There are people twice as old as Ben Harrison who have no idea what they want out of life. Me. I’m people. Maybe that’s the divide between millennials and those coming up in Gen Z. Who knows? What I do know is that the teenage acoustic dynamo Ben Harrison is one of the most driven acts around. With music out now and more on the way, he’s constantly creating and when he’s not, he’s breaking to talk to us all about it.
Kendra: You haven’t been playing that long. What initially inspired you to pick up the guitar last fall?
Ben Harrison: I’ve always been around guitar music, from when I was younger. I had a small stint with rap – specifically UK grime, which I still listen to. I’ve established my own taste now, however. Bands like Oasis, The Smiths, Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana are all massive inspirations for me picking up the guitar. Also, I’ve been obsessed with being in a band for a while. So, that kinda spurred me on.
Kendra: Did you decide not too long after that the acoustic guitar was more your style?
Ben Harrison: Yeah, I’m not sure why, to be honest. I think it was more the fact I wanted an acoustic, to have both electric and acoustic. But, I gradually found that writing songs becomes easier on the acoustic – especially my solo stuff. However, saying that, I am still balancing my practicing on both – and taking electric guitar lessons to learn more theory-based stuff, that I would drive myself crazy if I tried to self-teach!
Kendra: There are artists twice, three times, your age who take at least a year or way more to create their first EP, and here you are with ‘Capitulation.’ Have you always been the type of person that once they set their sights on something, you’re all in?
Ben Harrison: I think so? I don’t know how to answer this question without sounding cocky! Obviously, it’s been quite a quick turnaround with ‘Capitulation’ – did the title song in a few takes with my Pocket Studio at home! Then the other two songs were taken from a gig I did not long ago. So, in all honesty, it wasn’t the highest effort EP/single I’ll do. But once I decided it was what I wanted to do, it didn’t take long before it was done.
Kendra: You’ve noted Noel Gallagher is one of your inspirations, and you’ve done your own Oasis cover. To me, Oasis seems to be the Nirvana for UK teens in that they always seem to be the foundation of influence for teens to get into music. Would you say that’s true? Also, what is it about Oasis that has made them such a force all these years?
Ben Harrison: In my eyes, Oasis are, and always will be, the best band to ever grace this planet – aside from the Beatles. They weren’t the greatest at their instruments, but they really captured the spirit of 1993/4 Britain, after Thatcher and the whole Cool Britannia phase. Obviously, Oasis are well known for “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” – especially in the States. However, in the UK, these absolute classic songs probably wouldn’t make most British Oasis fans top 20s! They have so many great songs, with so many different meanings and styles. For me, the greatest band of all time…(again, aside from the Beatles!)
Kendra: On top of your solo work, you’re also in The Interests. How do you balance the two in terms of when you write a song, how do you know whether to keep it for yourself or to share with the band?
Ben Harrison: The Interests is definitely still a work in progress. We released ‘Columbia’ not long ago (go check it out), and that took about 20/30 takes. At the moment, due to the current climate, I’m writing by myself, for myself. As I didn’t have an acoustic, I wrote everything on my electric up until Christmas, and in turn all those songs have turned into band songs. Since then, I’ve written 95% of the stuff on the acoustic, and now they’ve turned into solo songs! Sort of depends on how I feel at the time, but I never go in thinking “I’m writing an Interests song” – Anything I write, I demo on my phone, send it to the lads, and get their approval. If I decide it’s an Interests song, it means I have the support of the band to ask them to play their part. If I decide it’s a solo song, it just means I’ve got four people (who I trust) who like it! Win-win situation haha!
Kendra: Right when you were about to get out and play more, the world sort of shut down but like many who are part of Gen-Z, you found a place online. While streaming is far from seeing an artist in real life, how do you feel yourself and other artists streaming live right now is helping fans around the world?
Ben Harrison: It was a horrible feeling when the lockdown was announced. Obviously, safety comes first, but I had a run of gigs in London and Brighton, as well as festival season and support slots coming up. But, as you say, the internet has shown one of its benefits with live stream gigs. I’ve done a few which I’ve really enjoyed, and I’m sure I’ll do more. But as a fan, who has watched plenty of gigs, and as a player, who’s played live, it’s never the same. It’s definitely made me appreciate the people who put on gigs and allow us to perform. Hats off to them.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Ben Harrison: Well, I’ll never stop writing – not even for a pandemic. At the minute, I’m demoing some new songs that I want to hopefully do in the studio after this has all blown over – or record them at home. I’ve got some gigs planned, but the real aim is to have a proper recorded solo EP out sometime in 2021, and then get properly cracking with The Interests at the same time. My song to help me through these times is one by one of my favourite bands at the moment, The Lathums. “Time for Me, Light for You” – amazing songs, vocals are immense and they’re a great band destined for great things. Check them out.