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Non-Prog Interviews

Last Charge of the Light Horse

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Last Charge of the Light Horse from 2015
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?

Pemberton Roach: My mother plays the piano and the recorder as a hobby and my father worked in radio for 50 years. He played country music records in the house my entire life and sometimes took me to concerts. I started playing music myself at age twelve because some other kids in my school who were cooler than me started a band and I wanted to hang out with them. I caught the bug and have since played in over 100 bands in virtually every style imaginable, from metal to bluegrass to performing with a ventriloquist.

Jean-Paul Vest: My father, David Vest, is a blues/boogie-woogie pianist (two-time Canadian Maple Blues award winner for Keyboard Player of the Year), and there was always music playing in our house. I started with piano lessons at 10. It was all classical stuff; my teacher had no interest in anything else, which was something I didn’t come to appreciate until much later. When I was 13, we lived abroad for a year, and I picked up the guitar sort of by default, since there wasn’t a piano around.

The band came together in 2004. At that time, it was a trio, with myself and the father-son rhythm section of Artie and A.J. Riegger. The lineup changed over the years, with Bob Stander joining in on guitar after producing our first two albums. Bob has played with so many people, it’s impossible to list them all. Shawn later joined on drums, having played with Willie DeVille and many others. And I think it was only a matter of time until Pemberton stepped in on bass. He and I have played in a half a dozen bands together since college.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Pemberton Roach: Perhaps working as a writer or journalist or historical researcher or maybe in a trade.

Jean-Paul Vest: I’m a graphic designer by day.

MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?
Jean-Paul Vest: It was the confluence of a few things: partly a tip of the cap to George Harrison and his Dark Horse label, and to Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli. Also it’s a reminder to myself to play each show as if it was the last.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Pemberton Roach: I have thousands and thousands of records so that's tough but my earliest childhood/teenage influences are 60s/70s country music, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, KISS, Jimi Hendrix, and Santana. I should also mention that JP was and continues to be a huge influence on me musically; I have always enjoyed his music in every incarnation, whether I was playing with him or not. He's my favorite lyricist. 

Jean-Paul Vest: Thanks, Pem! Growing up, it was the Byrds, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and the Who. Later on it was early R.E.M., Husker Dü, Lloyd Cole, Miracle Legion, and the Replacements. These days I’m listening to Radiohead, Louis Cole, Kathleen Edwards, Sonny Rollins, Queens of the Stone Age, and the list goes on. Joni Mitchell should be in there somewhere.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Pemberton Roach: More music.

Jean-Paul Vest: More music. And surviving parenthood; my oldest just got his learner’s permit.

MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Pemberton Roach: Just rock with an emphasis on the lyrics.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Pemberton Roach: Anyone who writes great songs.
MSJ:
Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Pemberton Roach: A hindrance in the sense that the industry of people making money directly from the sales of recorded music is now coming to a close as a result. The technology that allows illegal downloading has been a help in that some parts of the process of making music (easily accessing and sharing songs to learn in cover bands, etcetera) have become exponentially easier.
MSJ:
In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

 Pemberton Roach: I was a fan of the Grateful Dead, and I liked the community aspect of tape-trading and amateur recording that existed in that culture, but I find the phenomenon of everyone taping shows on their cell phones rather than being "present" robs audience members of the full visceral experience of live music.

Jean-Paul Vest: So many bands have live performances with multi-camera, professionally shot video on YouTube, I don’t really see the point of recording shows on a phone. But I suppose if I lived somewhere off the beaten path, where I didn’t have access to live performances by my favorite bands, then I might see that a bit differently.

MSJ:
If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Pemberton Roach: Probably "Click Track Man."
MSJ:
If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Pemberton Roach: I played this game many times at the school lunch table growing up, but bands are mystical and often counterintuitive combinations so it's impossible to predict what would work. That said, I have always been particularly intrigued by the idea of what might have come from the supposedly proposed pre-ELP collaboration between Jimi Hendrix, Greg Lake, and Keith Emerson.

Jean-Paul Vest: It would be Miracle Legion. I was never happier than when I was standing in the audience at one of their shows.

MSJ:
If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Pemberton Roach: The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. 

 

Jean-Paul Vest: Yeah, pretty hard to beat that combo.

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Pemberton Roach: This past week I've been obsessed with a song and video called "Easy Mistake" by a singer-songwriter named “David Corley.” I've also been really enjoying what I've heard from the newest Spottiswoode & His Enemies album.

Jean-Paul Vest: Marcus Miller’s Afrodeezia - and I love the first single from James McMurtry’s “Complicated Game.” Can’t wait to hear the rest of that.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Pemberton Roach: Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Pemberton Roach: A show by my friend Bob D'haene.

Jean-Paul Vest: It was a songwriters in the round show, with Mark Newman, David Berg, and Dave Diamond.

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

Pemberton Roach: I would never feel guilty about listening to music but I probably gave up my "cool" status when I started a modern country music tribute band. 

Jean-Paul Vest: At the moment, it’s The Preatures.

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Pemberton Roach: I've played thousands of shows all over the world so there are too many to list! I once fell off the stage at the Cutting Room in NYC and another time accidentally pulled my bandmate's wig off when it became stuck on the tuning peg of my bass. 

Jean-Paul Vest: That would probably be my attempt to play an all-acoustic gig at CBGBs between two hardcore acts. Remember what the acronym stands for: Country, Bluegrass, and Blues! But that turned out not to have been a good idea. The levels of feedback were pretty spectacular.

MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Pemberton Roach: Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde, and Eckhart Tolle 

Jean-Paul Vest: My two grandfathers. They were both amazing people, and now, as an adult, I have questions that I never thought to ask as a child.

MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Pemberton Roach: Good Italian food and wine. 

Jean-Paul Vest: Definitely French food!

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Pemberton Roach: Art is not just disposable entertainment or "content" but rather an essential a part of the fabric of life; I'd like to see that fact more often acknowledged and appreciated in our American culture as it often is in some other parts of the world. 

Jean-Paul Vest: Thanks for having us!

 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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