Leeds' Pulled Apart By Horses played a smasher of a gig on Bristol Thekla’s tiny bar stage at the recent Dot to Dot festival, whereupon DiS took the opportunity to catch up with the reprobates and quiz them a but more about their somewhat unhinged world.
DiS: So how did Pulled Apart By Horses come to be?
James Brown: Weeell... We started out as three people, which was me, Lee and Rob, and we went for a jam in a warehouse in the red light district in Leeds. We played a couple of songs and recorded them on Rob’s phone ...
Rob Lee: And there were a few rats running around. They added to the initial inspiration of the band.
JB: Completely! ...and we need needed a singer so we asked Tom because he’d split up from his band, Mother Vulpine, and Tom came along and ruined it! No, Tom came along and did some singing then it started. We rehearsed in this pub where I live, called the Packhorse, and did our first show, which we did as a secret show by text invite. We just texted loads of people in Leeds and went “we’re a new band called Pulled Apart By Horses. Come and watch us” and it worked somehow. And everybody came even though they’d never heard of us or any of our songs! We played to like a full room in the pub and then that was it.
DiS: Who did you text?
JB: There’s a forum in Leeds called Leeds Music Forum. I used to be a promoter in Leeds and I had lots of their phone numbers and I posted some things on the local forums, and it worked and people came. I bought a sim card and put the number on some internet forums and people text the sim card and then they all seemed to turn up, which was pretty weird. It was pretty awesome.
RL: James also had the genius stroke of getting That Fucking Tank to play with us on our first gig, who are an amazing band, so we owe quite a lot to them. Don’t we, Lee?
Lee Vincent: Oh, we definitely do. I think there was kind of an element of hype from the beginning which we never really understood but it’s worked in our favour. We could’ve been shit. People liked our band before they’d ever heard anything. It’s just like, why? I think it was probably James’ face. People are just instantly drawn to it.
JB: No, no, no...
LV: Oh no, it’s my face! I think it’s just the back history of us being in different bands, people who liked those bands were probably quite interested in us and hearing what we sounded like together. Um, I hope we didn’t disappoint them. I imagine we didn’t. I dunno... We were considering doing just a noise set just to piss everybody off, but no… we just stuck to second rate crunge covers. Ha ha!
DiS: And what about releases?
LV: We did 'Meat Balloon' on Big Scary Monsters then we did 'Pulled Apart By Horses'... no, that’s the name of the band- we did 'Pulled Apart By Horses' by I Punched A Lion In The Throat- no, we did 'I Punched A Lion In The Throat' on Too Pure. That’s all we’ve done so far – two 7-inches – but we’re just concentrating on playing live really. We’ve combined the two 7-inches on a little CD but I think we’ve toured quite a lot this year and now we’re going to try and knuckle down and write an album, and hope that’s not shit!
JB: Yeah, we’ve done two singles and we’ve done Dance To The Radio which is a label in Leeds – we’ve just done a 12-inch with them, a compilation with four bands and we had a track called 'E+MC Hammer' on that, and that’s all we’ve released up to now. I think we’ll do one more single and then an album! We have to write an album first...
DiS: Yeah, where is that?
JB: Erm... it’s under my bed! I think we’re gonna release the album by the end of this year but with whom we cannot say.
DiS: So just in time for Christmas?
JB: Autumn, maybe autumn.
DiS: So, time for some random ones. If you had to name a band you were happy you weren’t in, who would it be?
LV: Wow, we can start some shit now, can’t we.
RL: I’d say Future of The Left because they’re fucking rrrrubbish!
LV: That’s true actually. They’re the suckiest band I’ve ever seen in my life and they’re a right bunch of bastards as well! Ha ha! No, we don’t wanna hate on other bands really. We are a live and let live kind of band. There are lots of bands we hate musically but I’m sure they’re all lovely people and I’m not going to name any of their names.
DiS: Ok, so there’s this recession and lots of cut backs. If you had to get rid of one member of the band, who would it be?
RL: So, it’s a recession… if we had to get rid of one of us it would probably be Rob the bassist ‘cos he’s pretty much a part-time – well, full-time - alcoholic and he’s actually not that good on bass either.
