When the rumors started to swirl last year, they were a little hard to believe at first. Was deadhorse, the Houston death/thrash band that amassed a large and loyal following in the early '90s, really going to show up and play a gig at Warehouse Live? It had been nearly 15 years since the group had called it quits. Some skeptical fans couldn't help but wonder: Was it actually possible that the horse could ride again?
As it turned out, it was. Not only did the band come galloping back strong, but they even managed to collect video evidence of their own life after death. On Saturday, deadhorse takes over the Engine Room -- another blast from the city's headbanging past -- to celebrate the release of a brand-new live DVD, the appropriately titled "Making a deadhorse LIVE!"
While the band's return last year was certainly welcome, it all remained a bit puzzling: Why now? The mysterious circumstances surrounding the band's apparent resurrection -- albeit without original guitarist and vocalist Mike Haaga -- weighed on our minds. So Rocks Off called up bassist Allen "Alpo" Price and started asking questions.
"I don't know if there's really an answer to, 'Why now?'" Price says. "Everyone was finally a go, and there wasn't really any rhyme or reason to when and why, it was just like, 'Hell, let's do this.' We got together for a rehearsal, and it really sounded great.
"I mean, it really sounded better than, I think, we had ever sounded at a practice," he adds. "So, there was really a lot of enthusiasm about it."
In addition to being a prime opportunity to blow fans' minds anew, Price notes that last year's Warehouse gig also proved to be an opportunity to fulfill a long-held goal.
"We always wanted to put out a video years ago, and we actually did a lot of stuff to do it, but it never really materialized," he says. "When we were doing the reunion show last year, we looked into doing a live recording of it. The guy that actually produced our BOIL(ing) and Feed Me albums came down with the company to run our sound and brought a live recording rig with him. Then another friend of ours, Garrett McCall from Texas City, wanted to shoot us with, like, four or five cameras.
"With all the stuff we ended up with, we decided to put out a full-length video instead of trying to put out a live CD," Price adds. "It really kind of came about just because of the success of our show last year."
Put simply, the DVD was a good move. The production is excellent, and the band sounds as tight as ever on tracks from throughout its history -- well-rehearsed and enthusiastic. Haaga is missed, but not as much as he might've been, thanks to the work of BOIL(ing)-era guitarist Scott Sevall and a completely new face: Singer Mike Argo.
While some fans immediately cast a critical eye on the newcomer, Argo more than proves that he's got the leather-lunged vocal chops to pull off a proper deadhorse show on the DVD. More than that, his presence made the reunion palatable to the rest of the band, says Price.
"Whenever we got back together and started playing some songs, none of us wanted to sing," he said. "And learning things as you grow older, you learn you should do a few things bad-ass instead of doing a bunch of things half-ass. We decided we needed to get a good singer so we can do our guitar parts bad-ass and have somebody cover the vocals bad-ass instead of trying to piecemeal it all out like we used to."
As to the relative mystery surrounding the singer's identity heading into last year's reunion, Price says it was by design.
"Houston's a tough crowd," he says. "They're used to good food and good music, and if it doesn't come across that way, they don't turn out for very long. So, with [Argo], we wanted him to come out and be on top from the get-go rather than have people try to pick him apart and figure out too much about him beforehand.
"But in this last year as we played through Texas, we've been able to grow and get really tight and have fun onstage, which was kind of a karma thing that was really nice," adds Price. "We all get along really well now."
Many of those gigs across the state are represented on the DVD, as well. In addition to the full-length Warehouse show, the disc also includes clips from appearances at Ft. Worth's Rail Club and Austin's Red 7, as well as the group's sets at Fun Fun Fun Fest last year and at the When We Ruled H-Town showcase this summer. There's even a full-band interview that Price hopes will answer some of the lingering questions about the group's career.
But while a celebration of the past is all well and good, is there any future for deadhorse? Or is this release intended to serve as a capstone on the band's recording career, drawing its legacy to a close?
"We actually were really debating," Price says. "We were trying to book some shows to support this DVD, and we thought, 'Well, what do we really want to do this year?' We decided to really take until probably about March to write at least five or six new songs, if not more, and actually put out a new release.
"We learned by example that you never quit your daytime job, and at this age, we can't really do that, anyway," he adds. "But I wouldn't be surprised if we stick around and do some stuff."
Oh. Well, holy shit. Have fun going insane with anticipation for that, we guess. In the meantime, fans can keep busy by scouring the DVD for the never-before-seen content that the band has hidden in easter eggs.
"People are really going to have to work on finding the hidden content on the DVD," Price said. "But if you play PlayStation very much, you should be able to figure it out. Once they find it, I think they'll really enjoy it."
Some bands just can't be happy without a few secrets, it seems.
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With Blunt Force Trauma, Squadryn, Demon Driver, Bleeding by Example, Shaving Susie, The Black 13 and Diminished, 6 p.m. Saturday at the Engine Room, 1515 Pease.