Tuesday 12 December 2017

Q&A: Band of horses' Ben Bridwell

On log cabins, fish friends and sub pop

Yee haw! It's Band of Horses, everyone's favourite purveyor of authentic hillbilly rock ...

We get that quite a bit, don't we? It's funny. I had a lot of influences on our new record -- The Faces, a lot of George Harrison solo stuff, even Spiritualized. And there's still this American tag all the time. Aw, shit -- I guess if it ain't broke. There's nothing I can do, but do exactly what I do.

What's with all of these bearded musicians locking themselves in log cabins in the middle of nowhere to write their albums? Bon Iver did it. And now you're at it too ...

I like to go on little excursions to write and, well, basically, get as far away from other people as possible.

Aren't you the sociable one ...

I enjoy the isolation. I don't have to worry about other people hearing what I'm doing. If there was a neighbour, I'd be afraid they might hear me making so much noise. I'd probably be a bit self-conscious about it.

As a proud backwoodsman, we take it you're a keen hunter, shooter and fisher too ...

No, not so much. I'm such an animal lover. I don't eat fish, or meat or anything. I don't fish, cos I'm not gonna eat it. I don't wanna fuck with the fish.

But you live in South Carolina. Doesn't everybody own a shotgun and eat at KFC?

Even where we are in the south, you find a lot more vegetarian options than there used to be. Though there are a lot of conservatives, it's pretty evenly mixed at the same time. Maybe people think it's so right wing because Bush won two terms. But it was always close. Look at England and Cameron getting elected: how the fuck did that happen?

Two words: Gordon Brown. Anyway, with this album, you parted from storied Seattle label Sub Pop. For an independent band, they're pretty much the pinnacle. Why walk away?

The record was funded by the band. We were out of a contract, we had a new management team that could really, really nail a good deal for us. Basically, it came down to that. I could get the most bang for the buck I put in -- which was quite a lot.

So you and Sub Pop had a 'show me the money' conversation ...

With the music we were doing, we had a lot of room to grow. It couldn't hurt to take a stab at a new perspective. It sucks, because we also have long-lasting relationships with these people and think of them more as friends rather than even colleagues sometimes. It was mostly because I put in so much fucking money. I really had to get a good return investment. I wanted to own the masters and Sub Pop couldn't do what we needed it to do. Which is really sad. But, unfortunately, that's the way it goes. I guess it really was all down to business in the end.

You've also relocated from Seattle to the Carolinas. Were all the Starbucks getting to you?

There were a lot of reasons. One being financial. Touring so much and living in a big city, it didn't make that much sense to live in a small apartment and pay an enormous amount of rent. My family is still in South Carolina and the surrounding areas, so I can be close to them. My siblings are having babies and all that stuff, and I just wanted to return home. I had done my time in the big city, I was ready to go to a more isolated environment. I could stretch my legs more. I could pay the same rent and rent a fucking house with a yard.


Band of Horses' new single Factory is out today. Their album Infinite Arms is out on Sony

Irish Independent

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