Interview: The City and Horses

words: Kat Harding

The City and Horses has a brand new album coming out April 21 on Paper Garden Records. The fourth album from the group, led by frontman Marc Cantone, has fast-paced, poppy beats to get you moving (just check out lead single “Shades”) masking lyrics dealing with more serious issues: a boy, a girl, and Marc’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He’s lived with the diagnosis as an adult, becoming a mental health advocate in the meantime. Marc’s day job is as a children’s television producer and his creativity knows no bounds. The music he makes is highly relatable and energetic, sure to become a soundtrack to a summer day, even one where you might be feeling less than 100% -- this would be the thing to perk you back up. The always-entertaining Marc answered some questions for us via email in the weeks leading up to the album release. Check out what he had to say and then preorder the album here.  

The Grey Estates (Kat) : Tell us about the inspiration for the new album.

Marc: Ruins is basically about how OCD--and mental illness in general--can ruin, or potentially ruin, so many things in our lives. From relationships, to jobs, to friendships, to anything it can get its grubby little hands on. For me, for this album, the ruins it left behind were a relationship. And when it was done with that, a good part of my free will. That's sounds super dramatic. And, obviously, I'm doing OK. But this shit plays a number on all of us. And sometimes it feels so real that it warrants such dramatic talk. Or an entire indie pop album.  

You're a seasoned vet; this is your 4th album. How did the songwriting/recording process differ for this album? What have you learned along the way?

Are you calling me old? The songwriting hasn't changed all that much. I write the songs, make demos in Garageband on my iPhone and then send them to the group. But recording has changed a little. While we still record at The Bunker Studio with producer Aaron Nevezie, this time it was more of a band effort. Previous records the songs were more pieced together with lots of overdubs from lots of different people. This time the full band played on most of the songs and I think you can tell. It's a bit more organic. Like a Williamsburg bodega.  

You're a mental health advocate and have struggled with OCD. How does that impact your day-to-day as an artist and musician?

It impacts everything I do every minute of the day. As anyone who struggles with this stuff will tell you, it can wear you down. It's probably why I'm tired all the time. That or because I don't drink coffee. But it's important to talk about and let other people struggling know that they're not alone.  

What are you listening to lately? Any upcoming albums you're excited about?

This is going to sound super nerdy but I listen to a lot of what world-renowned dorks call "Old Time Radio" or OTR. And that's just old radio shows from the 1930-50s. Basically podcasts before the pods. Anything and everything Orson Welles ever did from The Mercury Theater on the Air to The Adventures of Harry Lime is just brilliant. But you probably meant bands. White Shoes and the Couples Company (whose bass player Ricky Virgana wrote and arranged strings on "Ruins"), The Chi-Lites, and The Pogues. I don't listen to much new stuff. I need to get better at that. Do you have any recommendations?  

What's your favorite song on the album?

It's probably "Berlin." It's me trying to be Mojave 3. Don't know if I pulled it off but I do like how it turned out. I want to make more songs like that. Hey, it just occurred to me that Mojave 3 is one of the bands I'm talking about in the line, "I shared some bands with you that you don't deserve." I turned this girl onto Mojave 3 and then I ruined things with her. And wrote an album about it.

What are your upcoming plans?

I have to start exercising. I need to drop off my laundry. There's a banana peel on my nightstand that I have to throw out. Oh, for the band?  We're working on some new music vids for the album, including teaming with the French performance artists who made some of our previous music videos. Playing a handful of shows over the next couple months. Working with our label Paper Garden Records and manager Amanda Van West to promote the record any way that we can outside of going on tour. Which I'd love to do but I have a full-time job producing videos and writing songs for a kids TV network that keeps us from hitting the road. And then I just want to start recording the next record. And we have plans to make an EP of old soul and Motown songs.  And then make of a musical based off some OTR (just kidding but that's not a bad idea!) OK, I have to get rid of this banana peel now.