It’s about half 8 in the evening on a Saturday in Southsea, and I’m upstairs in the toilets at the Southsea Social Club taking a photo of another man. An activity that would normally get my head battered in on any other night in Southsea, one would imagine. But the man I’m taking a photo of is none other than James Brown – Top lad, and one of the guitarists in the fucking awesome Pulled Apart By Horses. He’s taking a photo of a cracking piece of artwork – A picture of Morrissey with the word ‘ARE SHIT’ written underneath. Inspired…
A few hours later, Pulled Apart By Horses would play to a full house at The Wedgewood Rooms. Being the last band of the night across the whole festival, there was a huge queue sprawling down the street and some unlucky punters never got to make it in. Gutted. They were the band on people’s lips across the festival throughout the day.
But let’s go back to a few hours previous; back to the toilets at the Southsea Social Club. James seems pretty chipper for someone who’s just come off tour (and has a belly full of pie and graaavy) “…Slightly tired from pie and mash, which I’ve just eaten – which we’ve all just eaten. It was a six hour drive from Leeds, so a little bit tired from the drive, but we’re quite excited for the show tonight so we’ll be fine. (I caught drummer Lee outside The Wedgewood Rooms prior to the interview, nonchalantly munching on a pie…) We literally all came from Leeds, we were picked up this morning at about 10am, individually picked up which probably took two hours of the journey *laughs*We came straight from Leeds, we weren’t doing any shows yesterday but about four days ago we were doing a tour of Europe so we just got back from Europe gig wise.”
The European dates have been part of the Dr. Martens ‘Stand For Something Tour’; A series of five gigs in five countries with the aim of bringing the best musical talent from the UK to cities across Europe. Joining them on tour was the ever awesome Dinosaur Pile-Up, long time buddies of the band and a fucking great band in their own right. I’d originally planned to go and catch the show in Amsterdam as a bit of a long weekend, but annoyingly I couldn’t do it in the end (Imagine that – fucking hell, what a line-up!) “…we took them with us as the support, and we basically had all the fun *laughs*…We’ve known them for a long time as friends, but we’ve never toured with them. So it’s literally like going on holiday with your friends, it’s not like going on tour because you know everyone and you know what pisses each of you off and what you do and you don’t do. So it was basically a holiday with our friends, and then we had to do a little bit of work *laughs* Which isn’t even work, I don’t suppose.”
The European shows couldn’t have come at a better time, and have been great in promoting their newest record ‘Blood’, their third full length, released at the start of September. With the third record, the band looked to slow the production process down and take a different approach to their previous releases; the self-titled debut and ‘Tough Love’. “The new record has been a long time in the making, because we specifically took a year-and-a-half-out between the first two records, we just constantly toured and we didn’t stop. So this time we stopped, to create a record rather than just hash one together in the space of a week between each tour. It’s basically something we’ve sat down and thought about, whereas in the past we’ve had to hash something together pretty quick. So the record’s – I call it a bit of an adventure. It was an adventure for us making it, ‘cus we spent so long making it, but it’s definitely our best record to date. Even if you don’t like it, you can tell we’ve spent a bit of time on it, there’s a bit of a thought process in there. It’s not just 10 or 12 songs we’ve just smashed out in a studio ‘cus we’ve got two weeks. It’s a product; it’s an actual product – with thought.”
The first taste of ‘Blood’ came in the form of ‘Hot Squash’ released as a single in May, alongside a super stylised video. This was followed by the release of another single/video, ‘Lizard Baby’ which came out at the tail end of July. Both tracks seemed to have a more serious, focused vibe to them with a noticeable change in tempo compared to their previous efforts. But it’s still that Pulled Apart By Horses sound, packed out with dirty riffs and it certainly got people in the mood for the upcoming record. “It was quite studious this one, because we took a year out and wrote 30 songs. With the past two records, we went into the studio for a week. First one was done in a week, and then the second one was done in a week and a half I think, maybe like 10-12 days. So this record we recorded it 6-7 weeks. We spent 7 weeks recording it. So if you think about the first two records, they were both done in less than two weeks, obviously from that you can take the fact that we obviously sat down and experimented and played about with sounds and vocals. We just spent a lot of time working out our setup and sounds and instruments, We’ve worked on harmonies quite a bit. There was a lot of graft, there was a lot of hard work, ‘cus we wanted to try and further ourselves as writers.”
So was the gambit worth it; has the hard work paid off? According to the press, it would appear so.
