Tired Pony, a supergroup? ‘We’re like insurance salesmen’
REM’s Peter Buck, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and others have come together to record a second album as Tired Pony, where, Buck says, record sales aren’t a priority
‘The truth is that we have a lot of experience. Music is what we do; we’re like insurance salesmen – we just sit around talking about the job in hand, during and after work,’ says Peter Buck (third from left) of Tired Pony
Supergroup or well-known buskers? You can take your pick, of course, but the way Tired Pony’s honorary member Peter Buck (who was once in a little known band called REM) tells it, the fruitful extra-curricular project is just a bunch of musician friends doing what comes naturally.
“I don’t feel particularly super,” says the guitarist, continuing the line of modesty that has marked him out as one of rock music’s most highly regarded gentlemen. “But the truth is that we have a lot of experience. Music is what we do; we’re like insurance salesmen – we just sit around talking about the job in hand, during and after work. Plus, you’re with people who you get on with, creatively and personally. No one, honestly, is talking about how many records have been sold by any of us – that simply isn’t the point.”
Initially mooted by Gary Lightbody as a side project from his more dissected work with Snow Patrol, Tired Pony allows all concerned (alongside Lightbody and Buck, the nominal band member list includes producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee, Iain Archer and Scott McCaughey) to loosen restraints. Buck’s participation came about several years ago via a phone call from Lee, whom he had known from his work as producer on REM’s 2008 studio album Accelerate, and 2009’s live album Live at the Olympia.
‘We happen to work super fast’
“Garret said that Gary was looking for something quite impromptu, and with not a lot of soul-searching. The idea was that the songs would be recorded very quickly. Garret recommended me and Scott, who has also worked with REM, because he knew that we happen to work super fast. And we did – it was refreshing for Gary to work so quickly, too, and not to be under as much pressure as he usually is with Snow Patrol.”
Tired Pony’s 2010 debut album, The Place We Ran From, was recorded in just over two weeks. Similarly, the band’s latest album, The Ghost of the Mountain, was recorded without undue fuss. Buck’s feelings on these things has always been that if you trust your creative instincts then, generally speaking, the first idea will always be the best one.
“Not everyone wants or likes to work that way. But if you know what you’re doing then you should allow yourself to do it without overthinking it. Some REM records took months and months to record and, you know, I don’t think they got better for that. My theory? Get the record done, get the record out.”
It helps when you don’t have a massive amount of work to do other than wait for the songs to arrive; Buck’s role on the latest Tired Pony album was, in part, as creative consultant. “Yeah, well,” he drawls, “Gary originates the songs. He will come in with melodies, chord changes, most of the words. Of course, he could record all of them sitting on a stool with a guitar in his hands, and they’d sound great, but I suppose my job – our job, as it wasn’t just me in the studio – is to push or shape them into something different, be it folksy, Americana or even Krautrock.
“Gary had the idea of doing a Laurel Canyon/California singer-songwriter record, so we kinda pushed in that direction together as a unit. And it was fun – I laughed more during the recording of this record than any other one I can remember, but that was possibly because there were at least three Irish people in the studio. It never hurts when the Irish are around, let me say.”