Horse the Band

Horse the Band
Horse the Band

Horse the Band in 2009. Pictured from left to right : Nathan Winneke, David Isen, Erik Engstrom, Daniel Pouliot.
Background information
Origin Lake Forest, California, United States
Genres Nintendocore, metalcore, post-hardcore
Years active 1999–present
Labels Combat, Koch, Pluto, LIF, Vagrant, Roadrunner
Associated acts K-Slax, Cathedrals, Polygraph, Bleeding Kansas, Demonora, End on End The Sawtooth Grin, Nihil
Nathan Winneke
Erik Engstrom
David Isen
Daniel Pouliot
Jeremiah Bignell
Past members
Jason Karuza
Andy Stokes
Adam Crook
Dashiel Arkenstone
Eli Green
Chris Prophet

Horse the Band is a band from Lake Forest, California who are best known for their 8-bit Nintendo-influenced sound combined with metalcore. Frontman Nathan Winneke once described their sound as "Nintendocore".



Horse the Band was started in Lake Forest, CA in 1999 while founding members Erik Engstrom and David Isen were attending El Toro High School. The band's original name was to be The Mexican Economy, but was changed to avoid controversy of the band name being considered racist. The group decided upon Horse. The name had to be altered further to prevent copyright issues from becoming another problem; (a woman with the name of "Horse") hence the band became Horse the Band. The band booked its own parental financed tours starting the summer of 2002, including a 3-month tour spanning seven countries. With a carefully maintained web presence including their and Myspace accounts, they had gained themselves a niche audience.

In the summer of 2004, the Horse the World Tour 2004 included 85 shows in 90 days, spanning 7 countries throughout North America and Europe. Early 2008 saw the band planning Horse the Band Earth Tour that would travel to 40 countries starting in early March. The band stated "we've become disillusioned, bad-attitude nerds and pariahs of the established music industry."[1] They asked for their fans' help booking shows in most locations, with no plans of bringing other bands along on the tour. The band booked the tour themselves, and played mostly unpromoted shows in 45 countries, starting with Australia. Many performances were done without compensation, about 10% of the shows "fell through." Some of the tour's venues hadn't been visited by western acts since Cannibal Corpse as in their visit to Belarus.

The band's line-up continuously fluctuated in its 10 year history. In February it was announced that Chris Prophet had been fired and Jon Karel from The Number 12 Looks Like You would be filling in on drums during Earth Tour. In July, 2008 the band stated that long-time band friend Daniel Pouliot of Bleeding Kansas had joined as the band's full time drummer. On Wednesday, December 3, 2008, the band announced that Dash Arkenstone would be leaving the band, though he remains on good terms with the other members and has attended local shows. Brian Grover from the band Thriller filled in on bass during live shows and recently recorded alongside the rest of the group, Jeremiah Bignell later became the band's permanent bassist.

On February 2, 2009, Horse the Band signed to Vagrant Records. In an interview they stated that they had been trying to get onto that label for nine years.[2]

Horse the Band's latest album Desperate Living was released on October 6, 2009.[3][4] The group are currently on a break from touring and recording, their first break in over six years.

Lyrical concepts

Horse the Band's lyrics are usually metaphors for vocalist Nathan Winneke's life, often with abstract pop culture reference titles. Winneke has referred to his style on multiple occasions as "Lynchian" in reference to his favorite film director, David Lynch and his obtuse narrative style.

The band jokingly labeled themselves "Nintendocore" very early on in their career in reference to the synth sound they had adopted. Some video game characters that are metaphorically referred to include Cut Man from Mega Man, although the song is spelled "Cutsman" because the song was about a childhood friend Winneke grew up with and that was how they had said the character's name in youth; "Birdo", one of the bosses from the NES game Super Mario Bros. 2, in the song "Birdo" which was actually about Winneke's distaste for eggs and traumatic experiences with his stepfather early in his life ; and the rabbit-like nemesis from The Legend of Zelda in the song "Pol's Voice" which is about Winneke's early loathing of the sound of his own voice. Similarly, the song "A Million Exploding Suns" refers to the Marvel Comics character Sentry, a schizophrenic and agoraphobic hero with this abundance of power, pertaining to Winneke's double life as a musician and as a video rental clerk.

