Over the years, Ben Pryer has been involved in projects both as a solo artist and as a band member, he is now back as a solo artist set to release his self-titled debut album. Due to be released at the end of this month, it showcases Ben’s new genre of music, rock and roll. We speak to him about his new music and album, his journey on how he got to where he is today and his music career.
Can you tell us about your new album, how did you decide on the style of music?
There’s so much to say about it really, it sounds very 50s rock and roll, rockabilly that kind of vibe. I’ve always loved rock and roll, early 50s rock and roll and The Beatles and things like that, I’ve always loved them and I wanted to create a mind-view of what I think I would sound like doing that. I thought rock and roll has never really died, it’s always been around in some form and I wanted to bring what I thought of it when I heard it to the table now. My grandad used to show me rock and roll records when I was younger and so I always grew up with it and I always wanted to do it, but I never thought I could do it because I always felt quite bound by a guitar and just like a singer-songwriter, but then with the technology of today I managed to create a whole ten-song album, it’s available for pre-order at the moment.
How exciting, when does that come out?
Yeah, 29th of July so that’s in about sixteen days.
Do you have any plans to tour?
Oh, many, many, it’s a question I probably get asked every day, I like answering it. Everyone wants a tour to happen because it’s the best thing, touring is the best thing in the world, doesn’t matter what anyone says, it is, definitely. I’ve now got myself a band and so we’ll be touring together, they’re more like a backing band, I don’t want to put them to the side because they’re brilliant, they’re better than I am but it is still Ben Pryer. We are planning to do quite a few dates in the UK but we also want to take it further afield as well, and perhaps go outside into Europe and America and places like that.
How did you meet your current band members?
Okay, so one of them’s Jack, he’s my bassist and he’s been my best friend for ten/fifteen years, so a long, long time and he’s been in every project that I’ve done. My drummer, Ed, I got a random email one day and he said ‘I heard that you were looking for a drummer’ and I hadn’t said to anyone that I was looking for a drummer, so I have no idea how he found that out, but next thing I know, we’re playing in a trio and we love it. Tomorrow we’ve got auditions for a pianist as well. Hopefully it goes well, if we don’t click then we won’t have a pianist!
Do you have any music videos being released for your album?
This is a difficult one purely because I have a lot of lyric videos coming out which aren’t really music videos. They’re cheap to make, they’re easy to make and it’s a good way of just getting your song out there onto YouTube, so I have lots of those coming out. When it comes to music videos, because everything I do is self-funded, self-managed and I don’t have a label behind me anymore, it’s completely what I do. It is all about finding that budget, so that’s the next thing I’ll be doing, trying to see whether I can do a music video. About two or three of the songs, I have a perfect vision for a music video, so I’m hoping that if we sell enough records we can get a music video.
So it’s a bit ‘watch this space’?
Yeah, we’re kind of working backwards with it because normally you’d have a big label behind you and they would go ‘right, this part of the budget’s going towards a music video, and then this is going to be your music and studio time, and then this is going to be your PR, this is going to be your promo’, but because I haven’t got that, and it’s all me, I’m kind of like, let’s sell enough records and then maybe we can do a music video after that, so it’s a bit backwards but at the same time, it’s fun.
It must be quite good doing it on your own though?
It’s amazing, yeah it’s the most rewarding experience because you get to sit back, especially recently because I’m in this stage at the moment where we are going around doing radio tours and stuff like that. When I’ve made something in my room, then I’m listening to it in the studio being played on the radio, it’s like wow this is amazing, I can’t believe this is exploding like this. So yeah, it definitely is.
What music did you grow up listening to?
So much, I think I had a very varied musically influenced household. My grandad is a huge Elvis fan, he loves 50s rock and roll, he likes Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, all that kind of stuff. So that was what I first started listening to. My mum would then bring influences from the 80s, so I was listening to a lot of different 80s music as well, and my dad used to show me things like Stray Cats and stuff like that, I was a big fan of Stray Cats because they were just cool. I loved listening to mainstream pop, I was a sucker for it, in the 90s you had Boyzone, Westlife and stuff like that when I was a kid. I love listening to all that, I’m a big fan of pop and a big fan of rock and roll as well.
Is this your first time on the line-up of Victorious Festival?
It is, yeah. I went there last year to see Noel Gallagher which was one of the best experiences of my life, absolutely amazing. I think about a week after it had finished, I got an email from a friend of mine, Marley Blandford, who is also an incredible musician, he always plays at Victorious, and he said ‘dude, try and get on the line-up this year, we’ll put in a good word’, and next thing I know they put me on headlining the Radweb stage, we’re so happy about that. It’s the first time but we’re going to kill it, we’re going to make it the best weekend.
Do you write all your own songs?
Yes, definitely. I have never had any input from anyone with writing, sometimes my band members will come in and I’ll go stop! No, I’m joking I always let their input come in, but I write everything myself and I love it. It’s the most important process to me, I love writing songs. I write songs even when I haven’t got to do anything, I’ve got about 500 songs that I don’t know what to do with because I just always write. It’s the best thing you could do, I love it.
