View Comments
Horses for courses
Band of horses frontman Ben Bridwell, second right, is looking for party energy at this year's Big Day Out.

With new album Mirage Rock well and truly out, and a visit for the Big Day Out just around the corner, Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell looks forward to further developing his group's love affair with Australian audiences.

On their last visit, in support of Kings of Leon, you could barely make out the members of the Seattle-born band, particularly from the cheap seats. Nonetheless, Bridwell has fond memories of our city, and in particular of Rottnest.

"We had a day off and went off to Rottnest," he recalls.

"We stayed the night and had a blast out there, man. To get to go out to that island was one of my favourite tour memories of all. We rented bikes and rode around the island, it was great.

"We got lucky, when you tour with bigger bands they've got the dough and they can take a couple of days off here and there."

Mirage Rock, album number four, saw the band, now based in South Carolina, work with famed UK producer Glyn Johns, father of super-producer Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams). Johns Sr has as decorated a resume as any producer, including work with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Who and, perhaps most infamously, the Beatles' scrapped Get Back sessions, eventually released after they broke up as the Phil Spector-produced album, Let It Be.

Johns Sr not only brought great experience with him, but his standing as an elder statesman of rock'n'roll steered the Horses in a more rocking direction than we've heard from the band before.

"The legacy that follows him, the bands he's worked with, it made us want to focus in on some of the rock'n'roll stuff," Bridwell explains. "And some of them kind of boogied a bit which was a little different for Band of Horses. So we fit in with where he's come from, because of his history, him helping with the advent of rock'n'roll. So he brought that.

"He did everything, he engineered and produced and mixed the thing, so he was critical to the entire process from start to finish."

Johns Sr also showed his age a little when it came to the genre Band of Horses initially made their name with: indie rock.

"Some stuff he just didn't really get," Bridwell says. "Like some of our more, I guess it would be considered indie rock stuff, some of that he didn't exactly identify with. Some of it he did, so I guess at the end I had to be resigned to allow it to be an art project with Glyn in a way, even though I might have felt like I had different visions for the album. I still have all these songs I've written that can be used for another album. I just really wanted to embrace working with Glyn and the material that he wanted to work on along with the other guys in the band because it's a bit of a monster like that - producer and five band members.

"You know, the talks of what material to use can get a bit cloudy because everyone is going to have a different opinion."

That's not to say you should expect a return-to-roots indie rock album next time around however, with Bridwell keen to continue branching out and exploring new paths.

"It feels like this was a big challenge in a way, to record it strictly analog and play it all live whereas the previous album was so heavy and had so many overdubs," he says.

"For the fifth album, to do anything that we'd done before wouldn't feel as exciting.

"Right now, I'm at this point where I want to do something even more different. So it could be something way different than all that indie rock stuff."

Until the Big Day Out then. And Bridwell's got the perfect set mapped out in his head already.

"Hopefully it'll be a big old damn party," he enthuses.

"That's all I've ever wanted from us, a great experience. I hope that we're doing a slot where the punters are perfectly drunk, there's still some energy.

"I don't really care what stage as long as the energy is good, I would expect that you'll get some of the stuff that has gotten us to this point from the previous albums and I'm sure a showcase of the new stuff so people don't feel like they've seen the same damn show over and over from us."

'I hope that we're doing a slot (on the Big Day Out bill) where the punters are perfectly drunk.' BEN BRIDWELL