I have buttoned up my waistcoat, checked the time and uttered something less formal than ‘Oh dear, oh dear’. I could have sworn a white rabbit passed me by several weeks ago, with a true sense of direction and not out of breath, like me. But, on the upside, we will have caught up with the project pace in a few days. In the meanwhile, Leeds alternative rock band Pulled Apart By Horses, just released a rare B-sides album titled ‘Tough Love Sessions’ besides winning the Artrocker Magazine’s ‘Heavy Band of the Year Award’.
We’re eager to see the band on stage living up to their live reputation with Tom Hudson spilling his guts both lyrically and physically, as critics have been bending over backwards to dive deep into their vocabulary to praise PABH’ raw and dark sophomore album ‘Tough Love’. In a few hours we are given the chance to talk human extinction with PABH’s drummer and self-proclaimed misanthrope Lee Vincent. Of course he might be right as we play the ‘game’ of climate change collectively, but like the dog with the bone I’ll stick to my guns and go: ‘Ooh, another windmill, let’s get out my trusty sword.’
A conversation with Lee Vincent.
Sanderz: You’ve just finished your gig today at Area 4. How did it feel?
Vincent: It was really good fun. It’s nice playing festivals outside the UK. It’s nice to play inside the UK as well, but I like to mix it up.
Sanderz: Is there a difference playing festivals inside the UK and on the continent?
Vincent: Yeah, I think so. People seem to be a little more, not eager, but maybe a little bit less cynical in countries like Germany, Holland and Eastern Europe as well. They are more up for checking out bands they haven’t even heard of. In England, if they don’t know your band, they’re not watching.
Sanderz: That’s too bad….
Vincent: Yeah. It’s their loss.
Sanderz: It’s great to check out some new bands.
Vincent: Exactly. That’s the whole point of festivals.
Sanderz: Usually when we’re selecting a band, which sounds more clinical than it is, we know what causes they’re advocating, but today I’m gambling and unless ‘happy violence’ is gushing green blood, I’m kind of in the dark here. Do human rights, climate change or animal rights play a part in your life?
Vincent: Just in a loose sense in awareness. We’re definitely not a political band, but I like to be aware of what’s going on around me, especially as I get older. I have a two year old daughter, who makes me realize that, once you know what’s going on in the world, the future is more important than just drinking and doing drugs. Although it used to be fun (laughs). Having a kid turns your life a tad. You want to leave her a good place to live in. Life becomes far more important than it did before.
Sanderz: What’s your attitude towards climate change in the sense that you adapt to it, or leave the change to its course until the planet is doing a ‘Vommy Tommy’ on us?
Vincent: It’s a tough one isn’t it. There are a lot of people who say climate change is a natural process, it doesn’t really have anything to do with us. But it’s reasonable to say that our carbon emissions and pollution in general will have some effect. Hundreds of temperature records have been broken in America and other parts of the world, this year alone. There can be only so much change for it to be a natural thing.
It’s good that it is addressed, but I think the planet is going to take its course anyway. I believe it’s a mixture of evolution and human intervention. We might get fucked anyway, because we have been adding to the problem. No point in blaming anybody or anything. People as a whole have caused an effect and that’s why we have to do what’s good for everybody. It’s time to take responsibility for it.
Sanderz: You started out in the Leeds music scene. How was it to break away from that?
Vincent: It was strange really. Leeds has a really vibrant musical community, a good scene inclusive of everyone, no matter what your style of music is. We’re definitely a product of that, but I don’t think I need to break away from it. It’s part of us and it definitely helped us on our way. We came along at a time when the Kaiserchiefs were kind of a hype. They brought the limelight to Leeds, so all of a sudden the DIY underground scene was a little bit in the spotlight. I guess we were around at the right time.
Sanderz: You started out fairly unambitious with your self-titled debut album PABH. How did the snowball-effect influence the size of your shoes?
Vincent: The size of my shoes ? (laughs) My shoes are the same size, I think…… (laughs).
Sanderz: So you stay firmly on the ground?
Vincent: Yeah. We choose not to behave as assholes in normal life, so when we’re working with the band it makes no sense to be assholes then. I think we’ve got the best jobs in the world. We’re not a very big band by any means, so to start strutting around like rock stars would be fucking ridiculous. It’s disgusting to see bands act like that. That’s not who we are. We’re just here to, and it sounds cliché, have fun and play music. We see no point in pissing anybody off, just to create some kind of rock ‘n roll persona.
Sanderz: PABH: is the band name as evident as it sounds or is there a story behind it? It keeps reminding me of ‘the Hitcher’, an 80ties movie with Jennifer Jason Leigh being pulled apart by cars. Well, they’re not horses. I mean, what or who is pulled apart?
Vincent: We used to make up stupid stories, but it’s unfortunately nothing exciting. James is a massive Radiohead freak and there was this rare unreleased song called ‘Feeling pulled apart by horses’. James got all the bootlegs and demo’s, but apart from die-hard fans, nobody was familiar with the name of that song. We already started as ‘Pulled Apart by Horses’ when Thom Yorke released it as a single, so we could have a bit of fun with that by saying: ‘He’s a big fan of our band.’ But aside from anything else, I think it’s a great name and it suits our band perfectly.
