Horse the Band

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Not to be confused with Band of Horses.
Horse the Band
HTB Photo 1.jpg
Horse the Band in 2009. Pictured from left to right: Nathan Winneke, David Isen, Erik Engstrom, Daniel Pouliot.
Background information
Origin Lake Forest, California, United States
Genres Nintendocore, metalcore, experimental metal, funk metal
Years active 1999–present
Labels Combat, Koch, Pluto, LIF, Vagrant, Roadrunner
Website www.
Members Nathan Winneke
Erik Engstrom
David Isen
Daniel Pouliot
Jeremiah Bignell
Ed Edge
Past members Jason Karuza
Andy Stokes
Risto Renso
Adam Crook
Jason Roberts
Guy Morgensthern
Dashiel Arkenstone
Eli Green
Chris Prophet
Alex Duddy
Michael Benitez

Horse the Band is a band from Lake Forest, California who are best known for their 8-bit Nintendo-influenced sound combined with metalcore. Frontman Nathan Winneke once jokingly described their sound as "Nintendocore," although the band have gone to lengths reiterating that this merely describes the sound, not the substance.


Horse the Band was started in Lake Forest, CA in 1999 while founding members Erik Engstrom and David Isen were attending El Toro High School. The band were originally to be called The Mexican Economy, however in an effort to avoid being viewed as racist, the moniker Horse was eventually adopted. The name had to be altered further to prevent copyright issues from becoming another problem (a woman with the name of "Horse"); leading to the current name: HORSE The Band. The band booked its own pay-to-play tours starting the summer of 2002, including a three-month tour spanning seven countries. With a carefully maintained web presence including their and MySpace accounts, they successfully accrued a minor cult following.

In the summer of 2004, they embarked upon the Horse the World Tour 2004, giving way to 85 shows in 90 days, spanning seven countries throughout North America and Europe. Early 2008 saw the band planning Horse the Band Earth Tour that would travel to 40 countries starting in early March. The band stated "we've become disillusioned, bad-attitude nerds and pariahs of the established music industry. "[1] They asked for their fans' help booking shows in most places, with no intention of bringing other bands with them. The band booked the tour themselves, and played mostly un-promoted shows in 45 countries, starting with Australia and culminating with Ireland. Of the Asian shows, many were performed without financial compensation (short of merchandise sales), leaving the band heavily reliant upon their European shows for financial recompense. Furthermore, roughly 10 percent of the shows "fell through." The band also expressed anxiety regarding some shows, most notably those in Belarus wherein they were the first American band to play there in 5 years (since Cannibal Corpse), but ultimately no problems arose and the shows were a great success, the band even returning there soon after.

The band's lineup has fluctuated continuously throughout its existence. In February 2008, it was announced that Chris Prophet had been fired and that Jon Karel from The Number 12 Looks Like You would be temporarily replacing him on drums for the duration of the Earth Tour. In July 2008 the band stated that long-time band friend Daniel Pouliot of Bleeding Kansas had joined as the band's full-time drummer. On December 3, 2008, the band announced that Dash Arkenstone would be leaving the band, though he remains on good terms with the other members and has since attended local shows. In Dash Arkenstone's absence, Brian Grover (of Thriller) filled in on bass during live shows and contributed to Desperate Living, with Jeremiah Bignell now acting as their permanent bassist.

On February 2, 2009, Horse the Band signed to Vagrant Records. In an interview they stated that they had been trying to get onto that label for nine years.[2]

Horse the Band's latest album Desperate Living was released on October 6, 2009, to wide critical acclaim.[3][4] Due to financial pressure and other life-oriented obstacles, the group are currently taking a break from touring and recording, their first break in over six years. According to rumors, the band-members have stated that Horse the Band is "very healthy," but not especially high on their respective lists of priorities.

In early 2013, it was announced that Horse the Band would be returning to Ieperfest in Belgium, as well as a UK exclusive show at Hevy Music Festival in Kent. A follow up to Earth Tour is also reportedly in progress with Math the Band as a supporting act.

Lyrical concepts[edit]

Horse the Band's lyrics were usually metaphors for vocalist Nathan Winneke's life, often with abstract pop culture reference titles. Winneke has referred to his style on multiple occasions as "Lynchian," in reference to his favorite film director, David Lynch and his obtuse narrative style.

The band jokingly labeled themselves "Nintendocore" very early on in their career in reference to the synth sound they had adopted. Some video game characters that are metaphorically referred to include Cut Man from Mega Man, although the song is spelled "Cutsman" because the song was about a childhood friend Winneke grew up with and that was how they had said the character's name in youth; "Birdo," one of the bosses from the NES game Super Mario Bros. 2, in the song "Birdo" which was actually about Winneke's distaste for eggs and traumatic experiences with his stepfather early in his life; and the rabbit-like nemesis from The Legend of Zelda in the song "Pol's Voice" which is about Winneke's early loathing of the sound of his own voice. Similarly, the song "A Million Exploding Suns" refers to the Marvel Comics character Sentry, a schizophrenic and agoraphobic hero with this abundance of power, pertaining to Winneke's double life as a musician and as a video rental clerk.

2007's A Natural Death featured significant lyrical and musical evolution into the concepts of nature and mortality while moving slightly away from the Nintendo metaphors. The song "Murder" is inspired by the miniseries Lonesome Dove, in which a Native American named Blue Duck stalks and kills white settlers on the plains. "Hyperborea" as a reference to Robert E. Howard's original "Conan" pulp fantasy stories from the 30s, and "The Red Tornado," a DC comics character from the company of which Winneke is such an open enthusiast.

In Horse's Earth Tour saga, Winneke is quoted as saying that nothing the band does is "funny," and he would never leave his family for three months for "funny" or "Nintendocore."

Band members[edit]




  • "A Million Exploding Suns"- The Mechanical Hand
  • "Lord Gold Throneroom"- The Mechanical Hand
  • "Birdo"- The Mechanical Hand
  • "New York City"- A Natural Death
  • "Murder"- A Natural Death
  • "Shapeshift"- Desperate Living



External links[edit]