After years slumming it in Brighton pubs, this Faust found his Mephistophiles in the form of Ford, who made him the face (and music) of their campaign for the Focus Zetec – his first release, the Tea and Sympathy EP, came out in October.
Ian: So, Ben, if you’d please, start us out with a soundbite. How would you describe your sound?
Ben: “Bitter-sweet acoustic pop.” Pop’s a funny word but we’ve been associated with it for a while now.
Sophie: You’ve got a track, ‘Tea And Sympathy,’ what if you could only have tea or sympathy?
B: I’d go for sympathy hoping I could get the tea elsewhere. I’m a friend of the Tea Appreciation Society on MySpace.
S: The lyric, ‘summoning power in the shower’ (not a euphemism for anything I hope)?
B: It’s about summoning the power to wash off the guilt that’s been chucked at you –spending your own mental time and energy to cope with a situation that someone else has put on you. A bit of ‘me time’. The song is about a couple of mates of mine that moved in together and had a very inflammatory relationship… Men and women are just such different things! Even though they are compatible, they’re two totally different ends of the spectrum and there has to be respect of that.
S: So men are from Mars and women from Venus?
B: Yes, there’s a massive, massive difference.
S: Naturally or socially?
B: Um… woah…
S: Sorry, you’re speaking to a feminist.
I: Your website claims you’re destined to become a star. Which constellation, exactly?
B: The bear, probably because it reminds me of telly when I was little.
I: Yogi? Gummy Bears?
B: No not them, the dude who was either a bear, a panther or a lion – the one that kept converting into ‘the power of the Cheetah’ and ‘the power of the…
B: Yeah, that was it.
I: Ah, the height of 80s special effects.
S: What’s more rock n’ roll, a Ford Mondeo or a Ford Focus?
B: [hesitant laughter] Ford Focus? I didn’t really pick the model, that wasn’t my input. Ford’s involvement has been sponsorship and promotion – they had to get a car in there somewhere! We have to drive a Ford Focus around.
S: So if you had the choice of another model?
B: A Ford Mustaing. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’re going to give one to a musician touring the country. It would burn off our entire tour budget in one petrol tank.
I: There’s only one question left then, In or Out?
B: In what sense?
B: Generally In… definitely In.
By Ian Steadman and Sophie Pearce