Sanderz: How soon will it be until PABH is becoming too famous and cynical and loses the enthusiasm of working with a producer like Gil Norton or opening the main stage at Reading and Leeds?
Vincent: (laughs) Who would have thought it. Working with Gil is just beyond comprehension. I went to my first Reading Festival on the day I got my GCSE exams (General Certificate of Secondary Education), about 17 years ago, and I went every year after that. It’s a teenage dream to play at the main stage of Reading and fulfilling this now is exciting. But I’d like to say I care to be both cynical and enthusiastic (laughs).
Sanderz: PABH is as notorious for their raucous, blood gushing, most exciting live performances as they are to fight the death of guitar music. Where does guitar music stand at the moment?
Vincent: I think it’s in great health. Every now and then the media has some reason to try to shake things up. I don’t know why, but it’s ridiculous. I can see that we’re not creating these massive, arena selling rock bands, like the Foo Fighters and Green Day, anymore, who can headline festivals year after year. So from that perspective it’s kind of happening , but not as far as guitar music as a whole. On a smaller scale, heavier music is more accepted and there are more and more great bands coming out every year. For instance, our band gets daytime play in the UK on radio 1, which is bizarre and wouldn’t have happened five or six years ago. In that sense guitar music is fine. That whole death of guitar music kind of thing was a big issue at the time our first album came along. So, what the fuck, we’ll be the saviors of guitar music if you like.
Sanderz: ‘Tough Love’ is the band’s more direct, sophomore album. You say it to be a heavier album than its predecessor, although it’s been said that Gil Norton’s collaboration smoothed it down a little. How would you describe the album and Gil Norton’s input?
Vincent: I think it’s more direct and heavier in a sense that the first album was more a kind of scratchy punk album, but we still love playing those songs. The second album was written as a whole, as an album. When you agree to work with Gil, you’re taking on a fifth member of the band. He comes to the practice room and goes through everything. He tears all the songs apart and puts them back together. We fight and argue, saying ‘No’ while he says ‘Yes’. Then we give it a try and he proves to be right.
It works with Gil. He’s an old-school producer: he doesn’t come in to record your band, but becomes a part of it for the whole process. It would have been a completely different album without him. When you’re a band it’s a very insular thing, it’s really hard to give away any kind of power, so when someone comes into your practice room and says: ’We’re going to change some of your songs’, it’s a big leap of faith to take. Every time when you’re doubting one of Gil’s decisions, you remind yourself that he has made these legendary rock albums. You’ve got to trust him, which is a massive thing.
Sanderz: Pulled Apart By Horses’ lead singer Tom Hudson is responsible for all the PABH’s artwork. He also directed the ‘Back To The Fuck’ video (with Robert Lee) . What’s the value of the additional artistic odds and ends as a benefit to the music?
Vincent: The value lies in the sense of having control over everything, which is a big thing for us. Also we see the aesthetic as an important part of being in a band, like video’s, art work. It’s all part of the package. We were lucky in the sense that Rob and Tom are both great artists, and that Tom’s art work’s has strong parallels with his lyrics. It all ties together to strengthen the identity of our band. We value the artworks as part of the band as a whole.
Sanderz: The question we ask all interviewees: What do you do in your daily life to reduce your carbon footprint?
Vincent: Ironically having a daughter, who makes us more aware of our carbon footprint, also means that my wife and I both have to drive more, which is a double-edged sword. We recycle and turn things off when we’re not using it. Those simple, logical things are unfortunately not logical to everybody. We do as much as we can in our home, but by no means hard line. If everybody would commit to these small steps it sure would make a difference. I think people are becoming more aware. At the same time I believe destruction looms closer every year. (laughs) I told you I was cynical.
Skye: What’s your favorite tattoo?
Vincent: My favorite tattoos are on both sides of my eyes. I have RM on my left side. My daughter is called Rosy May and the anchor on the right side is for, in sailor’s terms it means you’re settled down and the two stars are for my wife and daughter. I have so much crap on me, but it’s an ongoing project. Still lots and lots to do.
Skye: Does every tattoo have a story?
Vincent: Some things do and some things don’t. There’s a lot of stuff on my body purely for the images, but I value the people that have applied the tattoos, so it all means something somehow. Some people fear I’m running out of space, but I’ve got my whole back, both my sides and so much of my legs that are still bare. It’s an obsession. Every bit of space pisses me off (laughs). I’m sure I’m kind of a psychiatrist’s dream.
Sanderz: Thanks for the interview.
Vincent: Cool. Lovely to meet you.
Pulled Apart By Horses are:
Tom Hudson-lead vocals, rhythm guitar, Lee Vincent-drums, percussion, James Brown-lead guitar, Robert John Lee-bass guitar, backing vocals
If you want to find out more about Pulled Apart By Horses, check out their site www.pulledapartbyhorses.com