Tuesday 19 June 2012

Ben Montague // Interview & Tour Preview

Ben Montague has had a busy year so far; he's recorded his debut album, has an E.P and single out in July, played numerous shows and supported The Wanted on tour. 

Est.1987 caught up with him ahead of his Manchester show to chat writing, touring and the story behind Coldplay's "Yellow". 

Hi Ben, how’s the tour going so far? Is it nice being out on a headline tour?
Yeah, it’s lovely being out on a headline tour. Obviously doing The Wanted tour I have gained a few new fans. I wasn’t really sure how they’d take it because when they saw me doing those gigs they were in arenas and I was playing with a full band. On this tour I wanted people to see me doing acoustic stuff as well, so with my mate Ben Martinez, a guitarist, we play acoustic, a bit of electric and piano; I’ve been overwhelmed with the response.

Did you enjoy touring with The Wanted and Lawson doing arena shows, and is it nice playing more intimate venues now?
Yeah, I finished the record on the 21st December and I got a call on the 23rd saying I was going out on tour with The Wanted and I didn’t really believe it looking at all the venues like Manchester Arena and O2 in London. It was the best experience that I’ve ever had and also the scariest. But now [on this tour] it’s nice playing the songs how I wrote them; acoustically and telling the stories behind them to the crowd and it’s more relaxed.  

How would you sum up the live show on this tour?
I would say it’s very relaxed and lots of variety. I play a bunch of songs from the album and some up-tempo tracks and ballads, and also I ask the audience if they want me to play a cover and they can shout out suggestions. The way I would sum it up is basically like playing in a big bedroom and hopefully people can just come and chill out and enjoy the songs.

Your new single “Love Like Stars” comes out in July- can you tell us a bit more about the song and also the remix done by Cahill that’s part of the EP?
Ben Montague
I’ve never really written a happy love song before and the album is about a relationship I went through and is about the start, and each song has a little journey through it. And “Love Like Stars” is really that moment that everybody knows when you are with somebody and you want to say you love them or are just really happy. I had that moment and really wanted to get that euphoria across and I thought what bigger way to describe that than the stars and the universe and the power that it has; a bit cheesy, but I am a bit cheesy.  The Cahill mix came about really randomly; it just kind of got done and I’d not really thought about a dance mix of one of my songs before. But I turned it up very loud and danced around my flat for about two hours because I liked it so much. And yeah, it gives fans a bit of variety.

You mentioned the album, “Tales of Flying and Falling”; what can we expect from the tracks? And what was it like working with Dave Eringa on it?
Dave’s amazing, because obviously I come from pop kind of writing and he’s very much more a rock producer, having done Manic Street Preachers and Idlewild. I didn’t know if it was going to work, but it was great and we went through each song and I listed a bunch of my influences like Coldplay, Fleetwood Mac, and even Take That’s “Greatest Day” had influence on songs like “Love Like Stars”, that epic string-filled chorus. It was a real team effort and he’s a legend. I think everyone hopes to record one album in one studio; everything I had recorded in the past had been recorded in my mate’s bedroom with the duvet over my head trying to record vocals. So it was amazing to get to do the album at Rockfield. Coldplay did “Parachutes” there and Oasis worked there and “Bohemian Rhapsody” was recorded there. The album is a real mix of emotions; I didn’t want to just write a sad album, I wanted to write an album with ups and downs; euphoric pop someone called it the other day. 

I guess it was inspiring being there with all the studios history and memories.
Yeah, it really was. Actually, you know the funny thing; “Yellow” [by Coldplay] was written and recorded there and the first day I got there Dave and I were walking back from the courtyard studio and we looked up and it was all really starry sky, the stars look mental out there in Wales. And he said “did you know that Chris Martin wrote “Yellow” because he looked up at the stars here and apparently was like “Look at the stars. Look how they shine for you”” so that was really quite cool.

Your music got spotted and played on radio before you had a record deal and you’ve worked hard touring, recording and had a Pledge Music project; is it nice now seeing your hard work paying off and the fans response?
It’s weird because firstly, I can’t believe where I am now compared to say last year, I didn’t think I would be here having done an album, an arena tour and be on my own tour. But it always feels like the hard work is just around the corner; when you’re doing it then it never feels like hard work, it just feels like you have to keep going. I’m never happier than when I’m on the road touring and playing music to people. Right now I’ve got a big smile on my face. Honestly though, when I came off The Wanted tour for two weeks I literally just walked around in circles because there was nothing for me to do.

And finally, by the sounds of things you like to keep busy, so what else do you have planned for this year?       
Well, this tour will finish at the end of June and then the single comes out in July and I’ll be back on tour in August and September. There will be lots of gigs and a new music video and single, so lots of work.       

Est.1987 will be heading down to the Manchester show so stay tuned for a live review coming soon and be sure to buy your tickets now and not miss out on what is set to be a great gig!