Ten years in, several band member changes and getting dropped from their record label, Poison The Well is still prevalent and still going strong. The band, led by guitarist Ryan Primack and drummer Chris Hornbrook, just released their sixth record titled Versions about two months ago. Versions marks Poison The Well’s first release on independent label Ferret Records after parting ways with the major label Atlantic. The band is currently gearing up for a busy summer of touring, including a spot on this summer’s Van’s Warped Tour and an opening slot for the band Saosin. We recently caught up with the band’s drummer Chris Hornbrook to ask him some questions about what’s going on with Poison The Well.
Poison The Well has existed as a band now for just about ten years. How does it feel to still be doing this after all these years in an era where so many bands come and go so quickly? Chris: It's a pretty cool feeling, to be honest. No one is more shocked than any of us that we are still here and people still care. We're all just happy and grateful for that.
Your brand new studio album titled Versions was just released a few weeks ago. Now that it’s done and out to the public, how do you personally feel about the record in comparison to the band’s previous albums? Chris: I feel like it's a big jump up from where we were before. There are way more dimensions to it and it's way more of an eclectic record. I feel like with this record we're starting to come into our own.
Versions is of course Poison The Well’s first new studio record since 2003’s You Come Before You. Four years is quite a significant gap in between albums, could you let us in on some of the reasons for the break in between the new album and the last one? Chris: A lot of inner and out band issues that needed to be address and dealt with before this record could be released. It's a very long winded story that basically ends with anything and everything that can happen to a band to break it apart happened to us within that time; short of a member dying.
Versions puts on display some new elements and sounds from the band including the presence of instruments like mandolin, slide guitar, horns and banjo. How did these new elements come about in the band’s sound for the new album? Chris: Suggestions that were tried out when recording. The idea was to lay down the basic foundation of the record and then layer different sounds and textures over it. Those where just some of the ones that worked really well with what we wanted to do.
What was the writing and recording process like for Versions? When did you begin work on it, how long did it take and how many songs did you record? Chris: Well, we started working on writing in January of ‘05. The thing was it wasn't a straight process of writing music. We had it broken up into 3 or 4 different writing sessions that took place over the entire four year period. This wasn't something that we wanted, it was just the position we were placed in. The writing process was a very free, open collaboration. We mad sure everyone's ideas were heard and tried out. In the end we picked whoever’s idea was the best. I think over all there was about 20-25
songs/ideas recorded. Some of them really cool, some not.
Now to record the new record, the band traveled all the way to Sweden to work with producers Eskil Lovstrom and Pelle Henricsson. How did this whole opportunity to record Versions in Sweden come and how did Lovstrom and Henricsson become involved in the project? Chris: Well, they own the studio where we did everything at. By going over there we where able to do everything "in house" (record, mix, master) and make our budget stretch out. I also know that Ryan and Jeff like to be isolated when working on records. What better way to do it then go across the world to Sweden, haha. Pelle and Eskil worked on our previous record, "You Come Before You". They're just really great, talented guys. We have a great working relationship with them. They really bring the best out of us and also point us in directions that maybe normally we wouldn't go.
The recent release of the new album marks Poison The Well’s first release for Ferret Music, your new label you signed with last summer after parting ways with Atlantic Records. What was it that attracted you to signing with Ferret rather than seeking out a deal with another major label? Chris: We've known Carl and his crew forever. Back in the day when we would play Jersey, they would come to shows and hang out. They were also the first record label to show interest in us when they found out we were in the process of leaving Atlantic. We felt like we needed to go back to an indie. There is too much bullshit when dealing with major labels. In the end, every band is going to get dropped.
Poison The Well of course lost two band members recently in guitarist Jason Boyer and bassist Ben Brown. Recently on tour, their positions have been filled by Brad Clifford on guitar and Mike MacIvor on bass. How did you find and ultimately decide on Brad and Mike filling these vacant slots on tour? Chris: Well, Mike and Brad have been friends of ours for a while. When either one of the positions needed to be filled, when Jason and Ben left, they were the first people we thought of. They're good people, talented guys and we all have good chemistry together when playing on stage.
Speaking of Brad and Mike, any word on whether they may become permanent members of Poison The Well? Chris: As of now, no. When the time comes and it feels right, we will. We just don't want to keep making the same mistake of letting people into this band and then having them bail on us. Just have to be careful.
To help promote the new album, you guys have an insane touring schedule set for the next few months including some Warped Tour dates. How did you get to be added to these Warped Tour dates and are you excited to play on such a prominent tour? Chris: Yeah, we're pretty pumped. We were actually on the 2003 Warped Tour and the 2004 Winter Warped Tour Japan. We just had our booking agent work on getting us on this years run. Fortunately, they liked us enough to have us back!
Aside from some upcoming U.S. dates as well as the Warped Tour dates, what else does Poison The Well have planned for the rest of the year? Chris: Nothing solid as of yet. Everything is in the works or pretty close to being confirmed. As soon as we know, everyone else will. [ END ]