I love this time of year. Nice weather, lighter evenings, and loads of new records from brilliant bands getting ready to smash this summer’s festivals. In the last week I’ve been treated to fresh material from Broken Social Scene, The National and Band of Horses.
I’m telling this to Creighton from the latter mentioned Seattle born band as he sits in a hotel somewhere in London with half an eye on his Internet TV. It’s strong company to be in and for a group only on the verge of releasing their third album, it’s a pretty impressive place to sit. But it works.
From the moment Everything All The Time came into existence to the breakthrough of Cease To Begin, I’ve always thought of Band of Horses as a big indie rock band. It’s a strange way to think of a band I guess, but I could just never imagine watching them in a Barfly. To me, their bearded faces belong on a huge festival stage as night falls, lights flood their every move and I stand watching with a beer in my hand and their every lyric falling from my mouth.
But this isn’t an easy theory to communicate to a guy who’s about to head off to his Jools Holland rehearsal, so instead we just stick to the obvious…..
We had most of the day off today because we got in last night coz of the fucking volcano. We had to cancel Copenhagen on Sunday and we had to drive and take a 20 hour bus ride in to get back to London and shit. I like Denmark a lot but I mean, anytime you get a day off it’s pretty great so I’m not gonna lie and say it wasn’t pretty awesome but it wasn’t really a day off, just sitting on a bus for 20 hours.
Are you getting nervous about playing on Jools?
We did it when the second record came out, so probably almost 2 years ago, so it’s a little less scary doing it now I suppose but tonight’s just the rehearsal stuff so tomorrow’s actually when it gets kinda scary.
I guess it must be scarier depending who else is on the show?
Oh shit, well we were so fucking lucky last time we did Jools – we’re huge Ron Wood fans and we actually at the time used to cover a Ron Wood song and it ends up being fucking Ron Wood was the guest so we were just blown away by that. So he came over to us in between two songs and he was like ‘Is it true you play one of my songs?’ and we thought we were actually going to get to jam it with him but he left the building too quick.
So you started playing with the band on Cease to Begin? How do you go about songwriting? Is it just Ben who writes the songs or do you all get involved?
I came on as touring drummer for the first record and I’ve been here since and I was actually on the record for Cease To Begin. That’s what’s up with the new record. It’s completely collaborative, finally.
We ended up producing it ourselves and there was no label breathing down our neck and stuff like that so we just really took our chances to actually go bonkers in the fucking studio and go ‘Alright, try that thing! That weird looking thing! That sounds like shit. Let’s try that!’
I did notice some sounds on the album that I wasn’t expecting to hear from a Band of Horses record.
A lot of bands are typically afraid to do what we did with this record – brush all the bullshit off of ‘This is what we’re supposed to sound like.’ Or even having a producer there who was trying to carry on the sound we had for the first two records. We became such a unit we just really wanted it to be displayed that way and the way this unit works is not giving a shit about what it sounds like, as long as it’s good. I guess we didn’t really worry about centralised themes or ‘That sounds like Afternoon Delight’ or stuff like that. It was just like fuck it man, let’s go ahead and let’s just do it and put it out, lay it down, record it and if it sounds crazy, the crazier the better.
There was just some timing issues, some scheduling issues as well. We were kind of jetting around to go to actually make money to keep recording so if someone was like, ‘Hey we want you for this sum of money for this one show’ we were like ‘Goddamn right we’ll be there.’ So we come back and it was a pretty dodgy schedule for anybody except for us who are lucky not to hold down regular jobs. So some scheduling conflict came in and we just decided to go ahead and do it ourselves. A lot of it was just Bill Reynolds, the bass player, he’s a producer and an engineer anyway so it’s like dude, if you’ve got the wizard in the room, go ahead and fuck around. So it was like, really cool and it was really one of the first times for me, being in a studio and actually being pretty relaxed and just confident about what’s going on.
So, be a dork. What was the coolest thing you did in the studio?
Me personally, we found, I guess it’s a 42” bass drum, it’s a 1950s concert drum – it’s huge, we call it the Thunder Drum. We got some kid to steal some timpanis from the University there, this kid called Falcon. I don’t know where he came from or who knows him but one night he walked in with two timpanis like ‘No-one knows you have these. Give me 100 bucks’. We gave them back, but as soon as those toys were handed out, like the timpanis and the Thunder Drum, that kind of shit, everyone was just kind of salivating wanting to do it. Everyone pretty much did a lot of percussion on it which was pretty fun and I got to use Rototoms which are like seriously archaic 80s – three little octave drums. They’re just ridiculously 80s sounding and I got to use those. That was my favourite thing probably, to use the rototoms coz it’s such a dead art.
And now I guess you have to figure out how to play them live?
Oh shit, I know – exactly! That’s exactly where we are right now. Every soundcheck it’s like ‘Ah fuck, it still sounds bad. We can’t play that one again yet.’ So we’re hoping by the actual launch date, the day it comes out, we’ll be able to play all of them. But we’re definitely still working on it coz a lot of them not only have we not played live or together, a lot of it was written in the studio and that could have been close to a year and a half ago so it’s like ‘Oh shit, I don’t remember that part.’
Cease To Begin was just so quick. Finally people have had time to write songs and go crazy so right now, for sure, it’s my favourite record to do coz it’s so much fun to play new stuff live. The old songs become like, muscle memory.
But maybe stick to the old stuff when you’re opening up for Pearl Jam?
So fucking crazy. We’ve never met those guys but we’ve heard great things. It’s gonna be so hilarious to be in an arena or like Madison Square Garden shit… Yeah, it’s gonna be hilarious.