ROCKET: Where were you born and raised?
ALLEN: I was born and raised in Pasadena Texas, a suburb of South Houston. The same man that delivered me delivered my daughter there 22 years later. I was born in the same hospital my mother passed away in. Was a small town back then but now is in the underbelly of Houston.
ROCKET: Did you grow up in a family with a musical background?
ALLEN: My father played clarinet as a child and sang and played piano. Could not really keep time all that well though. But he was a skilled dental surgeon and mother was a dental hygienist, not musical at all. However, my mother had a great since of humor and was really my support system as far as music was concerned. Both my parents were graduates of the University of Texas, all my Uncles were service members and either doctors or lawyers, so the bar was set high. Needless to say my choice to play music was not received well by the majority of my family.
ROCKET: Do you recall your first rock concert?
ALLEN: Rush was my 1st concert (Signals tour 1982) and was the 2nd LP I bought (Moving Pictures). A older kid down the street Trey turned me on to Rush and AC/DC (Highway to Hell) when I was about 10 or 11. I was so inspired by the music I rode my bike to a Target store and looked through the entire selection to find copies, to no avail. I did end up with a copy of the Rolling Stones “Tattoo You” that day, THAT WAS A GAME CHANGER. I picked the album with the coolest cover since I could not find the Rush or AC/DC.
ROCKET: When did you first start playing the bass guitar?
ALLEN: When I was 11 I spent the summer in Dallas with my Aunt and Uncle. My cousin Matt had a guitar and played “Limelight” by Rush, it destroyed me forever. I had to get a guitar and a loud amp and did when I got home. Shortly after I turned 12 I started learning guitar, then bass about a year after that. The original lead guitarist of dead horse Rob Moore came to my 13th birthday party and played Eddie VanHalen’s “Eruption” on my shitty little guitar and amp. Mortified I quickly got a bass and started my 1st band with Rob named STRESS. It was not long after that that I met Greg Martin and we all formed a band called Axe Thrasher when I was about 14.
ROCKET: Did you ever take any lessons?
ALLEN: Yeah about 3 months on guitar lessons and maybe about 4 lessons on bass. Ironically my father’s receptionists brother “Al” played bass for “La Mafia” and agreed to give me a few private lessons. I will never forget him because he had a Rickenbacker 4001 like Geddy Lee, in trans red. He taught me 2 scales and some finger picking exercise (plus Tom Sawyer and Vital Signs, if you can’t tell Rush was my favorite band). That is the limit of my formal training really it was all by ear and attitude after that.
ROCKET: What kind of basses are you currently playing in the studio and out on tour?
ALLEN: In the past I always used B.C.Rich, but since we started recording again I only use DBZ Hailfire basses. Hailfire all I use playing live too. They are set up just the way I like a bass and well they just fit me right.
ROCKET: What kind of amp rig?
ALLEN: I am using an Ampeg SVT 7 pro and Mesa boogie cabs. I have had way too many rigs the past 6 years and I am fine with this set up…for now. I am a gear head and am always trying something new but Ampeg Pro have always been very reliable for me, goes a long way in my book. Plus, it is light and at the end of the night that goes even further.
ROCKET: How did you get the nickname “Alpo” and is there a special meaning behind it?
ALLEN: We were recording a 4-track demo back in the pre-Horsecore days (1988). Our 1st manager pinned “Alpotatonaildriver” it into one of the Styrofoam ends to my 4 track packaging. It is a long word made of several little words back to back. I don’t drive nails, but I do grind them when I play, so I changed it to “Alpotatonail-grinder”, Alpo for short. Kind of funny too when you figure dead horses are made into dog food. Also most my close friends called me Al, some call me Po, it has evolved quite a bit. Aplo when I have upped a few beers.
ROCKET: Let’s talk about the new album DEADHORSE, which is going to self-release on Sep 15th. Where was it recorded and who produced it?
ALLEN: The Beast That Come was recorded and produced in Austin Texas at the Space by Tim Gerron and dead horse. Tim has worked with dead horse since around 1992 on live sound and he has produced and engineered all our releases since the “Feed Me” demo made for Interscope Records. He also did the Pasadena Napalm Division (PND) album with the guys and Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. Tim has a hell of an ear and is very talented musician as well. We trust him and he has a way of polishing a turd so to speak.
ROCKET: How would you describe it compared to DEADHORSE albums of the past?
ALLEN: In my eyes, all the dead horse albums have progressed from the beginning, this one has gone even further then we imagined. It may be hard to tell but we are pretty picky about what we write and release. It has been difficult and some what of a psy-op figuring out what dead horse is supposed to sound like after being dormant for 14 years. We are in competition with are past. Thankfully is has all come together exceedingly well. Dead Horse could not be more proud and excited about this album, and for Greg and I maybe more then all of them combined.
ROCKET: How did the songwriting process work for the band on this album?
