THE six-headed comedy band The Horne Section play York Barbican on Thursday on their debut national tour with their raucous shindig That’s How I Like My Tour.

Unruly, ridiculous and surprisingly satisfying, they combine music and comedy in an unpredictable way, blending stupid songs with a carnival atmosphere and plenty of puns.

From 8pm, the York audience can expect exuberant tunes, exceptional musicality, and five musicians being made to do silly things by bearded comedian Alex Horne, the creator and co-star of Taskmaster, the Dave channel's game show.

Joining the unmusical band leader Horne will be Joe Auckland on trumpet and banjo; Mark Brown on saxophone; Will Collier on bass; Ben Reynolds on drums and percussion and Ed Sheldrake on keyboards.

"We first put the Horne Section together about ten years ago when my wife was pregnant with our first child," says Horne. "I did a lot of things that year. That’s when Taskmaster started as well. I think I was panicking, really.

"I was really old friends with two of the band, Joe and Ben, the trumpeter and the drummer: we were born in the same hospital and our mums were friends and we went to the same primary school.

"They became jazz musicians and we always hung out and watched each other’s stuff but it never occurred to us to do anything together until Mark, the saxophonist, booked me to do a gig at the jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s. It was just really fun, combining comedy and jazz.

"Straight away we all thought, ‘We should do more of this’. They hooked in two more musicians and we booked eight nights at Edinburgh Fringe and that was it."

Horne had "zero music ability before then and has zero music ability now". "I have more confidence," he says. "I suppose I like to think I’m not completely tone deaf. I played the French horn when I was a kid and I went to Chichester Youth Orchestra for one week when I was about 11 but I really wasn’t any good. I got to grade three. I only played it because my surname is Horne."

If Horne had a different surname, the group would not exist, he suggests. "It’s nominative determinism: you know how if you’re called Mr Baker you turn out to be good at baking? It is a good name, I think.

"But no, the band are very keen to tell me that I'm not musical at all. I was very nervous the first year. I hated it, I hated singing. Now I love it. I don’t think I’m any better but I just go for it.

"I think most comedians have a natural sense of rhythm and jazz has a natural sense of improvisation, so the two do go hand in hand. Hopefully they can figure out what I’m doing and I can figure out what they’re doing."

Describing a typical Horne Section show, Horne says: "It’s nonsense, it’s silly and fun. If I wanted to compare it to anyone, I’d say it’s a bit like Harry Hill’s live shows. I wouldn’t dream of saying we’re as good as Harry, but his style of shows which are fun and ‘anything goes’.

"Half the show is very rehearsed, and the other half isn’t. There are five people on the stage all the time with me who the audience can see and if they look bored, the audience will be bored. And the band aren’t very good at acting: if they’re not enjoying it, they will show that they’re not enjoying it. So I have to keep them amused.

"Half the show is different every night and that keeps us all happy."

How much do Horne and his band rehearse? "Not very often," he says. "We do meet up every week or two to do our podcast and that serves as a rehearsal, I suppose. But we don’t actually rehearse strictly very much. It’s more about keeping it fresh and keeping new ideas coming.

"Once we get to the venue and meet up, it’s just about the best fun you can have."

No subject is too pedestrian for a Horne Section number. "We’ve even done songs about bleeding a radiator, cooking an egg in under a minute," says Horne. Box office: 0203 356 5441 or at

Charles Hutchinson