A R T I C L E
‘A Little Trap I Made’: An Interview with Ben Woods
with Ian Duggan
‘Future City Festival’ is looming! And one of the acts that I am most looking forward to is Ben Woods, whose song ‘Lozenge’ is seriously good! An earworm that you aren’t unhappy to have there, no matter how many times it repeats through your mind. We caught up with Ben to discuss that song, his upcoming album, the Christchurch music scene that keeps on giving, and more!
HUP: Your debut solo song, ‘Lozenge’, was released last year on Melted Ice Cream’s fantastic 'Sickest Smashes from Arson City’ compilation. ‘Lozenge’ is also the title track to your upcoming album. When can we expect to see the rest of the album?
Ben: I was hoping to release it early this year, but booking this tour ended up being a lot more energy and time than I had anticipated, so it's been put on the shelf a little bit. As soon as the tour is over it's number one on my priority list. It's all finished; I just need to figure out who's going to put it out or whether I’ll put it out independently.
HUP: Is Lozenge indicative of the rest of the songs on the album?
Ben: Nope! That one's the lone charger for sure. A little trap I made to lure everyone in so they listen to my sad arse, draggy, downbeat songs. Really, there's a common thread in all of them, but LOZENGE is definitely the only one at that pace.
HUP: How has Christchurch come to have such a healthy scene currently? Or has the scene simply never waned there?
Ben: I don't know if it's any healthier than any other of the main centres around. There're people who put a lot of work into making stuff happen, especially Brian [Feary] who runs MIC. There's certainly a lot of different little pockets of people who will stick with whatever artists or bands they feel connected to. But, because of that it can sometimes feel like you're playing to the same room of people over and over, and it's often not a big room at all. I feel like the hope for a lot of people playing in somewhat alternative bands in Christchurch is that all the little indie sects will slip over into each other and combine to be something a bit more open and inclusive, and available. That's what I'd like at least, but don't know how it happens!
HUP: You are described as a multi-instrumentalist. What instruments do you play?
Ben: Nothing too wild. I'm getting worse and worse at guitar over time, despite it supposedly being my main instrument, but I kind of like it. I also try play a bit of bass, drums and piano. I'm really horrific on the cello, but have been trying to figure out how to work my flatmates one recently.
HUP: Are you playing Future City Festival solo, or with ‘Ben Woods Group’? What instruments are you bringing with you?
Ben: Playing with Symon Palmer, Ryan Chin, and IRD Rory Dalley. We've got drums, guitars, bass, synth; we've even got lap steel this time around!
HUP: You played guitar on the Wurld Series EP ‘Stately and Befrothed’, which, with its heavy Pavement overtones, was another favourite among us here at HUP and on the Hum 106.7fm. Did you have much of a hand in writing those songs? Who are your major influences?
Ben: Luke [Towart] wrote all those songs just on guitar, and then we'd workshop them as a band. I wrote all my guitar parts, but then sometimes someone would have something in mind they really wanted to hear and sing it. Then I'd work something out around that. I have a special place in my heart for Luke, Brian and Abi [Macilquham] who were the line-up for that EP.
I think in regards to that EP, the big influences might have been stuff like Guided by Voices, Alex G and Silver Jews. Though if you mean mine currently, I've been listening to lots of Chris Knox, that album Armchair Boogie by Michael Hurley, and also getting back into PJ Harvey. There's other ones that'll always be somewhere within me like Cat Power, Will Oldham's stuff, and Fugazi.