Pulled Apart by Horses have already made a strong impact on 2012 with their terrifically loud and heavy second album, Tough Love. On the eve of their European tour we caught up with singer and guitarist Tom Hudson to discuss everything from Gil Norton to Wales and At The Drive-In. Oh, and the obligatory is rock music dead’ question.
musicOMH: You seem to have been constantly on the road over the last few years. What have been your highlights playing live thus far, and who have your favourite touring partners been?
Tom Hudson: We always find this question really hard to answer, as we find it pretty hard to remember everything we’ve done in the past few years! A big highlight and step up for us was when supported Biffy Clyro on their 2009 tour. It was the biggest tour we had done at the time, and it felt like a step up into another world for us as a band, we learned a lot from it! Them and their crew are like one big giant family and treated us with a lot of care and respect when we were on the tour. As for other gigs and tours we had some awesome opportunities last year. We got to play some shows and an awesome festival in Australia and then went out to play a string of shows at SXSW in Austin, Texas the week after. We also played some amazing European festivals the same year too!
OMH: Is there anywhere you haven’t yet played that you’d like to in the future?
Tom: I’d love to go to Japan. It’s on my list of places to visit and if we can get over there with the band it would be a double bonus! We’re also itching to get over to the US to do some touring.
OMH: Did you have any time off before making Tough Love or was it straight into the studio?
Tom: We actually did and I think it helped a lot. Well, when I say time off, we eased off on touring and only played a few select festivals and focused on writing new material for Tough Love. We are so used to being in a van on the road that it took a while to get into the flow of constant practising and writing towards the album but after a while something just snapped into place!
OMH: Why did you decide to record Tough Love in Wales?
Tom: Well it was mainly the producer Gil Norton’s decision to record at Monnow Valley, as he had already worked on a few other albums there and really liked the environment and the set up. For us it was amazing as it’s in the middle of nowhere, meaning there were fewer distractions and we were able to focus on recording. Saying that though, I think we all got our share of cabin fever in there. Black Sabbath have also recorded there quite a lot and rehearse there too, which can’t be a bad thing to add to the list of reasons!
OMH: Did you write the songs with your live performances in mind or was there a different approach this time around?
Tom: Not really, the only considerations when writing the new album were the passing thoughts of ‘I wonder how this part will go down live’, but then you don’t want to think about that too much or else your mind will travel into the future. I knew when writing some of the vocals that they were a lot more full on compared to the last album, so I had an inkling that I would be locked onto the mic a bit more and have less time to throw myself about. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
OMH: It’s a much bigger sounding album, yet still sounds quite raw and unhinged. Was this always the main aim?
Tom: Yeah! We didn’t want to come back with a second album that was over polished and too clean sounding, which is a problem that many bands have. Before we had even finished writing songs for the album we had spoke to Gil about how we wanted the second album to sound. We spoke of trying to maintain that raw / live element that has worked for us so far but also add something bigger to it sonically. We wanted it to sound BIG!
OMH: Which songs took the longest to record and why?
Tom: I think out of every song Night of the Living took the longest to record. One factor was trying to get the right balance in tempo between the pumped up verses and choruses, mixed with the super slow and sludgy break down. As this was a bit more of an experimental song for us, we played with a lot of different sounds to try and get the right atmosphere for the track. To give it even more of a horror vibe we got Lee’s Dad, Brian, in to play some Hammond Organ on the breakdown. He used to be in bands when he was younger playing various instruments, and was totally up for getting involved as soon as we asked him. He’s still got it!
OMH: Were there any particular artists that influenced the sound of Tough Love?
Tom: Not specifically. We tried not to focus on other peoples work when we were doing this, mainly because we didn’t want to subconsciously rip off other bands!
OMH: Gil Norton produced this record. What is it like working with someone who has such an illustrious and successful track record?
Tom: It was great, he’s a total legend! I think we all learned so much from him. He’s got an old school vibe about him yet is really sensitive to everyones needs and abilities. When we were doing preproduction he came up to Leeds and spent a week and a bit in a small practice room with us, helping us to enhance bits of the songs and try certain things out. He explained to us that to help enhance the album he basically wanted to become the fifth member for the duration of time from then up until we recorded the album. It made things more intense but in a positive kind of way and I think it helped get the best out of us as a band too.
OMH: Is there anyone else that you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Tom: It would be interesting to see what Josh Homme could do producing an album, and Steve Albini would be awesome too. I think every band should record with him at some point of their career! I’m also a big fan of Alex Newport‘s work, he did an awesome job at producing Pissed Jeans‘ album King of Jeans.
OMH: The BBC and, in particular, Radio 1 have been incredibly supportive of Pulled Apart By Horses. Has it taken you by surprise at all?
Tom: We’re constantly surprised by the amount of radio play we’ve received so far! Even before we had a 7″ single out BBC Introducing played a few of our demos that we had sent through to them. We’re very grateful for all the help and support, yet still remain baffled at the attention!
OMH: There’s been much talk about the declining popularity and quality of guitar bands and rock music. Are there any new bands at the moment that you think rubbish this theory, or do you think the naysayers actually have a point?
Tom: I think guitar music will never be dead. There’s always guitar music around – it just depends how much you look for it. The popularity of guitar music always shifts up and down but that’s because of music trends, and what the majority of people deem worthy at the time. Bands that totally crap on the whole ‘guitar music is dead’ theory are bands like Red Fang, Kong, Queens Of The Stone Age, Pissed Jeans, Blacklisters…there’s a lot more to list but I cant be bothered! Haha!
OMH: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Tom: We’re not entirely sure to be honest with you. We’re touring the new album in the UK and Europe in a few weeks and the rest is still being put together. We’d all love to go to the US and Australia again, as well as play some more awesome festivals all over Europe and the UK.
OMH: Finally, are you excited about the reformation of At The Drive-In?
Tom: VERY! As I never got to see them before they split up, I just hope they still have the same intensity they had when they were together before!
Pulled Apart By Horses’ second album Tough Love is out now through Transgressive. The band kick off a ten date UK tour in Glasgow’s King Tuts on 13th February. More information and music at pulledapartbyhorses.com. Questions were posed by Max Raymond.