Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Ripple Conversation with Funeral Horse - Paul Bearer (guitar, vocals) & Chris Bassett (drums)

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphanies since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.  What have been your musical epiphany moments?

[Chris Bassett] I suppose like lots of kids in the late 70's it had to be KISS. Growing up in a house that pretty much only had The Oak Ridge Boys and Anne Murray being played to actually hear (and of course SEE) KISS was quite an eye opener. Dropping the needle on the Love Gun album and hearing that blast of "I Stole Your Love" was quite a life altering moment.  Another big one was Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. It was SO unlike anything I had heard, yet it was so intriguing and I realized there could be so much more to music than songs about chicks and getting laid (although as a 7 year old - those two things themselves were beyond my comprehension).

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first: The idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

[Paul Bearer]  It varies from song to song.  Some songs write themselves… while others really trip me up.  I do the song writing for the band and I like to get a song idea down about 90% before presenting it to the guys.  Many times, I find influence in whatever book I’m reading or by current events.  Nearly all the time, it’s the music that gets created first… the lyrics come along and help to shape the melodies.

Who has influenced you the most?

[Paul Bearer]  Musically, Matt Pike.  Philosophically, Lemmy.  Ethically, my Dad.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration?  New ideas, new motivation?

[Paul Bearer]  I explore other types of music on a regular basis.  For example, I’ve been attending concerts by the Houston Early Music Society, which has been a trip.  They do everything they can to use period correct instruments to recreate music from the Middle Ages.  It’s a fucking trip, really.  I totally could get lost in trying to use that stuff with Funeral Horse material… but we may end up sounding like Celtic Frost!  The library is also super important to me... I’ll check out recommended books and sometimes find inspiration in the topic.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

[Chris Bassett] Heat, humidity and concrete....THAT is Houston. Our brains have been fried! On a serious note though, local music scene is QUITE varied. We are fortunate in that we can gig alongside lots of different bands. We can do the punk/hardcore, the metal bands or the straight up rock bands.

Where'd the band name come from?

[Paul Bearer] I forget what I was actively doing, but I had the TV on and I was casually watching the funeral procession for Margaret Thatcher.  At some point, the announcer mentioned that the staff was preparing the funeral horses for the carriage… and right there.  That’s where I stopped, wrote down the words Funeral Horse and held on to it for either a song or a band.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

[Chris Bassett]  I see us as supplying the soundtrack for a documentary. Perhaps one about inevitable take over by an alien race who are stern but fair to Earthlings.  Eventually, the Earthlings attempt to revolt, but are crushed resolutely… resulting in eternal slavery for humanity.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

[Paul Bearer]  There was that time where we totally got busted by the US Border Patrol… that was funny/not funny.  I’ll have to tell you about it in person one day!

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans? 

[Chris Bassett]  Playing live is where it's at!  As enjoyable as writing and recording is (and it certainly IS), there is nothing as fun or rewarding as playing our music live. I think the people can tell as well. We feed off each other. It's a good feeling to come off stage and be drenched in sweat and have somebody compliment us and tell us they really dug us.

What makes a great song?

[Paul Bearer]  The melody.  If it calls out to you and you can’t get it out of your head, then you know you have something great.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

[Paul Bearer] They all have their merits. Vinyl is great for the packaging potential as well as the sound when played.  CD is good for classical music or recordings that require more than 20 minutes of space.  Digital is convenient and that’s about all the merit it gets.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's the best record store in Houston, Texas to lose ourselves in?

[Paul Bearer]  We have A LOT of great stores… it depends on what you’re looking for.  There’s a site dedicated to mapping out all the record stores in our fair city:

My favorites are Vinal Edge (hey Chuck Roast!), Cactus Music, and the almighty Sound Exchange.

What's next for the band? 

[Paul Bearer]  We are going to spend 2016 touring and working on new material with the goal of recording in late 2016 / early 2017.  At this point, we are viewing this next album as our final all-out volley into the stoner metal world.  After that, we’ll be shifting our focus on more rock and blues but still retain that darker element in our sound.  That’s the idea at least.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the Waveriders?

Get up and get your grandma outta here and go see some shows damn it!!!

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