Glimpses of the South Florida Scene: Sweet Bronco
of the South Florida Sceneis a weekly column devoted to the
artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring
interviews with the folks making it happen. This week, Fort Lauderdale's Sweet Bronco.
Chris Horgan laid the foundation for Sweet Bronco some years
ago, exclusively playing acoustic solo sets of his own recordings. We
were privy to one of these at the Dewars' house party, a kind of memento
of the act prior to its becoming a three-piece. It was sweet and smartly executed, which is the kind of base a
solo-act-turned-band requires before it becomes brilliant. This is where
Sweet Bronco -- now flanked by singer/electric bassist Jessica Glisson
and drummer Steven Copeletti -- is headed. The bits of electronica
interwoven into warm, melodic melancholy are what earned them the
description "disco folk-rock with a message," but it is their organic
dynamism that leaves them without a label. Horgan answered some
questions for us, and the good news is: We can (hopefully) expect a tour in the
New Times: Talk to me about being a "disco folk-rock" band "with a message" -- describe your sound and that message.
Chris Horgan: I
absolutely love disco, and if I don't have someone there to stop me, I
will put a disco beat and disco bass line on everything. I think,
subconsciously, there's a part of me that wants to be Thelma Houston.
But all the songs I write are either folk or rock songs. So the
"disco-folk-soul-pop-rock" description dates back to a period when I
was working alone in the studio with no one to check my disco
tendencies. Sweet Bronco is basically a '60s rock 'n' roll band with
heavy power-pop, late-'80s-indie, and British-rock influences. I
feel like that's the sound we're settling into now. And that feels
like the right place to be. I'd rather not comment on the "message"
other than to say that there is one and it's probably best to let it
speak for itself.
I saw you play an acoustic set some months back at the Dewars'
house show. Though you're a three-piece, it got me wondering whether
Sweet Bronco is mostly your stuff. Is this your project, or is it
I started Sweet Bronco on my own with the plans of forming a band
later. I played solo acoustic shows for a couple of years. I made
recordings wherever I could and planned to release an album in hopes
that it would attract the right musicians for the band. The stuff
currently on MySpace is from that period.
Once Steve and Jess got involved, things took on a whole new shape.
I had never imagined Sweet Bronco as a three-piece. I wasn't even
planning to play much guitar until Steve stoked my guitarist ego a bit.
Then something about the three of us together just felt very complete.
Usually I play them one of my songs and they come up with their own
parts. Then we collaborate on the arrangements. Normally I would have
a hard time relinquishing so much control since I usually have drum and
bass parts already in mind. But Steve and Jess both have a way making
everything they play feel so natural. We trust each other, and that
really helps the collaborative process.
In the same vein as the last question, how did Sweet Bronco come to be -- what were you working on prior to this?
was playing keyboards in a really great shoegaze band in Los Angeles
called Eskimohunter. I was also working on a solo album called Alive and Living Well
that I never put out. I'm wondering if I shouldn't just put those
tracks up on Bandcamp or something now. But Sweet Bronco was really
born when I wrote "North Star," and with that, set up the parameters
for the project.
And where did the name "Sweet Bronco" come from?
have to ask Courtney [Hambright]. It was her idea. I liked it and decided to try it
out for a while, and it just stuck. She suggested it right around the
time I was recording "North Star," and the trajectory of the project
seemed really clear from then on.
Songs like "Morning Night" and "Star Story" are so heartfelt,
almost sad. What's the inspiration behind your lyrics; do you use your
songwriting as a form of self-expression, or do you allow the music
itself to do that?
My lyrics are entirely intertwined with the music. The music is
inspired by how I feel, and then the lyrics are inspired almost
exclusively by the music. Nothing goes into the lyric that isn't
enforced by the music itself. The sound of the words is just as
important as the meaning. I consider it all to be a form of
self-expression, though it is intended to be taken for what it is in
itself. I intentionally leave things open for multiple interpretations.
My lyrics usually have more than one meaning to me when I'm writing
them. A lot of my older songs have come to mean something quite
different to me and, in some cases, feel even more relevant now than
they did when I wrote them. And it feels really good when that happens.
There's plenty of videos and MP3s of you guys to go around -- are you working on any sort of physical, or downloadable, release?
Rutherford has an enormous archive of local bands on his gingerman309
YouTube channel. He's posted most of our shows. That's pretty much
the only access people currently have to Sweet Bronco other than the MP3s on our Myspace page. The three of us recorded a five-song EP with
John Ralston and Greg Lovell at Elegbaland Studios in Lake Worth this
year that we're all really excited about. We've just hit a few snags
with the final mixes and artwork. The plan right now is to put it out
as a 12-inch 45-rpm vinyl release sometime after New Year's, but that could
change. John Wilkins took a couple of our tracks and did some
completely original remixes that are just brilliant. We'd like to put
those out somehow too if he hasn't already done so.
If so, will this physical release contain any of the stuff on your MySpace, or it will be all new material?
EP will contain new versions of the full band playing four of the songs
currently on our MySpace page, plus one previously unrecorded track.
When can we expect to see you guys on tour -- are you playing any shows soon?
It might be a little while. But we're all hoping to see Sweet Bronco on tour a lot in 2011.
Visit Sweet Bronco's official website while you wait...
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in South Florida.