by Philip Moss
It’s almost two years since we first caught word of the then Lancaster based Mr Ben & The Bens – after catching their set at a Bingo Records night at The Ferret in Preston in promotion of their Happy Shopper EP. Since then, the quartet have upped sticks and left the Red Rose County – heading across Snake Pass to Sheffield – released last year’s Who Knows Jenny Jones? LP, and signed a deal with indie giant Bella Union. To mark today’s release of new single, On The Beach, we caught up with the songwriter to discuss its origins.
Different to previous releases, the new record, Life Drawing, is effectively a solo effort – with Ben pretty much the sole player on the collection. However, the new single, On The Beach, saw him returning to old ways during the writing process – ‘The song started life in the same way I always used to write,’ stated Ben. ‘I wrote the main synth line about two years ago – it started as a totally digital process, and then about six months later I went back to it and fleshed it out on the acoustic guitar.’
This, the third single from the record, is also the album’s opener. ‘On The Beach wasn’t actually the first song on the original track list, but it just felt like the perfect entry point to the album. I’ve always loved drum breaks too – I always used to take them off YouTube chop them up for my early songs, so it was a nod to that. Plus, it really gives a song that Beatles feel, and sonically it just felt right to come first.
And where Jenny Jones had a darker sound – ‘that was definitely a dusk/night time record’ – On The Beach is much brighter and overtly poptastic in feel. However, there is a juxtaposition lyrically, as Ben tackles Greek Mythology. ‘I’ve always liked the idea of contrasting an upbeat sounding melody with melancholic lyrics – it’s a good combination. It’s a challenge that’s I’ve always liked as a listener, and writers like Euros Child and Andy Shauf are great at it – they use a major key, but marry it with a melancholic lyric. It gives a real humanity to song.’
Life Drawing will be released on 10th July by Bella Union.
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