Tin Horn Prayer keeps its live show lighthearted to balance the darker moments of its music
Given all of the members' punk backgrounds, it's not surprising that they approach their live shows with a rowdy, punk attitude. "And for a band that kind of tackles a lot of heavy subject matter," notes Thomas, "we try to make it as lighthearted and fun as possible when we play, because it can get real depressing."
"It's definitely a lot easier," James agrees. "You can either laugh about it or cry about it. It's definitely a lot easier to laugh about it. It might be a little morbid at times and a little scary, but I think that's a lot of what we have in common."
Take "Execution Line," for instance, the song that opens the album: It's about a guy who imbibed a little too much, kills somebody, gets sentenced to death and ends up on the execution line. "Call a Priest," meanwhile, is about a man wondering if God will save him from being hung.
Recorded over a few weekends last July at Black in Bluhm Music with Chris Fogal, Grapple the Rails is being issued on the Paper + Plastick imprint formed by Less Than Jake drummer and Fueled by Ramen co-founder Vinnie Fiorello. The album's cover was designed by Ryan Besch, who has done design work for acts like the Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Flatfoot 56. Grapple the Rails is the first sophomore release for several members of Tin Horn Prayer, Thomas notes, since the earlier bands they were in never got that far.
"For a band that started as a side project for so many of us," he says, "and to have it come to this point and have three and a half years and two albums out, you look back and it's a nice benchmark.
"I've gotten more compliments on this band more than on any other band that I've been in," he adds. "I think that kept us going. We don't do a lot of self-promotion. We don't put ourselves out there a whole lot. We actually have an audience at this point. We'll still have clunker shows, but it seems like the good shows are a lot more frequent. We'd see people singing along, and we'd have these really amazing shows."
It's even more amazing when you consider the volatile personalities that make up the band. Despite any inner turmoil they may have experienced, at the end of the day, the positive response they've received is the gratification that motivates them to keep going no matter what.
"It's been the most rewarding, in that respect, than any other band," Thomas concludes. "I've been in bands that have had followings, but it's always seemed to sputter out to a point. This one seems like it's building. And it's exciting, and it makes us all want to stick around and see what happens."