Life is bouncing and things are hot for Charleston-based indie-rock act Band of Horses. Last year was packed with extensive North American and European tours, critical acclaim, numerous fan-generated YouTube clips, and late-night television performances, and 2008 promises even more success.
We recently spoke with the Horses’ Ben Bridwell — the group’s main songwriter and bearded ringleader — shortly before the band kicks off a month-long East Coast and Midwest tour this week with a show at the Music Farm (their first local gig since last October). After that, it’s on to the UK and Europe in late February.
On almost morphing into a bona fide “triple-guitar” Southern rock band:
“It’s the best, man. I didn’t even consider how much it might cost to add so many people to the band on stage — and I still don’t really care. I just always wanted the band to sound full on stage, and I wanted to give the listener an ultimate mind-blowing experience. I wanted a full sound. All three of those guys are the missing pieces. Ryan (Monroe) has so much soul, and so much talent. It was like, ‘Wow, we become one of those bands people like to go see live!’ And Bill (Reynolds) is such an accomplished bass player, so the rhythm section was mad proper. With me and Rob (Hampton) not being such virtuosic guitarists, it was cool to add Tyler (Ramsey). He has such a unique style, himself. He’s so versatile. It really feels like it’s finally a band, rather than me just writing songs and getting people to play them with me. It’s as much their band as well.”
On the chemistry between the current lineup:
“I feel like it’s absolutely there. We feel like the band has a higher purpose, like we’ve taken on a whole new life now. It feels like we’re really all in it together.”
On the current Horses set list:
“We’re doing everything we can, actually. We just played four nights in a row in Atlanta at the E.A.R.L., which was kinda exhausting. We did 22 songs, which is the longest set list we’ve ever had. We’re playing anything we can figure out off of all the albums.”
On being spotted out on Folly Beach:
“We’re lucky that the owner of Echo Mountain studio [the Asheville facility where they recorded Cease to Begin] lets us use his beach house on Folly Island. We mostly spend time out there surfing, even in the winter. We’ve been on Folly quite a bit. But we still have a house over in Mt. Pleasant, near Towne Center. Creighton, Rob, and Bill are pretty much in the Mt. Pleasant house. No one really recognizes us over in Mt. Pleasant at all, which is nice. Tyler’s in Asheville, Ryan’s near Columbia, and my girlfriend and I have a place up in Minneapolis. I’m back and forth.
On being “one of the biggest rock bands out of Charleston” and the debate on whether they’re a genuinely “Charleston-based” band:
“We pay our taxes in Charleston, that’s for sure! Man, I’m Carolinian, tried and true, so I call that place home. I feel like it’s the only place that’s home, really, even though I’m splitting my time between cities. When we finish a tour, we have our eye on the prize of getting home. We have family in Charleston, so it feels so good to get back every time.” —T. Ballard Lesemann