Secret South, 16 Horsepower’s third album was released in 2000 on Glitterhouse records and the band played their first Irish show on March 21, 2001. The gig started with the track American Wheeze and just thinking about the sound that David Eugene Edwards managed to elicit from his Chemnitzer concertina still sends shivers down my spine. I still regard this as one of the greatest gigs I've ever witnessed. Before the gig I interviewed David Eugene Edwards for the long defunct Zeitgeist magazine. The article is below.
16 Horsepower feature two Americans (David Eugene Edwards and Steven Taylor) and two Frenchmen (Jean-Yves Tola and Pascal Humbert), and the band has been fusing Appalachian folk with intelligent post-punk since 1992. The band signed to A&M in 1995 and released two albums for the label (1996’s Sackcloth & Ashes and 1998’s Low Estate). When A&M was taken over by Universal the band were let go, one imagines confused record company executives trying to figure out how to market a band that play traditional instruments (concertina, banjo, hurdy-gurdy, mandolin and upright bass) but who sound as intense as Joy Division or Nick Cave. Glitterhouse are soon to release a live album, Hoarse, that was recorded in Denver and Paris and features songs culled from the first two records together with three covers: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising, Joy Division’s Day Of The Lords and The Gun Club’s Free Spirit. The album is nothing less then astonishing. I spoke to David Eugene Edwards and asked him about the live album and the band:
“People were always asking for it, you know, pretty much since we started people were like 'Oh, ye should make a live record', and I don’t really care for live records, to tell you the truth so I had never really thought about it but people kept talking about it so we said OK and I haven’t really heard it ‘cause I can’t even listen to it. We were just making it available for the people who came to the shows, as something special, that only they could get there, but then they started selling it through the mailing list at Glitterhouse and it did well enough so now they’re releasing it everywhere.”
16 Horsepower's sound:
“I’m a modern person, I live in the world that we live in but at the same time I’m really drawn to things that are from the past. Pretty much as far back as I can go, especially with music – I’ve always had an interest in traditional music from all over the world, primarily Appalachian music was really important to me for a long time but at the same time I like heavy music as well so I think that the music we make is a mixture of the two. I can’t really put myself fully in to one or the other so I kind of mix them I guess.”
“It’s just particular songs that I really like and it doesn’t make a difference to me where they come from and what type of music it is – if it’s a good song, then it’s a good song. We don’t play cover songs that often; it’s just something that we’ve recently started to do, for fun really. We just chose songs that have some meaning to us that we think we can do it some justice to as far as playing them.”