"The magic of the Festival Awards" has something of a ring to it. Like Motty wheezing about the "the magic of the FA Cup" as he freezes his nuts off at Hayes and Yeading United where a 93rd minute winner has knocked out, most likely, Liverpool.
Similarly, the Awards are a big competition where David can be pitted against Goliath, the multi-million album-selling Champagne Charlies take on DIY doom bands or, as we have this year, Pulled Apart By Horses fighting the might of Mumford And Sons.
Obviously Pulled… singer Tom Hudson has heard of the group, as he tells VF on the eve of their European tour, he’s even caught them live. “I saw Mumford And Sons at Reading and it was absolutely ridiculous,” he reveals in a gentle Yorkshire accent, “I couldn’t believe how many people knew about them and people were actually singing along out of the tent.”
So he’s seen them play, but there are tactics and chart positions to take into account as well. Have they met off the field? “The only other time I saw the Mumford And Sons guys was when we played Frequency Festival in Austria and Pukkelpop the day after. I didn’t actually see them play; we just kept bumping into them at the airport,” he says, analysing his opponents, “We hadn’t slept at all and they looked pretty road-worn, so we were on the edge and just being stupid. I think when me and Rob [Lee, bassist] first saw them we went past standing on the luggage conveyor belt.”
It goes to show that you can’t beat a good first impression and Pulled Apart By Horses have certainly made one this summer. But they need to turn over a few more acts to lift the trophy this year, including Ellie Goulding, Example, Marina And The Diamonds and rapper Tinie Tempah. How do they rate their chances? “I don’t know, all I know is we’ve played a lot of festivals and they’ve all been pretty awesome in their own way,” muses Hudson somewhat uncertainly, “I think things have worked out quite well for us this year because the album came out just before the festival period. So a lot more people recognised us and came to see us anyway because they’d seen the name, even if they didn’t know us. So it has felt like we’ve played to a solid amount of people at festivals.”
The crowds are turning up because, without a five-o’clock-shadow of a doubt, the fuzzy-faced frontman leads a formidable live outfit with speaker jumping, throat rattling and everything else you’d want from a hardcore quartet. It’s the type of show that will have the average human body screaming for mercy after two or three weeks. “I don’t know how we do it,” admits Hudson, “I think we’ve got some sort of meditation-al way of sitting in the van and not doing anything for half the day so when we turn up to a venue, we’re ready to get rid of that nervous energy and go for it. I’m sure I am going end up with ‘tour neck’ from headbanging so much. I will have this kind of Henry Rollins neck where my head just goes into my body.”
It would seem that the Leeds rockers aren’t just putting everything into their live shows, but into their partying as well. “We played T In The Park last year,” starts Hudson, “we got there on the Saturday and were playing on the Sunday so we go to watch some amazing bands and we got to enjoy the festival and take it all in really. We want to make the most out of everything. If we can get there for another day or stay over, then we do. Unless our management don’t want us to stay because we might get too drunk.” Have the band got a habit of doing that then? “Sometimes we just a bit go with the flow. When we played T In The Park we completely lost James [Brown, guitarist], that’s where we got the song name ‘Get Off My Ghost Train’ on our album because he basically broke into a ghost train late at night, absolutely drunk with his mate Steve. Some massive, buff, gypsy guy ended up chasing him out and the only thing Steve said was: ‘you’re not going to punch me are you?’”
With all that excess energy, it must be like trying to shackle a team’s star striker for their management at times, but that’s where greatness can turn into genius. And their critically acclaimed self-titled debut manages to do just that: tame the beast. But it still sounds as if the group are tearing up your eardrums right in front of you. “It wasn’t as hard as we thought it would be actually. We did it just after Leeds Festival or just before, so we’d been touring and a lot of the songs were pretty much there anyway,” Hudson reveals, “we just recorded the whole album in a short space of time; I think we recorded in just seven days or something. We kind of boshed it out and didn’t put too much after work into it and we just kept it raw.”
Album reviews have been as favourable for the four-piece as their live reports, with the singer surprised with the response. “I didn’t expect it to be as well received as it was. I thought it was just going to be like ‘good live band, crap album’ or it wasn’t going to come across as it should do,” he says. “We were all really taken aback on the review side and everyone seemed to nail it and pick up on we were trying to do.”
It’s refreshing to have a heavier band making sound waves in the industry, the perfect antithesis to the rise of pop, and there is more in the pipeline for Pulled Apart By Horses. “In December we’ve told everyone we don’t want to do any gigs,” Hudson says, perhaps planning a well-deserved break. Some time with the family, maybe or a sun-seeking getaway, the type you can win on This Morning? It would seem not: “We’re playing our last show at the Garage, London in December and then we’re going into the middle of nowhere. Because James is from the Lake District in North Yorkshire, we’re going up there and hiring a barn for a week and we’re just going to drink beer and write songs together and try to record some stuff.” VF recommends a rest lads, you’re going to have to do it all again next year.
Pulled Apart By Horses are up for the Best Breakthrough Artist in the UK Festival Awards.
Click here to vote now.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 18 November at the gala ceremony at the indigO2, London.