Some context surrounding the making of the record:
Unfortunately, no juicy bits or dirt to speak of surrounding the making of Ben Blank – no slander, no in-fighting, no back-stabbing, no epiphanies, no love triangles, squares or circles or any other geometric shapes…perhaps our anaemic, wafer-thin social media presence has already told you that story.
We are, however, five people who’ve been playing in a band together since high school and lived to tell the tale. And here we find ourselves, still at IT whilst staring down the barrel of the loaded gun that is turning fifty. What better way to deal with an impending/already-in-progress mid-life crisis than to create an Avatar to do some of the heavy lifting…enter Ben Blank.
If this all sounds very sexy… it isn’t.
Track By Track
The Ballad Of Ben Blank:
An introduction to our deeply flawed, cosmic cowboy as he sets off on a journey of self-reconstruction. His attempts at bravado and chest-thumping are consistently undercut by his irrepressible urge to admit to his own failings. He’s a masterpiece faker….a second-hand name-dropper (imagine that guy at a party….what could be worse? “I knew a guy who says he knew Pete Townshend”)… a loose cannon….
He decides to leave his name, his face and his past in the river and to walk on into a new life… to find the love and adventure that have eluded him….a blank slate.
I Dream Of You:
To reinvent requires a reimagining…in this case, the seeds of love planted in a dream…something that will, hopefully, become real, solid enough to build on…In the early 90’s when we were starting out, Spiritualized released Lazer Guided Melodies and it changed everything. Their songs are increasingly layered, swirling mantras – each one inevitably finding it’s way to a boiling intensity. I figured I’d try the same kind of thing – this time with a rolling- tumbleweed, country feel set against an ever-expanded sonic backdrop…
It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s fiction these days…we’ve retreated into worlds tailored to our own needs, dreams and fears…perhaps that’s always been the case but it’s on the news now… So how do we find common ground? Those things we can all agree make us fundamentally human? How do we hold on to our true selves, to the deepest part of us…when it all feels like smoke and mirrors?
A call…like a bird to a longed-for, elusive mate….awaiting a response. Every melody I tried to set against the piano part seemed to want to start on a high note and fall… cascade downwards… it’s helpful when the music itself provides the metaphor.
Picture Of Love:
A throwback to our kindergarten days, when we didn’t have the vocabulary to express ourselves and so we were asked to draw pictures of the world around us: from Mom and Dad, to squirrels, to Santa Claus (aka Father Christmas). All these years later…still unable to truly say what’s in the heart…we are still drawing…in my case, stick figures.
A note to self that Rock n Roll and its insistence on living in the moment is not dead.
Everybody Needs Love:
I hope that people hear this one and take it at face value…for the simple statement that the title puts forward…stripped of any adornment…everybody needs love.
Every cowboy needs their moment as a silhouette on horseback…ambling across a painted desert…a place of thorns and ghosts…where we face our darkest selves…and hope for a bit of divine intervention to see us safely through to the other side.
It seems like Ben Blank is leaving us with more questions than answers. One such question being “Is it fair to the listener to go out on a breakup song?” Either way, perhaps the story isn’t over…let’s see what the night holds…
*An afterthought… In reading back some of the answers above, they sometimes come across as too facetious, too glib, too tongue in cheek. But that’s how it is at this point…for me anyway… If you stare at it all and fail to see the humour…to reserve the right to laugh at your own trials…then it all becomes… well… a bit too much. Thanks for taking the time to listen to our record. Sending you all the best from Montreal! Sam
Check out the video for track Projection, below:
Purchase the album here