Pleasure Horse on South Dakota, not being "100% honky" and country's evolution

Categories: Q&A
Pleasure_Horse_Cyn_Collins.jpg
Photo by Cyn Collins
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Pleasure Horse is a new local '70s outlaw/cosmic country style outfit. Four of the six members of Pleasure Horse grew up in South Dakota and attended college there -- which lends to their affinity for, and the quality of country music and harmonies they perform. Pleasure Horse play mostly originals in the vein of the country music they grew up with and a few covers of outlaw greats, such as Tom T. Hall.They debuted at drinking dive Palmer's Bar in early summer, and are playing their third show underground at Hell's Kitchen Thursday for InBoil's CD release.

Tim Evenson, formerly with The Flying Dorito Brothers, graduated from University of South Dakota in Music Studies in 2011 and moved here shortly after. Darin Dahlmaier studied graphic arts in Brookings, and also moved here after school. Gimme Noise had a chance to talk with them over beers at the 331 Club about what it means to perform country music in the city, and how growing up and playing in bands in rural South Dakota where there's not much to do but drink and not many musicians to play with, brought them here.

Members of Pleasure Horse are Tim Evenson (guitar, vocals, earlier with Flying Dorito Brothers), Darin Dahlmaier (bass, also in Hot Freaks), Joel Schmitz (drums, also in Buffalo Moon, and the Burglars), Ben Mahowald (guitar, harmony vocals), and Shannon Thompson and Natalie Klemz on trumpets.

What is Pleasure Horse musically? How did you form?

Tim Evenson: I've been trying to generate a country band for years. I played with a bunch of different people when I was going to school in South Dakota, trying to get something together, little recording projects.

It's country music. I'm trying to model it after a '70s Outlaw or Cosmic Country vibe -- that was in the early 70s. I think Cosmic Country was more of a Gram Parsons kind of thing joining rock 'n' roll with the old Louvin Brothers kind of folk/country music. Trying to create this electric country sound. It's not 100 percen honky! (Everyone laughs). It has elements of rock n roll in it.

Other influences are Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie, Waylon and all those guys. The '70s, when the rednecks and the hippies kind of collided. That's the idea of what I write towards or look to for ideas.

Darin, what brings you to this band?

Darin Dahlmaier: I was at a party and these guys were looking for somebody to play bass and I play bass, so I forced myself in.

TE: The creation of the band has revolved around me meeting with people individually at first and getting everyone to learn the songs, and finding people who like country music but haven't necessarily played it before in a band. So when we're all playing together we're learning together to create a different sound than if we were from Nashville or something.

I don't want it to be me as a singer/songwriter with a band, I want it to be a band. There were practices where we've had everybody there, they all have input in figuring out how the songs work best.

Do you think growing up in South Dakota has influence on your songwriting and your approach?

TE: Yeah, absolutely! Especially moving here from a rural area, its kind of this clash of two fairly different cultures and demeanors.

DD: Yeah, growing up in South Dakota -- I grew up on a farm -- you have that essence . . . there's stuff like this, but there's not the same feel . . .

TE: Now living here a year, its great -- there are a lot of great musicians who are friends I hang out with. It seemed like it was a lot easier to fast track things. Its great having people around who can play instruments . . . I went to school in South Dakota for six years, I did stuff there as well, but it was more like getting together out of boredom. Maybe not everyone could play something, but they tried. It was more of a party atmosphere there playing music.

What about your interest in playing outlaw country, Darin?

DD: Honestly, mine comes from my grandpa and riding around with him and his 8-tracks. Its something I never really explored or dug deep into. Its something I've always been interested in, but I like the idea of it. There's nothing pretentious about playing outlaw country. It is what it is. It feels honest. When you find that sound, it's like a weird nostalgic thing. It has that for me.

Tell us about the other guys' history . . .

DD: Ben, who's playing guitar with me and singing . . . I didn't really know, but when it was known I was looking for a country guitar player, friends said, "Oh, this guy!" We get along really well. He's got a great musical ear, can pick up on it. He plays banjo and mandolin. He'll play those and lap steel. Just having someone that can do all that will be great. In the bands I'd been in previously that was me. Now I have to sing and play guitar, so having that other person who can be expressive will be nice, not having to write the parts for him . . . he's a great songwriter.

What do you feel -- besides the obvious difference of Gram Parsons covers -- is different about this band than the Flying Dorito Brothers?

TE: The Flying Dorito Brothers were more about having fun, kind of a party, just sort of going with it. The practices . . . we weren't 't writing intricate parts, we were just kind of playing and it worked because it was cover songs.

The core of this group is smaller so the importance of musical knowledge and ability to craft new ideas is more important than drinking and having a good time. Though that's part of it too!

With Flying Dorito Brothers, a band of eight people, we'd talked about doing originals because I had songs, Mark had songs, and other people had songs. But we were like "how are we going to incorporate this entire huge group into this?" It would've been an incredible amount of work. We got together a couple times a week; everyone's playing together and then perform.

You both are from South Dakota . . . is anyone else from the band from there?

TE: Actually everyone in the band except for the trumpet players is from South Dakota!


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