Getting to Know Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse has only been together for a year and a half, but they’re already a force on the Long Island music scene. The band of six consists of brothers John Rienzi (drummer/mandolin player) and Sean Rienzi (bassist) with guitarist Vinny Costantino, keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Chris Brooks and guitarist/vocalists Nick Pirollo and Ryan Porciello. Known for their 3-part vocal harmonies, guitar solos and improvisation, the group’s eclectic Americana sound includes elements of rock, folk, alternative, country, blues and jazz.

It’s a collaborative writing process for Quarter Horse. It might take awhile to complete a song but the goal is to be as democratic as possible. The debut EP River Flow was recorded live in the studio within a few hours and the band will soon be recording a full-length album.

“We’re planning on recording with Andy Falco and Jack Licitra,” said John Rienzi. “They’ve been doing some great recordings lately and we think they could really capture our sound the way we hear it.”

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Long Island Pulse: Who are your musical influences?
John Rienzi: Between the six of us, there are probably thousands. Everything you hear and experience influences your music in some way. Some of the big ones are The Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, the Black Crowes and The Band. Along with Deer Tick and Delta Spirit. Oh, and good coffee, and lots of it. That’s a big influence.

Pulse: How do you describe your sound in general?
Our sound is kind of a mixture of all of our influences thrown together. There are elements of Americana, rock, bluegrass, blues, jazz, jam band music—you know, all the good stuff. We have a lot of guitar solos and vocal harmonies. We like to interact musically and take chances, even if it means falling on our faces!

Pulse: Why did you name the band Quarter Horse?
JR: It was the first name that had a ring to it after about 500 ideas. One day I was reading something that mentioned a quarter horse. I didn’t know that it was an actual breed of horse. I pictured one of those toy horses that kids ride in front of the supermarket for a quarter. The rest of the guys liked it and we were glad the search was over.

Pulse: Where do you most like to perform live?
JR: There are a lot of great local venues on the island. We love Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport, Brick House Brewery in Patchogue and 89 North in Patchogue. Those places are always a fun time. Intimate settings like Live @ Deepwells and Homegrown Music Cafe are great as well. The audiences at those venues really pay attention. We like to play anywhere there are people who like music.

Pulse: Who would you most like to tour with, and why? 
JR: I would really love to tour with some of the great local bands we have here on the Island. There’s a great original music scene happening right now: Soundswell, Miles to Dayton, Cassandra House, Butchers Blind, the list goes on and on. It would be great to share some of this scene with a wider audience on a bigger scale.

Pulse: What’s your favorite song to perform live lately, and why?
JR: That’s tricky. I really like playing all of our songs. I always like playing ‘The Pines’ because the solo section goes into this weird space that is really different each time we play it. It really challenges us as well as the audience.  I also like ‘Bring Back My Love’ because it features Nick, Chris and Ryan’s vocal harmonies and it gives me a chance to take break on the drums.

Pulse: What can we expect to hear at your live shows? Music from River Flow? Any covers to fill out the set?
JR: We have at least a dozen new tunes since River Flow, so you’ll hear any of the River Flow tunes plus the new ones. We usually throw a few covers in there, depending on how long our set is. We have yet to play the same set twice so every show is different. That makes it fun for us and fresh for the people who have seen us before.

Upcoming shows:
August 1:  89 North in Patchogue
August 2:  Hotel Indigo in Riverhead
August 9:  Sayville Summerfest
August 29: Seafood Festival at The Long Island Maritime Museum

lisa heffernan

Lisa Heffernan received a master’s in Communications from Emerson College before moving to New York. She has worked for publications such as: Details, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Newport Mercury, American Songwriter and W magazine.