LV: That’s true actually.
RL: And he’s really ugly as well so let’s get a better looking bassist, maybe a female one, probably Tom’s girlfriend who is, I would like to say, rather attractive.
DiS: Should you really say that?
RL: Well you know... funnily enough Tom’s girlfriend always appreciates it when I tell her she’s attractive. Let’s give it to Tom for a bit. He’s not said anything.
JB: Tom! Stop being on the phone!
[Passes mic to Tom mid telephone conversation]
Tom Hudson: Rob’s handed me a microphone... what do you want me to do? Have a three-way conversation? I’m a boy, I’m not a multi-tasker. It’s hard enough as it is just communicating with one person, let alone this.
DiS: Moving on then... you seem to have a pretty strong following in Bristol. Do you think that has something to do with Tom’s brother being based here?
LV: Yeah, I think Jack - who’s Tom’s brother - and his housemates, they’re a lovely, lovely set of lads. We always stay with them and whenever we’re in the same town as Jack he’ll always play a song with us. Whenever we’ve played smaller gigs they’ve always been there and got the crowd going and stuff which is really cool.
JB: So we started out doing the smaller gigs and they all came and went a bit crazy, and now everybody seems to go a bit crazy, which is cool. It’s nice to see faces you don’t know when you go to a town that you’ve played before. It’s really, really nice.
LV: Tonight was kind of our perfect gig really; reasonably controlled chaos when everything just descends into madness. When everything falls apart, that’s when it feels best, really. It doesn’t really matter how good the sound is - not that we ever concentrate on that anyway - but if you can get an atmosphere going and people are just up for jumping around and causing bit of chaos, then that’s where we thrive I guess.
DiS: It’s nice that it does feel like everyone’s gig...
LV: Yeah, we come from the… not that we have any ideology or anything – but we do like to get people involved. Even if it’s a big gig Tom will get in the crowd and it makes people feel more a part of it. I mean, it’s an old cliché to say that there’s a barrier between the band and the audience or whatever, but there often is and we’re not really keen on that so we try and get rid of it. And in a place like this that’s not really a problem because they’re on the stage already so it’s fine.
RL: The only reason we did it in the first place was for fun, so if everyone’s enjoying themselves then we’ve succeeded.
DiS: So what else do you have planned this year?
JB: Festivals! We’ve just got confirmed this week, while we were on the Future of The Left tour, Leeds and Reading festival! We’re doing T In The Park, and Download festival we’re playing the same day as ZZ Top and Def Leppard! I can’t wait! This is gonna be the best year ever! Def Leppard?! It’s gonna be amazing! And, yeah, there’s some other festivals as well.
RL: Zed Zed Top!
JB: There’s some other festivals as well that we might play but we’re not confirmed for them yet. But basically festivals over the summer and in between the festivals, writing and recording the album. And then I guess we’ll do our own headline tour after the summer and smash out as many gigs as we can, and then the album will come out and we’ll all be dead!! We’ve done like 160 gigs since we started. We’ve only been gigging for a year and I think we’re all going a bit mad! In a good way.
DiS: So, how have you been received everywhere else, ‘cos I’ve only ever seen you in Bristol?
JB: Oh! Amsterdam, we played this well known festival thing called London Calling at this venue called The Paradiso, which is where the Rolling Stones will only play if they play in Holland, or something weird, and we played there and I’ve never been there, I think the other guys had been there, but we’ve never gigged out there, and we got there and played at about eight o’ clock and the room was just full of people dancing and singing and there was even a guy who’d made his own home-made Pulled Apart By Horses T-shirt! We were like “oh, this is quite weird”. But you don’t expect - when you go somewhere you’ve never been and you play a gig - you don’t expect anyone to be singing or anything.
LV: It’s still a mixed bag as far as far as gigs go. I mean, we’ve been really lucky to tour with bands like Rolo Tomassi and Grammatics and Future Of The Left ‘cos you’ve got fans from another band who are there anyway and it’s like your opportunity to win them over. You get your odd dry nights where people just stand there like zombies. We don’t have any egos – yet - so we still go by the attitude that if it’s ten people or a hundred people you still play the same as you would either way. But that’s where we’re at now. We don’t have a solid fanbase. There’s more and more people liking us all the time which is cool, but you basically have to kick the shit out of it every single night.
