Here’s a reprint of my interview with Band Of Horses that ran in Hot Press.
BAND ON THE RUN
Hanging out with Willie Nelson, enjoying “big old love-fests” and dealing with major label pressures is all in a day’s work for Seattle’s Band of Horses. Words: Edwin McFee
Two years ago, Seattle-based quintet Band of Horses found themselves embroiled in a budding courtship with the mainstream music world. After releasing two well received records via Sub Pop (‘06’s Everything All The Time and ‘07’s Cease To Begin) they made the leap to major label Columbia, created Infinite Arms and pretty much charmed us all thanks to their southern rock, indie and country-tinged sounds. Since then, the group, led by singer/guitarist Ben Bridwell, have been doing everything in their power to hang on to our affections and when Hot Press caught up with the charismatic frontman recently, he tells us he’s hopeful his just released fourth album Mirage Rock will do the trick.
“When it comes to people’s reactions to the record I’m preparing for the worst and also hoping for the best,” laughs the musician. “I’m feeling really good about the album and we’re all proud of it, so that’s the important thing.”
With each record consistently performing better than its processors, in both a commercial and creative sense, Mirage Rock (which is a pun on the term garage rock) has a lot to live up to. Did Ben suffer from any sleepless nights due to being under pressure to deliver the goods?
“I think the pressure was probably coming in heaps at the beginning,” he offers. “Sometimes I wondered if I was choosing the right material and I worried about whether I was working hard enough, but that’s part of the whole process.”
Featuring a looser, rawer sound, legendary producer Glyn Jones (who twiddled knobs for the Rolling Stones, the Band and pretty much every iconic rock band there is) convinced them to record live and Ben cheerily tells us that the making of Mirage Rock turned into a “big old love fest.”
“Oh man, working with Glyn went as good as it possibly could have gone,” he enthuses. “We really got along really well and I love him as a friend. Pretty much the whole record was recorded live to the point where he forced me to play guitar and sing while recording at the same time and that was new for me.”
Not surprisingly, working with a producer of such pedigree helped inspire Band of Horses to new heights and Ben confesses that there were times during the making of the record where he tried to impress the 70year old Englishman. Case in point: the slightly schizophrenic ‘Dumpster World,’ which is reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’ in its construction.
“You think everything is nice and cool during ‘Dumpster World’ and then we just beat you over the head with some nasty old bullshit-it’s fucking hilarious,” he laughs. “But yeah, I was absolutely trying to impress Glyn, man. Especially on some of the more rock and/or roll stuff, just to get into his area of expertise. We were kinda mining a Stones and a Who vibe.”
In a few weeks time, Band of Horses team up with another legend of the music world, Mr Willie Nelson, and Ben confesses that playing the Railroad Revival Tour alongside him is a bit of a dream come true.
“Oh my god, Willie’s one of the coolest people alive on this planet today,” he grins. “He’s as cool as advertised, man. This tour is going to be awesome. I’m sure we’ll be pinching ourselves the entire time and we won’t believe that it actually happened once it’s over.”
After that, Band of Horses head to Europe in November and Ben tells us that he’s looking forward to returning to Ireland.
“We’re really excited to play the Olympia again, it’s an amazing venue,” he concludes. “This will be our third time playing there and it’s one of our favourite places. Ireland’s always been good to us. We love the way you guys don’t go in for the too cool for school thing. You’re like the opposite of the aloof, jaded music fan and that’s exactly like us too. It should be a great night.”
Band of Horses’ new album Mirage Rock is out now on Columbia. They play the Olympia, Dublin on Nov 17.