Chairman of the beard

The last few months were quite a whirlwind for bearded indie champs Band of Horses. Since hitting the road in March, the band's been in rock 'n' roll overdrive: selling out shows across the U.S. and Europe, sharing the stage with veterans like Pearl Jam and Widespread Panic, and watching their latest release — the gorgeous Infinite Arms — hit No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart (topping both Usher and AC/DC, mind you). But for BoH lead guitarist and Asheville native Tyler Ramsey, none of that beats coming back to Asheville to play in front of his home crowd.

And expect to see a lot more of Ramsey (aka "the tallest man in music," as one Xpress reader dubbed him) once the BoH tour wraps up at the end of this month. While frontman Ben Bridwell heads back to South Carolina to welcome the birth of his second child, Ramsey is planning on settling back down in Asheville. ("Hanging out at home, trying not to travel for a while, just trying to be normal," he jokes.) Lucky for us, “normal” also means playing local gigs and working on the songs for his next solo record. 
  So to help him get re-acclimated, we decided to gather questions from a few of our readers around town. And who better to start the questioning than Harvest Records’ Mark Capon. 

Capon: Do you loiter in and around other record stores on tour like you do in West Asheville when you're home?
Ramsey: [laughs] Yes, I do. I did that this morning, actually. That's pretty much what I do: guitar stores or record stores. Especially on days off, I'll just figure out what's within walking distance of where we’re staying and spend the day finding stuff. And loitering. Mostly loitering, though.

What did you pick up today?
They just reissued a bunch of John Lennon records, so I think I got Double Fantasy.

From Jesse Hamm: Have y'all been inspired by some of the major artists you've shared a stage with in the past year?
Yeah, for sure. We did about 11 shows [in May] with Pearl Jam, so we got to watch them go out on stage every night in front of tons of people and do really long shows and be really powerful. It was cool to watch how they operate, really inspiring. I honestly wasn't really a Pearl Jam fan early on, but getting to watch them live really changed my thinking.

Britton: You didn't own Ten growing up?
No, I did not have Ten. I had friends who had it. I was a little bit different, I think. I listened to a lot of guitar music, a lot of finger-style guitar players like [John] Fahey and Leo Kottke, all those folks. My uncle turned me onto that stuff pretty early on, and I just latched onto it. I would always be listening to stuff that probably my friends would think was pretty dorky.

From Barbara Verba: How excited are you to be sharing the stage here in Asheville with Uncle Mountain?
Uncle Mountain! Yes, that's going to be fun. Dan [Shearin] worked at Echo Mountain when we were recording the record, and he did a lot of work with us. So we got to know him, and he's a sweetheart. Yeah, they're really good.

From Jason Spence: Would you say that Asheville's artist/music scene is as inclusive as it was eight to 10 years ago, or has it become more pretentious?
I'm actually not in touch with what's going on in Asheville right now, so I don't know who's doing what there at the moment. Obviously when Vincent's Ear was around, there was a real exciting scene happening around that place. But now you've got the Grey Eagle, and there's so many clubs that are having music all the time. So I think the scene just kind of fluctuates, really. But it's definitely a supportive town for music. Hopefully I'll catch up on all that on my three-month break and go out and see some bands playing around town. 

From Ross Williams: What was the first concert you ever went to?
Oh man, that's an embarrassing question. [Long pause.] OK, it was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it was Eddie Rabbit and Juice Newton.

From Jack Becker: How significant was it for you to write "Evening Kitchen" on Infinite Arms, and how does that experience compare, from an artistically satisfying standpoint, to your own album, A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea?
Hmmm, I don't know. It's definitely been heard by a lot more people than heard my album [laughs]. It's just fun to write songs, and it's really fun to be in a band environment. When I did that solo record, it was just me hiding out somewhere writing songs and then deciding it was time to go record them. But to have a band of friends of yours get excited about a song that you wrote is definitely a heightened experience.

Ben still writes the majority of the songs and always has, but I think the idea with the last recording and future things that we do is to be more of a band. He wants to spread the creativity out and get input from all of us. And that's what makes it really exciting to be playing with these guys. Everybody's got that ability to put in their two cents, and hopefully we come out with something that's really good that came from all of us.

From Lauren LaRocca: What do you think about the Eclipse soundtrack … if you listened to it. Or watched! And did you gain a ton of Twihard fans out of it?
I've heard parts of the soundtrack, but I haven't seen the movie yet. Actually, I haven't seen any of those movies. We kept being in hotel rooms where they were showing the second one, and I wasn't, like, going to start with the second one [laughs]. I'd rather watch the whole thing, even though from what I've heard about it, it's probably not my thing. But the cool thing is that they really do pay a lot of attention to the soundtracks. There are some amazing people on there. You look at the company you're keeping on the soundtrack, and it's just an exciting thing to be a part of.

But I don't know if it's had that much of an effect. At least I haven't noticed in the audience. At this point still a lot of our shows aren't all-ages anyway. We've also grown a lot this year and have gotten bigger crowds coming out to see us, so it's hard to get a grasp on the array of folks that are out there. So there might be some people wearing Team … ummm … I don't know the guy's name…

Britton: Jacob?
Jacob! Yeah, yeah, yeah. There might be some people wearing Team Jacob T-shirts, I don't really know. I don't think so, though.

From Mark Carter: Based on "For Annabelle," named for Ben Bridwell's newborn daughter, how has fatherhood changed the band's sound?
I don't think it's changed the sound of the band necessarily. Some of the subject matter now is — at least as far as I know —related to him getting ready to be a father and adjusting to that idea. So there's definitely some content in there involved with that. But I don't think the sound really changed because of that.

From Jeremy Hargroves: What are your passions outside of music?
Oh, man, I'm trying to find some. I kind of have a ridiculously singular focus as far as that goes, so I don't really have any. I've got a bunch of different sides of me musically that I'm constantly going after. Just covering the bases of trying to be a diverse, whole musician occupies all my time, unfortunately.

From Moriah Luzius: Where do you get your hair done?
[laughs] I'll be plugging a business, but I guess I have to do that. I've been going to Christine DiBenedetto at Wink. I've been getting my haircut from her for a long time.

Does she cut the beard too?
No, that thing just gets out of control. I have to chop at it with hedge clippers or something. So if there's someone out there that can do that for me, I'll go see them, too.

From KaChina Davine: What was the highlight of working with Elliot Scheiner? What did he bring to the recording that was unique for Band of Horses?
Yeah, that was actually a weird side thing that we did. It wasn't [part of] the album. We actually just went in there for one day in New York, and got to work with him with the sole purpose of recording a few songs in 5.1 surround sound. It was wild. They were songs from the new album and we just went in and played them live. We did four or five of them. Then he mixed it to surround sound for your listening pleasure.

who: Band of Horses, with Uncle Mountain opening
where: Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
when: Thursday, Oct. 28 (8 p.m. $27 plus fees. or 800-745-3000)

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