The music business has gone through some pretty radical changes in the past decade.
Where folks used to buy CDs and listen to them as a body of work, the advent of iTunes and file sharing has driven listening habits to focus on the single, rather than the album as a whole.
One band that still seems to appreciate the fine art of releasing an entire album of music is Band of Horses.
Formed in Seattle in 2004, Band of Horses is fronted by South Carolina native Ben Bridwell.
Raised in Irmo, Bridwell moved to Tucson, Ariz., as a teenager, then relocated again to Washington State.
The band’s debut, 2006’s “Everything All the Time,” turned heads, thanks to a combination of great songwriting and Bridwell’s otherworldly vocals.
Since that auspicious debut, the members have traveled the world opening for bands such as Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam.
Next week, Band of Horses releases its fourth studio album, “Mirage Rock,” which continues the band’s streak of beautifully crafted collections of indie rock.
Last month, Charleston Scene had a chance to catch up with Bridwell, who has lived in Mount Pleasant since 2007. He was in Denver, where Band of Horses was preparing to start a tour as the opening act for My Morning Jacket.
Q: So you’re in Denver today?
A: Yeah, we’re at Red Rocks. It’s gorgeous. Tonight’s the first show with My Morning Jacket, and we’re kicking it off with two nights here at Red Rocks, which is bonkers.
Q: Have you played with My Morning Jacket before?
A: We did a show with them at the end of last year up in New York. We’ve been friends over the years and have kept in touch.
Q: Let’s talk about the new album, “Mirage Rock.” Tell me a little about the ideas and inspirations that went into the making of the album.
A: Well, I guess there was a lot of traveling involved with it. Also, being a parent these days with two kids, that responsibility kind of weighs more heavily than it did before.
When I get home, I want to be able to spend as much time with my kids as I can, and not have the cloud over my head of, “Oh, I gotta get some work done.”
So now, instead of lazing about on a day off, I’ll try to work, try to write. A lot of the songs came from things like that. Written in hotel rooms on days off, and in Mount Pleasant in this little storage garage I had for a little while. I’d write a lot in there.
I guess the whole vibe of the album is that it’s more up-tempo, more upbeat than the last record. It feels a bit more celebratory, although there are some sad moments.
Q: Is most of the material new, or was there anything you had tucked away for a few years, waiting for the right album to go on?
A: At least one song made it onto the album that I had previously recorded for a solo record that never came out.
Everyone writes in the band though, so we bounced stuff off of each other. It’s solitary, though, because we’re not all in the same room.
We’ll email each other with ideas. Once we got to the studio though and got into the recording environment, it became much more collaborative.
The primary co-writer on this album is Bill Reynolds, who had very few songs on the last album.
Q: The new album definitely has a different tone than the last one. Is there one song of which you’re particularly proud?
A: There’s one, “Slow Cruel Hands of Time,” that I had basically given up on. I wrote this song, and I didn’t think it was any good, and my friends forced me to take another look at it.
So I worked on it, and it became a lot cooler than what I’d initially done. The band really helped me pull it back together.
Also, the song “Dumpster World” is just hilarious. I think it’s awesome that we can show a bit of our humorous side.
Q: How did you end up working with producer Glyn Johns, who has produced or engineered albums for such rock luminaries as The Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin?
A: We got lucky that he had worked with Ryan Adams on his last record. Ryan Adams and our band share a manager, and management brought it up.
We were throwing in names of dream producers that we’d like to work with, and the fact that Glyn might even be an option led to a pretty immediate reaction. We said, “Let’s go talk to Glyn!”
Q: Did he bring anything to the recording process that you weren’t expecting?
A: I mean besides the obvious nuts and bolts of the thing, what really surprised me was how well we got along. Outside of the producer/recording artist relationship, we became really good friends. I didn’t really have any bros over the age of 70, but even with the different backgrounds, I was really pleasantly surprised at how well we hit it off.
Q: You’ve played all over the world, in Europe, South America. What do you find different about your fans outside the U.S.?
A: It’s the similarities actually that I find the most glaring. Like when we go someplace like Australia or Brazil. The lack of pretentiousness in some countries is very familiar to a Southern person. When no one wants to put on airs, I find that fascinating and comforting, that people can be like that all over the world.
Q: You played Wembley Arena with the Foo Fighters last year. What did it feel like to play your music in such a huge venue with a crowd that big?
A: Well, we’ve been very lucky to tour with Pearl Jam and bigger bands like that. It’s really strange at first, but we’ve become so used to being the support band that we kind of relish that position. You get to see these venues that you probably wouldn’t get to see otherwise.
You play for an hour or so, and I think that’s a great amount of time for us. I love an hour set. You pick the strongest stuff from your catalog, or stretch your legs a little with some weird stuff, but I just find it exhilarating to get up and play for an hour and try to win the crowd over.