Band of Horses will contend that the move from an indie to the major label system definitely works in some artists’ favor. It did for them. Since moving on from esteemed Sub Pop to a partnered drop with Fat Possum and Columbia, now squarely on Columbia, the rock troupe has seen a lot more sales action even without a big radio presence. Just this week, they earned their second-best charting and sales tally for new “Mirage Rock,” landing at No. 13 yesterday.
Bassist Bill Reynolds, who’s been with the band for five years, admits that the move wasn’t popular with everybody, and he’d heard the horror stories.
“It could have easily become a sh*tty situation. But creatively we were allowed to do what we wanted,” he said in our recent interview. “We have longer arms, to get our releases into other countries… The assumption with major labels is that they’re gonna try and knock a homerun at every opportunity, which means everyone assumes you’re working too hard.”
The secret, he said, is working with the right team, so think in terms of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band as a company “a lot of employers and employees. I got friends who are like, ‘Can you come play at my cousin’s event?’ But we have all these employees who depend on this for their living. Even though I’m the one who gets to be on stage, there’s so many people involved.”
Over the years of headlining tours and supporting slots, Reynolds said he learned the most from playing out with Pearl Jam
, for precisely those reasons above. Referring to the Seattle band’s operations as “a well-oiled machine,” he said from day one, “each one of them would take us under their wings. And they were just so humble, it’s amazing to see musicians of their caliber to be humble. We’ve been on tours where there’s [the band] yelling and screaming at everyone. I thought, with [Pearl Jam], this is how you maintain that long. They’ve had a really long career. That would the dream.”
Band of Horses, fronted by Ben Bridwell, is combining with another crew of unique musicians, on the second incarnation of the Railroad Revival train tour. Last year, it was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show traveling on the tracks together. This year, it’s BoH with Willie Nelson
, Jamey Johnson
and actor/musician John C. Reilly and Friends.
“Hell yeah, I’d love it if Willie Nelson was to rub off on me, it’d be awesome,just being in the presence of someone like him. I also hear Jamey Johnson likes to jam a lot. That dude’s a badass ,” Reynolds enthused. “The train… one of the cars is a recording studio. So we can all meet up in there when we want. As for Willie, I’ve been to his house before. He hangs out a lot later than I do. I can’t hang like that dude does. He operates on his own time.”
On the heels of last week’s release of “Mirage Rock,” Band of Horses just released their six-song “iTunes Festival” live EP yesterday. Check it out here.