Interview: A Thousand Horses Ready ‘Sonically Bigger’ Sophomore Album
When A Thousand Horses released their freshman record, Southernality, two years ago, the band was still figuring out the music they wanted to create. But as Michael Hobby, Bill Satcher, Zach Brown and Graham Deloach finish recording their sophomore album, the group says that their growth will be evident when fans listen to the new music.
"The record we did two years ago -- and a lot of those songs are way older than two years ... We've grown as writers and as singers," Hobby tells The Boot. "I think that really applies to this new record: We brought the game up, a lot. We changed producers from Dave Cobb to Dann Huff, to do something a little bit different and bring [an] 'A Thousand Horses 2.0' kind of vibe. It’s going to sound like A Thousand Horses, just sonically bigger and, I guess mature would be the word."
Adds Satcher, "Some of the songs on Southernality were seven years old, eight years; we were writing, and, in our very first rehearsals, we were forming the band. I think the second album is like, we’ve taken the things that are unique about us and magnified a lot of them, become even more of A Thousand Horses. We’ve expanded upon our sound."
At least one person from A Thousand Horses has writing credit on all 13 songs on Southernality, including the No. 1 single "Smoke" and the Top 25 hit "(This Ain't No) Drunk Dial." ATH's debut single from their next album, "Preachin' to the Choir," is one that they didn't write, though; rather, it was penned by the Warren Brothers, Heather Morgan and Morgan Wallen.
"We’ve been writing with the Warren Brothers forever, and Brett [Warren] one night sent us the song, and he said, ‘I really think the song sounds like you guys. Listen to it,’" Hobby remembers. "And, immediately, I thought, absolutely it sounds like us. We all fell in love with it and asked if we could cut it, and he said, ‘Hell yeah.’ It just kind of came randomly, because he was thinking about us."
A Thousand Horses hint that there might be other songs written by outside songwriters on their sophomore album as well.
"We’re never opposed to outside songs," Hobby notes. "We normally write a lot of our own stuff, or all of our own stuff. I think we’ll do a combination ... as opposed to saying ‘no’ to this and ‘no’ to that -- just see how the project comes together."
But while A Thousand Horses are more open to recording others' songs for their new set of tunes, they're still trying to write some themselves.
"When we’re out on the road, on the bus, every single night after the show, we have some drinks and then we start playing a song that we’ve been recording. We’re like, ‘Man, I don’t know. This one could fit here, and this one could fit here,'" shares Brown. "It’s part of what you want the album to be, because obviously you can’t put every song that’s been written on one album; it’s just too many songs. And it’s not that some of the songs aren’t any good; it’s just that there’s so many great songs, we have to figure out which ones make sense for this album."
Hobby, Satcher, Brown and Deloach strive to make sure they all have equal say in A Thousand Horses' decision-making process. Disagreements are bound to happen, of course, but the guys say that their friendship is far more important than the outcome of an argument.
"You’re not a band if you don’t disagree. You’re not a human if you don’t disagree," Hobby quips. "But in the same sense, we are four very-much-like-minded people. But to have disagreements between four people I think is just natural. I think it’s almost healthy."
Everyone has to be on board before a song makes an album, though.
"We don’t want to do something if even one person in the band is like, ‘I’m just not excited about this particular song,' or, 'I feel like this song is not going in the right direction,'" explains Deloach. "In order for this thing to work, everyone onstage has to be all into it and all about it. So that’s how we did the last album: Every single song on the album, we were all unanimous."
In order for this thing to work, everyone onstage has to be all into it and all about it.
A Thousand Horses have spent the past few years opening for some of country music's biggest names -- Darius Rucker, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett -- but as they look toward the release of a new album, they're ready to see their own name at the top of the marquee.
"We’ve learned a lot," Hobby says. "So, watching [Rucker, Aldean and Rhett's] shows every night and seeing them over and over and over again, you kind of learn how they perform, because they’re all pros ... They kind of just coach you along.
"Being an opening act is great because you’re in front of a lot of people, but it’s also cool because the headliner obviously likes you and wants you to be there, and takes you under their wing, and helps you with things that are going along and gives you advice," he continues. "Their career is always a big thing for us. We love picking people’s brain, stepping up our show every night as much as we can, and being with people that do that. It’s a healthy competition."