Minihorse, the Pop Progression band from Michigan makes their way to debut their new EP, “Big Lack” in San Francisco. As lovers of Mexican food, I sat down with the men of Minihorse to enjoy chips and salsa while discussing their musical process, Paul McCartney and the magical meaning behind their band name. As fans of each other’s music, along with being “great buddies”, Ben, Christian, and John knew instantly that this dynamic would work.
Take a look at their music video, “Drink You Dry” to better understand the vibes of Minihorse.
What does Minihorse mean? Does it have meaning? Would you change it?
Ben: At first, I told Christian about this adorable Minihorse and at the time he had no idea that there was an adorable, prancing, magical creature. We spent the next year trying to figure it out and change it but we quickly realized that Minihorse was the best band name that there is.
Christian: It’s the only name that was left. We use no horse imagery, but it’s a moderately catchy name.
Ben: No, no its’ the best one! And when you’re in a band that plays loud guitars and sings songs about sad stuff, having an overly serious name could make it too somber and take things too serious and heavy.
How long have you known each other? How did you meet?
John: I used to run a record store in East Lansing, Michigan. My friend and I started this in the early 2000’s and Christian was a customer who bought things that I liked already and we immediately hit it off.
Christian: I bought stuff like Elliot Smith and The Beach Boys. That store was at Michigan State University where I went to college. I had an old pop punk band that played there one time.
John: Our store had a venue in it and that’s where we met. We started to play music together in other bands and then we met Ben because our bands would play with his old band. We really liked each other’s music and each other’s bands, just supporting each other.
Ben: I basically joined their band after calling their other band member to apologize for someone getting in an altercation at a party.
John: It sort of made a lot of sense for the three of us to be in a band, we played for so long together and we’re all buddies.
What is your music making process?
Ben: I try to stay up as long as I can. I get more creative when I’m very tired. I don’t sleep and then I lay in bed and try to have an idea. When that doesn’t work, I sometimes try to stand in the shower for an hour and hope that the melody comes. I like to think of the entire song in my head, then play it on the guitar and get the chorus. Then get the melody, harmony, chords in my brain, rhythm and everything. Sometimes when you force it, that stuff ends up being less good. The best songs are being written in about ten minutes. Some of the fun recordings are the ones that happen in the moment. Drink You Dry was a demo and we just liked the demo and it’s hard to recapture the energy. It’s hard to get the magic back some people call it “Demo-itis”
Christian: Drink You Dry is a perfect example of the magic and spontaneity in song writing that I personally struggle with, but when you can get that song just written, recorded and there it is. It caught the eye of Friendship Fever and it is the thing and played a big role in getting us a record deal.
Ben: I literally have done everything under the sun to try and get my head in this space. I was going to show you this Instagram picture that I took where I hook my brain up to this electricity to try to cause different mental states. You can induce more creative states in your brain. But this didn’t work, but I tried so don’t try this at home.
Where do your musical influences come from?
Ben: Evan Dando from The Lemonheads and Bob Pollard from Guided by Voices. I like Teenage Fan Club and Rocketship and some other 90’s indie rock bands.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is a big influence on me. They’re a polyvinyl band and have been one of my favorite bands and I think that they’re first record, Broom is one of my favorite indie recordings ever made.
Christian: All three of us love Elliot Smith but my biggest influence is Paul McCartney from the Beatles. A little more modern, Greg Edwards from Failure and Autolux. My Bloody Valentine, The Cardigans, I don’t know I like weird stuff but for me it needs to be like some sort of three minute pop song. I love pop.
John: I was a record store guy. I like everything, but I’m just the drummer. My stuff is influences by Brian Wilson.
Let’s talk music festivals? Would you guys want to play at the big ones?
Ben: I’ve never gone to the big ones like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. We’ve done SXSW 7 or 8 times. I’d like to play Lollapalooza just because I grew up knowing about that festival and sort of a goal. We’re playing SXSW this year and wanting to play Noisepop.
John: In some ways I feel like we might be built for those festivals. We can play big sounding sounds with just the three of us and it seems like we would eventually play those. I think we’re more of the guys just playing music, playing the festivals eventually would be cool and we could do it but who know. We will burn that bridge when we come to it.