Dead Horse Trauma and the art of the independent band2/13/2013
Slipknot isn’t ours anymore. Sure, the guys still hail from here. But they belong to the world now, their talent and success having elevated them to a point that transcends simple geography. If there’s any justice in the world (and I like to think there is), then Dead Horse Trauma is on the cusp of following in a similar vein.
If you had to draw comparisons between the two bands, then the single most important commonality — more important, even, than the music or its city of origin — is their work ethic. As Brother Trucker’s universally respected front man Andrew Flemming once said, “Those guys in Slipknot were out there hustling every night of the week. Nobody worked it harder than those guys.”
The same is true now of DHT. Even amongst other local bands — all of whom work hard to develop and promote their music — DHT’s generally regarded as one of the hardest working bands in the state.
But what truly sets DHT apart from just about everybody else on this mortal coil, is that they may just be the smartest working band around as well.
“That’s the name of the game now,” said guitarist Seth Peters in an interview. “Record labels are out. You are on your own when you’re at our level now. So you better be distinctive; you better come at people in a way that no one else can.”
“If you do things the same way, you’re going to get the same results,” concurred front man Eric Davidson. “So we’ve got to do things a different way.”
It’s an approach that’s obvious if you’ve ever seen DHT live. The band has one of the most dynamic stage presences around, and their custom-made light set-up makes each show something unique and amazing to behold.
Off stage the boys are equally clever, and one need look no further than the band’s latest album, “Vi-Ops,” for an example. Not content to simply have a CD-release party and unveil to everyone at once, Dead Horse Trauma has paired with local online music service Locusic to create a one-of-a-kind event.
“We were trying to find a way to pay back our street team and involve them a little more,” explained Peters. “But then we thought, ‘Well, wait. Why can’t we do something a little bigger?’ We’ve had a relationship with Locusic for a while, and (Locusic owner Jake Kerber) had a lot of ideas.”
Those ideas have culminated in an online, 24-hour listening party. On Sunday, Feb. 17, anyone with an internet connection and a working set of ears can log onto Locusic and listen to “Vi-Ops” for free. It’s an idea that’s as refreshing as the album it’s pimping.
And, make no mistake. “Vi-Ops” is a glorious album. It’s the sound of a band that has realized its potential.
“It’s cool to be able to sit back and listen to what we’ve been able to accomplish with Vi-Ops and be like, ‘Damn, I feel like that’s what we’ve been trying to say all along,’ ” said drummer Jason Handy.
“We’ve developed a hell of a family,” added bassist BJ Forst. “I think the biggest push behind that is that everybody still has that drive to make it better.”
And that’s what it’s all about: making the best damn music possible and winning those hearts and minds.
Peters with the last word: “We’re trying to get as wide an audience as possible. Even if you don’t like metal, we’ve got a groove that might win you over.”
Damn straight. CV