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Brighter Horizons

Photo courtesy of Valerie Pantowski

Bassist Seth Horan, formerly of Vertical Horizon, is currently touring college campuses making a name for himself as an individual musician. Horan says his music is pop, but audience members often compare it to that of Primus. He plays tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. on the Mall.

By Kate VonderPorten
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Apr. 22, 2002

Bassist Seth Horan finds campus fan base

As a child, Seth Horan thought he was getting away with less practice time when he chose the heavy double bass. Little did he know he was to have a life of practice and performance, and more practice and performance.

Solo performer, songwriter and ex-bassist of the band Vertical Horizon, Horan is now defining himself as a separate musical entity.

Horan, who plays tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. on the Mall, said music has always been a part of his life, though as a child, he hated to practice.

"My ploy was that I would play something too big to take home to practice, so I chose the double bass," Horan said. "But I didn't realize that my orchestra teacher was a bass player himself and was so excited that a kid wanted to play the double bass that he drove one home for me."

Horan also brings his distinct style to the Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St., tomorrow evening.

Horan defines his music as pop, but does not feel that his definition of pop is necessarily the same as that of the general public.

"I consider myself to be a pop songwriter, but people's perception of music is really different than what I think of," Horan said. "Pop isn't just N'Sync to me, and R&B isn't just Puff Daddy."

Combining funk and innovative, personal lyrics, Horan's music has been compared to that of eclectic and activist artists.

"A reviewer in Los Angeles called me the 'musical bastard child of Ani DiFranco and John Mayer.' I really respect both of those artists, so I was flattered," Horan said.

But live audiences grasping for musical comparisons often reach first to Les Claypool of Primus fame.

"I come off sounding different because bass is my primary instrument and people have so little to compare my music to. Someone in the audience always yells that I sound like Primus because (Claypool) is the closest thing they can think of because he play the bass and sings."

College towns have been where Horan has found the most success and the largest fan base.

"I've never been to Tucson before, but colleges are where I have built most of my following. I even got the award for the best college rock from the Just Plain Folks Music Awards," Horan said. "College campuses are where I get the most enthusiastic response and the fewest strange looks."

College is also where Horan met Ed Toth, the drummer for Vertical Horizon, and made his connection with the now-famous band.

"I went to college with Ed," Horan said, "and he called and asked me to take his bass player's spot. We toured for a year and then we got signed."

But Horan was soon to leave the band.

"The politics and the dynamics of the group contributed to me saying, 'Guys, I've gotta go.' I left, and they got a number one song," he said.

Even in light of their recent commercial success, Horan does not regret his decision to leave Vertical Horizon.

"When they got all this airplay and a video on MTV, people asked me 'Are you upset? Do you want to kill yourself?'" Horan said, citing artistic differences as his primary reason for leaving. "When I listen to the Vertical Horizon disc, I think, 'Great production,' not, 'Wow, I wish I was up there with those guys saying what they are saying.'"

"What I took out of my experience (with Vertical Horizon) was that you write what you need to write and don't let outside influences factor in. If you create music to be a commodity, it stops being genuine," Horan said.

And now Horan seeks individual recognition.

"I don't want to be known as just the guy who was in Vertical Horizon," he said. "I want to take everything up to the next level."


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