You have to go back to December 2017 to find when Pulled Apart By Horses last went on tour. There was a time when the band seemed to be touring constantly as they cut their teeth supporting the likes of Glassjaw, Biffy Clyro and Muse and then playing headline shows in sweaty hotboxes all around Europe in later years. But, bar the odd festival appearance here and the odd one-off show there, its all been pretty quiet from the Leeds lot recently.
But that’s about to change.
In late September, Pulled Apart By Horses will return with 14 small, undoubtedly raucous, shows around the UK and Ireland as they test out new material ahead of their upcoming fifth album.
“We love punishing ourselves,” beams singer Tom Hudson, itching to get back to headlining shows. “If you’ve not got a fucking vein popping out of your head and bleeding tonsils at the end of it then you’ve not done your job properly have you really?”
According to bassist Rob Lee, the plan for the tour is to play “a few off the first album, a few off the latest album ‘The Haze’ and then concentrate on all new material.”
So far, the only new track given an airing is the lively sounding ‘Is This Thing On?’ which got its debut at 2000trees but other than that, this is unchartered waters for Pulled Apart By Horses; thankfully the theory behind touring the new songs first makes perfect sense.
“We have done it in the past loads where you end up just writing a bunch of songs,” Tom points out. “Before you really know them, you record them and start touring them, but with the next album, while we are still recording them, we were like ‘let’s just get out there and play them’”
“We want them ingrained by the point where we come to record them,” adds Rob.
“After you have toured those songs for a while, they just end up sound fucking way better than when you recorded them, so we are doing them the other way around,” the singer explains.
Road testing the new material is in part trying out how the new material sounds and works in a live setting but also the crowd's reaction to it too with one as important as the other. That, in turn, means they’re ready to sacrifice any songs they might like if everyone leaves for the bar when they play it.
“Not to be too much of a hippie about it but we’ve always felt that the crowd is just as important as the band and when we are all in that room, we are all in it together,” Rob says.
Backing him up, Tom notes: “A lot of our fans have been with us for fucking ages, and we have changed shit up over the years. Every album we’ll go with a certain vibe and luckily a lot of people have stuck with us. So, we just wanted to be a bit more bold and not overthink and play some shit and get out there.”
Heading into the shows, the band have an album's worth of songs as demos ready to go, but they also claim to be “on a roll” so aren’t limiting themselves on the new ideas they have to test out. What’s helped that creative process is not recording demos on their phones anymore as now they have their own studio to work in.
Rob describes the studio as “nothing fancy” but with “a decent collection of mics and gear” which in turn means the band have studio quality recordings to develop and work on at their own pace.
The bassist has been engineering as well as playing and, while he says they could record the next album themselves, he seems hesitant to want to juggle both roles when it comes down to actually making the album.
Regardless of the plan for eventually recording the full album, the studio, new demos and the upcoming tour are all part of Pulled Apart By Horses taking control again and getting back to basics.
It all stems from their 2014 album ‘Blood’. Released on Sony and breaking the UK Top 40 Album Charts, on paper things didn’t look too bad but the reality was very different.
“It was a dark period without getting too heavy about stuff,” Rob admits. “I don’t think we even realised at the time, did we?!”
“And that was just individual personal shit that had built up. But, at the same time, we had this cushion of - I wouldn’t say a lot of money kicking around - but a lot of record deals and management and people like that around us. A lot of people saying ‘this needs to be a hit’ or ‘you need a chart album’.”
Despite the difficulty, they faced recording that third album, the band look on the bright side too. “It’s really interesting that you can sense from an album the mood that the band was in at the time. Even if you listen to it and go ‘fucking hell, we sounded miserable at that point’ at least it's kind of honest.”
Learning quickly from that album, the return, ‘The Haze’, was lauded for how free and expressive it sounded with the four of them keen to continue that feeling in their new album despite continuing to struggle with the business side of making music.
Tom says: “I think, if anything, with ‘The Haze’ it was let go of all that shit and get in a room and do what we want to do.”
“The new stuff we are doing that now is a continuation of that same sort of vein. Since ‘The Haze’ we have been through all sorts in terms of management and in terms of getting a raw deal with shit, and we have been spat out of the other side and gone ‘right, we don’t really have anything to worry about’ and just gone in a room and wrote some music.”
From those experiences, Pulled Apart By Horses weren’t going to be defeated and in taking a more DIY approach they’re all a tighter group and much happier, and that’s reflected in the music they’re making.
After all, they’re no strangers to doing it on their own.
“The first demos we did, we just paid a mate £50 quid to just record us in a fucking pub. We take it in our own hands,” Tom points out, while Rob adds: “We weren’t one of these bands that started out immediately, and all of a sudden got a load of fucking attention and money thrown at us. It took us a while and building it up and scraping by so there was that love for it that went in at the start, and that’ll never go away, and we’ve learnt from that.”
If anything, it would seem the glitz and glamour of major labels, huge arena tours and a polished image isn’t for Pulled Apart By Horses; they much prefer the nitty-gritty.
“We’ve done the fucking toilet circuit, and we enjoyed it. We’ve always got the toilet,” laughs Rob. “We were there mopping it up after. Rather than paying for damages.”
It’s a combination of those experiences, their determination to get back to basics and the opportunity to record and develop their own ideas at will that makes the next Pulled Apart By Horses album the most exciting one yet.
Tom notes: “It’s having the wisdom of doing it for so many years but at the same time getting back to the fundamental reason why we wanted to get back in a room and fucking throw shit at the wall and see what sticks.”
While taking a step back, the band are mindful to progress their sound too. “There always has to be an element of honesty with it. There is something about recapturing something from the earlier material before all the serious bullshit, and business side of it got in the way,” explains Rob.
“But at the same time, if we went back to try and be those 20-year-olds again, they would be just false. It's not a compromise but just a balance between those two things.”
After all, at 20 years old, Tom couldn’t even play guitar and the one he used he use to nick from his girlfriend. The band would turn up to shows with no leads, no strap, no amps. “When we first started out we were just a bunch of gipsies,” Tom laughs.
It’s fair to say they’ve come a long way in ten years and thanks to the experiences they’ve had, they’ve set themselves up for another ten years.
“Everything is a learning curve, and you are gonna get a bit worn around the edges from all of that, but it's good,” concludes Rob.
The results of that learning curve will be released around the New Year but the first place, the best place, to hear them is live.
Taken from the September issue of Upset. Pulled Apart By Horses tour the UK from 29th September.
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