You can call it luck, fate or serendipity. Whatever the case, Oklahoma City's loss is Tulsa's gain when Band of Horses returns to Cain's Ballroom Tuesday, Oct. 23. Originally scheduled to play OKC's Airport Park with Willie Nelson as part of the ill-fated Railway Revival tour, Cain's Ballroom was able to salvage the date and secure a show by the North Carolina-based Americana alt-rockers when the tour was cancelled just a couple of weeks ago.
When discussing the twist of fate that brings Band of Horses back to Tulsa with bassist Bill Reynolds recently, he said, "I don't really know the logistics; I just know they weren't able to work out all the details and get things how they wanted them. We didn't want to let our fans down, though, so we rebooked as many dates as we could. It's fortunate for us, because we get to play Cain's Ballroom, which we've always really liked playing."
Indeed, the band's stop at Cain's on the Infinite Arms tour played to a packed house of enthusiastic fans. For those who were fortunate enough to witness that show, it proved to expand upon the band's already lush Infinite Arms album and open it up into new dimensions, all while keeping the textures and intricacies of the recordings intact.
"That's the reason why we took that approach on this record and decided to record it with the band playing live with as few overdubs as possible -- we know it's one of our strengths," Reynolds said. "And because we recorded live, it went quicker in the studio."
As a result, the new album, Mirage Rock, retains Band of Horses' distinct signature and many of the elements that made Infinite Arms a breakout hit for the band, but it also has a more rough and tumble edge and rock attitude to it. Sure, there are still country influences, but you can also hear the classic rock impressions of bands like The Byrds and Rolling Stones.
"That's because we have a lot of influences. We're all music lovers," Reynolds said. "And we hired a producer (Glyn Johns) who basically invented classic rock. He's not going to work in the 2012 fashion of 'here's the latest gear, let's try this out and see how it works' -- he's going to document what he hears as he hears it."
As much as Johns is known for his work with The Stones, The Who, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, the classic band that I always equate Band of Horses with is The Byrds. When mentioning this to Reynolds, he shared that "I think The Byrds have a lot of the same influences that we have. They were interested in a lot of East Coast artists like Doc Watson and a lot of country harmonies that came through in their songs. You're really just a product of what you listen to, and I think we both listened to a lot of the same artists."
Although the band has retained many of the elements that has become a signature of its sound on Mirage Rock, the album also has its own distinct sound that separates it from previous albums. When asked if working with Johns led the band to change how it wrote for this album, Reynolds said, "We really didn't change that much in the writing process. The biggest difference was that Infinite Arms we wrote for strings, knowing that we were going to have these orchestral parts in it. We knew we wanted to be able to play this one live from front to back, so we wrote it on guitar with bass and drums. We wanted it to be us on the record and to be able to recreate that."
Granted, there are still lush and elegant passages to the album, especially with tracks like "Slow Cruel Hands of Time" and album closer, "Heartbreak on the 101." The band's live energy bursts forth on Mirage Rock much more often however with tracks like "Knock Knock," "A Little Biblical" and "Electric Music," which mine the group's classic rock influences and bear Glyn Johns' indelible fingerprints.
After releasing Mirage Rock in September, the band immediately hit the road and took to touring. When discussing the current tour, Reynolds shared that "Over the last year, we've been very fortunate to get to open for a lot of great bands. When you're opening, though, it's different. You're not necessarily playing to your own fans, so you try to keep it concise and you usually have about 40 minutes."
"With this tour, right away it's been a lot of fun," he continued. "We've been able to stretch our legs and challenge ourselves. We've also gotten to dig into our catalog a bit more since these are our shows and we know we're playing to our fans.
"This is our first headlining that we've done for a while, so it feels good. We've also been able to be a bit more spontaneous with the shows."
When asked what the future holds, Reynolds shared that once this leg of the tour wraps up, the band heads right to Europe. A handful of shows in the Northeast follow once they return to North America in December, then the group heads to Australia and New Zealand in January to begin the new year.
Fans can expect more extensive touring in 2012, but as of right now, Tulsa gets a fortunate break which brings Band of Horses back to Cain's Ballroom Tuesday night, October 23, for a stop that will undoubtedly showcase all of the band's strengths. If you already know Band of Horses, or are a classic rock fans looking for a breath of fresh air, you won't want to miss this show.
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