Can there be such a thing as having too much of a good time during festival season? After Gigwise's initial phone conversation with alt-rockers Pulled About By Horses’ gregarious guitarist James Brown was cut short because he had to pick up a new batch of painkillers from the doctors, it appeared so.
Back home in West Yorkshire’s rock 'n' roll capital Leeds, Brown had recently returned from a Polish festival at little worse for wear and glad of a little R&R before the festival baton could be thrust aloft once more.
Prescription now firmly in hand we reconnected with the noisiks’ guitar slinger to talk festivals, supporting Muse and the importance of a catchy single title.
You’ve just performed at Off Fest in Katowice, sounds like it’s taken its toll James…
“Haha, yeah I’ve knackered by back in, I was desperate to get to the doctors for these! It was immense though to be honest, we thought it was quite a small, independent festival and there would be about 100 people watching us. But it turned out it was massive, we were on the second stage and there were 3,000 who came out to watch us. We got to see the Flaming Lips too who were awesome. They came on stage through this '70s psychedelic vagina, which was mad. Dum Dum Girls were great too, I mean they're obviously all gorgeous but they can really play and have some great tunes too.”
So it's Austria and Belgium next...
“Yep Vaz fest in Austria, which I don't know too much about and Pukkelpop fest in Belgium, which I'm really excited about as I've always wanted to go as a fan.”
This time of year must be like Christmas for you guys?
“Ah it's just fucking immense. Getting to tour all over the place and go to these great festivals and play. I mean I used spend my summer doing that as a punter, but being in a band and invited to play them is incredible. It's pretty rough though, my tent used to be in bits after a night as punter so you imagine what it's like after a few festivals. We're basically sleeping under bin-liners with no tent poles - hence the painkillers for my back!”
Then you've got the big homecoming at Leeds Festival...
“Yeah, we did it last year for a radio station, but this year the bookers have asked us back which is a real honour. The local message boards and Facebook were going crazy for weeks until it was announced asking if we were going to play it, I was fretting in case it didn't come off. It's just so massive though, it's a real crazy one to attend as fan - as it's chaos, I'm glad I'm going back in a band. I actually prefer the smaller fests where there's no hierarchy and band bullsh*t really - where everyone's on a par.
I bet the guestlist requests cause a few headaches too…
“God it's like a tidal wave - people are literally Facebooking me saying: 'Hi James I used to go to school with you seven years ago can you sort me a Leeds ticket?' And I'm like ‘no – fuck off!’ Last time we played there it was so much hassle, I was really stressing about getting everybody in - this time I've restricted it to close family and friends though, so we can all enjoy the day. I don't want any tears this time from them or me!
And a Muse support slot to follow in September as well…
“Yeah at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. That's a really nerve-wracking one. Apparently it's going to be 49,000 people or something. I’ve seen shots of their stage set up and it's enormous, I think we're going to have to get our guitar tech a golf buggy to get from one side of the stage to the other! I know we're opening and the crowd won't be packed to start with, but it will still be the biggest gig we've ever done, so the nerves are definitely going already.”
How did it come about?
“We've got the same management as Muse so I guess it seems like a natural progression to people on the outside, which is what a lot of the forums have been saying. But actually, Dom (Howard) the drummer asked if we'd like to open for them which was great, it's nice when things like that happen as there's so much cynicism in the music industry and it looks like he heard the album and is a genuine fan.”
'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' is the next single – why?
“It was probably the first song we wrote and the demo we recorded, which cost 15 quid, never did it any justice, so when we recorded the album we were so delighted with the outcome we thought we definitely had to put it out as a single - it was mixed in Abbey Road and sounds great. Plus the title is quite funny and we wondered how people would react - Radio 1 have playlisted it too so they must like it.”
The self-titled debut album came out in June, pleased with how it's gone?
“Ah definitely. I was so nervous the week it came out to see what the reviewers made of it. We had this reputation as a live band and people were wondering if we could cut it in the studio. So we wanted to show them we could. The album is actually like a document of our live displays, 30 minutes long and raucous - it really sums us up as a band. The response has been great here and in Europe, where we are planning to tour in October.”
But before that you’ve got your own UK tour?
“Yeah it's about promoting the single and playing the parts of the country we've not been to before like Cornwall. I'm really looking forward to connecting with the audience again, because that's what we're all about and hopefully converting a few followers along the way. It will be great after the festival shows to get back to basics again.”
What's on the tour bus at the moment?
“To be honest we're all being a bit girly at the moment as we're just chatting as we go around!! We had a couple of weeks off and it was like catching up with three girlfriends and it was like 'Where've you been? What’ve you been up to? Who’ve you been with?'!! Prior to that it has been Ghostbusters, Robocop and loads of '80s cheesy horror!”
So once the painkillers have taken affect do you think you’ll be good to go for the rest of summer then?
“Yeah, definitely – a few days off and I’ll be itching to get out there again!”
'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' is released through Transgressive on September 6. Pulled Apart By Horses' UK tour starts the same day.