STORY WRITTEN BY ED CONDRAN
For Digital First Media
Band of Horses leader Ben Bridwell was like a kid in the candy store when Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle agreed to produce his group’s latest album, “Why Are You OK,” which dropped in June. Adding icing on the cake was one of Bridwell’s other heroes “Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, who lend a hand to the project as well.
“It’s cool when you get a chance to work with people you really respect,” Bridwell said. “I always loved Grandaddy and Dinosaur Jr. and other bands from that incredible era, like Pavement and Archers of Loaf.”
Bridwell, 38, is a child of the ‘90s. He was coming of musical age when punk broke. Recording artists such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins scored headlines and sold millions of albums. There was an amazing bunch of significant bands, like Grandaddy and Dinosaur Jr., operating on another echelon, which had such an impact during the Clinton era. In addition the aforementioned bands, Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth, Redd Kross, My Bloody Valentine and the Posies were some of the bands that made such an impact, while floating below the radar.
“I loved so many of those bands,” Bridwell said. “I’m such a music nerd. Some many of these not so celebrated bands I really loved.”
Band of Horses, which recently performed at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, is on a comparable level. Bridwell’s group isn’t a household name yet have had an effect on the contemporary sonic landscape. The group, which also includes guitarist Tyler Ramsey, keyboardist Ryan Monroe, bassist Bill Reynolds and drummer Creighton Barrett, is five albums in and has a solid fanbase, which is burgeoning and praise from critics.
There was considerable buzz surrounding the band a decade ago when it showcased its debut album “Everything All the Time” at South By Southwest in Austin. The first single, “The Funeral,” broke and has been used in a number of films and video games. “It was a good start back when we were with Sub Pop,” Bridwell said.
During the band’s early years, Band of Horses resided in Sub Pop country, Seattle. After the group released 2007’s “Cease to Begin,” Band of Horses graduated to the major label status.
Columbia signed the band and the group released a pair of albums, which added to the act’s credibility. 2010’s “Infinite Arms” and 2012’s “Mirage Rock.” The band, which is based in South Carolina, has been consistent and quirky (the act’s left of center, “Detlef Schrempf,” is a tip of the cap to the former NBA player). And then there are the catchy songs, which are tinged with sadness written by Bridwell.
“I can be so miserable but also appreciative,” Bridwell said. “I’m a walking contradiction but there’s balance there.”
Bridwell has plenty to draw from being a married father of three young daughters, none older than the age of 8. “It’s been an amazing experience being a parent,” Bridwell said. “Amazing stuff happens all of the time with my family. And then I get to make music, go on the road.”
“Why Are You OK” is an eclectic work comprised of dreamy, lush and warm songs. Bridwell effectively writes what he knows. A number of the songs are inspired by family life. But don’t dump Bridwell into the ‘dad-rock’ sub-genre just yet. There’s more to Bridwell and the band than that.
“There’s a number of different facets to me,” Bridwell said. “Count on me and the band to keep evolving.”