Black Horse Motel
Philadelphia's Black Horse Motel draws on traditional folk and Americana roots. The band blends rock, country and other influences with rich vocal harmonies. Songs are built on the foundations of folk instrumentation and lyrics, and are elevated by an infectious blend of guitars, strings, drums and voices. The resulting sound has been described as heart-breaking, foot-stomping modern folk. Be sure to pick up a copy of their fantastic new EP 'Parable."
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it. Galen Fitzpatrick: I had a twelve-string Yamaha guitar, a pilot V5 with green ink and a small black notebook with an elastic closure. I had just finished playing a series of Lori McKenna songs at an open mic. I had four chords under my fingers and a strong desire not to be writing an essay. I stayed up until the breeze stopped blowing so hard through the trees and the sun came up at me off the Hudson river. The first song was done. It was crap and I called it Song #5, for pretentious reasons. But seeing as that first one was done, I didn’t see any reason to stop when writing songs was so much easier than talking to people. Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career? Galen: I used to play a lot at a bar in Hudson, NY. I don’t think it’s there anymore, but it was a wonderful time. Coming out of the self-righteous bubble of liberal-arts education into a real-world with training wheels opened my eyes to the reality nobody’s really coming to terms with. The conservative business owner chatting nonchalantly about the Jets game with the trans woman dressed for a noir film over a pair of Budweisers is a reality check for anyone who's been sold a vision of America by a cheap summer blockbuster. But it was also there that a scuffle between patrons went from a fist to the face while both seated on bar-stools to a tussle on the floor to still swinging as they tumbled past the mic stands, through the band and out into the street. It's not exactly biting the head off a bat, but it was CRAZY enough for me. What has been the high point of your music path? Galen: I’m pretty sure I haven’t reached it yet, but there have been a few nice peaks from which I’ve been more or less able to get a view of what’s coming.
Megan Manning: I agree with Galen that I hopefully haven’t reached it yet, but the feeling of selling out a show and playing to a packed and excited room has been and always will be a high that I chase. So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like? Galen: I'm a meditative rememberer of songs. Most often I start just playing something that feels good. The guitar is relaxing to play. It melts into a drone from which my brain is released. Then I start singing. Sometimes I'll go back and give the lyrics a strong rewrite, and even less often I'll start with lyrics and add music afterwards, but mostly it's just opening a channel. The curation of effective boredom helps.
Megan: Because I don’t play a melodic instrument or do much of the initial skeletal lyric and melody work, my approach involves listening. When a member of the band sends a demo, my first question is, “Do I like this? Do I want to listen to this song as a human with ears?” If the answer is yes (and it usually is because I love my bandmates’ work), my next thought process is “What does this song NEED?”. I try, at least at the start of the process, not to come from a place of what I want, but what the song needs. Sometimes, the drums need to take the reigns. Sometimes, one of the other instruments dictates the rhythm. And sometimes, I play straight from a rock n’ roll gut instinct and that ends up being the best choice. Each song is its own living entity, so you can’t apply the same approach across the board. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be? Galen: For the love of all things rocking and beautiful could you please stop telling me it's not like it was in the 70s? I know the music industry changed. Like all organic things, it's always changing. But I wasn’t around in the 70s so that's never been my dream. Megan: The internet and rise of the DYI musician has replaced challenge of getting your music recorded and distributed with the challenge of being heard in a saturated sea of music available to everyone all the time. How do you a) get someone’s attention and b) hold it? If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why? Galen: I'd like to open for Lori McKenna opening for John Prine. Special guests that night include Tom Waits and Randy Newman. The ghost of Leonard Cohen presides from the balconies. I'm all about the lyrics. Megan: My first instinct here is to list my influences, favorites, and heroes. But that’s quickly followed by crippling anxiety at the thought of having to actually perform in front of those people. Maybe a better and more cartoon villain-ish strategy would be to open for an artist that I despise, give the performance of a lifetime, thus, shaming them and stealing their fans for all eternity!!! ::laughs maniacally while raising two clenched fists.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show? Galen: We run two basic types of rehearsals. We have setlist suffer fests where we are prepping for longer shows. It's a time to review back catalog songs make sure nothing’s getting stale and air out our own insecurities about whether or not we're happy with the parts each instrument is playing. Then there are songwriting rehearsals. Those are much more of a minefield of managing the emotional and creative needs of all the pieces that come together to take a song from a skeletal thing to a performance we are all proud of. When we’re all really listening to each other and taking care of each other, that's when the band can push past our own fears and get at the real meat of a song. Megan: There’s also a lot of inappropriate humor and movie quoting. Why so serious, Galen? Galen: I’m pretending to be appalled you would even suggest I engage in inappropriate humor. Also, dad jokes. Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it! Galen: “Bones” was a really tough song to craft. The subject matter is heavy and you're always trying to find the balance between the details needed for the story and leaving it open enough that other people can put themselves into the scene filling in details with their own life. I'm not looking for complete universal appeal, but it's tricky to manage it. When we first started arranging it we had some real feels about the outtro, but now it's one of my favorite parts. What's coming up in the future? Desiree: We are still supporting our EP Parable that was released in January 2017 and we are working diligently on new music for the next EP, which we plan to start recording in early of 2018. We had a really busy summer of playing shows and hope to carry that on into the new year as well!
Where can fans purchase your music? On most major music outlets and here's a few links.