2007's A Natural Death featured significant lyrical and musical evolution into the concepts of nature and mortality while moving slightly away from the Nintendo metaphors. The song "Murder" is inspired by the miniseries Lonesome Dove, in which a Native American named Blue Duck stalks and kills white settlers on the plains. "Hyperborea" as a reference to Robert E. Howard's original "Conan" pulp fantasy stories from the 30s, and "The Red Tornado," a DC comics character from the company of which Winneke is such an open enthusiast.

2009's Desperate Living is likely the band's most accomplished record musically. Its themes are also somewhat more difficult to pinpoint, but seem to reflect a breadth of social and cultural experience gained from living in Lake Forest. Songs like "Horse The Song" reflect a disillusionment with the mechanics of the music industry and the desire to break free for the sake of integrity and human connection, while songs such as "Big Business" are completely different, since "Big Business" is merely a song about a close friend to HORSE the Band. As well, dark and deeply personal themes are also explored, with some material delving deeper into Winneke's troubled psyche than arguably ever before. "The Failure of All Things" involves deep feelings of regret and beating a woman physically and "Between The Trees" contains grotesque imagery of violent self destruction. Desperate Living is an altogether complex and enigmatic record with a unifying theme of enculturation as a vehicle for the creative process, no matter how primitive, difficult or bizarre.

While there are numerous references on every album, Winneke states "No song is ever what it seems....the more silly it may come off the more troubled it probably is under the surface."

Current projects

Horse the Band have recently signed a deal with Vagrant Records for the year 2009 and beyond. The deal doesn't cover recording costs, promotion, nor touring costs.[5]

In 2010 they embarked on "The Reigns in Africa Tour" which began in late March and extended into April. The tour will consist of 12 shows in 17 days. They are headlining shows in South Africa and Mozambique.[6]

In late summer 2010 the band issued a limited 6 DVD, personalized Hardcover book covering their Earth Tour 2008. It was available through pre-order only. Ten left over copies were sold on Ebay, some reaching at over $600.00. The tour book is currently sold out with no plans for future reproduction.[7]

Horse the Band headlined a U.S. tour entitled "I'm Miserable" starting May 6 is Arizona, in support of the Earth Tour 2008 DVD release. Supporting bands included Endless Hallway and Oceana. The last seven shows were canceled, due to Isen needing immediate eye surgery.[8]

Horse the Band was scheduled to play at the 2011 South by Southwest music festival. They were part of the second round of invites, and played to a sold out crowd.[9]

Horse the Band played at four festivals in the 2011 year, the 2011 Ieperfest in Ypres, Belgium, Germany Berlin Magnet, Brutal Assault in Josefov, Czech Republic, and Germany Oberhausen Olgas Rock Fest.

Band members

  • Erik Engstrom – keyboards, LSDJ, backing vocals (since 1999)
  • David Isen – guitars (since 1999)
  • Nathan Winneke – lead vocals (since 2002); bass guitar (1999–2002)
  • Daniel Pouliot - drums (since 2008)
  • Jerimiah Bignell - bass guitar (since 2009)
  • Jason Karuza - drums (1999–2004)
  • Adam Crook - lead vocals (1999–2002)
  • Andy Stokes - bass guitar (2002–2005)
  • Dashiel Arkenstone - bass guitar (2005–2009)
  • Eli Green - drums (2004–2007)
  • Chris Prophet - drums (2007–2008)


  • The Effing 69 World Tour (2004)
  • We Flooded It, and There's Yogurt Everywhere AKA 48 Hours in Ukraine(2009)
  • Earth Tour (2010) (Duration: 10 hours 31 minutes)


  • "Bunnies"- R. Borlax
  • "A Million Exploding Suns"- The Mechanical Hand
  • "Lord Gold Throneroom"- The Mechanical Hand
  • "Birdo"- The Mechanical Hand
  • "New York City"- A Natural Death
  • "Murder"- A Natural Death
  • "Shapeshift"- Desperate Living



External links

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