Band of Horses
This interview was first published in 2006
There seems to be an almost unspoken consensus about Band of Horses, a quiet thrumming collective joy that they've released such a great record, that they exist at all. And they inspire a strange kind of anti-criticism, with people falling over themselves to draw in the long verbals and shout about What A Great Fucking Record Everything All The Time is. And it is. It's a record you listen to with the blood, it's huge widescreen production the sound of travel and of disappearing into the vastness of America; meaning does come but it's slow: Ben Bridewell's lyrics guarded, elusive and impressionistic are the story of this disappearance and the high of being found. As it goes at the end of 'Monster': 'If I am lost it's only for a little while'.
Cheers to Ben and the band for a great album and for answering these questions we sent over last week.
poacher: So has it been a crazy year for you guys? How have you been coping with the (ahem) adulation?
Ben Bridewell: As far as people enjoying our stuff, I guess it's a little scary. We just played a bunch of large shows (for us at least) this past week and it can be scary. I just don't want to let people down who like our record and when there happens to be a large audience of them all staring in our direction, I have to say that it's unnerving. At the same time, it's a wonderful position we're in right now and could disappear tomorrow, so it's important to not think too much and just do what comes naturally.
poacher: Could you tell the ignoramuses among us a bit about the forming of the band and what you were up to beforehand?
BB: Before the band really started I was down at our rented practice space just messing around with all the instruments we'd acquired during our tenure of Carissa's Weird (previous band). Once I had some songs I enlisted a rhythm section and worked constantly to just keep writing stuff, even if I thought it was garbage. Took a while but we decided to play a show, and it's been off to the races (moan) ever since.
poacher: The reaction to the album seems to have been really, really positive- could you tell us a bit about its creation and recording etc?
BB: The album was harder than I thought it'd be. We wanted it to sound raw and live-ish but those hopes were dashed immediately by lack of talent to actually play the songs well enough live to tape. It's also my first time recording for real as a guitar player or singer so I had my hard times during the process.
which leads me to:
Artist: Band of Horses
Album: Everything All The Time
Label: Sub Pop
poacher: It’s got a fabulous widescreen sound- was Phil Ek your first choice of producer, did you intend it to sound so big?
BB: Phil was great to work with and helped us realize that we had to create the record he knew we could make. Although he's an absolute slave driver, Phil Ek gets results. We'll be working with him on our new record beginning in February.
poacher: Do you read much of the music press? It seems to me that since the rise of blogs there has been a proliferation of over-interpretation of music (Jesus, we’re as guilty of it as the next erm, blog) with every last detail being examined for meaning (A.J Weberman in Dylan’s bins has nothing on these guys). I don’t know how much this would mean to you but it seems to me that much of the press has found Everything All The Time strangely resistant to criticism and that if they could they’d simply put out a one sentence saying something like ‘Great Fucking Record’. Is that a fair call?
BB: Press is the best and the worst to me. I find that most things in this business are. Example: I’m glad they like the record, I wish they'd leave us alone. Or I'm glad so many people showed up to the concert, I wish they'd stop staring. I just hope people don't read blogs as the gospel. Anyone with an opinion is free to say what they want which is great and terrible. I only read sports blogs and I never comment.
poacher: As a direct corollary of that some of your lyrics are pretty impressionistic (evasive?) and yet have got an intensely personal presence as well, so as such there isn’t a distinct message coming through. Is there a sense of communication with lyric writing or is it solely a personal thing?
BB: My lyrics are meant to stay hidden on the last record. I write in code sometimes hoping only I know the meaning of the words. this is also spawned from the insecurity of being new to the song-writing field. I kinda like not knowing the words correctly to some of my favourite songs as well.
The sound of travel
poacher: I’ve read that you’re originally from South Carolina, now Seattle- what influence has geography had on your sound, if any, or is the record the sound of travel?
BB: We're actually moving back to South Carolina in 2 days. that place had a lot to do with even wanting to start this band at all. The chance to sing about where I come from or make my family proud. I’m a sucker for geography songs as well. I find travel to be the most inspiring aspect of being in a band, yet I never can seem to write a decent song while on the road. Strange.
poacher: How’s the ceaseless touring been? Are you still sleeping on floors and tour buses or are you living in opulent glamour now?
BB: Thank God we travel comfortably now. I slept on floors and in freezing vans on the road for a good ten years. I’m over it. At the same time we're not overboard about it. I want the following: safe vehicle, beer, and bed. If they happen to have internet and cable so be it.
poacher: You’ve talked about the notion of being on stage as an uncomfortable one, and that you inhabit a dream-like state to cope with it. What happens to the songs in this sense, do they belong to someone else, are you just channelling them?
Band of Horses
BB: Every show is a different beast for me. I’ll get too sensitive about the crowd seeming bored or the sound being fucked or something. You just have to trust that everything is fine and try to make someone feel some emotion. I'll sneak small peaks at the people’s faces and I’ll sing with that face in my mind and know that I want them to cry or smile or lose their shit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don't.
poacher: Is there such a thing as an aesthetic of disappearance in American culture, is it fair to say that it’s one of your grand myths?
BB: I'm not sure America has ever had much of a defined culture to lose. we've been playing a lot of shows with our friend Chad Vangaalen (and friends) who are Canadian and realized how much funner they are than yanks. Fuck it though, America is still a wonderful place to live and I wouldn't trade it for any other.
poacher: When you guys going to head to the UK?
BB: Unsure about a UK tour. We'll do it when the time is right I’m sure.
poacher: What are you guys reading, watching, listening to right now- any recommendations for us?
Band of Horses: This week I like:
Willie Nelsons new "Songbird".
I saw the movie "Prestige" and liked it very much.