Band of Horses seem content with where they are right now, and I don't just think it's because we're sat in one of London's fanciest hotels with complementary beers and olives, It's more the fact they have the strongest line-up in the bands history to date, and with the release of their anticipated fourth album due any day, happiness (and tiredness) is quite high in the camp as they are whisked all over London from press event to press event, to eventually end up at The Roundhouse for the iTunes festival. Whilst we cringe over the "finely selected" background music, a swarm of hands finger through nibbles as I try to cast attention to the first question, putting to them the reasoning behind the fourth album:

 

"We wanted to document the music we had been writing in a different direction than we'd done before with a producer," says front-man Ben Bridwell. "On the last record we kinda took the reins ourselves. We got lucky that when we were thinking about producers Glyn Johns' name got brought up 'cos he was working with other artists through our management. So of course we said absolutely and we then knew what direction to head in."

 

It was always clear that Glyn Johns was going to have a big part of the final product, from working with music royalty The Beatles, to Led Zeppelin, Johns has had a big impact on pop music as we know it. Yet his style perhaps took Band of Horses back a step, with his work ethic completely apposed to how we deal with music today. Bridwell continues to explain how the modern outfit tried fit in with the old working styles. "All the material was written before, but how it was recorded was his own effort. He's an older fella, from a different age of strictly analogue, where bands are supposed to know how to play their instruments and know what their songs are supposed to sound like. So we did that."  Ryan Monroe diplomatically cuts in as the rest still prod and poke the olives leaving a spattering of juice over my phone: "Well his approach is different and it's just a band playing in a room recorded to tape with minimal over dubs, and minimal effects such as pedals. He doesn't deal with computers, it was just capturing the band at that moment with the best performance playing the song."

 

Way back in 2010 Bridwell "opened his mouth" and said "Infinite Arms felt to me like it the first Band Of Horse record." In essence it was the band he'd always dreamt off. Straight from the start of the interview they seemed confident, but right now it feels we are talking to a bunch of mates; jokes have been flung about, and stories have been shared, so stupidly I ask where that put's Mirage Rock. "As our second album" shouts the corner of the room, only to be met by a rapturous bout of laughter, hand claps and rosy red-cheeks in our pub like atmosphere. Creighton Barrett tires to rescues something serious out of the tumbling and humorous situation: "It was mainly Ben writing the bulk of the material for the first two albums. It started on Infinite Arms; Ryan was on the second record and after that we acquired Bill and Tyler. They all write their own music and have solo careers so there's just more options with people writing different stuff and it wasn't just Ben writing all the material."

 

As the laughter dies down Bridwell adds to Barrett's rescue attempts: "Having seen the band through all the different stages, this is the best place we have been." All eyes look down at the table full of wine, beer and nibbles but Bridwell continues: "Just mentally and physically and how we play together and I think, at least having everyone's input I feel we are a lot stronger than we have ever been." Band of Horses have always been one of those bands that have a 'Guitar Hero' attitude; you can easily don your air-guitar that thrash out one of the band's hits. But the chemistry of their last, and current efforts is very much clearer than before, with the connectivity of the current line-up creating music that seems both powerful, peaceful and angelic at times.

 

With all seeming well in the studio and drinks topped up attention turned to their forthcoming UK tour. With the band having played many of London's world renowned venues, I asked for some of their highlights both past and present. As front man of both band and interview, Bridwell picks this up, which gives the rest of the band more opportunity to go for the olives that have been topped up once again. "We decided to do the Hammersmith Apollo…[there's] lots of great history there, and we've never been before. We've gotten lucky in London as we have gone through some great venues: Shepherds Bush, Scala, and Bush Hall to Koko. We've kind upped the ante each time, and doing Brixton was huge for us last time, so to do the Hammersmith Apollo is really exciting because of all the live albums that have come out of there. Scotland and Ireland are always fun…the rest of England is fine by me really."

 

With their music being widely accepted in the UK, I finished up asking how they gauge their reaction over here. Ryan Monroe quickly jumps in with something diplomatic: "Coming from a place that can be so harshly critical on bands, I'm always so awesomely surprised that we're still allowed to come back." Bridwell closes with his statement causing another spate of laughter, but I get the impression readers from Birmingham won't share his opinion: "It's similar as hell then, like in America, that you can hit a shitty town where everyone has been so jaded and spoilt through so much music coming through. You'll be surprised that the crowds can be really warm in London, where as in Birmingham they'll probably just stare at you and probably try to kill you."


Mirage Rock is out now, and you can catch the band at the following dates this November:

  • 15th November – Birmingham – HMV Institute
  • 16th November – Glasgow – O2 Academy
  • 19th November – Manchester – Academy
  • 20th November – London - Hammersmith Apollo