We’ve talked before about how chance emails in our inbox can lead to amazing discoveries and an email from Danny Sher, mastermind and drummer, for Brooklyn based experimental group Horse Torso was one such mind bending discovery. This instrumental band also features Baroness bassist Nick Jost and guitarists Will Chapin and Andrew Smiley — together, they offer up a dissonant platter of jazzy, intense and highly improvisational noise rock. Being a fan of jazz and all sorts of experimental music myself, I can honestly say this band challenges me in ways many others can only dream of and I thoroughly enjoy each and every chance I get to try and unravel the mysteries contained in the eight tracks that grace debut full length Wolf Who Cried Boy. The album was released last October and we recently had the chance to ask Danny our set of Profile questions so head inside to see what he had to say and be sure to support the band via Bandcamp.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the success that you hoped?
My love of music predates my earliest memories of being alive. According to my parents I was “dancing” to music as an infant. As far as my level of achievement, I think success is a fleeting concept. I have been fortunate enough to meet and perform with a handful of my musical idols and have been in a handful of somewhat “successful” projects over the years. However, I have been searching for my purest vehicle of expression for quite sometime. I have finally found that vehicle in the form of Horse Torso.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
I always feel conflicted when mentioning that my bassist is in Baroness and that John Baizley engineered, produced, and mixed our album as well as contributing the album artwork. On one hand, these are merely facts. And since we don’t sound at all like Baroness, it shouldn’t seem like we are trying to use this info as leverage to get into the same scene. But I know that mentioning Nick and John’s contributions significantly increases our odds in the sea of countless submissions that any label, blog, or zine receives in a day. And that’s name dropping and that’s douchey.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
In metal or any other genre for that matter, the thing that makes a new band stick out to me is when they manage to fuse at least two separate genres together in an unique way. Let’s face it, there haven’t been a ton of new sub-genres organically created in the past 10 years. So when I hear a grindcore, shoegaze, noise-math band or something I get excited. This is part of what I aim to accomplish with Horse Torso. I’m cramming all of my favorite genres and influences into one, delicious, tonal sandwich. With that said, the most negative thing I see in metal is simply that cookie cutter, derivative, unoriginal bands are getting signed in lieu of innovative bands with a less obvious sound. Signing bands used to involve at least some risk on behalf of the label. Now it’s mostly just factory produced bands that sound exactly like something else, because priority #1 is $$.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
Not to speak for the whole band but for me personally, the single most important political issue in America is getting special interest money out of politics. Whether you’re right or left-leaning, if you think our representatives should be able to accept bribes then you simply don’t believe in democracy. As far as our music is concerned, the nihilistic nature of our free improvisation is inspired by the nihilistic nature of humanity in the 21st Century. Sad but True.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
As a young kid I used to rummage through my parents’ albums. My mom was into Motown and lots of chill rock bands but my dad was into Zeppelin, AC/DC, Ozzy etc. When I first listened to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” at age 8 or 9 I was definitely way into it. Then one day I was in the car with my dad and he was like, “Hey I bought this cd the other day but it’s way too heavy for me. You want it?” It was Master of Puppets. Holy shit did that album change my life! I bought every other Metallica album immediately after and continued my musical journey with a passion for all things loud and aggressive. So I guess you could say my parents took it well. Although my mom definitely hates metal.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
I think simply making yourself available to the community you serve is a huge part of it. The main thing that I want is to identify and connect with my target audience of bands, fans, venues, labels etc. If you are able to assist with that in any way, most bands will love you for it. On this note, thank YOU so much Nine Circles!! You’re doing exactly that.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
I’d like to start a cult in Iceland where all we do is listen to the Lilys album “In The Presence of Nothing” and stare at the northern lights.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
This list could go on endlessly but some albums I’ve been really digging lately are:
Slowdive – Souvlaki
Converge – The Dusk In Us
Brandon Seabrook – Needle Driver
Full of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy
Yowie – Synchromysticism
Ex Eye – Ex Eye and soo many more.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Danny for his time!