JB: I think one of the best things for us though is that we’ve toured with bands of completely different genres which means you play to different crowds, so you’ll get some people that don’t like it but there’ll be some people that don’t necessarily listen to that sort of music and then go “I quite like this”. Band like Blood Red Shoes and Rolo Tomassi are completely different. The Blood Red Shoes lot - their audiences - they were really up for it and really got into it. And the Rolo ones, we were like “this should work” and it did, but you do think there might be some who don’t like it. We seem to be doing alright support-wise. With audiences that haven’t seen us, they seem to take a shine to us a little bit which is really fucking awesome. You do worry though when you go on tour with a band like Future of The Left - who are fucking amazing - that it’s going to kill you, completely. But it’s been going really well, this tour we’re on now. Really well.
[Descends into random conversation]
JB: I read Drowned in Sound every day! [all mock his butt-kissing] I actually do though. Sean might like to hear that... Ha ha!
DiS: So, how do you keep yourselves sane while you’re on tour?
TH: We don’t keep ourselves sane. Luckily this time we’ve got like an Xbox so we’ve been shooting each other a lot and kicking a lot of balls about into goals, metaphorically.
JB: Yeah, this van that we’ve got has got an Xbox 360 in it. It’s probably the best thing ever. And it’s got a hard drive attached to it with every film ever on it. Well, maybe not ever, but it’s got a lot on it.
DiS: Napoleon Dynamite?
JB: That’s on there, all the Star Wars films, all the Godfather films...
DiS: Legally Blonde?
JB: Ha! No, that’s not on there. God, I wish it was! Burn After Reading we watched today, and Role Models, which was hilarious if a little cheesy…
DiS: So, all this time on the road together must be hard. Do you all get on?
TH: We don’t really fight but we’ve developed this really weird fucked up sort of family connection, haven’t we? And sometimes because we’ve been on tour so much everybody has down days or up days or whatever and Lee was saying a bit ago, whenever he’s having a quiet down day me and James are having an up day, just like “Whooooaaaa!!”
TH: ... just complete idiots.
LV: And that’s when I want to kill them. That’s when the ipod comes in and you sit in the corner on your own with your music on-
TH: -listening to Gallows gettin’ angry.
RL: You know when you’re in a little family and you’ve got like a brother or a sister and you hate ‘em a bit? Well, it’s worse than that, ‘cos none of us are actually related.
JB: I think Lee’s the dad, I’m the mum, Rob’s the cheeky little son and Tom’s the adopted one which doesn’t really fit in very well ‘cos he’s a bit mental.
TH: I’m only tryin’ to make an impression ‘cos I’m adopted!
DiS: What’s the best and worst bit about touring?
LV: I think the best bit is obviously playing gigs
TH: Any normality getting ruled out.
LV: The whole chaos of the thing is actually pretty cool but you do develop your own routine of being in a van, playing a gig, not knowing where you’re gonna stay... but you get to meet loads of cool people and play good shows. But then I guess the bad part is just missing your home and your girlfriend and all that kind of gay rubbish, really. It’s easy to get down on it a lot of the time but if you’re gonna complain about it you’re obviously in the wrong fucking game, basically. You just get used to being really poor, not eating well, not sleeping well...
RL: I would say the best thing about being on tour is Gavin Glove. And the worst thing about being on tour is Gavin Glove!
JB: Gavin Glove’s our tour manager. Gavin, what’s it like tour managing Pulled Apart By Horses?
Gavin Glove: Tour managing Pulled Apart By Horses is like... looking after some really special children, ‘cos it’s just like you don’t wanna get angry at them ‘cos they’ve got a disease, but you do anyway. That’s pretty much it. And then I just tune some guitars and I go home, so that’s it.
RL: Let’s talk about Gavin Glove for a bit. He just tour managed Dananananaykroyd... Gav, what else do you know about music?
