Ben Marwood is back at the Rising SunBy Jenny Minard
August 04, 2010
‘I quite like my own company.” Well being a solo artist you’d have to. But this Saturday, Ben Marwood will be joining more than 20 local artists to put on one of the best gigs this year.
He has been described as Reading’s leading solo artist, an accolade he coolly shrugs off.
“People tend to leave me alone about it,” he says. “Originally it felt like the best kind of fluke.”
Ben started playing when he was 10 and joined his first band at 18. He went solo at 23.
“I started to have more fun writing songs on my own rather than people in the practice room.
“I don’t really get on well with people when we all have to work together on equal terms. I’d be a rubbish communist,” he laughs.
But despite working solo, he has plenty of people around him to keep his feet on the ground. And that’s where this weekend’s gig comes in.
“I will bounce ideas of my friends Paul and Jay who run Broken Tail Records alongside myself, and they are also in [the band] Heartwear Process.
“It’s all very incestuous this Reading scene.”
Heartwear are reforming to join Ben at The Rising Sun Arts Centre in Silver Street, Reading. It’s hosting Here Comes the Sun, a fundraising day, on Saturday. The Rising Sun is no stranger to financial struggle and some say it is the community support which keeps it floating.
Alongside Ben and Heartwear will be a range of artists including Dolly & The Clothes Pegs, Neon Hire Wire and 60 Watt Bayonets.
There will also be art, dancing, poetry and filmmaking.
For Ben’s fans it will be a chance to see him perform in an intimate environment.
He has had much success with gigs at Womad, Reading Festival in 2007, and with folk star Frank Turner.
“Frank’s a good guy. I met him in Devizes in 2006 on his first proper solo tour.
“I have not met anyone like him in the industry in years. He will actively seek out people who he thinks are good and make them do stuff. He won’t let me rest on my laurels.
“He’s got me a lot of really good gigs, hooked me up with promoters and record labels.
“In the coming weeks I have shows in Derby and Kendal with Frank. I enjoy playing with him. The crowds are quite warm. It’s lovely to see him in Devizes – hanging out in corners selling demos – now living the high life.”
And it seems that all this experience with Frank Turner has helped with Ben’s own gig persona.
“I’ve got much more confident. I used to be really shy and look at the floor. But now I like to banter more with the crowd, it’s a good experience and only comes when you’re comfortable with playing live.
At the age of 29 Ben seems just grateful to be still gigging. “It’s got to the point where I’ve had enough fun that if I had to give it all up tomorrow, I’ve still got loads of good memories,” he says.
Ben was also involved with the Ballad of Reading Gaol project. BBC Radio Berkshire and Company Paridiso worked with young offenders who wrote poetry and musicians then turned them into songs.
The project won a Gold Sony Award – the radio equivalent of the Oscars.
“Some people were quite strict in that they didn’t want the lyrics moved around and changed,” he says. “I was quite lucky in that I got a young man who didn’t mind, so I could alter it.
“I got these lyrics, wrote some chords, and went from there. I rounded up a drummer, went to the studio, bashed it out and it was lovely.”
So is Ben still going for that dream or is he happy with his local gig scene?
“I used to be striving to be famous and it might look like I’m plodding along but I have a job to do.
“I’ve never had any management offers and I used to work at a rehearsal studio in Cemetery Junction where you would get the odd management through who would talk about being on the wrong side of 29.
“Being 29, I think I have nothing to lose, I’ll carry on and entertain.”
Ben’s new album, Outside There Is A Curse, is due for release in October.
Here Comes the Sun starts on Saturday at 11am and continues to 11pm. Tickets cost £5. For more information go to www.risingsun-artscentre.co.uk.