Interview: Horse Party

Bury St Edmunds trio, Horse Party – aka Ellie Langley, Seymour Quigley and Shannon Hope – have been gracing our ears for a while now, with fantastic offerings such as last year’s EPs Paydirt and Money Talks. Having received acclaim from the likes of BBC 6Music, Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Radio X, their heavy riffs, intense beats and gritty, earnest vocals are fast becoming some of my favourite sounds.

Now, the band are back and set to release their second album, Horizons. Kate Crudgington caught up with Shannon, Seymour and Ellie to find out more…

Hello Ellie, Seymour & Shannon! How are you? What have you been up to this week?
Seymour: Very well, thank you.  This week I’ve been organising lots of secret exciting things to do with this year’s Bury St Edmunds Fringe Festival, doing my day job, and stomping around in my duffel coat listening to Yo La Tengo and Guided By Voices like a giant indie cliché.
Shannon: Pretty great thanks, I’ve been recovering from a few weeks of judging the BurySound band competition, I think it’s safe to say I had a bit too much of a good time.  Got a practice with Kate Jackson & The Wrong Moves this eve which I’m very much looking forward to.
Ellie: Not bad thanks. I’ve mostly been doing my day job, and reading lots of Savages interviews. Saw them play last week, they never fail to blow me away.

You recently played an X-Posure event for Radio X’s John Kennedy at London Camden Barfly (30th January) alongside Dinosaur Pile-Up, Demob Happy, Happyness, Traams and more. How did that go? Talk us through the night…
Seymour: It was amazing!  John Kennedy’s a relentlessly splendid chap and everyone we met was lovely. We were nicely surprised that it was full when we played.  We’re always nicely surprised when people watch us though.
Shannon:  It was an excellent show.  We were first on which meant we were playing at two in the afternoon – we were wondering if people would turn up that early, but they did and were a brilliant crowd. Managed to catch some other bands after who we really enjoyed seeing.
Ellie: I normally think London is deeply overrated, but this show was great – really good crowd, and John’s a lovely guy. Easily the most fun I’ve had playing in London.

You obviously impressed; you’re playing another Radio X night at Tooting Tram & Social on Friday 18th March with Trampolene and The Buzzard Orchestral (it’s free entry as well!) What are you looking forward to most about this date?
Seymour: I’m just excited to be in Tooting.  It’s the best-named bit of London.
Shannon: Playing for and seeing John again, he’s lovely.
Ellie: Yeah, John has been really supportive of us and played us on his show quite a bit, it’ll be great to play another of his nights.

Your track ‘See Wider’ was featured on a TuneCore Valentine’s Day album, which was sitting at #4 in the free download charts. Is this the best valentines gift you could hope for?
Seymour: The best Valentine’s Day gift I could hope for involves Hugh Jackman holding me in his big manly arms, but as that’s relatively unlikely to happen I’ll make do with scoring an international mega-smash.
Ellie: That was weird. And probably slightly misconstrued, as I wouldn’t call it a love song; not in the hearts-and-chocolates kind of sense anyway.

Your opening lyric on new single ‘Gratitude Falling’ strike a poignant chord: “Still inclined to cynical thought…” Are Horse Party more creative when cynicism is present?
Seymour: We’re probably the least cynical people when it comes to writing and playing music.  We’re the kind of band that thrives on just really, really enjoying playing together.  Even with the darker or mellower songs we still get that sense of excitement from feeling it all come together.  I’m in love with making music in this band.
Shannon: Yeah, I agree with Quigley – when we write together it’s really, really good fun.  We do think a lot about the writing process and work hard at it but it’s always a healthy combination of working and fucking around.  We are all best mates so spending time writing is one of my favourite things to do.
Ellie: My worldview is pretty cynical in a lot of ways, and that probably comes through in the music sometimes. We live in a world where we are surrounded by so much unnecessary bullshit- we’re all constantly being told from every direction what we should be like, what we should want, what we should buy. It’s all just empty, damaging noise. So I think it’s right to be dismissive of a lot of the stuff that is all around us. But as Seymour and Shannon have said, there’s no cynicism in the way we make music; quite the opposite. It’s a visceral thing, and it’s a load of fun.