ALLEN: The songwriting process is very fragmented for dead horse. I live in San Antonio, Greg in Pasadena, Ronny in Pearland, Argo in Texas City and Scott in BFE Leander way the hell North of Austin. We really do not like to write songs away from each other and getting together has been harder and harder over time. Dead Horse is not the stuff you get on skype or send tracks around because, well you know this is a group, not a bunch of individuals, we like spontaneity so it was adversely hard and took a long time. Luckily Scott and I had a lot of ideas and when we did get together we all could assemble the songs. I did spend a lot of time arranging the songs and then having them rearranged in rehearsals. We record everything all the time and that has helped in production for sure. Writing with dead horse is an “all hands on deck” commitment and we try to keep it that way. I think it has served us well because we are all very happy with the results on TBTC and the Loaded Gun songs for that matter. The Loaded Gun tunes have been remixed and mastered bass heavy for The Beast That Comes extra tracks and they are heavy as Texas!
ROCKET: How long did it take to make the album from start to finish?
ALLEN: Writing songs for TBTC took from 2012 to May 2017. The Recording itself was done in May and June 2017- 2 days back to back (about 22 hours) for guitars, bass and drums and vocals took another 3 days (about 20 hours) with edits, changes and additional backup support. We tracked all the music live and did a few over dubs to fix errors. The Loaded Gun was all done in 1 day and vocals another 1 or 2. (if I remember right) Done in 2014, so that did interfere with the progress of the total work time 2012-2017. The art work I have had for near 2 years with new art compiled in the past year.
ROCKET: You’re going to have a record release show, correct? Can you give us all the details?
ALLEN: We are doing Austin @ Come and Take it Live on September 22nd to warm up for the Houston CD release show on September 30th with Sacred Reich @ The Scout Bar. We are excited to be playing with Sacred on their reunion tour, going to be great to see those guys. We also have 2 videos in the chamber with 1 or 2 more on the drawing board.
ROCKET: Where is the best place for fans to purchase a copy of the album?
ALLEN: Our shows for sure and www.horsecore.net, our redesigned website. Amazon is going to be the place to get it fast if you want hard copies on CD or Vinyl if you cannot make it to a show. We hope it will be a Prime item quickly so the masses can get it fast. CD Baby does a great job distributing hard copies and we are working to keep the price point attractive for the major retailers they service. TBTC will also be on iTunes, Google play and all popular download platforms plus band camp and www.horsecore.net. We will not be doing streaming services with this one, at least for a while.
ROCKET: Like I said earlier, your band is self-releasing your new album “The Beast That Comes”, although you are currently shopping for a label. Who are some of the record labels out there that you respect and feel would be a good fit for your band?
ALLEN: Century Media and Roadrunner are the top ones in my mind. Even the things Metal Blade are doing for their bands seems to be supportive. Relapse has done good by us in the past, not sure why they have turned such a blind eye to us the past 6 years though. Heck EMP has signed 2 Texas bands in the past few years Helstar and Tri-County Terror and they seem to be happy with the label. The industry is a fickle temptress, if you’re not out there shaking that money maker for them they just won’t put skin in the game., if they do at all. Frankly, we don’t play all over the US so that greatly limits dead horse. We are working on a strategy to get to the East coast, West Coast, Canada and across the gulf coast at least once per year, maybe even into Mexico. Honestly hat is not an easy task, when you need full time employment for family, kids, car payments and mortgages. To this day, I see friend’s bands pulling in some big crowds and the they come home and have no money within a few months, no car and have roommates in apartments. Is that living? Some things are NOT worth the sacrifice. Dead Horse is a big family, we are here now, at this point in time all close as brothers. We are getting through life’s challenges together and we are friends, something not all bands can say or do. We have more shows booked between now and the end of the year then we played all last year. And the Texas scene is generous and lucrative for the horse. On the plus side, at least we don’t have to share a percent with a label that may or may not do much for us financially, we don’t need a label for money. (ha ha that sounds a bit cocky but it is straight up the truth)
ROCKET: What are some of the other upcoming DEADHORSE shows fans need to keep an eye out for?
ALLEN: Too many to talk about and more added every week. We do have the Death By Festival in Austin October 28th put on by Nic Brown who use to do the films side of the Housecore Horror Fest. Here is a link for our shows: http://www.horsecore.net/content/7-deadhorse-shows
ROCKET: Thanks for rocking this interview out with me, brother. Best of luck with your music. Any last words for the fans?
ALLEN: Dead horse want to thank each individual fan for all they have done for us since the beginning in 1988. Without YOU, we would be nothing. And Greg, Ronny, Scott, Argo and myself do it all for YOU, the fans. We love you and want to have a beer (some beers) with you at our upcoming Texas shows through 2017 and 2018. And if we are fortunate enough, do it all again in 2019 and 2020. To all of the fans worldwide, WE ARE HORSECORE! All the love Alpo!