Behind the scenes with Band of Horses 

Sometimes a bandleader has to seize the reins. That’s what Band of Horses anchor Ben Bridwell did a couple of years ago when his contract with Sub Pop Records expired. Rather than ink another deal, he self-financed the group’s folk-rocking breakthrough “Infinite Arms,” then let the bidding war begin. Even then, Bridwell trotted at his own pace. He issued the album on his own Brown imprint, then co-licensed it through indie Fat Possum and major Columbia.

You’ve said that to write songs, you need to disappear from society. Where did you go to pen “Infinite Arms”? I went to a cabin up in northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border, for a week, then to a mountain cabin in northern South Carolina. For me, it’s a combination of things. For one, it’s about only focusing on the writing itself and not the day-to-day stuff. And two, I guess, would be the delicious setting that you’re looking at and the vibe you catch from that. Then three would be getting away from people as much as possible, so I can really sing loud and not worry if someone can hear what I’m doing.

Did you frighten any wildlife with your singing? No, I don’t think so. But in South Carolina, you had to be wary of bears quite a bit. So with the normal paranoia that comes from being alone in rustic environments and being ultrasensitive to sounds around me, I was always thinking that there was a bear outside anyway, maybe licking the grill that I’d just cooked something on. But alone is the only way I can do it — I’m too self-conscious to write with other people.

Do you know any survival skills? Or do you flail like a fish in the wilderness? I’m leaning more toward the flailing-fish side. I don’t fish or do any of that kind of stuff. And I’ll sleep with a shotgun next to me if I’m ultra-paranoid, or walk around with a knife in my hand while I’m doing the songs. So whatever survival skills I have are reserved for trying to survive whatever person I think is about to attack me in the cabin.

For an ex-dishwasher, you’re doing pretty well, no? I’m doing great! I’ve got a wife and a baby and another kid on the way, and I’ve got a college fund set up for them already. I’m not driving a Ferrari or anything, but I’m taking care of my family. And that’s the best way to measure success.


IF YOU GO

Band of Horses

Where: Greek Theatre, Gayley Road and University Drive, Berkeley

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $35

Contact: (800) 745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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