Sharp-Dressed Men

Shoe talk with Drunk Horse

I hate ZZ Top. I hate them so much it hurts. I hate them so much that if I even think about that stupid sleeping-bag song, my eyes hurt and I want to throw up. Don't even get me started on "Legs." But Oakland's Drunk Horse, who happen to be my very favorite band in the whole world, love ZZ Top and consider them an influence. I must admit I can hear the infusion of blues-based boogie, but that's as far as I'll go.

Whereas ZZ Top are all levels of disgusting, Drunk Horse take a groovy foundation of riff-heavy butt- and prog. rock and pull it into the present by adding a thick coating of heavy, sludgy stoner rock. Live, they're exhilarating and bewildering, all monstrous and intricate guitar riffs, explosive drums, and just the right amount of masturbatory noodling. And not in some kind of heinous Guatemalan pants-wearing, hacky-sacking, jammy kind of way, either—in a surprisingly tasteful yet still over-the-top kind of way.

In addition to a flurry of seven-inches, Drunk Horse have released two masterpieces on the now-defunct Man's Ruin label: a self-titled 1999 album and 2000's Tanning Salon/Biblical Proportions. Their forthcoming full-length, Adult Situations, will be out in March on Tee Pee Records. We spent a surprising amount of time recently talking to singer/guitar player Eli Eckert about shoes.

OC Weekly: So Eli, tell me about some of the new songs.Eli Eckert: They're more—I don't know; it's hard to say. They're more cohesive. They're more condensed. Are they actually shorter?

I think they're around the same length, but there aren't as many long ones.

Are you dumbing down?

No, no. I think as we go, I feel it's better to be clearer and have more concentrated riffs, as opposed to being so sprawling, which is hard to pay attention to. It'd be hard to get any dumber, actually. That'd be a challenge.

Lyrically, what are the new songs about?

We got songs about shoes, songs about bears, songs about CIA drug smuggling.

You've had songs about shoes in the past, right?

I know. We have more. It's sort of a celebration, actually.

What kind of shoes?

It doesn't really matter. Just shoes in general. Nice shoes.

What if it was a huarache? A horrible huarache sandal?

We're kind of against sandals. We're anti-sandal.

Are you against Birkenstocks and Tevas as well?

Yeah. Flip-flops are okay, but not sandals.

What little regard you have for the whole sandal-wearing community!

Tevas are ridiculous.

Yeah, I hate man sandals.

Yeah, yeah. Mandals. Those aren't good. For Jesus only.

And not even, really.

If he'd had a nice boot or sneaker, it would've been preferred.

If he'd been wearing sensible footwear, I think things might have gone down differently for him. What are some of the other songs about?

We have a song about male prostitution.

What are some of the lines?

"Price is no object when the object is me."

So you're envisioning yourself as a male prostitute?

No, not me. It's more of a narration.

You're jumping into the character?

I'm taking the first-person perspective, but it's a story.

So you have no personal experience from which to cull from?

No personal experience. I mean, I think some band members have, maybe. I'm just going on their experience.

Do you have a song called "The Bitch Is Bach"?

Yeah, but I'm thinking of changing that title because I'm sick of seeing so many pun titles. The song's about Bach, and it's a story of his life and how awesome he was.

And doesn't it mimic bits of one of his fugues or, I don't know, one of his—

Not unless it was unintentional. I thought about that, but it seemed kind of cheesy and a little ham-fisted.

And you try to avoid ham-fisting?

Well, I think we're a pretty ham-fisted band, but every now and then, I'll develop a case of good taste and not belabor something.

Do you feel like you guys are taken seriously?

I'm sure some people think we're being sarcastic with the kind of music we play, like we're poking fun at the pantheon of rock, but we're not, and I think a lot of people get it and know we're sincere. You know, the smarter people.

So what's a typical day on tour like?

It depends. Some days, we have to get up really early after no sleep and drive 10 hours. Those days are just driving all day and then getting to the club. On days with shorter drives, we get up as late as we can and go find something to eat or go explore the city.

When does all the crazy wild sex happen?

That happens in the van.

No, not where—when?

There really isn't any. Almost everyone in the band is in a relationship, so we're faithful.

What about crazy rock shenanigans or hooliganism or tomfoolery?

We threw a bottle of water at the Fucking Champs' van while we were on the highway.

I don't even know if that counts as a hijink.

Do you think it's more like terrorism?

If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be?
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