New Noise: Horsebeach

The Manchester mastermind talks us through his latest release.

Horsebeach is the latest offering of lyrical honesty, bold melodies and breakup music. Led by the Manchester mastermind, Ryan Kennedy, the project returns with ten new rain-soaked vignettes to get emotional about. Named after Yasunari Kawabata’s 1964 novel “Beauty And Sadness,” Horsebeach’s latest album pays homage to a book that helped leadman, Ryan Kennedy, through a difficult break up. Described as melancholic but never miserable, the album is filled with love, regret, loss and remorse – and is certain to have us feeling deep about things too.

As a live group Horsebeach expands to four members: Kennedy (guitar/ vocals), Matt Booth (drums/percussion), Tom Featherstone (guitar) and Tom Critchley (bass). Their album “Beauty And Sadness” is the third record to be released by Horsebeach’s own Alone Together label, set for release on March 31st. Ryan says, “I’ve come across many records which bands have released themselves and I’ve developed an understanding of how the system works. There’s something really special about being involved with a project from start to finish.”

Talking about the album, he continues: “It’s about regret and an overlaying sense of loss but also a realisation of the beauty of starting again. I found some beauty in sadness, as it forced me to re-evaluate everything.”

What is your earliest memory of music?

My dad blasting out Prokofiev’s “Dance of the Knights” when I was about 4/5 years old. I remember being terrified about asking for it to be played again and again. I started learning Piano shortly after.

How did you all meet?

Me, Matt (Drums) & Tom (Bass) have known each other since high school, we actually played once together as a cover band in school. Tom (Guitar) joined us in 2014 after our old guitarist dropped out and filled the spot perfectly.

What do you each bring to the band?

Writing and recording is still down to me but obviously when live everyone adds their own thing.

Tom’s the keeper of content. He keeps our social media’s going with various DIY memes and desperate attention-seeking chatter, essential! When he first joined us his pedalboard was full of pedals that made various noises, a diluted version of this eventually found its way into the set.

Dave fiddles strategically with his chorus live, which makes for some interesting sounds.

Matt’s awesome at juggling the kit and various trigger pads and shakers and making it sound easy. It’s always tricky taking the recordings to the band to translate them into a live performance. It means that most of the songs live are a little different. Everyone imparts they’re own style when we’re on stage.

Ryan, upon reflection, do you think dropping out of uni to pursue your music was the best decision?

For me at that time, absolutely. I guess I’d been convinced for so long that I would go to college, then I would go uni and then I would get a job. It was a real relief to just break away and find out the world doesn’t end. Academia isn’t the best place for everyone and I’m certain I’ve learnt ten times more now than I would of had if I stayed there. There’s a track on the new LP called “I Must Work & I Must Die”.

Other than The Smiths, who you have previously mentioned, where do you find inspiration for your music?

I guess I don’t really think of The Smiths as a direct influence, I’ve just been surrounded by them for so long in my life and I’m sure most people have been influenced in some way by them. Luckily, working in a record shop I’m surrounded by new music, old music and all sorts of bizarre things I’d have never come across otherwise. I find influence everywhere at the minute.

“This record is a long hard look at myself, regret, being alone and learning to deal with all the above.”

You write and mix your own songs. Tell us about the creative process.

I still go about this, pretty much the same way I did in the beginning. I’ll get a demo together on the iMac. I’ll usually have one element like a bass riff or a guitar melody or something then I’ll build it up around that. I’m always thinking about how I’m going to record the track, so it tends to influence the song to a certain extent. For instance: “My Heart Longs For You, Pizza” off the new LP – I just had the chord progression and immediately felt it sounded like a old jazz standard so I decided I’ll split the drums in the left ear and the bass in the right, make it real mono sounding. This changes the way I’ll write the other parts to fit into that. Once I’ve got a few songs, I’ll set up the reel to reel and just focus on the recording side, things infinitely change at this point too, I’m never settled with the songs until they get pressed.

What inspired your latest album, Beauty & Sadness?

I would say this one is perhaps my most personal album, written between late March and October 2016. I’d just got back from tour & I’d just bought a house with my partner at the time. Unfortunately, I got back home to a house that was no longer mine and all that felt so secure had crumbled. I moved into a place on my own and had all the time in the world to understand this great sadness I was left with. The album is my journey through this, dealing with loss and eventually finding beauty in the sadness. This record is a long hard look at myself, regret, being alone and learning to deal with all the above. So it’s basically a break up album…

Sum up your sound in three words…

Melancholic, Drizzle, Pop.

Is there anyone in particular you would love to work with in the future?

I’d love to work with Badbadnotgood, not that I’m skilled enough to keep up but I’d love to hang out and talk production. I think Tom will also be with me on this one, but Dean Blunt would be interesting to work with, for sure. 

Where do you hope to be this time next year?

I’d hope to finally make it to the US and play some shows there, I’ve already started working on some new material so maybe we’ll get another LP out too. We’re still 100% independent so our progress so far is mostly organic. We have complete control over the releases, shows and material which is great so we’ll definitely remain this way for the foreseeable future.

Louise Bonner

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New Noise: Horsebeach

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