Band of Horses bassist discusses analog vs. digital and more
By Chris O'Neal 04/18/2013
Seattle has produced many a band whose name precedes them — Nirvana, Soundgarden, Iron &Wine, now household names, received the same amount of attention as a local act before hitting it big. Band of Horses is no different, having been built from the ground up by a collection of various musicians from various locales, with a strong catalogue and a surplus of fans to follow them around the world. Now Band of Horses will be playing The Ventura Theater between weekends at Coachella, and bassist Bill Reynolds, who lives in Ojai will be their welcome wagon.
“When I’m in Ojai, I’m working. I work the whole time I’m here. I love it, I feel great, I can take care of myself. There’s nothing that’s in the way,” says Reynolds, who has played bass for Band of Horses for a decade.
Band of Horses’ Cease to Begin, its second album, brought the band into national attention with the single “No One’s Gonna Love You.” In 2009, the band released Infinite Arms which quickly skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard charts and became its most successful album.
In September of last year, however, Band of Horses took a different direction with the release of the album Mirage Rock, which saw the five-piece team up with legendary producer Glyn Johns, who has produced albums for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
“Almost 90 percent of the album we recorded live,” said Reynolds. “That’s a big change. Live, you ain’t fixing anything, you’re just doing it and letting it go. We listened to the records of the’60s and’70s, the technology available put limitations on them, and limitations create good art.”
Mirage Rock also saw the band’s live act changing from pre-recorded backing tracks to the simplicity given to a five-piece band with no additional equipment.
“When you talk about Infinite Arms, we made that as if we were Brian Wilson,” said Reynolds. “We put horns, strings, symphonies, so when we had to perform it on TV we had to hire string players which, while fun, means that you can’t always represent it live like it is on the record.”
A benefit recording an album live is that touring isn’t such a hassle. With no backup tracks and and no need to hire an accompanying band, Band of Horses is able to capture the sound on the album, a rare feat in this age of digital manipulation.
“With digital, you can sit there all day asking yourself if you want to do this or that and that eats up a lot of hours. With analog you don’t really have that choice. ‘Let’s finish the show.’ If you can carry that over to digital, you’re awesome. You learn how to make decisions.”
The band recently returned from New Zealand and Australia having played the Big Day Out festival, and is playing both weekends at Coachella, sandwiching a stop in Ventura and San Francisco in between. While at Coachella, Band of Horses will headline the Outdoor Stage on Friday, after Beach House and before Jurassic Five.
As for what to expect on a tour built around a new sound, Reynolds believes that this will be a unique experience for veteran followers and new fans alike.
“I’m not going to be a dinosaur that only does one thing,” says Reynolds. “We’re not going to do the same thing. Come expecting a raw sound. The one thing about making a record that’s awesome is making decisions, and you’ll see all of them live.”
Band of Horses at the Ventura Theater on April 18 is sold out.