‘You have to put your head in the
lion’s mouth’

Ben Watt
Ben Watt

Pet hospital to benefit from music festival

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Three decades is a long time to wait to follow up your debut album.

But Ben Watt has hardly been sitting idle – he pursued a successful career as one half of Everything But The Girl with Tracey Thorn, then as a dance music DJ, and latterly as a writer.

But as Ben explains, he had never given up on following up his 1983 solo album North Marine Drive.

‘I think it’s probably been in the back of my mind all that time,’ he says. ‘I had an emerging career of my own when I was 19, but then I took a decision to go in with Tracey for what I thought would be three months – it lasted 20 years, and then of course I got completely diverted by electronic music and got very absorbed by that for 10 years.’

But he reached a point where he realised he missed using words – the result was a book about his parents, entitled Romany and Tom.

Following that, his half-sister died unexpectedly and Ben took to the studio in early 2013: ‘I went into a studio and all those songs for Hendra tumbled out in a bit of a compulsion.

‘I always try to write from a need, not because I can, but you have to wait for those moments to arrive.’

Hendra was released in April this year to positive reviews.

‘By stopping the DJing and going back to songwriting,’ he says. ‘I realised I would have to take a step down, and build myself up again from a lower position.

‘You just have to be prepared to put your head in the lion’s mouth sometimes and just do the things you believe in.’

He has been joined in this project by former Suede guitarist and acclaimed producer Bernard Butler.

Ben says: ‘When we first got together it was actually a bit of a disaster, we were tiptoeing around each other and it was a bit awkward.

‘But when I started writing Hendra, I went back to him and said: “Look I’m writing this quite folky, open tuned, impressionistic, autumnal stuff, but I want a darker edge, and I want you to play this edgy, slightly distorted voice,” and he went: “What like this?” And that was it.’

The Ben Watt trio are at The Joiners in Southampton on Thursday, doors 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15 from joiners.vticket.co.uk.