American singer-songwriter Ben Arthur, earning plaudits from Rolling Stone and even Marie Claire along the way. Ben has been good enough to catch up with us and talk about his music:
The quote by Rolling Stone, “Ben Arthur’s got the looks and hooks of John Mayer “, sits proudly on your MySpace page, can you tell us about how comfortable you are with the similarities and what inspirations are behind your music?
Oh, come on, I’m flattered! The guy sells kajillions of albums and spends all his time dating super models. That’s not entirely bad, is it?
In reality, anyone who actually compares John’s work and mine will not take long to discern some fairly broad tonal differences in what we have to say.
But let’s be clear, I am in no position to criticize (as if the guy would notice or care!) either his looks or his hooks. In fact, somehow he reminds me of someone, though I can’t quite place it…
A good while ago you talked about your ambition to do more house concerts, and we see that you have one booked for Friday night, how do you feel the house concert movement has moved on?
I freaking love house concerts. It’s a great way to share my work in an extremely intimate and raw way.
But I also love playing curated venues like Ceol-Mor. Guys like Terry do a ton of behind-the-scenes leg work (ear work?) listening to thousands of bands and picking out the ones he thinks folks in Inverness will enjoy, and then hustling to spread the word about the music he has a passion for. Honestly, it’s guys like Terry that make doing what I do worth it.
What are you looking forward to about your trip to the Highlands and what should the audience be expecting when they come to see you?
Being in Scotland is always a joy, not just because of the breath-taking scenery, but also the lovely people I always meet. Particularly when I get a chance to get out from Glasgow and Edinburgh and travel out into the more interesting bits.
The audience should expect a jet lagged but cheerful Yank ready to play for them as long as they’ll have me. (The looks and the hooks may seem oddly familiar, but they shouldn’t let that bother them.)
In 2009 you released Roadkill, a collection of live recordings spanning 10 years, what was the inspiration behind the concept of the album?
I’m kind of a studio rat and love huge, loud band productions, but for years I’ve had people tell me at shows that they prefer one song or another in the stripped-down acoustic arrangements I generally play live, so I thought it would be nice to collect some of the best recordings over the decade or some I’ve been touring. It was a lot of fun to put together (and also, to be honest, at times painful…particularly for the older recordings!) and I hope the folkies out there enjoy it!
Finally what track would you recommend to someone who has not heard your music in the past, and why?
Oh, I don’t know. Maybe Keep Me Around would be a good one to listen to–gives a quick and nasty primer on just how thoroughly demented I am:
My channel is www.youtube.com/gypsyfingers and folks should be sure to check out Dubway Days, which is a new series I’m working on where we bring in an artist to write and record a song with me and the Dubway studios team in a day!
You can see Ben at Ceol-Mor,Inverness on the 5th of May.