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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Two friends played Little League Baseball together in South Carolina, and then they grew up to play music together.

(Soundbite of song, "The General Specific")

Mr. BEN BRIDWELL (Lead Singer, Band of Horses): (Singing) If you try, I'll make it really getting me killed. He had a (unintelligible) coat I didn't even see you're seeing another one. The heartache in me, is it all?

INSKEEP: That's the group called Band of Horses. Their new album is called "Cease to Begin."

(Soundbite of song, "Unidentified")

Mr. BRIDWELL: (Singing) …do you (unintelligible), you're going back to the south.

INSKEEP: If you get your music through iTunes, theirs is among the music most downloaded. Rolling Stones' latest issue names them the hot band.

Today, Band of Horses is the subject of MORNING EDITION's latest music moment.

The group's members include two guys from Irmo, South Carolina, population 12,000. It's home of the Okra Strut Festival, and for a time, home to certain pair of high school dropouts, Ryan Monroe and Ben Bridwell.

Mr. BRIDWELL: I dropped out of high school and I didn't - it didn't, like, I was going to do anything normal, I guess. Same with Ryan, I would imagine that you graduated, right?

Mr. RYAN MONROE (Member, Band of Horses): Not from high school, no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MONROE (Member, Band of Horses): But, from the 11th grade, yes, I did. And thank you for asking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: And you, Ben, also dropped out?

Mr. BRIDWELL: I dropped out in my second ninth-grade year.

INSKEEP: You second ninth-grade year.

Mr. BRIDWELL: Yes, sir.

INSKEEP: Were you playing music at that time?

Mr. BRIDWELL: I was not. No, I had no idea how to play any music. I was…

INSKEEP: Because I was waiting if you had a redeeming story if we found out that you were burning to play music and that's where you went secretly to go play while you couldn't…

Mr. BRIDWELL: No, I was like staring at Led Zeppelin black light posters, which means (unintelligible).

INSKEEP: Is there any - if there any a little bit of music that has come out of your academic experience?

Mr. MONROE: oh, absolutely. There's a little number called "Weed Party" that reminds me of being a kid - driving around, not going to school and listening to music with the windows rolled down.

(Soundbite of song, "Weed Party")

Mr. BRIDWELL: (Singing) It's a good day to skip because the party's gonna call, call.

INSKEEP: And then made your first album here, didn't it?

Mr. BRIDWELL: It sure did. It didn't look like it was going through. The producer hated it so much like I brought him those lyrics. And man, that, producer could have been more than happy with that song.

INSKEEP: What's the lyric that the producer especially despised?

Mr. BRIDWELL: I think anyone with the word weed in it.

(Soundbite of song, "Weed Party")

Mr. BRIDWELL: (Singing) Anytime the party's gonna call, call.

INSKEEP: A lack of schooling and even a lack of musical training did not, in the end, stop Band of Horses. The future members of the band moved to Seattle. They worked in restaurants. They learned their instruments. And they say, they gradually did well enough to win some acceptance from their parents who were once dismayed by their sons who dropped out of school.

Mr. MONROE: I think we eventually did. Just like last week we see eye to eye now on the whole subject.

Mr. BRIDWELL: Oh really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRIDWELL: Nice. Now, that you're 30 or whatever.

Mr. MONROE: Now, I'm 30. Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MONROE: I just turned 30 last week.

INSKEEP: There's plenty of time to talk about it now. After years in Seattle, the founders of the group have moved closer to their families back home to South Carolina, which is their basis - their latest album "Cease to Begin" captures attention.

(Soundbite of song, "Marry Song")

Mr. BRIDWELL: (Singing) I'll marry my lover in a place to admire. I don't have to ask her I can look in her eyes and thank God that I am forgiven.

INSKEEP: The group is Band of Horses. They perform several of their new songs for us in their entirety at NPR.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Marry Song")

Mr. BRIDWELL: (Singing) Be it true or are they forgotten.

DEBORAH AMOS, host:

From NPR News, this is MORNING EDITION.

INSKEEP: I'm Steve Inskeep.

AMOS: And I'm Deborah Amos.

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