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Pulled Apart By Horses - interview

by Tina Bass & Lara Cullen. Published Mon 18 Jul 2011 12:07, last updated: 18/07/11

Purple Revolver caught up with Lee and James Pulled Apart By Horses at Sonisphere, sheltering from the rain under a not so glamorous gazebo we chatted about thank you notes from Muse and an on-stage accident that almost resulted in a leg amputation.

PR: At the moment you're quite busy with festivals, you played in Slovakia recently. Have you played many festivals in Europe?

Lee: We've played a lot in Europe, but it's always weird when you go to a country you've never been to before and people turn up and go crazy.
James: We're always so well looked after as well. It's incredible. In Slovakia, when we arrived our artist liason met us at the airport and put a mini rider in our van transfer full of cakes and sweets.

PR: How are you feeling about your set today?

James: Yeah we can’t wait. The main thing is we've been travelling so much through Europe, it's a case of get off the plane, get in a transfer van, play, get back in the van, go to the hotel, then back on the road the day after. You don't see any of the country or the cities. I haven't been drinking over the past week because it's all been quite difficult and it's been building me up to this. I'm going to let it all out and get shit-faced!

PR: Your past performances are said to be 'injury stricken'. What is the worst injury that has occurred on stage?

James: There was one where I got a guitar jack lead in my knee, and I didn't wash for days. My leg expanded to the size of two legs. I went to hospital and found out I had cellulitis, which is like an infection. And the infection nearly spread to my balls, and if it had then they would have had to amputate my leg. I was on a drip for five days whilst they carried on with the tour. That's possibly the worst. Tom smashed his shin open at Leeds Festival. I have never seen that much blood. He was stood singing, and I could see that his leg was wet and when I touched it my hand just got covered in blood. I was like “dude, you need to stop playing!”. Our tech made a home-made tourniquet for him.

PR: How do you keep yourself entertained on tour?

Lee: Booze
James: Ipods and films.
Lee: It's weird. When you've been touring for so long, not that it isn't an amazing thing to do, but it is our job now, so you just take the downtime and the boredom as part of it really.
James: It's part of becoming professional, and not getting completely fucked every night so you can't play properly. You work out what your limits are.
Lee: We've just got boring basically!

PR: Last year Muse asked you to support them, what were they like?

James: We didn't meet them!
Lee: Yeah, they sent us bottles of champagne though so that was nice. And a little card.
James: I lost my shit when we found that. I love Muse and we walked into our dressing room and there was this pink note that said 'To James, Rob, Lee and Tom from Muse. Here's some champagne'. I was like “Fuck me! Look at this.” Then my girlfriend told me that they wouldn't have written it, I told her they did...

PR: How did you find it playing such big venues?

James: I think it was about 30,000 people when we played and when you're playing on a stage that big, you're so far away from the crowd, they're just like little faces, you don't get the same sort of nervous thing as when you're in a smaller venue and you can actually see the whites of everyone's eyes looking at you. It just felt a lot different to a normal gig. It was a bit like a dream, a haze.
Lee: It was definitely weird. A good weird.

PR: James, as a Muse fan it must have been a massive thing to play with them, but is there anyone else you aspire to play with?

James: I think most of them aren't about now or are dead!
Lee: Yeah, I'd love to play with Nirvana!
James: Rage Against The Machine and At The Drive In
Lee: We've been so lucky with the bands we've toured with – Future To The Left, Blood Red Shoes, Biffy Clyro. And we get to play with Deftones in August, which aside from having a baby and getting married is going to be the highlight of my life. We've had too much luck so far. We're waiting for something bad to happen!

PR: What was the first gig you ever attended?

Lee: My first proper gig was Therapy? at The Shepherd's Bush Empire (which is where we're playing with Deftones) on their Troublegum tour. It was me and a group of friends and we were literally terrified about getting beaten up because these huge gigs were just another world. I remember being petrified. I view the drummer of Therapy? as one of my favourite drummers and seeing it all was amazing.
James: So next question.....

PR: Come on, what was yours?

