Photo: Jeff Barnett-Winsby

“The pedal steel makes people initially think ‘oh, that’s country,’ but if you dive deeper into the songs, there’s so much more to it,” says Michael “Donny” Amidon of Brooklyn five-piece band Mail The Horse, who make their debut Bonnaroo appearance this year.  “You can’t really classify music by its instrumentation; our new EP doesn’t really sound very country or Americana, we just do what we do.”

It’s true, folks are quick to categorize anything these days, and the “Americana” umbrella seems to encompass all, and there’s definitely plenty of room under there for Mail The Horse’s gritty-desert-country-rock style.  While their sound doesn’t readily conjure mental images of the big city, the group calls New York City home base; that’s fine with Mail The Horse, because they blaze their own trail. “I think we’ve always tried not to feel at home, we want to travel our own path,” says bandmate Michael “Hess” Hesslein. “A lot of bands will move to New York and try to sound like everyone else here, which is fine, that’s how music scenes are created, but we want to be our own thing.  We play what comes from our souls, we try not to overthink it.”

“One of the biggest things a lot of bands face is weeding through everyone’s musical tastes and influences,” he continues. “We all seem to speak the same language, and our sound just kind of happened.”

Mail The Horse was born in 2010 when high school friends Hesslein and Amidon met future bandmate Brendan Smith in a college English class. “We decided we wanted to move to New York City to experience something new, totally different, and weird. It made sense,” recalls Amidon. “Chris [May] joined us on pedal steel; since then, we’ve had a few different drummers, but now, we have Andrew Weaver, who is a total badass.”

The band just finished a new four song EP, Magnolia, which they recorded in Binghamton, New York in a quick two days. Lead single “Backlash”, a rocking, 70s-tinged, road-worn stunner, was unleashed on May 20th.  “We have an interesting music video coming out soon for ‘Backlash’, I can’t wait for people to see that because it’s pretty strange, that always seems like the route we go,” says Amidon. “There are costumes involved.”

With a successful run at SXSW 2016 under their proverbial belts and Firefly Music Fest in the near future, Mail The Horse has their sights set on making a splash at Bonnaroo. “We’ve never been, we hear it’s pretty crazy,” says Amidon. “We’re excited to be able to play in front of so many new people.  We’re going to rock late night.”

[Mail The Horse will perform at Bonnaroo’s New Music On Tap Lounge on Thursday, June 9th at 11:15 p.m.]

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