Band of Horses' Ryan Monroe talks history and lineup changes

Categories: Interview
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Photo courtesy of the artists

BY CINDAL LEE HEART

Band of Horses have spent the the past few years growing a remarkable fan base and proving their worthiness in the indie world, opening up for influential artists like Pearl Jam, Iron & Wine, She & Him, and more recently the Irish pop/indie-rock sensation Snow Patrol.

With the recent release of their third album, Infinite Arms, these emotionally friendly rhythms come as no easy fixture; Band of Horses have weathered through many transformations since their forming in 2004. After rolling through a series of band members, the band is now finally coming to terms with their staple in the indie/folk music scene.

In anticipation of their stop in Minneapolis this weekend at the State Theatre, we caught up with keyboardist Ryan Monroe to talk about the band's evolution.

"No doubt, no doubt in my mind, absolutely, this is the five of us," Monroe says, reflecting on the cementation of their current lineup. "This is Band of Horses! Without a doubt, I have no question that we're good together; we are not going to be changing out any more members or anything like that. This is very tight, we are family. It's going to stick."

Monroe, who was inducted into the band permanently on Cease to Begin, speaks of their (still at times overwhelming) success, and tries to clear up a few bad lines in the band's history of filing members. "Sometimes people that we try out could be in the band, and they are incredible players--we were trying for a while to have an extra guitar player, like the Pixies," Monroe explains. "But it turns out that we can do most of what we want to do, just the five of us."

Band of Horses seem to be gripping success with the most enthusiastic of measures. Infinite Arms is the album that proves their ability to stick-it-out in the industry--as well as the difficult task of keeping our modern day, over-critiquing indie fans in touch.

With Ben Bridwell's honey-coated vocals sounding succulently sweet; you can feel the smooth coating of melody go down like a hot cup of tea. A lot of the lyrical value in Band of Horses' music isn't necessarily a cut-and-dry approach to song writing, however. By using clever and somewhat cutesy stanzas, the songs tend to sink right into your skin, whether you know why you enjoy it or not.

From their first album, Everything All the Time, into Cease to Begin and now with Infinite Arms, Band of Horses' progression has been like watching a caterpillar casually morph into a butterfly. From the very beginning, Ben Bridwell's project played out somewhat like an actual game of 'Horse,' following an electro-pop edge with an adornment of anxiety-driven melodies.

Band of Horses has also worked tirelessly to break down the barriers of indie music's often difficult walls, entering into mainstream consciousness with their song "The Funeral," which has been featured in shows from One Tree Hill to 90210, Criminal Minds and Gossip Girls.

"I think that we are just starting to find out what we're all about, as a band," Monroe says. "This last record is pretty sentimental. It worked well, we're coming into our own, as an actual band; I am pretty psyched I really like the direction that everything is going and I hope the fans, and everybody else does too. A lot of people have a lot of creative input on this last record, as opposed to the first record. And Ben is welcoming a lot more input, so it is definitely more of a band now. I think, we are like that, we have a couple of songs--and I actually wrote a song on the record, and [guitarist] Tyler Ramsey did as well, so that is good departure from the first two records."

Monroe says that right now is "the high of the storm" for Band of Horses. They are deep into the heart of their tour, and next stop is right here in Minneapolis. --Cindal Lee Heart

BAND OF HORSES play with Bryan Cates this SATURDAY, JULY 17, at the ORPHEUM THEATRE. All ages. $27.50. 7 p.m.


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