Dead Horses singer, guitarist, and founding member Sarah Vos continually tours the country to play concerts at bars, theaters, festivals, amphitheaters, and everywhere in between. Before her up-and-coming Americana/bluegrass outfit opens for The Who at Alpine Valley this Sunday and headlines a Pabst Theater show on September 14, Vos managed to squeeze enough time out of her perpetually-packed schedule to be a guest on our My First Band podcast, where she spoke at length about some of her modern day musical happenings (including those two impressive shows), what the band is working on, and some goals she has for the future. The following interview was transcribed from potions of that podcast. You can listen to Vos’ full My First Band episode here.
MR: Roughly how many shows a year do you play?
SV: Gosh, my guess would be somewhere around 125 to 150, but it’s an interesting number because that’s just how many, you know, shows we play. We’re gone way more nights of the year. When you’re on tour, we usually play like five to six shows a week, so it’d be interesting to also calculate how many days we’re gone—not just shows.
Milwaukee Record: And you have some huge shows coming up. You’re opening for The Who at Alpine Valley!
Sarah Vos: Yeah, that’s crazy. I’m still reeling over that one.
MR: It’s enough to just be at Alpine Valley, to have a show at Alpine Valley, itself. And then you work in the fact that you’re opening for one of the biggest rock bands of all time, it’s amazing.
SV: It’s crazy! It’s just crazy.
MR: Then less than a week later, you have a headlining show at the Pabst Theater, which is it a record release or is it just a show at the Pabst?
SV: No, it’s our first headlining show at the Pabst, which is a whole different thing than The Who show, but it means just as much to me. When I was in college and not really playing out a lot—I was doing a lot of music at home and I had just moved to Milwaukee—I would go to a lot of shows at the Pabst and the Riverside. I’d go to tons of shows and just think “how do I do that?”
The Pabst is just gorgeous and I’m super stoked on bring able to do the show there. We’re going to try to pull out some stops, and we’ll have a lot of different musicians playing with us.
MR: Is there anything else that you’re working on at the moment?
SV: Yeah! We’ve been doing this new kind of recording project up at The Refuge in Appleton, Wisconsin. We’ve recorded three songs there so far. It’s been a really fun process for us. We’re producing it ourselves, which we’ve never done that before, and doing it, it’s pretty simplistic. The Refuge is this cool old monastery on a river in Appleton. You’re able to just stay there. There’s a lot peace and quiet, and we’re doing most of the recording in an actual chapel, so there’s crazy vibes in there—really good ones. I love singing in there. We’re not having to add any reverb or anything, it’s just real room sound, which I totally dig. Some of it’s more of a new sound for us, and then we’re probably going to do a couple more songs there as well.
MR: Dead Horses have been working its way up the ladder. What’s next rung within reach? What are you hoping to achieve in the near future, and where are you hoping it leads?
SV: There’s always this sense of [wondering] where’s the next new material coming from. One exciting thing that we’ve been doing, and this is more of a [bassist and other full-time member] Dan [Wolff] thing… He’s been writing out music for other players—cello, violin, flute, and other woodwinds, which to me, is super exciting. So we’re kind of working with some of our songs in that way and resurrecting some of our older songs to do them in this new way. We’re also working on new material for a possible EP coming out later this year. We definitely have our eyes set on a record. I guess that’s normal, though. You’re always thinking about that. What I’d love is to get some killer support slots with some bigger bands. I think that would be really great for us.
MR: Like The Who, for example?
SV: Yeah, like that! [laughs] Yeah, that’s one show, but to hop on tour. We’ve had some great ones. We’ve gotten to play with Elephant Revival and Mandolin Orange. Not only are those great—you know, quote unquote—business opportunities, you also just learn a lot from being around people like that. That was definitely a big rung-up for us when we started working with a big booking agent who got us on those tours. We had been playing non-stop for years, but not tours, like, three- or four-months tours where you’re gone. Working with bigger bands, you can kind of take cues as to how they make it work on a personal level and then also how you actually do it on the road. I’d love to see that happen. I’d love to build our team more, work with more people, travel around a lot, and keep doing it…keep plugging along.