Very rarely does the phrase “exploded into the music world” actually apply. Most of the time that phrase is used to discover whatever underage pop tart that will be assaulting our ears over the next few months, before releasing a sex tape and fading into obscurity. Thankfully, in the case of English band Pulled Apart By Horses that phrase is more the appropriate. Lead guitarist James Brown is currently relaxing at his fiancee’s house in Sunderland, England, happy and chilled. Although he has been spending the last couple of hours on the phone doing interviews with countless members of the world music press, he is more then happy to have a chat. “I have all the time in the word” he says as we begin.
Forming in Leeds in late 2007, Pulled Apart By Horses have had what can only be described as a stellar run. After supporting indie favourites Foals and The Bronx, they managed to land a support spot for mega band Muse. “I was a massive Muse fan as a kid and still am now, but when we heard about that I think we all thought someone was playing a cruel joke on on us,” admits Brown, still sounding stunned that they actually did it. “Dom, their drummer was really, really into the record so he invited us along. It was a privilege more then anything. Just being asked to play a show by a band like that is more than amazing.”
2012 will see the band release their second studio album Tough Love. “We wrote it from March to May 2011 and we recorded it in August, just before we played the Reading Festival.” Even in terms of a follow up album Tough Love was put together with impressive speed. “We do work quite quickly. We are that kind of band, we like to work under
that sort of pressure, it makes us riff more and be more excited about it. I know it wouldn’t work for a lot of bands who like to take a couple of years out to write and spend 6 months in the studio, but give us two weeks in a studio with a good producer and we will make a record.”
Tough Love also saw Pulled Apart By Horses team up with legendary rock producer Gil Norton who is widely acclaimed for his work with the Foo Fighters and the Pixies. So how did this all come about?
“I like telling this story, basically we were on the van on tour and we had written the album and our management said can you add some names to this list of producers. We were watching the Foo Fighters film (Back And Forth) and Dave Grohl started talking about making The Color And The Shape with Gil Norton. Me and Lee just looked at each other said it would be amazing to work with Gil Norton. We put him on the list and just thought there was no way on God’s earth that we were going to record with him. The next day he contacted our management and they told us he wanted to do the album. We were just like, ‘Are you kidding, is this for real? Jesus fucking Christ!’ We never ever thought that was going to happen.”
In picking up a new producer, they also dropped at least a few words from their song titles although James is adamant that this had nothing to with Norton’s influence. “What happened with this record was that we actually had time sit down and write the songs and kind of craft them. We got creative and got a theme for the album. The first album is literally a collection of the songs we had at time because we got signed and had to put a record out. With this one we weren’t really thinking about song titles, the names of all of the songs on Tough Love are the same as what they were when they were demos.” However, he still clearly has a love for the more ridiculous of song titles from their back catalogue. “I think my favourite one is Meat Balloon to be honest,” he laughs.
Pulled Apart By Horses also have Australia firmly in their sights for a tour later on this year. “We came out last year in March. We had done SXSW in Texas and then we got offered some gigs with the Golden Plains festival, so we jumped on a plane and flew to Australia. Australia is number one out of the tours we have done. It was absolutely incredible. There is talk of going back but we don’t know when or who or where. If it doesn’t happen we are going to book flights and come to Australia- we’ll book our own gigs!”
Australian audiences can look forward to a very intense and at time dangerous show. The boys are well known for their passionate live performances and onstage collisions resulting in gnarly injuries. At a show several years ago, Brown was hospitalised with a nasty gash to the head, but the injuries get much, much worse. “I ended up with the end of a guitar jack in my knee. I was a bit stupid back then and didn’t really shower on tour. It got infected and my leg blew up to double it’s size. I didn’t know what was wrong so I went hospital and they told me I had cellulitis up my entire leg. They told me if I had have left the infection for 2 more days they would have had to cut my leg off.”
However, even though they have had many years of practice since then, onstage collisions are still frequent. “I’m still not sure whether we have learned to steer our guitars away from other people or aim to land in the right place when we jump and not land on someone’s head. Or your own head.”
Playing with such intensity can take a greater toll than an onstage concussion, it can also bring on the dreaded burnout. “At the end of touring the first album we were burned out but we knew the tour was coming to an end and we were going to have some time off. This time around we aren’t going to be doing a gig every day, we can do the right gigs and the right tours as opposed to every bar and every pub in every town.”
Thankfully, no amount of burnout can dampen their sense of humour, something that is apparent in their music videos. “One of the first videos we did was “Back To The Fuck Yeah” which was an ode to the Evil Dead movies.” Horror movies have provided the influence to many of their videos, none more so then their new clip “V.E.N.O.M”. “We are all really big horror fans and Tom has this idea of possession. At first it was about this guy who drinks a bottle of venom and then he gets possessed and melts. Then we met the director who said, ‘I can help you with this’ and we both took the idea and made it into this. Pretty much we love horror films and we love having fun on set making videos, so we thought, what the hell. Let’s just stick to what we know and love and make a crazy B-movie horror video.”
With a sure to be exhausting run of shows coming up, not to mention the possibility of a world tour, it is easy to feel overwhelmed on the boys behalf, but do not feel sorry for them. “It’s the best job in the world”, the smile in James’s voice audible from a room far, far away.
Tough Love will be released on January 27, 2012 through Co-op/Universal.