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California's HORSE the Band debuted in 2003 with R. Borlax, a noisy but undoubtedly leading light in the burgeoning post-hardcore subgenre of Nintendocore (wherein musicians use specific instruments to mimic the sounds of Nintendo games). They returned in 2005 with Mechanical Hand, which was produced by Matt Bayles (Isis, Norma Jean) and released through the Koch imprint Combat. Nathan Winneke (vocals), Erik Engstrom (keys), Eli Green (drums), David Isen (guitar), and Dashiell Arkenstone (bass) proved much tighter a unit, incorporating skewed melodies and real dynamics into their freaky sonic stew. However, besides the nods to recognizable structure, HORSE the Band were still mostly enamored of screamo breaks, unpredictable rhythms, Locust-like nonsense philosophy on the microphone, and blasts of squelch. They were also humorously unpredictable; when asked to cite a reason for dropping out of a summer tour in 2006, the band explained that they were in Chicago eating pizza, and the food was simply too good to leave. Later that year, HORSE the Band continued the joke by releasing the Pizza EP (comprised of five odes to the Italian food). 2007 saw the release of the band's third full-length, A Natural Death, which also featured replacement drummer Chris Prophet. Desperate Living, the band's fourth full-length studio album, arrived in 2009. ~ Johnny Loftus & Andrew Leahey