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Horse Thief | Interview - Live And Die In Music

Oklahoma natives Horse Thief recently released their much anticipated and well received debut album Fear In Bliss.

The band have been making serious waves Stateside, not least since their hugely successful appearance at this year’s SXSW. And now, amid rave reviews Horse Thief take to the road, embarking on a summer-long tour of Europe and the UK.

With an ever-expanding following and momentum behind them, Horse Thief are riding the crest of a wave. So in true Live And Die In Music fashion, we managed to track down the Oklahoma jet-setters and chat with writer and front-man Cameron Neal about Fear In Bliss and all things Horse Thief.

LADIM – Fear In Bliss was released last month. As a release date draws closer, and given the fact that it’s your debut album, what’s the feeling within the band? Is there an element of nerves, or is it pure excitement?

CN – Well, we are past the release but I still feel like I can accurately describe how everyone felt. We were all nervous just because no one had heard the record yet besides family and close friends. We weren’t really sure what people would think but we were also highly excited to see what people think and to get this album out after working on it for over a year. It’s truly an amazing feeling seeing your album on shelves around the country and seeing people excited to buy it.

LADIM – In our review I described Fear In Bliss as being very diverse, ranging from subdued to anthemic. Do you feel this is something we may come to expect from Horse Thief?

CN – I think we will always be changing, but yes, that theme will most likely stay present in our music. We don’t want to pigeon- hole any sound we are doing. We want to make sure we are keeping ourselves challenged and our listeners excited, it’s a hard line to keep your “sound” while exploring new territory.

LADIM – Since SXSW the compliments have been rolling in, as have the rave reviews. How does such praise impact on the band as you embark on the European tour? Do you find it inspires you even further?

CN – Any positive feedback always inspires us. It makes it feel like the art you made is being understood and people are responding to it. That’s all you can really ask for when making an album or putting a piece of art into the world. We just want people to take something away from their experience while listening to the album. Reading positive reviews or comments make us want to work even harder to take people to the next level of listening to music.

LADIM – I also described Fear In Bliss as being full of unabashed honesty. Do you feel this is accurate, and if so, do you write music based around personal experience?

CN – This record is very honest for me lyrically. Whether all the stories are true or not I’ll let the listener decide. Many of the themes have resonated with me throughout my life, and yes, some have affected me and are true stories. I try to be as honest as I can. I think music, especially lyrics should be a reflection of how you truly feel. It should be an expression that is a mirror of how you are feeling inside when you are writing.

LADIM – I want to ask you about the video for Devil. It’s a stunning, wonderfully artistic piece of work. I took it to carry quite a metaphorical message. Was this the intention when you guys came up with the idea for the video?

CN – Well, we all worked with the director and tried to give him the best sense of the song that we could, but wanted him to have his own way of expressing that. To be honest, I didn’t know she was going to be naked in the video until a few days after the shoot. So while it was not all our idea, it was intentional to carry those metaphorical themes in the lyrics and bring it across to film.

Your lyrics throughout the LP took me by surprise to a large extent, in that I found them intensely meaningful and refreshingly deep. Do you feel this is why your sound is as distinctive as it is, and do you feel your music could set an example to others of the same genre? 

CN – I would hope so. We all have such different influences in the band, which is where I would say the uniqueness of our sound comes from. I believe every writer or band wants to be able to touch other musicians or artists. There is always so much new music which inspires me every day. As far as lyrics go, I just want to share a story that I have experienced, or share a thought that I have had in a way that maybe someone else out there can connect with. If it moves or changes the way someone thinks then it’s an honor in my eyes. There’s nothing greater than the feeling you get when you hear a song and feel like you fully connect. It’s that feeling of everything coming together at once and becoming a sensory overload that is one of my favourite parts of life. I hope our music can do that for people.

LADIM – Already Dead is my favourite track on the album. It feels very poignant, even quite intimate. Was it your intention that the song would be so thought provoking, or is that something that which arises from the writing process? 

CN – This song lyrically came very naturally to me. I wrote it after a close friend of mine had a friend die at a young age, and it got me thinking about the feeling and shock from that experience. What it feels like loosing someone you knew just yesterday. It’s a very sad thought and most people don’t like confronting those emotions. I wanted a song that captures that, but still has a feeling of no matter what, you must live your life and feel alive. If you were to die tomorrow, you would die happy knowing that the life you lived was full.

LADIM –  Is it fair to say I’m picking up hints of The Cure, even The Smiths in your music?

CN – There is that influence in me, for sure. I’m sure everyone in the band has listened to those bands but for me they both hold a special place in my youth, for exploring music that may have changed the way I thought about modern music.

LADIM – We touched upon how distinctive your sound is, it translates superbly when you guys perform live. How do you feel European audiences will react, and is there anywhere in particular you’re looking forward to playing during the tour? 

CN – Trying our best to capture our live show is what created this album. I believe we did a good job of that. However, nothing is quite like seeing a band live. The music was written in a live setting, so I think it lives best in that world. We are always excited to play live; I think touring is our favourite part of the process. We love the studio but touring is what we all really live for.

LADIM – And finally, what does the future hold for Horse Thief?

CN – Luckily, a lot of touring and a lot of writing, we’ve already started working on the next record. Any down time we have we have we spend it at our studio writing and trying to get as many ideas as we can out before we hit the road, knowing that when that ends we’ll be ready to hit the studio again with the ideas we’re forming now!