It’s not been long since Pulled Apart By Horses released their eponymous debut album to, it would seem, unanimous praise – including a snazzy eight points from DiS. Never complacent though, the band have spent that time touring the length and breadth of Britain, and are currently wading through an onslaught of festival dates. We checked in with guitarist-vocalist Tom Hudson, to find out how they’re getting on.
DiS: So, you’ve had the album out for a little while now – how do you think the response has been?
Tom Hudson: It’s been a million times better than I could have imagined. We were pretty anxious about it coming out anyway, because it came out about eight months after we actually recorded, so we were getting more and more nervous leading up to it. Luckily, when it came out we got awesome reviews from everything really. I don’t think there’s been a bad one.
DiS: And what’s the response from fans been like?
TH: Really, really good: better than the reviews. Everyone’s left really nice feedback saying it sounds better than they thought it would have been in the first place and does the sound justice. It gets the energy across, which was the most important thing anyway.
DiS: Do you think your gigs have changed as a result of you having released the album?
TH: I think they have to the extent that people actually know the new songs, and because it’s been put around a bit more. We’ve made a bit of a thing of it and tried to spread it round so we’ve started to see a lot more new faces and a lot more people singing along. Probably because they actually know the lyrics this time, rather than just trying to decipher what I’m singing all the time, or shouting.
DiS: So was the album made with a live show in mind, or is it an object in itself and the gigs are a different thing?
TH: We wanted to make it as similar to each other as we could. I mean, obviously, with some of the earlier demos that we did we were still trying to sort out getting a decent sound. ‘Meat Balloon’, the first single we did, we recorded it all for fifty quid so it sounds like it’s been recorded using stone age tools. But yeah, we didn’t want to whack any ridiculous effects on it or go over the top with anything studio-wise. We just wanted to get down the energy and the vibe of the songs how they should be really.
DiS: So how did that process work, in terms of recreating a live gig in the studio?
TH: It was a case of us going insane really, and I don’t necessarily mean jumping around. I think mentally, because we were just locked up in this cabin in Bridlington for fucking ages and as we were starting to get on the edge and losing out minds a bit and getting cabin fever, that’s when we got the best stuff out.
DiS: Bridlington doesn’t strike me as the type of location that would suit a band of your style…
TH: I know, yeah. One of the days we went out into Bridlington, into the actual town and spent the whole day either laughing at weird people or being laughed at ourselves for being the outsiders. But it’s a cool place – one of our mates, James Kenosha, who’s recorded stuff for Dinosaur Pile-Up and Grammatics and a few of our other friends – he’s got a converted barn that’s on the side of his parents’ house and he’s souped it all up and it’s got a main performance room and it’s got beds in there. It’s not really overly comfortable but it’s a nice little place to get away and do something in.
DiS: Do you think your gigs, in terms of your performance, have changed as a result of trying to put it on a record?
TH: I don’t think so. I think we’re just doing what we’ve always done. I think there’s been an extra step up of professionalism, if you could call it that with us bunch of crap lads. But now we’ve got a guitar tech and a sound guy who really knows how to get the fattest sound out of us. But performance-wise it’s still us being idiots most of the time. I think the only thing I s, now we’re getting a little bit more known, we’re playing 45 minute sets, even up to an hour sometimes and it’s just a case of pacing ourselves because for the first year and half we were used to getting up on stage, banging it out in 25 minutes, half an hour and leaving. But now if we went on like the way we did then, we’d end up dying on stage.
DiS: When you’ve just had one album out then, have you had trouble pulling off headline shows?
TH: We had trouble in the past when we didn’t have enough songs but now we’ve got just about enough songs to juggle about with. We’ll be leaving a couple of songs out sometimes but normally when it comes to encores we’re so fucked or we’ve smashed up all our guitars anyway, there’s no way we could possibly do it.
DiS: That’s one way of getting out of it, I suppose.
TH: We played a gig in Birmingham for Off The Cuff Festival, and second to last song, James [Brown, guitar] thought it was the last song so he twatted his guitar across the room and smashed it to pieces and then turned round and looked at me like an upset kid. And then realised that we had one more song left to play. Luckily we had a spare guitar. He hadn’t quite thought that one out. He thought he’d end rock ‘n’ roll and ended up looking like a complete idiot.
DiS: You’ve played with quite a few well known bands as well – you’ve toured with Biffy Clyro and Future Of The Left. What’s been most exciting for you?
TH: All of it’s exciting to be honest with you. Luckily all the bands that have asked us to go on tour with them, if you were going to make a list of your top ten bands that you’d want to go on tour, or even play one gig with, they’d all be on it. It’s really random. Like the first time we played with Future Of The Left we were absolutely shitting ourselves because we were massive fans anyway. And then after the first night we ended up getting on with them and we’re all like-minded and pretty stupid so it went really well.
DiS: Do you think you’ve learned a lot from other bands then?
TH: I think we have, yeah, in a sense just how they manage themselves on tour. And learning things like how to break over, because we’re a band that are in between being a DIY band and a professional band now, which is really weird. But bands like Future Of The Left, and even Biffy do it really well. Because Biffy, when you meet them, you initially see how big they are now, they’re almost creeping into the stadium sort of size. But you realise that they’ve spent 15 years before that absolutely slogging it, sleeping on people’s floors, and doing everything to get where they are. And they’re still really humble, down-to-Earth dudes. You can chat to them about anything and they’re not big-headed at all.
