GUY RAZ, host:
If you check out NPR Music's website regularly, you'll know that our reviewers and writers there have been raving about Band of Horses for a few years now. The new record, "Infinite Arms," is the sound of the Minnesota wilderness, the woods of the Carolinas and the hills of Hollywood mixed with some soaring strings. Take a listen.
(Soundbite of song, "Factory")
BAND OF HORSES: (Singing) It's temporary, this place I'm in. I permanently won't do this again. My belongings scattered all across the hotel floor.
RAZ: Band of Horses front man, Ben Bridwell, has been compared to Neil Young and Roger McGuinn, and on this latest record, even to Brian Wilson.
Bred Bridwell is at our studios in New York City.
Mr. BEN BRIDWELL (Vocalist, Band of Horses): Hi. Good to be here.
RAZ: Now, a lot of critics, Ben Bridwell, have described Band of Horses as old country. But I was hoping you would sort of describe how you think of Band of Horses - I mean, the sort of the way you guys think of yourselves.
Mr. BRIDWELL: Well, I started the band with definitely Neil Young's falsetto a bit in mind when I first started singing, so I don't mind. Even to be mentioned in the same breath with some of the people that we've been compared to is quite an honor. I do believe I wear my influences pretty heavy on my sleeve.
RAZ: Do you think of the band as a rock band?
Mr. BRIDWELL: I do, very much so.
RAZ: I mean, I know you guys were founded in Seattle, but you're from South Carolina, right?
Mr. BRIDWELL: Yeah. Yeah, I am. And, you know, but anywhere I live, the region has its effects in the writing process, or anywhere that I end up writing songs, I'm sure it seeps into the bones. So I don't mind if people put the Southern tag on there or the Northwest tag or now hopefully a bit of a Midwest tag with this album. A lot of the songs were written in the Midwest.
RAZ: Yeah. I mean, as I read, you guys wrote a lot of them in the woods in Northern Minnesota and then you recorded a lot of it in the Carolinas. You went to Muscle Shoals in Alabama, you went to the Mojave Desert and then to Hollywood. And there are moments on this record where you hear - I think you hear some of those places. And there's one song in particular where you really it and it's called Laredo.
(Soundbite of song, "Laredo"
BAND OF HORSES: (Singing) Gonna take a trip to Laredo, gonna take a dip in the lake. Oh, I'm at a crossroads with myself, I don't got no one else.
Mr. BRIDWELL: I'm wondering if you can guess where that one was written.
RAZ: Gonna take a dip in the lake.
(Soundbite of laughter)
RAZ: And you've written that you wrote this song inspired in part by an afternoon in the woods of Minnesota. What happened that day?
Mr. BRIDWELL: I'd gone up to this cabin near the Canadian border offseason. I guess it was getting cold up there so the tourists had long gone. And luckily, there was no one around and I could just really immerse myself and whining as loud as possible.
With this song, I'm not even sure if I know what it's about, but maybe the fact that there was a bit of a homesickness, which definitely permeates a lot of these songs.
(Soundbite of song, "Laredo")
BAND OF HORSES: (Singing) And can you see the world through a window? Are you having troubles in droves? Oh, I think the worst thing I could do is get back home to you.
RAZ: Is there something about the places where you write music? I know it might be kind of a weird question, but is there something about the place that influences the sound of the music?
Mr. BRIDWELL: No doubt. And the feelings that usually come from those places are - you know, I'll be out there for a week by myself and definitely get cabin fever sometimes and a bit of a paranoia and things like that tend to slip in. So, yeah, all the feelings that come along with being in that particular place definitely sneak in there, no doubt.
RAZ: Ben Bridwell, I count myself among those who believe that "Pet Sounds" by the Beach Boys is the greatest record ever made. I believe that, right?
Mr. BRIDWELL: Okay.
RAZ: And any fan of that record, I think, will hear something so familiar in this track I'm about to play. It's from your record and it's called "On My Way Back Home."
(Soundbite of song, "On My Way Back Home")
BAND OF HORSES: (Singing) Have to wait one more day. There's often times that it comes out wrong. But luckily I, I got a mind to know on my way back home.
RAZ: Wow. This is an incredible song. And I hear Brian Wilson's spirit in this. I hear "I'm Waiting for the Day."
Mr. BRIDWELL: Right.
RAZ: And then I read that you guys actually recorded this track in the same studio where "Pet Sounds" was laid down in 1966.
Mr. BRIDWELL: Yeah. We didn't really mean to. We needed to kill a day trying to find the right mixing engineer. It turned out that that studio was available to us to go in and just do some (unintelligible) mixes or something. Turned out those old echo chambers that the Beach Boys and Sinatra had used on their incredible records, they had been using them as a storage close for the better part of the last 15 years.
Mr. BRIDWELL: But they had finally started to clear them out and rewire the systems, and we helped them push along testing it out by throwing that song through those echo chambers.
(Soundbite of song, "On My Way Back Home")
BAND OF HORSES: (Singing) Just in time I woke my memories start to wander off. Come to me the remembrance of my way back home.
RAZ: I had to say that this is my favorite track on the record. It's such a great song. I would love to know what Brian Wilson would think about this. If you come across him, you should give him your demo tape one day.
Mr. BRIDWELL: You got it. Can do(ph).
RAZ: Just hand it to him. My guest is Ben Bridwell. He is the front man for Band of Horses. Their new album is called "Infinite Arms." As a parent of a small human being myself, I had to ask you about one of the tracks in this record. I love this one. It's for your daughter.
Mr. BRIDWELL: Yeah.
RAZ: And it's called "For Annabelle."
(Soundbite of song, "For Annabelle")
BAND OF HORSES: (Singing) The old folks wake up for the day seeing the monsters have lingered from the past. And a great bird is flying away from our family tree, something wrong with me. Yeah, and I've got a secret or two.
RAZ: Ben, you know that Annabelle is going to play this at her wedding and everybody is going to be crying.
Mr. BRIDWELL: Oh, my goodness.
RAZ: You wrote this while your wife was pregnant.
Mr. BRIDWELL: That's right.
RAZ: What did you want to say to Annabelle before she was born?
Mr. BRIDWELL: Well, I guess I was in a way talking to myself with the impending fatherhood thing and kind of - I think when you have your first child at least, you have a lot of dreams on what your child looks like or what it's going to be like to hold that child's hand and teach them the ups and downs of the world, you know?
RAZ: Hmm. Do you ever sing for her? Do you play songs for her?
Mr. BRIDWELL: You know, she usually makes me stop. But now that she - actually, I had her onstage with me the other night at - in Newark, opened up for Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder and I sang with her. We did a cover of a Ron Wood song and she was so excited and she was dancing on the side of the stage. I think she's finally coming to grips with the fact that Daddy has to sing sometimes.
RAZ: Won't it be tragic one day where she's like, oh, God. That's my dad. Dad, stop embarrassing me.
Mr. BRIDWELL: I got a good feeling that's coming, man.
RAZ: That's Ben Bridwell. He is the founding member of Band of Horses. Their new album is called "Infinite Arms." You can hear a few tracks at our website, nprmusic.org.
Ben Bridwell, thank you so much.
Mr. BRIDWELL: Oh, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
(Soundbite of song, "Compliments")
BAND OF HORSES: (Singing) I'm fixing a drink in the morning with the way things are. You may have stayed too long. It's splitting apart at the seam from the hospital call. You've known him so long. If there's a god up in the air, someone looking over everyone at least you've got something to fall back on.
RAZ: And for Sunday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. Thanks for listening and have a great week.