Pulled Apart By Horses On The Art Of Selling Out & What’s Next For The Band

Hospital visits, cuts, bruises, gashes and just the right amount of blood. You might expect this to be the potential consequence list of, say, an extreme sport. Instead, it’s what one risks when going to see Pulled Apart by Horses.

The English post-hardcore/math-rock hybrid beast has been thrashing about stages with reckless abandon for the better part of a decade now, cementing a reputation as one of the wildest and most exciting live bands around. Their third album, Blood, was released last year; which saw the band further explore their genre-wandering and their notably-intense, fierce execution of whatever style of music they see fit.

Ahead of their Australian return, we spoke with guitarist/vocalist James Brown (don’t worry, we get to that) about getting Blood out of their system, the art of selling out and what’s next for the band.

Music Feeds: We’re coming up to a year since the release of Blood, in which you’ve toured it quite extensively. Has your opinion on that album differed at all in the year since it came out? What’s your relationship with it now?

James Brown: It’s kind of weird… it’s been out a year, but we wrote and recorded it two years ago now. We spent a lot of time making that record. The songs feel really old now – it’s kind of bizarre. We’ve played the majority of them live now, and we know which ones work. We know what’s going to make the set work – where it can drop, where it can come up, which songs wake people up again.

More than anything, we’re still really proud of the record. It’s done way better than we’ve expected it would do. It got into the top 40 in England, which we never would have expected. It’s still pretty old to us, though. We’re the type to get quite restless.

Pulled Apart by Horses – Hot Squash

MF: Have you been working on new music in the interim – on the road, perhaps? Or do you guys need to be in a specific headspace and location in order to write?

JB: We’re kind of the opposite of that. We started writing a new record about three months ago. We just started messing about and jamming. Now, we seem to have thirteen or fourteen songs. We’ve been writing every week. Luckily, it’s going really well.

You can hit a wall sometimes – if you hit a wall, you don’t want the songs to come out. You don’t want anyone to hear them. We’ve been on a roll, though. We’ve been doing festivals – it’s festival season, which is way different to touring. You’ve got the rest of the week off! We’ve just been using that time to the best of our abilities to try and write the absolute best songs that we can.

MF: What can people expect from the new material? Or is it too early to tell?

JB: I think, subconsciously, we try for something different to our last album every time we’re making a new one. We all write together – there’s no one songwriter. I don’t know what it is… it’s a connection we have where we start writing and it seems to take a particular route. Once that route has some kind of direction, it all locks into place. “Ahh! So that’s where this is headed.”

We don’t all sit down and say, “Well, I think it’s time we made a punk album.” We just start writing and it’s really natural. At the moment, half the songs are heavy and the other half are psychedelic. I think I know what’s going to happen – these two styles are going to intersect, and it’s going to be quite weird. It’s going to be quite out there.

MF: Does this mean there’s a chance of hearing some new songs when you guys visit? There are some bands who will hold off entirely until they have something set in stone – are you the kind to road-test?

JB: We actually are, so that’s highly likely. After an album cycle, we tend to find a tour or pick some shows to play new material – maybe two or three songs that haven’t been recorded, just written or maybe demo’d. You can totally gauge a reaction – if there’s a vibe, you know you’re onto something. If there isn’t, you have to reassess that song. Australia feels like a perfect opportunity to try some stuff out – you guys will be the judge of whether our new album is shit or not.

MF: Pulled Apart have cemented a strong reputation as a live band. As such, many album tracks become live favourites as they tend to take on a life of their own. Have you found this with Blood? What have people reacted to the most?

JB: It’s an interesting question. A couple of the songs on the record are… I’m not going to say they’re laid-back, but they’re a lot more relaxed than what we’re used to. But you can take those particular songs and put them in the live setting – an audience, a vibe, us four who are known for losing our shit live – and they suddenly become a bit heavier, louder, faster. “Unrelaxed.” [laughs].

That’s rock music for you. That’s why it’ll never die – it’s still here now. You can hear a record and love it, and then it gets even better live. You can get carried away in the live setting – that’s the beauty of it.

Gallery: Pulled Apart By Horses @ Soundwave 2014, Sydney / Photos: Olivia Hadisaputra

MF: Is your notoriety as a live band something that’s held up with pride? Does it put pressure on touring or festival appearances?

JB: It does and it doesn’t. We never set out to try and be that. We didn’t have a game plan. We just did what we liked doing. When we were playing in pubs, it was clear we liked playing those five songs that we’d written. The music we play is the music we listen to. If you love the music you play, it shows when you’re playing.

If I was in a folk band, I probably wouldn’t have my heart in it. I certainly wouldn’t be climbing up stage rigging and that sort of thing. [laughs] I suppose that it’s kind of important to stay a good live band, but the whole thing just comes naturally. We love playing this music. It makes us want to jump off speaker stacks and break our legs and do all kinds of stupid shit. [laughs]

MF: With an Australian tour imminent, what have been some of the highlights of your visits?

JB: My dad’s a massive fan of Australia. It’s all he ever talks about. It’s the only place he goes on holiday. When we got offered the first tour five years ago, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. None of us had been before. We didn’t know what to expect. Some places are really hard to break into, but we found that Australian crowds were really, really up for it.

Some countries – I won’t name them – won’t get into it. They’ll enjoy it, but they won’t move. They won’t crowdsurf or anything like that. It was always great playing in Australia. We came back at the start of last year for Soundwave, and we’ve been dying to get back and play more shows ever since. When the offer came through, it was like an early Christmas present!

MF: You’ve also been set up with a certain boot brand in order to make the Sydney show happen…

JB: [laughs] That’s right. That’s the first show, isn’t it? The boot show! We should have called it that. [laughs] It’s something that happened about a year ago. They spoke to us about doing some gigs with them, and we were careful – it’s a brand, y’know. You’ve got to be wary.

Ultimately, though, that brand is so well-connected within punk and rock music. They’ve got a bit of history. Had it been McDonald’s or whatever, we’d have been like “Not a fucking chance!” This seemed cool, though. Plus, we all wear those boots – we get them for free now! [laughs]

MF: Lastly – you’re James Brown. You’ve heard all the jokes, right?

JB: Absolutely all of them. The only one I will never get sick of is when someone calls me “Sex Machine.”

Pulled Apart By Horses’ Australian Tour kicks off this week, grab all the deets below!

Watch: Pulled Apart By Horses – Lizard Baby>

Pulled Apart By Horses Australian Tour Dates

Wednesday, 28th October

Dr Martens Party, Sydney

Tickets: XII Touring

Thursday, 29th October

Crowbar, Brisbane

Tickets: XII Touring

Friday, 30th October

Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne

Tickets: XII Touring

Saturday, 31st October

Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne

Tickets: XII Touring

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