Music Q&A:
Ben Marwood

After three years the singer-songwriter is heading on tour and looking forward to eating Easter eggs with his best friend. He plays Gullivers, Manchester, on 16 April

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What informs your songwriting?
A lot of it is about interpersonal stuff. You know, all the classics: rejection, anger, unrequited love, hopes, fears, a little bit of murder, resilience with a dash of self-deprecation. I’m a big fan of solo songwriters who can communicate on a personal level really well: Frank Turner, John Darnielle (of Mountain Goats), Elliott Smith and the like.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
With a little bit of practice! I think when I started out my influences were almost solely American and I adopted some weird Americanised singing voice which was the fashion at the time. I knocked that on the head quite quickly when I started hearing it back on recordings. Recording-wise, the production values have gradually shifted from hissy four-track recorders into the digital age – though I haven’t upgraded my editing/mixing software since 2001 so should probably do something about that. Oh, and the live show has really come along, from some guy on a stool mumbling shyly into a microphone to leading singalongs. Can’t beat a good singalong.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?

Currently I’m on the way back from illness, with a new album called Get Found out this month on Xtra Mile. The last few years were a bit of an experience – the album was written in 2014-ish but I wasn’t well enough to get to a studio, so I went full circle back to my home recording roots, upgraded my studio where I could and set about piecing this new album together over the course of a year. I’m really proud of it, and the songs mean a lot to me. To celebrate, I’m going to take it on the road with a couple of friends of mine for a two-week stint during April that does its best to cover England and Scotland. There are some places on there (Glasgow, Edinburgh, York, Manchester) that I haven’t played in three years or so, so it’ll be a good excuse to catch up with people I haven’t seen in ages in places I really enjoy. I’m quite excited for the whole thing, though a little nervous.

What’s on your rider?
My sweet tooth runs rampage over my diet, so probably snacks and chocolate, but really the way to my heart is with a giant slice of cake. Since we’re touring in the run-up to Easter, I heard a rumour that the main support for the upcoming tour – Non Canon, one of my best friends in the whole world – is going to request a different Easter egg at every show, so I look forward to watching him take on that personal challenge as the tour progresses. I think I asked for water, because that’s the kind of rock and roll life I lead.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Being a backing singer for Frank Turner at the Olympic opening ceremony was very surreal. I think, amongst all the people dressed up as The Past, we were probably the only ones not in fancy dress. There were so many surreal moments that week. You know that part in the horror film where you can’t see behind the main actor and you just know there’s someone behind them? The Olympic week was a bit like that, only instead of a psychotic clown preparing to strike, it was just David Beckham waiting for you to stop taking up so much space in the corridor. Thankfully I don’t think that many embarrassing things have happened onstage. Most of the embarrassing things that happened to me I got out of the way in school.

What song do you wish you’d written?

Probably either This Year or High Hawk Season by the Mountain Goats, or Angeles by Elliott Smith. Those first two songs are so basic in the chord progressions but the way they’re arranged turns them into something beyond what you’d expect. The latter is just an incredible piece of guitar playing and writing and flows perfectly.

What’s your worst lyric?
Oh, there’s one absolute doozie from a song Five Little Secrets, from my first and only mini-album back in 2008. The line is “if only your eyes replaced the fear/and not the memory of the last few years” and even writing that out I’m making a face at the screen. In the end, after a few years of singing it with a straight face, I started grimacing through it and then it became a running joke. I think if you write over a long enough period of time, every songwriter ends up with at least one of those points. I’m not even sure, looking back, that the lyric even makes sense but I remember being immensely proud of it when I wrote it. Gah.

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