With their brand new album The Ghost Of The Mountain out this week, we caught up with Tired Pony (and Snow Patrol) frontman Gary Lightbody to chat about the latest release from his supergroup side project.
Firstly, what can we expect from the new album?
It’s a country rock soul gem that’s musically uplifting and lyrically dark. So, it’s got everything. Except jazz. There will be no jazz.
All the band members come from quite different backgrounds, did that make things difficult at times or was it beneficial?
Not at all. Tired Pony was a breeze the first time and this time we got right back into the same groove from day one. The only thing anyone cares about is that the songs are good and are being served. Plus as it’s everyone’s side project there is much less pressure and we can just have fun with it. Plus we all enjoy amateur nudity so it’s very liberating to be able to let the air in.
You said that you weren’t nervous about working with (R.E.M.’s) Peter Buck on this album (unlike on the first) – do you think that has been reflected in this album’s sound?
I was nervous the first time, I am a huge REM fan, but the nerves went very quickly as Peter is very down to earth and easy-going so it’s like working with someone you’ve known a long time. The sound is a reflection of us all together, not just me and Peter. Him being a gent does help though. He’s a very tender lover also.
You’ve admitted to suffering from writer’s block in the past, but it seems as though you felt quite free during the making of this album – what do you think was different this time around?
I was in a blind panic the last time as I didn’t think I was prepared enough. But then we started and the writing, arranging and recording all came so easily in the room with all the Ponies that the worry went quickly. I knew this time not to waste any time worrying even though I was still underprepared. I knew once we got up and running it would come easily. And it did. Having fun too helps a shitload.
How do you decide which of your ideas get used by Tired Pony and which get used by Snow Patrol?
As I say, most of the Tired Pony songs happen during the recording process. I will go off to a quiet corner, like Gollum, and write something and bring it back in the room and we’ll put it together as a band, generally guided by Jacknife Lee. He should be given credit for not only playing many (many) instruments on the album whilst producing it but also the song arrangements. He’s far too talented. I may have to kill him.
You recorded this album in LA, rather than UK/Ireland where you tend to record with Snow Patrol. Was that a conscious decision based on the sound you were after?
We recorded the last Snow Patrol album (Fallen Empires) in LA. We love it here. Ireland is my home and always will be and I love it beyond words, but I have also made a life for myself out here and made lots of good friends. The year-round sunshine helps with the sound of certain records. It’s hard to make a sunshine record in the dead of winter in the UK or Ireland as there’s none to be found. Even on sunny days the sun disappears at 3 o’clock. We were definitely making a sunshine record this time musically. As I say the lyrics are dark as fuck, but the record does sound like it was made on the South-West coast of America and we were going for that sound for the most part. We’re not hippies though. Although we do prefer love to be free.
Do you have any plans to take the album on the road in the near future?
We’d love to but everyone has their own commitments. Peter and Scott may not be in REM anymore but they are in about 20 other bands. Belle and Sebastian are in the studio again and are gonna be touring soon so Richard will only be available sparingly. Troy is in our Nathan’s side project Little Matador too, so they’ll be touring. Iain is writing with half the musicians in the UK and Jacknife is producing every record on Planet Earth so it’s hard to get such a busy bunch all together at the same time. We will try though. There may be a few shows. Hope so. I’ve a gold lamé jacket picked out and was gonna do a cover of ‘Love Me Tender’.
And finally, can you recommend any other new music to us?
At the moment I’m listening to The National, Laura Marling, Errors, Foy Vance, The Wonder Villains, SOAK, Sigur Rós, QOTSA and tonnes more. It’s a great time for great music. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.
Read the interview at its origin here.
Thanks very much Nici for finding this!