Black Horse at Kanis Bash 2015
Kanis Bash is an annual fundraiser for Little Rock's Kanis Skate Park
, featuring live music, art, merch, skateboarders and food. It started six years ago when finances became tight for a group of locals that had been volunteering their own money, time and services to maintain the free DIY community skate park
. This year’s Bash attracted skaters, artists and fans from over a dozen states. Tyler Evans (drummer of radradriot) did a terrific job as the impromptu music coordinator for this year’s extravaganza which offered a variety of bands including Wreckless Endeavor, Breakfast Special, Black Horse, radradriot, Nervs (from Mississippi), Trophy Boyfriends, Ten High (from Fayetteville) and Riverbottom Debutante. The afterparty art show was held at nearby Gallery 360 and featured the bands Ghost Foot (from Louisiana), Headcold and ANA (from Michigan).
Kanis Bash 2015 was held on Saturday, May 9. A minimalist sound system was set up for the bands, who were good sports about playing on ground that was still a little moist from the previous night’s downpour. There were three industrial carpets on the ground used as a makeshift stage near the main skate bowl. Fans played in puddles and tossed around mud after a few beers, but overall it was good family fun. At one point Alan Wilkins of Trophy Boyfriends joked, “We’re punk, but let’s not turn this into that mudslinging incident of Woodstock ’94, kids.” The rain held off until the final two bands and many people stayed throughout and had a great time.
The Little Rock punk trio Black Horse
performed that afternoon. I had seen them before, at their tour kickoff in 2013 and more recently at the 2015 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Semi-Finals. Dave Richmond is the band's singer, songwriter and guitarist. His other bands include Scrim, The Thing That Always Explodes, The Buttons, Older Women, wuustungen, The Smokes and The Hacking. Daniel Olah plays drums and also plays in Ezra Lbs. and Ginsu Wives. Tate McSwain plays bass and was in The Smokes. For the Kanis Bash 2015 performance Dave held down rhythm and lead guitar well and sang in his own unique style. Tate was fun to watch because he’s an energetic and talented bass player. Daniel Olah is a well-trained percussionist but gets possessed at live shows. (Imagine Gene Krupa’s amazing jazz drumming but with the punk aesthetics and power of Black Flag’s Bill Stevenson.)
Their new album “The Times”
was released April 30 and is a post-punk mix of lovelorn angst and neurosis with just enough Arkansas to keep it gritty and imperfect. Their sound is fresh, unpretentious and somehow familiar. This new album really shows off Richmond’s maturing songwriting. He infuses interesting tempo changes and great subtle guitar work. It’s a strong piece of work from beginning to end. If asked to pick an ‘album single’ my choice would have to be its closing gem “Start Again,” which has the makings of an underground cult classic.
I spoke to Richmond briefly after Black Horse’s performance:
What's your favorite place to perform?
My favorite was The Blue House in Conway, R.I.P. It had such an intense crowd who were always ready to get down. Everybody came early and watched all the bands. Otherwise I know we all love to play at TC's House (formerly known as Hollow House).
What does making music mean to you?
Making music is the only important thing to me. I go out and make money and try to love, but when it comes down to it, the only thing I can rely on is music. It helps me express my frustrations.
How did you become a musician & who influenced you?
Black Horse at Kanis Bash 2015
My dad was in a band although I've never heard it, so when I met Alex Butler (of Scrim and Older Women) and he wanted to start a band, I was very excited and asked my dad to teach me bass. I learned by listening to ZZ Top and Tom Waits. Alex was and is a huge influence on the music I listen to. He's gone off in a different direction, and I can make decisions for myself nowadays, but in the beginning I listened to everything he told me. The Wipers being one of my biggest influences, alongside Elliott Smith and Scratch Acid.
Why is it important to support local music?
If you don't support local music, you don't support your community. People like myself live and die based on how our audience reacts to us. If you don't like us then we scrap and start over or even give up. If you don't buy our merch we can't go on tour and share our music with other states. If you don't donate to your local radio station, or local house or venue, they won't be there much longer.
What are the best things about the Arkansas music scene?
The Arkansas scene is cool because we all know each other. Therefore a lot of the time everybody respects each other. I will say most the time people stay and watch the bands and sometimes they leave. Which probably doesn't mean anything to them, but for us when you look up and half the room is gone you think it's because of your music. When in fact they probably just wanted a smoke. It's important to stay all the way through, unless you just don't like the band you’re watching.
Tell me a little about the new album.
This new album, "The Times,"
is a lot fuller than our previous, self-titled release (which you can also download/buy on Bandcamp). Still very punk, garage, and surfy, just a little more pop thrown in for good measure. I wrote and performed everything on this album along with Olah on drums. D.J. Richardson (of The Hacking) was nice enough to record us for next to nothing at a home studio, although I hear his rates have gone up after us. Totally worth it though. Anywho, it's a beautiful record and I think people will dig it if they give it a shot. Thank you from Black Horse! We love you and hope to see you at our next show!
Tune into KABF’s Shoog Radio on Tuesday, June 2, to hear Black Horse live on air.
Kanis Bash 2015