GG: Music was invented in 1973 by Kylie Minogue. What she did was she just got two bricks and just threw them at a wall and all of a sudden the Locomotion came out. If you look at Wikipedia it will say the Locomotion was written before 1973 but it’s not true. Other things I know about music are... oh, that’s it actually. Just that it was invented by Kylie Minogue. And I know the chord of G. Rob, what do you know about music that wasn’t made in the Nineties? Fuck all!
RL: I know that the first band that existed was Nirvana. The second band was called Nirvana. And Pearl Jam just warmed up for Nirvana. Tom, what do you know about little kittens?
TH: They taste great with mash and bread, all pushed together. But what you have to do, before you eat a kitten, you have to pull out their spine and sellotape the ribs to the back of your head. It’s like, kind of a ritual. It’s a bit weird, I know, but that’s the only way I know how to eat a kitten to be honest with you. James, what do you think about the current situation with, erm, no flow of urine being passed about the, um, Birmingham situation with the circulation of the...
JB: I think it’s a well defined problem at the moment and the best way to solve it is by... [unintelligible noises] Soz!
DiS: Righto. Insightful, thanks for that. So, before being in bands, did you all have day jobs?
JB: Yes. I temped in offices, which was like suicide.
TH: I worked in a book shop for a while until, well, I used to do it during the first two tours of this year. I used to literally come back from touring and the next day I used to have to go and look at a load of books and drink loads of coffee. But we’ve been touring so much at the moment I haven’t really got a job. I’m just a tramp.
LV: I fucking hate jobs!
JB: Rob had arealjob...
RL: Hi, this is Rob. I used to be a graphic designer and I worked for a Company called Gamma Creative which is the best graphic design company in Leeds.
DiS: The Meat Balloon 7-inch came with a comic and a design magazine and stuff. Who did all that then?
RL: Thomas J Hudson did that. He’s a graphic designer too. Well, he’s an illustrator.
JB: Tom does all our art.
RL: I’ve actually been dying to have a go on the graphics for quite a while now but [resentfully] his artwork suits our music so much better, so it’s all over to him.
TH: What’s with all the sarcasm man? If you look up 'sarcasm' in the dictionary it says Robert John Lee and every time you look it up you get a paper cut.
RL: Also sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and I am the lowest form of human being.
JB: I’m James Brown!! Sex machine.
DiS: Were your parents taking the piss when they named you?
JB: I’ve never asked them and I don’t want to ever ask ‘em. I’ve never asked my dad. And I’m not gonna. He might turn round and go “it was an elaborate joke, James. We had a son and we thought it would be funny to name you after a black soul singer, so you’d be bullied at school, but eventually become a sex machine, so that’s fine.” Wow! I’ve been doing this for 33 minutes!
TH: It just means you’re gonna be sat at home with 33 minutes of emotional pain, banging your head.
JB: Can I go buy a beer from the bar? Hang on, what the fuck am I asking you for?! “Please miss...”
TH: Did you ever do that thing at school where you need a wee and you put your hand up and you go to say “Miss, can I go to the toilet” and the only word that comes out is “Mum”? And everybody else in the classroom just looks at you and laughs. How fuckin’ bad was that?!
LV: We’ve all been there.
RL: “Mum, five plus three is one.”
LV: [addressing Rob] What I wanna know is did you fuck a zebra?
RL: There’s been some rumours going around about my family and zebras. I just wanna clear this up now. None of it’s true.
DiS: If you were a fish, what fish would you be?
LV: I’d be a Koi Carp
TH: Oh god, if I was a fish? If I was a fish I’d be one of those little neon ones. Have you seen them? A little tropical neon fish that you can see their bones through their body, because that’s near enough what I look like anyway.
RL: I’d be a salamander. It’s like a fish but it’s got hands and feet. How cool is that?
DiS: That’s pretty cool, but technically not a fish.
RL: Er, is a seahorse a fish? Gav, what kind of fish would you be?
GG: I’d be a starfish
RL: You would be a star fish. But rather than five points, you’d have many points to prove…
[And with that, I decide to give up as it becomes clear we will get no more sense from the boys tonight]