Steve Alexander

Backstage Pass

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The Band of Horses Interview

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's the basketball offseason, and while I was planning on it being a slow 'offseason,' it has been anything but. News continues to roll in, 24/7, day and night, but this seemed like a good time to bring back the Backstage Pass series. Basically, I occasionally talk to rock stars about sports and music. Past interviews have included Stephen Malkmus of Pavement and the Jicks, Bo Koster of My Morning Jacket, Doug Martsch from Built To Spill, Brian Rosenworcel from Guster, and Quasi. My hope is to introduce some hoops fans to musicians, music folks to fantasy hoops, and to ask some questions other than what you see in most music magazines.

Band of Horses recently released their third record, Infinite Arms, which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard charts. Infinite Arms is a "weird" record according to Ben Bridwell, the lead singer and only founding member left in Band of Horses. There's not a bad song on the entire record, which is a collection of great driving songs, as well as an eclectic mix of rock, alt country, indie and the beach boys. They opened a string of shows for Pearl Jam, and Bridwell has been seen on stage singing Hunger Strike with Eddie Vedder, and jamming with Pavement in Toronto.

One of my favorite moments in this job came when my buddy Sonia Grover from the First Avenue in Minneapolis called me in 2006 and told me Band of Horses was reading my column in her office. It kicked off a friendship with the band that resulted in Ben taking the time to answer some questions for this interview. Bridwell is not a fantasy sports guy, mainly because he doesn't have time to screw with it, but he is a sports fan. Check out the new record, and enjoy 19 Questions with Ben Bridwell.

19 Questions with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses

Steve Alexander: 1. What are your favorite sports and teams to root for?

Ben Bridwell: I love college sports, but football especially. My loyalty is pledged to the University of Georgia, even in the darkest of days. Next favorite is Major League Baseball (Mariners, Twins, then Braves). If I have time I'll watch pretty much anything sports related: soccer, golf, fights, etc... Still trying to figure out Cricket and Rugby, however.

SA 2. You spent some time writing Infinite Arms in Minneapolis and have even covered a Replacements song (Can't Hardly Wait) recently. Are they your favorite Minneapolis band? A tough question for me, as I always loved Husker Du, Lifter Puller/Hold Steady and of course, Prince, but I think the Mats are #1 for me there.

BB No doubt in my mind. I can still listen to Replacements' songs like I'm hearing them for the first time.

SA 3. Have you made it to a Twins game in the new, outdoor stadium? If not, do you plan to?

BB Haven't yet. One day I'm sure there will be a summer when I can travel for pleasure. That will be a sad, glorious summer.

SA 4. What sports did you play growing up in South Carolina? Do you have any standout career highlights?

BB Baseball, Football, Basketball, Soccer, and some Tennis. Got popped in the eye with a baseball in warm ups before a game. Had to get X-rays at the ER but returned to game in time to get two hits.

SA 5. You played Madison Square Garden with Pearl Jam recently. Are you more freaked out by the sports history of the building, or the incredible shows that have gone down there? Where does playing in front of a packed Garden rank on your list of accomplishments?

BB Since this is now past-tense: I can say that was one of the most euphoric experiences of my life so far. Having performed there once before with Tyler and Roger McGuinn; that room is all music to me.

SA 6. I assume opening for Pearl Jam is an incredible experience. I also know Jeff Ament and Eddie Vedder are big NBA guys. Have you watched or played any sports with Pearl Jam while on tour? Do you have a favorite moment from that tour that might have occurred off stage?

BB Just hanging with Ed was awesome. All the guys were so nice, but Ed was the one who'd stop by for a beer after a show. The way he even treated our guests backstage... There's no "rockstar" attitude there.

SA 7. One thing I constantly read in interviews, and have experienced myself, is that when you're playing a show, you seem to genuinely love being on stage regardless of where you're playing. How do you keep the energy and relay the emotion that you are truly enjoying that night's show and audience as much as any you've ever played before?

BB It's been slow going but I'm learning to love the performing aspect. I'm less afraid to give every bit of myself to the crowd now. Hopefully one day I can maybe get so comfy to even speak in between songs.

SA 8. You played Maui with Willie Nelson last year, which I imagine was some kind of dream come true. Any quick thoughts on that experience, or maybe a cool "Willie and I drank a PBR and talked about Waylon after the show" story?

BB So hard to put into words how awesome that was. I'll just say it was all you could imagine. And More!

SA 9. What's your favorite moment on Infinite Arms?

BB Showcasing Tyler's and Ryan's singing, and everyone's songwriting as one unit.

SA 10. I heard something about a BoH Horseshoe Tournament. Who won, how badass is the trophy, and is this going to become an annual event?

BB My uncle Mike and I won last year, but his son Doug and our buddy JR took the title decisively this past April. Trophies don't mean squat though, unless you're on them.

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Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for and a contributor to The 2014-15 NBA season marks his 13th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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