Who from the era of music you sing, would be your dream collaboration?
Jerry Lee Lewis all the way, he’s incredible. I don’t know how old he is now, probably like, eighty-something and he’s still rocking and he’s amazing still playing live. Jerry Lee Lewis had this whole vibe about him that was exciting, he was bad, there were things that he did that were incredibly bad, but when he was on stage he was on fire. So, if I could do any collab it would be with him, for sure.
And anyone from today’s music scene?
Too many, Marcus Mumford from Mumford and Sons, he is absolutely amazing. Tom Odell as well, incredible pianist, he comes from Chichester so I think pretty ideal!
Have you come across him in your music career?
Before he was famous, yes. He played in quite a few of the cabin bars around here, I went to one of them. I think he used to live here, I used to go to college here and I used to walk up and down and I’m pretty sure I saw him multiple times but I didn’t know who he was then. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that was Tom Odell. I saw him live as well at V Festival which was amazing, he is brilliant live, really good.
What do you think of TV talent shows and would you consider entering any of them?
TV talent shows are fantastic for what they are. One thing people forget is what they are, they’re entertainment shows and they’re made for entertainment, it’s not a singing contest and it’s not a music contest and it’s not who’s the better musician or who’s the best singer, it’s nothing to do with that, it’s to do with what’s the most entertaining. I love watching it because it’s so entertaining. For me, I think it wouldn’t really benefit where I want to go. I think if you want to have longevity and go for that longevity and have a career writing music for people and performing that music, I don’t know if instant fame is right for that.
What made you start YouNow?
YouNow’s the best thing in the world. We used to do it when I was in the band, they were totally arbitrary, we’d log on to the site and just do random stuff. We were one of the first people really on the site, there weren’t that many people on there, and so they partnered us up which means you can start earning money through it and so it’s a really good way of us earning a few extra quid basically and then putting it back in towards the band. We took it for granted definitely, it was something we didn’t really see as great money, we didn’t think about it. So that’s where I started it, but then in November 2016, I got back into it. I realised that I could do live shows using my home studio every night to help fund myself and my career. People can come in and tip me which is so important for a musician because I don’t have another job, this is what I do for a living. The fact that people can help and support me towards what I want to do next, whether it be the next album or whatever. It’s also a great way to showcase your music and show new people what you do. It’s fun as well, when you log into YouNow and you watch a musician and they are going crazy you know it’s just fun, it’s just really fun so I think that’s why I love YouNow, love it!
Have you always known you wanted to be a musician?
I have, ever since I could remember really. I remember being seven years old, I first started playing guitar. I remember seeing Busted when they did their A Ticket For Everyone tour, it was a live DVD, and I remember getting that for Christmas. Watching them on stage, that was me set, I knew that was what I wanted to do, I think the main thing about it was seeing them rock out. They used to come up, and they used to like jump up and I used to love that so yeah, always.
What do you think you’d be doing now if you hadn’t gone into music?
Um, Tesco maybe! I don’t know, I don’t think I would have a very good job if I was to have a normal job, purely because my mind works in such a different way. I have an artistic mind that needs to be fuelled artistically by doing different things and writing, I need to get it all out and if I can’t get it out, I’m stuck. Anything else I’d be useless at, it’s pretty lucky that I actually can do this.
Do you feel having the experience of previously being in a band has helped with your solo career?
Definitely. Of course, any experience that’s behind you is experience that you can learn from. The best thing about doing things is that you can learn from them. The band has taught me many things, it’s taught me about people in general, how legit people are, and whether to trust certain people, but also how to have fun, how to relax, how to be a musician, how to go on tour for thirty days straight and not die! All of that kind of stuff has taught me so much.
Are you continuously writing songs for future releases?
Yes, always. As I said, I have a back catalogue with so many. The thing is, when you write you realise that your musical influence can change in a matter of months, you can go ‘I love this style but I want to do something more like this now’, so I’ll often have all these songs that are just kind of redundant and then one day I’ll pick one out and I’ll go, yeah that’s cool we’ll use that. I don’t know where my style will be in twenty years time, I don’t know whether I’ll be doing Rock and Roll, doing Pop music, doing Blues, being in a Caribbean band, but the thing is, that’s what’s fun about it to me because I don’t know where I’ll be.
If you were to release a solo charity single, what charity would you choose to do it for?
Definitely something to do with dogs, cats, animals, stray animals and stuff like that. I love all animals so probably a shelter, maybe Mount Noddy because they are close to where I live. In fact, that’s a really good idea, so thanks we might actually do that because that would be really good. I love animals, I adore them and if I could do anything to help them, I definitely would.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We’ve got a lot of things going on behind the scenes at the moment, which is involving more of the business side of music. We’re all really working hard on that kind of stuff. We’re also polishing off our live act so we can get that to a perfect stage so in 2018 we can get that tour going, travel around, see people and play music for them and hopefully they’ll enjoy rock and roll.
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Pre-order his debut album here:
Official Store – Signed copies