The student-run Revolution FM of Western Kentucky University hosted an annual event two weeks ago dubbed Revfest; its purpose to bring together the best music acts from within the area. This year was their first presentation of a "Battle of the Bands" competition, featuring 10 groups and over 200 attendees who all came together in enjoyment of the activities and damn fine weather. By the day's end, experimental rock outfit Technology vs. Horse took home the grand prize: two days of recording time at Greyskull Recordings; artist of the week on WWHR 91.7; a photoshoot, bio and logo from yellowberri.com; and a pre-headliner slot at Mayhem 2010.
Shortly after the victory, guitarist Rafe Heltsley confessed his doubts to the university’s student newspaper, the Herald. "Going in we didn't think we had a chance in hell of winning. I was banking on The Black Shades."
Though the success hasn’t left them feeling like badasses, frontman Michael Farmer says that they have justified their existence. From being once known as Bowling Green’s most alienating band to significant festival winners, this is definitely a huge deal. And they have worked hard to get there.
TVH’s accessibility could differ from person to person, but one thing I stress about this band is originality. In the past I’ve tried to pinpoint their sound with comparisons to artists considered to be “avant-garde,” but there really isn’t anything vaguer than that. Clothing irons with spikes on the bottom are avant-garde. Taking a piss on another man for the sake of power could be avant-garde. But a comparison of music with avant-garde is a circular statement of redundancy that doubles back to labeling ‘Music’ as a genre. For Technology vs. Horse, there simply isn’t one to put them in. This trait alone has already put them above numerous throwaway bands that start up with only commercial glory in their eyes, duplicating styles already heard many times before. “I really like to focus on things we haven’t done,” says bassist Matt Bitner. Although veins of punk, hip-hop and progressive rock are noticeable throughout their albums, they remain a band of genuine musical expression rather than of a particular genre or style.
Throughout their five years of activity, the band has released three full-length albums. Their most recent record, Bearula: The Bear Dracula, is a concept album about how Dracula was actually an albino black bear. Following in the spirit of bizarre titles, a new release called Potential Pleasure Device will be planned for dispatch early next year. According to Bitner, who has mixed their albums in the past, the new record is approximately 63% complete. Now with freshly written material and free studio time at Greyskull, it’s hard not to expect anything but pure magic.
It remains unspoken and unfair that out-of-town acts can't easily land a gig as much as our Louisville-based groups. While playing shows consistently is the tried and true method to gain a following, finding free time to travel and money to invest aren't things TVH can take advantage of as freely as others. It’s still an early stage in their career, but I feel like Technology vs. Horse play the kind of music that needs to be heard and truly can't be appreciated until seen live. For those who aren’t able to make it to their upcoming gig at Derby City Espresso on November 20th, it’s a damn shame. Until then- book these guys, seriously!
From left- Rafe Heltsley, David Prater, Matt Bitner, Mike Farmer, Josh Hines.
Photos: Myspace/Daniel Peach