You were all recently involved in the production, design, and recording of This Is The Sound of Sugar Town – a charity compilation of tracks from Bury St Edmunds bands which raised money for your local women’s shelter. The limited edition vinyl has nearly sold out; but could you tell us a little more about the difference this project made to your local area? Would you consider doing something like this again?
Seymour:  Realistically, the amount of money it made was probably just a drop in the ocean for the Women’s Refuge, but I hope it drew attention to the cause and led to extra support and donations.  The really lovely thing about it was how readily all these brilliant bands gave us a track, and how much support and interest there was within the local scene.  I really, really hope we get to do it again – there are already enough ace new bands that a Volume 2 could come together quite naturally.
Shannon: I’m really proud of our town and all involved for doing something like this.  The launch of the record was a special day as well.  Most of the bands involved came along to our local record shop (Vinyl Hunter), some played a set and one of the volunteers from the Women’s Refuge was present and seemed genuinely touched by the thought.  I really hope we can do something similar again…There is a great feeling of unity when bands get together to do something worth while.
Ellie: I think the others have summed it up really –  we’re really proud to have  been involved with it, and the participation of so many people from the local scene was a wonderful thing.

On the insert to the  vinyl of This Is the Sound of Sugar Town, there’s a rousing speech which includes the quote “sometimes to get people off their arses you have to burn the bastard sofa”. That’s a cracking motto, but what do you do on bad a day when that sofa starts looking comfortable again? Also, are you willing to take responsibility if some DFS stores suddenly burn down after people read that?
Seymour: Haha!  That’s just the Manics Fan gene in me spewing out sub-Nicky Wire hyperbole.  But the point I was trying to make was, I understand the odd comfort in being able to excuse your life away with reasons why it wasn’t possible to do the things you wanted to do, but in the end that’s fucking boring and you can’t afford to die regretting all the things you never did.  Sometimes you have to thrust the possibility of fun in people’s faces, and demonstrate that it actually is possible to make cool stuff happen, or at least grab people by the lapels and scream WAKE UP BEFORE YOU ARE DEAD.  Although I should probably apologise to anyone who took my instruction too literally: you should only ever apply figurative flames to an actual sofa.

You’ve got some UK dates lined up for an East Anglian mini-tour with Dingus Khan, SuperGlu and Claws. What is it about these bands that you like? Why should people come and see you?
Seymour:  People should come and see us because every member of those bands is fucking sexy as fuck.  Also, we all love each other.  It’s going to be like a toilet venue version of Live Aid, although if Bono turns up he’s going straight in the River Orwell.
Ellie: It’ll be loud, and fun, and there will be a bar.

Your second album, Horizons is currently exclusively streaming on the Gigslutz website. Are you excited to hear what people think?
Seymour: Yes. I think so.  It’s weird, I’m really proud of it but the minute a record’s finished I’m thinking about the next one.  Making records is my favourite thing, I feel a bit sad sometimes when the time comes to release them into the wild.
Shannon: It’s cool to hear people’s feed back but that’s not the reason for making a record.  It’s actually the last thing I think of when writing, if we’re proud of it and had fun with it then that’s the main goal really.  If other people are also into it, thats a total bonus.
Ellie: It’s really great if people like it, especially if they’ve handed over their hard earned cash and bought a copy – I’m always immensely grateful to the people who buy the records, and come to the shows etc – it’s so nice to know that people are into what you do. And I also know that none of us would ever want to release anything we weren’t really proud of. But as the others have said, its never the motivation for writing – you have to make the music that comes naturally to you, not what you think people want to hear. And Quigley’s right, our minds are on new stuff now.

Finally, if you could only listen to one song on repeat for the rest of the month: what would it be?
Seymour: ‘Leave Them All Behind’ by Ride.  That song should never end.
Shannon: Right now, I have been listening to Babes In Toyland – ‘Sweet ’69’ every day.
Ellie: ‘Coast to Coast’ – Elliott Smith. It has magic about it.

Huge thanks to Horse Party for answering our questions! 

Horizons, the new album from Horse Party, is out 1 April.