“The reviews started coming out maybe 3 or 4 weeks ago. We were kinda obviously terrified, and then the first one came in and it was good and we were like, ok that’s nice. The second one came in and that was really good, and then another one came in and then Q and the Guardian all reviewed it, and the response has been brilliant. From the press it’s been overwhelming really, the reaction. Obviously the fans as well – there’s a few fans, a small amount, who are a bit like ‘oh it’s not a punk record’ and it’s like, well no that’s boring, we don’t want to make another punk record, we want to do something different.“
As artists it must be troubling – Do you stick to the trusted formula that’s worked for you before even though it might no longer interest you, or develop your sound and change your output at the risk of alienating your fanbase. It’s been a recurring theme in the music industry for decades, from the smallest bands to the biggest. Would the Beatles have gone on to be as big as they were had they stuck to their Chuck Berry inspired bubblegum rock and roll? Would anyone give two fucks about the Arctic Monkeys if they’d released five albums worth of ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’? If Tom Waits had carried on the propping-up-the-bar, piano-has-been-drinking gimmick he started out with , he probably would have died of alcohol poisoning by now…Change can be a good thing. But as James points out – Some people weren’t sure about what became of the longer studio time spent on this new record. “‘Hot Squash’ no one said anything, and then ‘Lizard Baby’, there’s a few people who were like ‘what’s this?’ It’s what we find interesting at the minute. If it bored us, if we got bored of it, it wouldn’t be good – it’d be shit. If we were writing stuff that we were bored of, like if we wrote the first album again, it’d be shit. It wouldn’t be very good, we wouldn’t do a good job of it ‘cus we’d be bored. There’d be no heart and soul in it. But there’s always gonna be people who are like – you know, everyone moans. But that’s fine, you just take it with a pinch of salt, ‘cus it’s only a minority, only a small amount of people. If you don’t like it, go listen to something else. Don’t waste your time typing on a Youtube video like when you could be hanging a noose and putting your neck round it *laughs*(whispers ‘I shouldn’t say that’) If you don’t like it, don’t fucking listen to it *laughs*
It’s not like a big…You know everyone’s kicking off about U2 at the minute, it’s like there’s not been a backlash or anything. Overall it’s been brilliant; we’re so happy with the response overall, really chuffed.”
When he bought up the U2 comparison, that got me thinking – wouldn’t it have been great if the new Pulled Apart By Horses record was automatically installed on everyone’s devices, free of charge??
“A few people said that on Twitter, ‘cus it was kindof close to when our album came out, maybe two weeks before. A few people were like ‘you guys should’ve done that, no one would have complained’ and I was like ‘Yes they fucking would!’ They definitely would’ve complained *laughs* ‘What the fuck is this racket?’
You can’t force anything on anyone; it’s disgusting that they’ve done it. I don’t actually mind U2, they’ve got some fucking amazing albums. It’s a shame that they’ve done that actually.”
One of the cool things to coincide with the new record is the release of the band’s very own Pale Ale. Sharing the name of the record, ‘Blood’ is a 4.5% smasher that’s available in pubs and bars across Leeds and dotted about London and other areas. When you google the band, their website even has the tag of ‘Ale Stockists!’
“We’ve got a friend who works at a brewery called ‘Revolutions Brewery’ and he suggested it. It was before we had the album title, he suggested it and at first we were like ‘is that a bit laddy?’ So we weren’t that sure at first. Then we spoke to him more about it and then he suggested the idea of it being a coloured beer, and we could have the album cover on it. Then we called the album ‘Blood’, and then it just kinda clicked – It could be red beer, it’s got blood oranges in it, ‘cus we picked some ingredients. It seemed a perfect idea at the time. So we made it, had a launch for it in Leeds and it’s now in loads of pubs and bars. It felt quite cool; there was a launch at the Brudenell and it was only at that point where we walked in and saw it on the draught, on the tap, we were like ‘ahhh, that’s pretty cool’ *laughs* But it wasn’t until that very point, we were in a pub and it was there.”
So with the new record coming out to great response, a Pale Ale to their name and some cracking dates over in Germany with Blood Red Shoes lined up for the month of November, Pulled Apart By Horses seem to be in a really great position right now. “I think everyone’s mainly excited, because we’ve been able to make something we wanted to make. We had enough time to write and record it, make it exactly how we wanted…We’re kinda looking forward to touring the record at the minute, ‘cus it’s still quite fresh and new. It’s only been out for a couple of weeks now, we’re just eager to start playing it live to people. It’s all still quite exciting, the album release and what’s next, touring and stuff. We’ve got some opportunities now to go to some places we haven’t been before, touring wise, and the records been released worldwide, we’ve never had that before.”