MICHAEL PATE (ELECTRIC BLACK HORSE) INTERVIEW:
March 12, 2012
Electric Black Horse is a New York City rock band in an exciting place at the moment. They have a new self-titled debut album oozing with seventies sleaze rock and have released their first single and video, “Capricorn Girl”. In addition to their new venture they are planning a tour, to record more music, and “drink Champagne.” I had a chance to discuss their debut album, their writing process, and New York City with lead vocalist and guitarist, Michael Pate.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell us about Electric Black Horse.
Michael Pate: We’re a rock and roll band in the grand tradition of rock and roll bands. Formed in January of 2011, we’re a wonderful mix of ‘sparkle and balls’ — we hit hard and true. Electric Black Horse is myself, Michael Pate, on lead vocals and guitar, Merx on lead guitar, JT Hardy on bass guitar, and Shane Considine on drums.
Sleaze Roxx: Your music is a fresh take on seventies rock and roll. What about influences? In “Roses” and “Cheap Party Favors” I imagine this is how The New York Dolls would sound today, while “Koke Rock” has a Rolling Stones vibe.
Michael Pate: I absolutely worship at the altar of late 60’s-70’s rock and roll for sure! KISS, Queen, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, T.Rex, Slade, David Bowie w/ Mick Ronson, the Alice Cooper Band, The Kinks, Black Sabbath, The Jimi Hendrix Experience… let me stop because you know, we could keep going. I love 70’s glam rock because, to me, the songwriting was far superior to what was going on in the 80’s. That being said… Vain is a huge influence — best sleaze band EVER! It’s interesting you mention the New York Dolls because although I’m very aware of who they are, I don’t have any of their records. I gotta remedy that.
Sleaze Roxx: Describe the song writing process for the band, also specific to the lyrics. You often balance ‘light’ rock and roll with dark undertones — care to elaborate where this comes from?
Michael Pate: I wrote all the songs and recorded the album about four months before the band was formed. I used the finished record to find people that actually wanted to play with me. I had formed Electric Black Horse with another guy and we gave a deposit to Stacy O’ Dell (who produced the record) with the intent of making a full length album. The other guy wound up wanting to do his own thing and since the Electric Black Horse name was mine, I was left with a deposit and only four songs. Stacy asked me if had 10 songs (which I didn’t) and if I wanted to forge ahead and make the album alone. So I just blurted out, “Of course! I have 10 songs! Let’s do this!” All I had at the time was “Koke Rock”, “Birthday Bitch”, “Capricorn Girl” and “Freeman.” I did all the vocals, guitar and bass while Stacy played the drums and a few little piano and organ parts.
Concerning the lyrics, I like that contrast of a darker lyric with an uppity beat and melody. Cheap Trick is really great at that and I totally cop from them every chance I get… Alice Cooper too.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of “Cheap Party Favors”, the lyrics paint a dark picture of Hollywood. Have you had any bad experiences, or is it just a general dislike?
Michael Pate: Oh, Hollywood! I like Hollywood just fine. The city gave birth to a scene that went down in history. The Doors, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Jane’s Addiction, Guns and Roses… so, much respect. People out there are just… well, different. I’ve always been partial to San Francisco (Vain!) and Northern California, folks up there are more like New Yorkers in my eyes. The women are beautiful AND intelligent!
“Cheap Party Favors” I wrote in response to all the ‘celebutantes’ who just can’t handle the money and fame — specifically, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hliton came to mind while penning the lyrics. When we play it live, I always dedicate it to Lindsay Lohan and say that I hope she doesn’t wind up dead — so there are good intentions involved! It’s my favorite to play live and it’s become a crowd favorite.
Sleaze Roxx: All of the tracks complement each other in a great way, to create a full album. In this day of ‘download my single’ it’s very rare to find a solid album without ‘filler’. Was there a conscious intent to put out such a complete album? How did you decide on the songs, did a lot of get cut or was the track listing planned out from the beginning?
Michael Pate: I have to tip my hat to the few groups nowadays who don’t distribute digitally… AC/DC is sticking to their guns and I have so much respect for that. I grew up on the ‘album’ format and I went in making this record in that mindset. However, I’m realistic too. AC/DC is a ‘legacy’ group with a near 40 year career with a deep fan base. Electric Black Horse isn’t getting away with no downloading! I’m an album guy — I still buy CD’s religiously. I like to hold the case while I’m listening, I like to read the liner notes and look at the art. Myself and my brother, graphic artist David Rodriguez (who designed the Electric Black Horse logo), put a lot of thought into the packaging of this album knowing full well that it would most likely be overlooked. I don’t care — I had to do it for me. Well, me and the other diehards who appreciate that kind of thing.
