Southern Riders – Band of Horses

Due for publication on Grooveguide.co.nz in September 2012

My phone conversation with Bill Reynolds, bassist and producer with South Carolina’s Band of Horses, must be one of the most congenial to date.  Over the phone, at least, he’s one of the nicest most charming guys, I’ve ever met.  His southern drawl has a light, assuring feel to it. He talks like a sagely big brother.   Having relocated to northern California as part of the band’s recent recording project, Reynolds admits he’s not a “Hollywood kinda guy’ and shuns the usual big city trappings preferring his cabin in the woods, where he has a small studio. 

He tells me the move was logistical, more for the album than for the lifestyle and it’s miles down the road from his preferred home of in the Carolinas.  Briefly known as just Horses, BOH get classified as rock, but they’re really more roots and country.  Think 70’s John Denver, but way cooler.  Formed in 2004 in Seattle by Ben Bridwell, they’ve have released three studio efforts including 2010’s Grammy nominated Infinite Arms .The band’s line up, which included Mat Brooke for their debut album, has undergone several changes, although the current members, Bridwell, Ryan Monroe, Tyler Ramsey, Creighton Barrett and Reynolds have all been with the band for several years.

The band struck gold when the track “The Funeral”, form their debut Everything All the Time’s got picked up by the Networks for a number of series, films, video games, and even advertisements.  Plus an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, in mid 2006, didn’t hurt either.  By then without Brooke who by then Mat Brooke had left to form Grand Archives.  Reynolds remembers that Brooke was pivotal to “getting a show opening for Iron and Wine in Seattle.   Ben asked if (Brooke) would just come up and do a couple songs, just ’cause we’re friends. So…he did that. It was fun and then a couple of Iron and Wine tours came up…and then next thing we’re in the studio recording for (label) Sub Pop.”  When asked why Brooke left, Reynolds muses that he’d never really given the commitment to be a formal member – more just a spur of the moment…and Everything All the Time took off really fast.” Elsewhere Brooke’s commented that “it was still 100 percent Ben’s project and I kinda wanted to see what else I could do.”[

Roll on to today and Reynolds is talking to me about the band’s fourth studio album, scheduled for release this month, produced by Glyn Johns.   Mirage Rock‘s lead track “Knock Knock” bounds a long like a steam train, and reveals inspirations gleaned from recent tours with Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson and John Reilly.  The Railroad Revival Tour was a one-of-a-kind U.S. train tour traveling on 16 vintage, 1940’s railcars with open air, and pop-up concert venues in parks around the tracks where they stopped.  “He he, it’s like being on your own train set.  A cool way to tour and way better than those seedy bars and stuff we’ve done in the past.  It suit’s us too because we can’t deny our leanings towards roots and country, style music.”  Asked if BOH should really be classified as Americana, Reynolds is a bit cagey.  “No, because all American music could be called that.  It’s a country of a vast rich culture.  We just play what’s real.”

Mirage Rock is out 13 September.  Streaming now on www.bandofhorses.com

Touring January  Wellington Town Hall  15th  / Auckland Town Hall  16th

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