Although probably best known for his music, this Devon born singer songwriter is also a surfer and an active member of Surfers Against Sewage. Ben’s unique percussive guitar techniques and stand out vocals make him one to watch and that’s exactly what I was doing last month at Newcastle’s intimate venue The Other Rooms.
If you haven’t listened to Ben Howard or had the opportunity to see one of his amazing live performances, here is a small insight into his world.
For those who haven’t heard your music how would you describe it?
A sort of lumpy acoustic soup.
Your songwriting has been described as mature and honest. Would it be fair to say your nature is reflected in your music?
I try to be as honest as possible in my songwriting just so I feel it and believe it. As for mature, I think my friends would happily concur that I’m the child of the group most of the time.
Why Newcastle as a tour stop and will you be taking some time off to surf these chilly shores?
We’re all big fans of Newcastle, my manager lives up here so we’ve spent a fair few times around the coast at Tynemouth. I listened to the Dire Straits album ‘Sultans of Swing’ relentlessly when I was a kid so maybe that’s why? There’s a possibility to get in the water, it all depends on how many beers we get through after the show!
You have support from Quiksilver and have played at some of their flagship events including this years Quik Pro France. How did the relationship come about?
Through the Davies clan in the North East really. That was the original hook up, then Quiksilver thought I suited their style and everyone over there liked the tunes so it’s been rosy ever since.
Has surfing inspired your music and which if any lyrics are directly linked to your surf experiences?Although I try and treat the two entirely separately, life is always a blur and everything invariably inspires everything else. I write songs about what I know so the sea always creeps in there. There’s probably a fair few references in most songs.
You are currently on the ‘Old Pine EP’ tour, how has it been so far and where can we see you in the future?
The tours been great, really nice to do a little stint in the UK again. Hopefully we’ll be everywhere in the future. It’s great for all of us just to be playing music full time at the moment so as long as it’s sustainable we’ll be touring as much as possible for sure.
I heard there were extra dates added to some shows and tickets have been flying out the stores for gigs in your native South West. How does it feel to have this support?
It’s great to go home and have friends and family genuinely feel what you do. That’s where the luck with songwriting comes in, people either like it or they don’t and back home I guess I’ve been really fortunate. It’s a really heavy reassurance when the songs you write are taken up by people who live in the place that you write about.
You have released 3 EP’s, is there an album in the pipeline?
Yeah the albums almost finished. We’ve been recording at home all year so the records coming together nicely. It’ll be on the shelves when it starts getting a little warmer hopefully.
One last question… if you were stranded on a desert island with 5 albums/long players what would they be?
John Martyn- Solid Air
Willy Mason- Where the humans eat
Bon Iver- ‘for emma’
The National- ‘Boxer’
And probably Hejira by Joni Mitchell