Interview: Band of Horses
Mon, 15 Oct 2007 14:42:53
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Since releasing their acclaimed debut, Everything All the Time, in March 2006, Band of Horses have experienced an unusual range of highs and lows, both within the music industry and outside of it. On their new sophomore record, Cease to Begin, frontman Ben Bridwell and his cohorts—a lineup that has been frequently changing since the band's inception, but now seems to have stabilized—consider some of these events while building on the rich, reverb-resonating and twang-tweaked Americana of their debut.
Earlier this year, Bridwell ran afoul of the indie blogosphere after becoming frustrated by fans at a San Diego area gig and flipping off a blogger who was taking an amateur video of the band's requisite performance of their biggest hit to date, "The Funeral." Catching up with ARTISTdirect on the eve of Cease to Begin's release, he talked about that fateful show, his inner Iggy Pop, Carolina comfort and Seattle sports.
Was the songwriting process a lot different this time around? For the debut, those songs came out of a pretty casual cycle of songwriting, when you were just playing around after Carissa's Wierd broke up, with no real expectation. Was it more pressure this time?
You know, it really wasn't. If anything, this one was even more casual. It was like "Who gives a crap? Write the fucking record and shut up about it." The first record definitely had a lot of Mat [Brooke] on it—his influence and guitar playing. This one obviously doesn't have those kinds of sounds. This one will probably be the most solo Band of Horses record that I'll ever make. Now I feel like the band that we have, and the songwriting talents that are within our grasp, that we'll start making more collaborative efforts in the future. This one was just kind of like "I don't care, I gotta get the sophomore record done anyway—might as well do it fast and write the record I want to write without breaking my back and being too concerned." It became a really fun experience. Even though I did put time into the songwriting, I tried not to be a spaz about it.
Once again there's a pretty even mixture of slower, starker songs and the more shit-kickin' rockers. How deliberate is that mix? If you happened to write a dozen slow heartbreakers, would you run with 'em?
You know, I don't think we would. I think when I was writing for this album, it seemed like it was going to be really melancholy. There were a lot of dark times before I moved, and it seemed like every song I was writing was going to wind up being really slow—and we did wind up with a bunch of slow songs. "Is There a Ghost" was originally a demo from my computer that Phil [Ek] saw and thought "Hey, that would be a great song to make into a rock song." We were at lunch and Creighton [Barrett] and Rob [Hampton] worked on it; we came back and they said, "We turned that song into a rock number." And it was perfect. We still had a heavy amount of slow ones, but, hey, now there was the other one to mix it up. So, no, we wouldn't be able to have too many melancholy songs—we'd have to change one of them and make it more even keeled.
How do you think you've grown as a live performer since the early days of Band of Horses? Are you embracing your inner Iggy Pop?
Yeah! I feel like I'm closer. I'm really enjoying it, anyway. We did this secret MySpace show, an all-ages thing in Seattle, and Seattle crowds are pretty polite anyway, but with an all-ages show, you won't hear a single thing between songs. I was really excited to play and knew it was going to be quiet and a little bit uncomfortable and all that. I think every day I get a little bit closer to absolutely loving that part of job, loving to perform for people. Maybe it's brought me out of my shell even more than a year ago. I would love to reach the inner fucking Iggy Pop inside and just be able to go crazy. But, no, I'm content and happy to just be up there.
The last time we talked, you were saying one of the hardest things was filling the time in between songs. Have you developed a shtick?
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