Interview: An Horse riding to a indie success

(The Guide, 10/1) An Horse rose from the obscurity of an Australian record store basement stage to the “Late Show with David Letterman” in a little under two years, which is a head-slapping, needle-scratching-across-the-record fast time frame, even in today’s speedy, blog-amped music scene.

This is how things seem to work for the Australian duo. Just a few months after Kate Cooper and Damon set up a PA in the store and started practicing, they were invited to join Canadian indie-pop twins Tegan and Sara for a major U.S. tour. That led to an opening slot on an Australian tour for Death Cab for Cutie, another U.S. tour with Appleseed Cast and their current tour with Silversun Pickups, which will bring them through Hilton Head Island on Wednesday.

Silversun Pickups, Cage the Elephant, An Horse

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 7

Where: Shoreline Ballroom, 40 Folly Field Road, Ocean Center, Hilton Head Island

Tickets: $25 in advance, $28 at the door

Information: 843-842-0358, www.shorelineballroom.com


Somewhere in there, they got invited to play the “Late Show” stage for their first television appearance, and the duo allowed themselves just a moment to revel in the glory that Letterman had actually come over to shake their hands. But not too much.

“What you see on TV is how much you meet him for,” Cooper said by phone. “I have heard that if he shakes your hand afterwards (he liked) your performance. We were pretty happy about that. If I had known that beforehand I would have probably rushed at him afterwards to shake his hand.”

Of course, after that moment in the national spotlight, the band climbed back into the tour bus and watched the broadcast from a motel on the side of the highway before playing a show for a scant handful of people. “Every day I’m like, ‘Why do I do this? I have no money. I’m going to die alone.’ It’s a crazy reality check constantly,” Cooper said.

Self-effacing mindset aside, An Horse (yes, that’s how the band’s name is written, and no, it’s not a nod to some odd Australian grammar rules) deals in power indie-pop marked with unironic emotion that has found fans in the states, Australia and beyond. Their songs resound with narrative self-reflection, full of yearning and strained attempts at bravery. And Cooper tends to sing an unsteady internal monologue; witness her vow to overcome adversity on the uptempo single “Camp Out” or her lyrics “I got so scared that you might be a better me than me” from their first full-length, 2008’s “Rearrange Beds.”

The band’s quick popularity is also metaphorical: While the fast pace of the modern music industry helped them break out of Australia, it also meant the doomed the Brisbane record store they started in. It closed just a few weeks after they left for tour.

“It was a real bummer,” Cooper said. “It was a really great record store. The decline in sales was so rapid and obvious. When I started, there were tons of people working there on the weekend. It was the place to go to hang out. Twelve months later, it was a ghost town.”

So, to attract new fans, the band will continue to tour from the buzzy streets of Brooklyn to the quieter climes of South Carolina.

“You know what, I feel like the smaller places are better,” Cooper said. “I think it can only be the case that people are more aware. The kids in smaller cities are more on it because they’re on the Internet all day. They discover things and they hold on to them. We played Calgary recently. Who’s heard of Calgary? But it was awesome.”

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