Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 09th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Why the Caged Bird Sings

music_AnHorseUFOs, gender confusion and a canary from hell—An Horse’s Kate Cooper tells all
My phone conversation with guitarist/vocalist Kate Cooper is off to one hell of a start. Rocking a likeable Aussie accent, she’s just informed me, “We’re driving through the desert, and there are UFOs everywhere.”

This, of course, raises an important question—“Huh?” Cooper clarifies: she and Damon Cox, the other half of her Sleater-Kinney/Tegan and Sara-influenced indie-rock band An Horse, have just driven past Gila, Arizona’s quaintly decorated Best Western Space Age Lodge.

Cooper’s lighthearted banter comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise, given the sometimes gut-wrenching nature of the material on An Horse’s latest album, Walls: various songs address topics ranging from relationship turmoil to the removal of a brain tumor. The pair, who have opened for such acts as Death Cab for Cutie, Silversun Pickups, Cage the Elephant and the aforementioned Tegan and Sara, will play many of these new tunes live at The Crepe Place on Friday.

Part of the angst captured on Walls can probably be attributed to the misdeeds of a sinister canary named Peter, who attempted to sabotage the album during the early stages of its creation. “Peter,” it seems, was actually something of a misnomer: Cooper’s girlfriend had bought the bird thinking it was a boy—a misconception that Peter soon dispelled by laying eggs.

But there was more bothersome evidence of the canary’s true gender: rather than singing mellifluously as males of the species do, she made an irritating, high-pitched tweet. When she began singing along to Cooper’s guitar while the vocalist was recording the demos for Walls, Peter’s shenanigans went from merely annoying to flat-out maddening. “She started to make my life hell,” Cooper recalls, adding that she soon renamed the bird Uncle Pete after an evil character on the TV show Damages.

The duo submitted their new demos—canary tweets and all—to producer Howard Redekopp, who compiled a list of 18 songs for potential inclusion on Walls. As it happens, Cooper felt that five of the songs Howard had picked were “rubbish.” “But that’s the beauty of having a producer: you want them to have fresh ears and hear what you can’t hear,” she says.

One supposed “rubbish” song that made the cut, was the album’s title track. Cooper explains that the song “Walls” was born at least in part from the frustration of dealing with bureaucracy while traveling. “A lot of the time during the writing, and even after the record was written, I felt like I was banging my head against the wall,” she says. “Sometimes I just feel like I’ve literally banged my head against the wall for hours, and I’m bleeding. Obviously it’s dramatic, but that’s where it comes from.”

Another source of ongoing frustration for Cooper is the insistence of journalists on asking about the origin of her band’s unusual name. When I assure her I won’t be subjecting her to that question, she expresses sincere gratitude. “I feel like other bands don’t get asked [that question] as much,” she laments. “Like, what the fuck is Death Cab for Cutie? That’s a crazy name! But I’ve never read the explanation behind it, you know? But I swear, every second interview, it’s like, ‘Where did you get the name?’ And I’m like, ‘You know what? Google it.’ But I never say that.”

For those dying to know where the name comes from, it all started with a grammatical dispute Cooper once had with … well, hell, you know what? Google it.

An Horse plays at 9 p.m. Friday, June 10 at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Done Beginner and Grizzel Toe open. Tickets are $9/adv, $11/door. For more information, call 429- 6994.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Hot in Here

This ain’t no Burning Man—the MAH’s GLOW festival flames on


Mercury Direct in Libra, Columbus Day, Libra New Moon

Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 9

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Seoul Food

Santa Cruz’s new Sesame Korean is a great introduction to an ancient culinary tradition


Is there evil in the world?

Yes, some people don’t think right because they have been treated badly. Milo Robbins, Scotts Valley, Second Grade


Dos Aguilas Olive Oil

Aptos company is letting locals pick their own olives in October


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist