SPOTLIGHT ON: WATCH FOR HORSES
By: Cole Querry
Wiretap Records performing and recording artist, Watch For Horses, played their final show of 2017 at The Satellite in Los Angeles, CA. I was able to catch up with the guys before and after the show to not only share pleasantries, compliments, drinks, and laughs, but to get more information about the overall trajectory of the group’s success in the form of inspiration, transitions towards newer projects, and what will be in store with this objectively talented group of genuinely great people.
With an environment reminiscent of a tacky high-school dance with unnecessarily loud music, fog machines, and a disco ball with a disco ring around it like that of a far off planet light years away, between sets (nor during it, for that matter) was not the most conducive of spots in time to get an interview in. However, lead singer and guitarist Ralph Tafoya was nice enough to answer some questions for Awesome Totally Awesome the morning after.
Awesome Totally Awesome: How long has Watch For Horses been a band and how did you all meet?
Watch For Horses: Watch for Horses has been a band a little over 6 years now. Most of us met up in high school (John Glenn in Norwalk, CA) with the exception of Bryant. Josh knew Bryant in elementary school and when we were in need of a bass player, he was a perfect fit.
ATA: As opposed to an individual who is not involved in the writing process and yet still tries to compartmentalize Watch For Horses’ sound, I want to know from the horse’s mouth (shitty pun-intended), where do you draw inspiration from and how is that applied to the song-writing process?
Watch For Horses: Zing! 10 points for being punny! I think in the early years of the band, our inspiration was drawn heavily from what bands we were listening to and taking notes from that. Sonically, we tried to take large parts of our idols and create our own version of what we heard. Lately, its been a little bit different. We still draw inspiration from the music we listen to past and present, but something about the substance has changed. The more recent songs are a bit more story driven. ‘San Junipero’, for example, it’s based on an episode of the show ‘Black Mirror’. We’ve never really done something like that. The writing style when we started felt more angsty and lyrically the songs were about being jaded due to past relationships and things of that nature, but its a lot of fun and were excited to see what the future of our music holds.
ATA: You have put out one split EP with Indian School, have two of your own EPs: “Evil Kid” in 2013 and “Maladaptive Daydream” in 2016, and have since released singles “Memory Bells” and “San Junipero” within the last eight months; can you describe your experience recording and releasing a packaged production like an EP as opposed to that of the singles? Is your marketing approach any different and how/why is that specific song chosen as the single?
Watch For Horses: The whole experience is a little different. We really do enjoy recording an EP and working on multiple tracks. Spending a few days in the studio and really hashing out a collection of songs is a lot of fun. The benefit of putting out a single, is that we get to spend two days focusing all our energy into one song. Giving it all of our love rather than spreading that same care and attention over 5 or 6 songs. When it comes to marketing, that is probably the biggest benefit. You get to do unique artwork and press for each single you put out. It allows us to try something a little different each time. We will likely keep going down the route of singles for a bit, but the goal is still to record a full-length in the near future.
ATA: Three years ago, Watch For Horses joined forces with WireTap Records. Can you explain what it was like being an unsigned band compared to the positive and negative externalities that come along with being signed to a label?
Watch For Horses: Teaming up with Wiretap was always a very easy decision to make when it came to working with an indie label. The label is very much like a family to us and has always been there to try and help us in any way possible. Wiretap has helped us a lot with marketing, press, merch and putting the music out on CD, vinyl, or digital. We have yet to encounter any negatives being with wiretap and I think that’s simply because we are allowed to be ourselves and have that supportive environment in everything we do.
ATA: Preceding shows, how do you approach sets? Do you like to mix it up and improvise based on the environment or do you prefer to stick to specific set-lists that you have to be tried-and-true?
Watch For Horses: Typically we put together a set and arrange the songs based on where we are playing, the length of the set, and how we feel about the flow of the songs. We think about whether or not we should incorporate a cover song. We don’t play the same set for more than two shows and even then, we make little adjustments here and there. We are especially excited for upcoming shows because we have a handful of new songs to tryout.
ATA: You guys hit the road a lot traveling to play shows in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. You recently headed out to Austin, Texas in April to play a show out there. Austin is known for being one of the greatest cities to live in the United States given its population, mean income, and standard of living and is also known as a city booming with art, nightlife, culture, and music; aside from the crazy debauchery bands usually get into on tours like sleeping next to each other in uncomfortably close quarters and/or arguing over how restaurant bills are split, anything particularly weird happen while playing in a town the wants to keep itself weird?
Watch For Horses: We drove a straight shot to Austin after a finishing a show at around 11pm. We had just finished playing Slidebar and had the van all packed up and ready to go. The drive was 25 hours and it was an unforgiving one. When we got close to our hotel we stopped at a gas station and there was a local who asked where we were from and where we were headed. His advice to us was to watch out for the deer. We chuckled and thought he was just giving us a hard time. He wasn’t. About 40 minutes away from the hotel on each side of this 2 lane highway, there must have been about a hundred deer just hanging out. It was pretty scary because we were paranoid that any one of them might be having a bad day and decide to hop in front of the car or something. Luckily that didn’t happen. We made it to the hotel and there was 7 of us packed into a room that should only fit 4. Despite being incredibly exhausted from the drive, we stayed up for another hour and giggled like little girls at a slumber party. It was pretty fantastic. We played a show next to the University, so there were some rowdy college kids in attendance and that was a lot of fun. Its true though, Austin is a fantastic town and it has a lot of great food spots, art, and culture so we plan on going back someday.
ATA: You’ve played Warped Tour, you’ve been featured in KROQ’s locals only, had a residency at the Silver Lake Lounge in Los Angeles, you’ve done local southern California radio interviews and live session performances, and play a lot of shows including closing out 2017 at The Satellite in LA and another show scheduled at the Soda Bar on January 27, 2018 in San Diego; what’s next for the band (other than the Soda Bar gig), what can fans expect in the new year, and what is the best way for new fans to find out this kind of information?
Watch For Horses: We really want to be able to get our music in front of more people. So a big goal of ours is to play festivals next summer and to just try and getting as many support slots as possible for bigger bands. There will definitely be more new music on the way. We will be back in the studio next month with our friend Jon O’Brien and this time getting a little help from Eric Cannata (Young the Giant) so we are excited about that. I think it would be a lot of fun to travel out again and I’m not sure where, but I’m sure it will happen. We will post about it on all our social media outlets. Facebook and Instagram are the best places to find the most up to date information. Another place to find some information about our band is at WatchforHorsesmusic.com