James: It was Mansun. I got ten tickets for me and my friends at school. They were like five quid a ticket at Lancaster Sugarhouse. We travelled on the bus and when we got there I gave all the tickets out and they all went “James, have you read these tickets?” I hadn't. It was over 18's only. We were all about 14 so we didn't get in! The first gig I actually got into though was Breed 77.

PR: What were your first musical influences?

Lee: I have a very strong memory of when I was about four years old, and my dad was an old rocker. He used to just play me records all the time and there was this guy called Cozy Powell and he had a solo album called Tilt. There was a song on it called The Race. It was just an instrumental and my dad used to play it to me. Apparently as soon as it was finished I'd ask for it again and again.
James: My dad would just play guitar in his office in the house, and I'd ask if I could have a go but he'd always say no. He'd tell me that I didn't want to learn guitar because I was too busy with my video games. I insisted that I wanted to so he wrote me down five chords and I sat in my room but then got fed up with it because I couldn't do it. Later when I started getting into bands I picked it back up.

PR: You released your debut album last year, and you're currently working on a new one. Is it finished or still in progress?

James: It's pretty much written, we're going to be recording in August.

PR: And according to Wikipedia it's going to be called Papa Lulus Home Juice Bar...?

James: (Laughter) It's not called that, no! It's really entertaining how our Wikipedia page keeps being changed. It's quite funny.

PR: You should just call it that now anyway!

James: No it's a terrible name!

PR: So when can we expect the album to be released?

Lee: It's hard to say. Hopefully early next year.
James: Until we start doing it we don't know what's going to happen. It might get done in a week, it might get done in three weeks.
Lee: It's just the nature of the business. Even if it was done it can take months for an album to be released.
James: And it's about doing it at the right time for us.
Lee: We don't want to compete with a Cliff Richard Christmas single basically.

PR: And at this stage how does it differ from your debut album?

Lee: It's a definite progression. It's still really obviously us, but it's not album one, mark two.
James: It feels to me like we're learning to write as a unit. For the first album a lot of the songs were just picked out of the air.
Lee: People brought entire songs to the table but as a band we kind of put our mark on them. It's a good mix though. There's still some two minute thrashy, poppy songs, but then there's some more thought out darker stuff as well.

PR: Musically what is your greatest achievement so far?

Lee: All of this.

PR: You meaning standing under this Gazebo in the rain with Purple Revolver?

Lee: Yes, this moment right now.
James: Making the album and getting it released probably.
Lee: Having that album in your hand and just finding out that more than ten people brought it was a massive thing. It was so well received all across the board. Even The Guardian liked it! It felt like we'd made a British Rock album that would be remembered. To know that long past when we're gone, it will still be there.

PR: And there might be some kids in ten years time that are being interviewed under a gazebo somewhere and are asked “What was the first gig you attended?” And they'll reply “Pulled Apart By Horses!”

Lee: Yeah what's crazy is when you see in a forum or something, someone saying that they want to start a band and they list us in their influences.

PR: So how do you keep your feet on the ground?

Lee: Just each other I think.

PR: Really? Surely there must be at least one diva among you? Spill!

Lee: Rob. And his hair! I think it helps just being a normal person. We have an amazing job and we're really, really lucky. We get to make music for a living. We always say, “I'm not an arsehole in normal life, so when you're with the band, why be an arsehole then?” We do have orchids in our dressing room though. I will not play unless there's orchids.

PR: Any favourite venues?

James: Brunel Social Club, Manchester Apollo
Lee: Brixton Academy. And The Packhorse in Leeds. That's where we started. That will always be a favourite place. If we ever do a secret gig, it will be there!

PR: Aside from the new album, what else can we expect from you over the next 12 months or so?

James: (cryptically) Well we've got stuff in the pipeline.
Lee: Yeah one way or another we'll be busy, we'll be out there. We come from working class backgrounds so we're not going to sit on our arses for a year. We're always wanting to know when the next tour is and stuff.
James: Yeah the album's not due out till next year so we'll definitely do something before that.

Pulled Apart By Horses are playing the following UK dates:

5th August - Underage Festival, Victoria Park, London
24th August – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (with Deftones)
26th August – Reading Festival
27th August - Leeds Festival


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