in Leeds last month reviewing Gatecreeper I bumped into Jorge from Famine (see August issue) who was playing at the sister venue to Temple of Boom called, the Meat Locker. We must have chatted for a good 15 minutes or so between sets and there, he also touched on hints of this community spirit, mentioning Horsebastard as one of the many contacts that they have a good relationship with in the scene, that help each other out with gigs and share releases in the form of split E.Ps.
The band mentioned that one of the main hubs in Liverpool is the place where Horsebastard call home, ‘Drop the Dumb Bulls Gallery’ situated at the north end of the docks. This is where Horsebastard record and often gig. A unique sounding space that I need to visit soon, if for nothing else but to experience Bog F.M, a dedicated toilet D.J that some of the band sometimes participate in.
I was too busy chatting to see any of the other acts but Pete mentioned that he loved playing mixed bill gigs. The variety of musical style being united by the state of mind and approach of the people doing it.
Horsebastard began their first block of the evening with the tracks from the Split 7” with Ape Unit. The ‘Equestrian Blastcore’ of Horsebastard rips through you as they tear through track after track leaving the audience little time to breathe or even clap between songs. Sometimes only punctuated with a “1, 2, 1 2 3 4” from Trip the drummer, or even just four warning rifle snare shots before the eruption starts all over again.
Chris, the vocalist, removed any boundaries between the band and audience by simply leaning into Hellraiser who was at the front. As he performed his vocal acrobatics, ranging from the higher pitched shrieks to the thunderous lows, he arched himself back or folded himself down at the hips. The music, furious as ever, with Pete and Bob’s fingers dancing across the fretboards as they churned out crushingly heavy, intricate onslaughts at lightning pace. The drummer driving the pace of the set ensuring there was no let up at all, no chance to recover or reflect. I think around 25 songs in 20 minutes says it all. It’s an experience I recommend.
Be sure to look out for the band in a town/city/country near you and hopefully 2018 will see their new split with Japanese band, Retortion Terror released.
Find them on Facebook and Bandcamp for more.