Every song on the album is less than five minutes long, the majority being less than four minutes. I wanted the album to be over and the listener to want to replay it immediately… The ole ‘in and out’! Leave them wanting more — 10 songs, no more! I don’t even have an attention span that long. Heavy on hooks, no filler… no throwaways. There were no ‘leftover’ tracks. If I don’t dig something I’m writing, I leave it alone for later or scrap it completely and start over. If it’s taking too long to write, it probably isn’t any good anyway. The song “Forever” was purposely put as the closer and is our take on Electric Honky Tonk — a sweet, country send off. I love Country music!
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s go local and discuss New York City. How do you see the current rock situation in NYC?
Michael Pate: Bloody fucking dismal — that’s the situation (laughs)! No really, there’s a million ‘bands’ in the city… and 95% of them are from Williamsburg/Park Slope. Young, hungry bands can’t afford to live in Manhattan. It’s weird, the ‘scene’, I dunno… I don’t feel that Electric Black Horse is a big part of it. On one side you have a sea of hipster bands which basically consist of four or five guys/girls that look like they just got off work or walked out of rehearsal — lots of beards and glasses, B.O. and bad breath, $75 t-shirts, Casio keyboards and organic beer. On the other end of the spectrum, there are bands in love with the 80’s hair-band look, but playing Judas Priest style metal. There are also Lower East Side rockers who are constantly reminding you that they’re ‘NYC born and bred all the Way’ but all the guys are from out of town! In the middle there’s everybody else. I think we’re in the middle somewhere.
I purposely don’t bill us as an ‘NYC band’ because it’s not true to begin with and I think it’s a lame grasp for some kind of credibility. Electric Black Horse is from Earth, that’s all you need to know! We get all dressed up, in the grand tradition of 60’s-70’s inspired rock and roll. We’re not trying to be campy, it’s more about pomp and circumstance than camp — setting a tone. We’re putting a show on without the music taking a backseat. We look and sound amazing — it’s genuine… not so serious, but very genuine. You paid your money, you traveled to the venue, and you get a show. We don’t stare at our shoes that’s for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: What is your favorite NYC band?
Michael Pate: Electric Black Horse! Really, it’s an honor and a pleasure to play with three other like-minded, creative, professional rock and roll gentlemen. I’m in the band I most want to see, that’s why I’m doing this. I actually do like a lot of bands here in NYC, they’re all good friends, so let me name drop a bit. Killcode, who gave Electric Black Horse a great head start by putting us on their shows early on — wonderful guys they are consummate pros and put on a great show. Kore Rozzik, a real character who also brought us into a few shows and works hard putting on a great show. Mancie, a female fronted act, that absolutely rock. 10 Ton Mojo, Honor Among Thieves, Panzie…
Sleaze Roxx: Favorite song about NYC?
Michael Pate: “New York, New York” as performed by Francis Albert Sinatra, a relatively unknown singer that really deserves more attention in my eyes and “Take the A Train” by Duke Ellington.
Sleaze Roxx: Favorite NYC hangout?
Michael Pate: 3 Of Cups is nice little saloon downtown, my buddy Mick Royale spins a ton of sleazy rock there and always plays some Electric Black Horse. He’s a huge supporter and I love him. Duff’s Brooklyn in Williamsburg is also a great place to get ‘zooted’. Jimmy Duff is a lovely guy… we’re working on getting the album into that legendary jukebox!
Sleaze Roxx: Drink of choice?
Michael Pate: “Champagne On Ice”… one of our new tunes and absolutely my adult beverage of choice.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s next for Electric Black Horse?
Michael Pate: We’re going back to the studio this summer, as a band this time. It’s very exciting — bigger out of town shows, license some music to film/TV, warm up some national acts, get ourselves over to the UK and Scandinavian countries, blow minds, add more glitter, turn up louder, drink champagne, induct KISS to the Rock and Roll Hall and trip the light fantastic.
Sleaze Roxx: Ten years from now your band has blown up… in one sentence, how will VH1 describe Electric Black Horse on Behind The Music?
Michael Pate: They brought sexy back to rock and roll and kept it there.
Sleaze Roxx: Thank you Michael, any closing words?
Michael Pate: David, thank you for this amazing opportunity to wax poetic about myself and spread the rock and roll love of Electric Black Horse. Now let us thrust forth with the majesty of ROCK AND ROLL!