Ban Summers album launch party at The Edge of The Wedge, Southsea, sees a new era for performer behind The Boy I Used To Be
For several years The Boy I Used To Be were regular fixtures of the Portsmouth music scene.
Starting life as a solo vehicle for Edward Perry’s songwriting, over time it evolved into a fully-fledged indie band.
However, behind the scenes, as the band became more popular, Ed’s health was suffering.
‘I was getting more and more ill and what I could give to the band was becoming less and less,’ he explains, ‘and we’d all given so much for along I think it got to a point where everyone needed to move on with their lives and it just kind of stopped. We thought that we’d maybe go back to it, but it didn’t really happen.’
It took months of repeated visits to various doctors and repeated tests to eventually reach a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. An incurable and sometimes debilitating condition, it can cause pain all over the body.
But Ed eventually returned to action with a new solo project, the ‘soulful lo-fi’ of Ban Summers.
And this Sunday, he releases his self-titled debut album with a gig at The Edge of The Wedge where he is joined by Frankie Knight, Hallan and Highlights Of Our Modern World.
Through that period of uncertainty, though, Ed continued writing.
‘There wasn’t really a stop between The Boy I Used To Be and Ban Summers. I was still writing throughout and I was thinking that this would be stuff that the band would do eventually.
‘I just took a couple of years out not really doing anything and it got to the point where I was amassing more and more songs, and they’d become increasingly personal so it made more sense that it would be this new solo thing I’d created.
‘It wasn’t even necessarily going to be my main project – it was just like an outlet at this really difficult time, which is what music has always been for me.’
Back in March he supported Havant’s indie-soul act Barbudo at The House of Rapture in Fratton. It was a watershed moment for Ed.
‘Over the last couple of years I’d only done about five gigs as Ban Summers up until that Barbudo gig.
‘At first it was kind of going back to the old Boy set up – me and a laptop and playing guitar, but for a couple of weeks after each gig my hands would be really swollen from playing the guitar.’
It was getting hold of a Launchpad, a piece of hi-tech kit which enables him to trigger samples and music clips at the press of a button, that proved key.
‘I can still change the songs around in some ways and play around with it. That Barbudo gig was the first time I played with the Launchpad and everything came together. It was quite a big event and quite busy and it felt like I’d got Ban Summers to the point of what I wanted in terms of performing.
‘I had to find a way of making it more sustainable for me to play – knocking myself out for a couple of weeks after every gig wasn’t working.’
The fibromyalgia has obviously forced Ed to change his priorities.
‘With the band, when you’re younger, it’s everything in your life, with Ban Summers, it’s about everything in moderation, where I can still do the music and I can still play live, but it is just one part of my well-being.
‘I have to make sure that I keep topping up self-care and looking after myself is my main priority. The music helps with that but I also can’t go overboard with that and too much.
‘It’s hard with fibromyalgia because the loud noises and the lights, even how busy it is can all make a difference and make it difficult, so I’m not going to be gigging a lot, but it’s about doing it in a way that feels good to me and doing it occasionally.
‘With the band we used to play a couple of times every week, but I can’t do that.’
One thing that concerned Ed, was how his new approach would be received when he went out to perform live.
‘I was worried that where I was playing with a Launchpad, people wouldn’t think it was “authentic” music, but where I’ve opened up about fibromayalgia, if people know the reason why you’re doing something that way, they’re very supportive.’
And getting back in to the scene he had once been so active in has also helped him.
‘I was writing songs for a very long time, but I wasn’t going out and performing them, so I felt like I wasn’t really engaging with the local scene – there was a bit of jealousy that I was disconnected from the scene, even though that wasn’t anyone else’s fault, it wasn’t really my fault either.
‘It’s been nice to release music and feel like part of something bigger again. I spend a lot of time alone, so it’s been nice just to hang out with people again – and there’s so much great music in portsmouth, just to feel that connection again makes me feel good, and I can feel in some way that I can support other local musicians.’
Tangible evidence of this has already come in his colleaborations with Fast Trains, the new project of former Kassassin Street bassist Tom Wells – they have remixed and released a track for each other.
‘That all comes from putting yourself out there a little bit more and then having those conversation with people.
‘Before, with The Boy I Used To Be, we used to have our own kind of gang, but being solo, there’s an opportunity to make a broader gang, and Fast Trains is part of that, as is Myles from Highlights of Our Modern World – we can all help each other and big each other up.’
The album is being released by local label, Brutalist Records. Ed was contacted by label founder Sam Leadbetter after he put a song out as Ban Summers back in January.
‘I got a message from Sam and he wondered what I was doing as it was the first time I’d put anything out for a while. We got talking about music and whether I’d be interested in doing something with him as he was thinking about starting a new label.
‘He was saying: “If you want to do an EP or whatever...” Over a few months we’d meet up and talk for a couple of hours, and it was his enthusiasm that allowed it to go from an EP to an album. He said let’s wait until September, we’ll do it then, which gave me the time to get everything sorted.
‘That support in the background from Sam enabled it to come to fruition. If that hadn’t been there, who knows, I may not even have released an EP by now.’
Ban Summers Album Launch w/ Frankie Knight, Hallan, Highlights of Our Modern World
Edge of The Wedge, Southsea
Sunday, September 29