The Chocolate Horse
The Midwestern six-piece is comprised of Jason Snell (vocals, guitar, banjo), Andrew Higley (keyboards, horns, bowed saw, vibraphone), Paul Brumm (acoustic bass, vocals), Johnny Ruzsa (alto flute, ocarina, percussion), Dave Cahill (drums).
Jason Snell began The Chocolate Horse as a modest side-project in the summer of 2005. It was a happily self-indulgent project, centered on writing simple, slightly romantic 2-minute one-liners with an old guitar and a worn-in banjo, recorded on a deteriorating 4-track recording device in which only two tracks worked. Realizing the project’s potential and imagining a bigger, more vibrant sound Snell invited good friends and fellow musicians Andrew Higley (French horn, saw and bow, trumpet, piano, fun machine), and Paul Brumm (upright bass, vocals) to join in. The result was a whirlwind of experimentation and the birth of the hauntingly melodic, yet- non-traditional edge that is The Chocolate Horse.
The trio’s energy paid off and in 2007 the band released their first full-length vinyl album, Patience Works! (STA-001) under what was to become the band's own Stable Records. The project that had started out like a shot in the night continued over the next two years in the same passion - driven vein. Playing one show after another The Chocolate Horse performed their way through Ohio, Northern Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, and was asked to play at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas in 2008. As the band grew in momentum, confidence, and popularity they picked up invaluable new members and instruments along the way, each shaping and molding The Chocolate Horse into a elegant amalgamation of sound. In 2009 The Chocolate Horse is Jason Snell, Andrew Higley, Paul Brumm, Johnny Ruzsa (Alto flute, Ocarina, percussion), Dave Cahill (drums), and newest addition Sharon Udoh (keys, vocals).
Creativity is what The Horse thrives on and the 2009 year has been no exception. On October 16th the band officially made their house a home with the release of their second full-length vinyl album + digital download entitled We Don't Stand on Ceremony. In addition to recording in the Stable Records Studio, the 6-piece put time in at John Curley's (Afghan Whigs) Ultrasuede Studios, as well as at Manimal Studio with Tobe Donohue (Animal Crackers). Moonlighting on the record are Jim Feist (Tabla) and Tobe Donohue of Animal Crackers (drums). This hodgepodge of widespread collaboration resulted in a sophisticated, focused, and distinctive sound that is nothing if not impressively dynamic. We Don't Stand on Ceremony's mature clarity is audible, from the expressive yet cryptic lyrics to the clean layering of various instrumental sounds, crowned by the unexpected yet pure noise of a beat machine.
In an electrifying Tom Waits meets the Flaming Lips moment, this newest musical brainchild kicks off with the surprisingly perfect short-circuit induced burning of the band's Fun Machine organ within the song "Your Daughter." From the poignant "Spent Time Underground" to the upbeat, flute-graced "Open Up to Hide" The Chocolate Horse has created an album and a sound that seems to subtly breathe, channeling multiple sides of human emotion all the while being incredibly easy on the ears.
Even as the 2009 year ends out The Chocolate Horse's creative spirit has yet to slow down, and they are planning to begin recording again in February 2010. If this drive is indicative of anything it is that the Midwestern 6 piece knows and loves the value of creative work.If The Chocolate Horse's last two albums and past 5 years are indicative of anything, it is that they will continue producing their growing signature brand of musical language, carving out a edgy niche for themselves and their awesomely unorthodox body of musical individuality.