Band of Horses are in town finishing up their sophomore album and playing a sold-out show at the Showbox on Monday, July 2. Singer/songwriting Ben Bridwell took a break from mixing the album to talk to The Stranger.
Oh, I’m sitting outside of Avast! waiting for Phil Ek to show up. Oh, here he is! Hi, Phil! See you in a little while.
How’s the recording going?
It’s going great. We’re just wrapping things up, which is good news.
How long have you been working on the album?
I guess a couple months. We kind of take breaks. We did two weeks and then we took a little break and went on tour. Then we did 10 days and went on tour. And now we’re back [in Seattle] for two weeks. We did a few more things like tracking and now we’re mixing—and then we go on tour.
How old are the songs on the album?
There are a couple that have been around for a while, since near the completion of Everything All the Time. There are a couple songs that feel like they’ve been around for at least a year. But a lot of them were written since I moved back to South Carolina, in the past few months.
Would fans recognize those older songs from your live shows?
Maybe one we used to play called “No One’s Gonna Love You.” That one we played quite a bit and it made the cut for the record. But for the most part, I don’t think anyone would know them.
What are the new songs like?
Well, Phil and I both find this album to be pretty different from the first one—but we can’t really figure out if it’s better or worse. A lot of the songs were written using standard tunings instead of weird, wacky tunings. I guess they seem more straightforward, some of the songs. And there are a lot more mellow jammers.
Any major changes in instrumentation?
On the last album, we didn’t use any synths or keyboards—we might have used a little bit of organ—but this one has a lot of keyboards on it, a little bit of strings, which we didn’t use on the last record. We didn’t use as much steel guitar on this one as we did on the first one. I didn’t play any bass on this record. So there are things that are different, but for the most part it’s just a lot of guitars.
Phil likened this to being very much more Southeastern; the first record sounded very Northwestern. I think this one sounds a little bit more country in spots.
Is there a title for the album?
I’m bouncing around with a couple of them, but I’m not ready to put my finger on one of them yet. It’s getting close, though.
Any working or rejected titles?
Yeah. Well, we were trying to figure out what a haiku was, so we decided to call the album American Haiku, cause it can have as many lines as you want. So the joking ones were either American Haiku, Service Pony, or—I’ll steal one from my girlfriend’s solo album that we’re doing—Weird Gravy. She’s going to kill me for ripping her off, but that’s just the way the business works.
Any song that stands out as a single?
You know, if I’m right about this I’m going to fucking hate myself, but it seems like the song you like the least or that you want to play the least will come back and bite you in the ass and have to be your first single. “The Funeral” was that way on the first album. So, I would say just because luck would have it that way, I wouldn’t be surprised if “No One’s Gonna Love You” is the first single. Just cause I can’t fucking stand performing it or even recording it.
And “The Funeral” was the same way?
Yeah, it was a bit of a monster and I didn’t really want to do that one. It sucks, but what can you do?
Are you going to be playing some new material at the Showbox show?
Yeah, we will. You don’t want to play too much and get people bored out their minds with a bunch of stuff they don’t know. Depending on how the vibe feels, we’ll probably do at least three or four.
How is it being back in Seattle? Is there anything you’ve really missed?
It’s been great being back. I’ve been lucky because my girlfriend’s been here, and she hasn’t spent that much time here before. So it’s been cool to show her around and rediscover certain areas that I might not normally go to. I miss watching the Mariners. I’m still a big Mariners fan, so it’s nice being able to actually see it instead of watching it on my computer or whatever. I like a lot of the bars here. I dislike a lot of the bars as well, just cause they get so busy. Where I live, you can avoid that shit pretty easily. But here you’ve got just huge groups of weekend warriors. I get kind of freaked out and avoid that shit on the weekends, you know. But there are a lot of old haunts in Seattle that I love going to. And we can’t get clothes—there are really no good clothing stores in South Carolina—so it’s nice to come back and be able to buy clothes that don’t make you look like a fucking moron or whatever.