DiS: They’re an interesting one, because despite how successful they are now they’ve still kept their integrity because it seems as though they’ve earned it. Is that something you aspire to? Would you be wary of getting too successful too quick?
TH: Things are going really well for us now, but that’s only because we’ve played a gig every day. We’ve just been on the road since we started so it’s been a lot of hard work getting to where we are. But I mean, I don’t know, if we got as big as Biffy or any band like that then we’re not going to complain. But I think at the same time, I don’t think we’ll get that big. There’s only a certain amount of people that will listen to abrasive, riffy, shouty rock.
DiS: Would that affect the music you write, ever?
TH: No, I don’t think so. Well, I hope not anyway. You never know, we might get ten years down the line and think “Fucking hell, we need to put some food on the table”.
DiS: Just make a Bon Jovi record.
TH: Yeah, make a proper, club banging, stadium album or something, but to be honest with you, we don’t really have any sort of motive or goal, we’re just doing what we do and putting stuff together naturally.
DiS: So you’ve got a single coming out which I assume we should probably talk about. How do you go about picking a single from an album like yours, because the “hits” don’t exactly jump out at you?
TH: With the first single, ‘Back To The Fuck Yeah’, we wanted to get something that’s got a bit of a poppy element to it and the chorus is really epic and big. It’s got the old Nirvana/Pixies quietish verses and then it rips into the chorus, and it’s fairly catchy. And it sums up the album as a whole, so that one was the first single to release off the album. And so the next one just coming out, which is ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’, that’s been one the we weren’t too sure about releasing because that was the third song we wrote as a band which ended up making it on the album. But we had to realise that not so many people have actually heard it and people will still be coming to the album new so we needed to look at it with fresh eyes. And everyone’s been telling us for ages that we should release it, so we just listened to our friends and fans went ahead with that. And then the next single we’re going to release is the one called ‘Yeah Buddy’ which is the club banger with full on chorus; a little guilty pleasure song.
DiS: You said that before the album came out you’d had it recorded for eight months, so you must be itching to get on with another one?
TH: That’s where we are now. At the moment we’re doing a lot of festivals so we haven’t got any gigs in the week and they you’re just blam, straight into the weekend. So we’ve all just been writing little bits at the moment but we haven’t quite got together yet and boshed stuff out. We’ve got all these songs that are sending us insane that we need to push out and start writing for the next album. It’s one of those things, it’s like the dreaded second album isn’t it?
DiS: It must make you apprehensive in a way. Is there anything that you learned from the last album that’s going to inform this one, like what you could do differently?
TH: I don’t think for us it’s a case of doing things amazingly differently. From looking at the first album, all the songs have something that’s different to each other. It’s not just the same thing again and again, so as long as we write an album that’s still as varied and interesting as that one – well, hopefully it’s interesting – then we’ll be alright. To be honest, I don’t really care. I just want to write a bunch of songs that I enjoy again.
DiS: I guess you’ve just got to do what feels natural.
TH: Yeah, definitely. Some of the songs that made it on the album, for instance ‘Yeah Buddy’, it’s really, really poppy. Rob [Lee, bass] wrote the main part of that and it sounded like an indie song when we first heard it. But the only thing is keeping the confidence. Once we all start putting our bit to it and putting vocals to it, it changes it and makes it sound like us guys anyway. It’s quite a relief to think that we can do anything we like and it’ll still come out sounding like the band.
DiS: Are you going into the second album more confident in that way, despite the apprehension about the “dreaded” second album?
TH: It’s a bit of a mixed deal really, because we still haven’t got all the songs there. I’ve got like six or seven songs in my head haunting me at the moment and it’s same with Rob and James, the other guys, but I’m sure it’ll happen.
DiS: And you’re touring in the Autumn as well?
TH: We’re doing a massive tour in September, all round the UK, and then in November we’re doing another tour for three weeks and picking up the venues that we didn’t play the first time round. And then hopefully going over to Europe as well and trying to kick the crap out of that.
DiS: Is there anything particularly special you’ve got planned for the next tour, or is it just a case of doing what you’ve been doing?
TH: I think doing what we’ve being doing, but we want to write some new material to test out, slip in every now and then and just see how it goes.
Pulled Apart By Horses release their second single 'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' on 6th September 2010 and are on tour on the following dates:
27 // Reading Festival
29 // Leeds Festival
4 // Manchester LCCC (supporting Muse)
6 // Southampton, Joiners (14+)
8 // Truro, Wig & Pen (18+)
9 // Newquay, On The Rocks (18+)
10 // Plymouth, Eagle
12 // End Of The Road Festival
14 // Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach (14+)
15 // Oxford, Academy (14+)
16 // Guildford, Boileroom (16+)
22 // Liverpool, Shipping Forecast (18+)
23 // Birmingham, Flapper & Firkin (14+)
24 // Bristol, Croft
25 // Cambridge, Portland (18+)
26 // Gloucester, Guildhall (14+)
10 // Norwich, UEA (supporting Foals)
11 // Lincoln, Engine Shed (supporting Foals)
12 // London, Brixton Academy (supporting Foals)
2 // London // Garage