Band of Horses didn’t plan on going on an acoustic tour. They didn’t even plan onreleasing an acoustic album. But, according to guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Monroe, itjust sort of happened.
“We recorded a random acoustic set opening up for ourselves at the RymanAuditorium in Nashville [“Acoustic at the Ryman”] and it turned out really well,” hesays.”In the back of our heads we were kind of hoping that we would get an imitationof that. We liked what we heard and it was about time to put out a new record. Sowe were like, ‘hey this is cool, let’s do this.’ We kind of planned the tour around therecord, which was kind of an accident.”
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A happy accident, as it turns out. Band of Horses’ brand of lilting, folksy indie rockseems tailor-made for acoustic performance — so much so that it’s rather surprisingthat they haven’t recorded an acoustic album until now. The delicate melancholia oftracks like “The Funeral” find new, wistful life on the acoustic album, for which theband is currently on a limited-engagement tour.
The stops on the tour are all far more intimate venues than those a band of theirstature would usually play; smaller theaters and clubs that lend themselves to astripped down performance. That intimacy, Monroe says, makes for a far morepersonal experience — both for the audience and the band.
“It’s a really fun learning experience for all of us,” he says. “To be able to hear eachother better on stage is great. We can hear deeper dynamics, and we can bettercommunicate, musically.”
Not that this is a band that has ever had much trouble finding musical harmony. With four critically well-received studio albums under their belts, Monroe says thatnow, more than ever, the band is in a place where they can make exactly the kind ofmusic they want to make, uncompromised.
“We used to have these clips of us just messing around backstage, and we wouldalways say, ‘hey, maybe we should save those for when we can put stuff out that wereally want,’” he explains. “Now we can throw out those little nuggets whenever wewant. And, as far as what music to release, and what to write, we feel like we can dowhatever we want. We really do believe that notion.”
That said, fans can expect some new tricks from Band of Horses on their next studiorelease.
“[Singer] Ben [Bridwell] has been writing a lot, really trying to hone in on his songwritingcraft, and [his writing] has been a lot darker. I think ‘Mirage Rock’ was a little bit of abrighter record, it’s time to go back full circle,” Monroe says. “We’re going to go backinto the studio in April and get down, it’s going to be a conglomeration of everythingwe’ve learned — good and bad — from our experiences of being in this band. It’sgoing to be an electrified record because we are definitely ready to crank it back upagain.”
Living and Playing in Boston
Monroe, whose fiancé attends MassArt has lived in the South End for two years.We asked him about some of his all-time favorite artists and the spots he frequents most around town.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you choose?
I d like to write a song with Bill Callahan, just so he could chill me right out.
If you could see any artist, living or dead, perform, who would it be?
I just watched a Big Star documentary. I’d like to see all those dudes playing live,like, in 1976 or something.
What are some of your favorite places in Boston to hang out?
I saw Bill Callahan at the Sinclair, that was killer. I like the Beehive. I really like thecoffee place on Newbury, the one with the dog in the name. [The Wireless Puppy]It’s supposed to be the strongest coffee!
Where do you check out live music around here?
Great Scott is awesome. I also like Brighton Music Hall.
Yeah, there’s really no bad place to stand there — whereas at the Paradise you havethose huge poles…
Oh yeah, we’ve played there. Just looking from the stage it looks like a tricky placeto see a show at, but it just has so much history as a venue, a legendary venue.