Artist Q&A

@JamminJavaMei's Q&A With Ben Watt

ben-watt-blog

Ben Watt (of Everything But The Girl) is here with Bernard Butler (of Suede) July 16! Purchase two or more advance tickets and you'll be entered for a chance to win a limited edition lithograph print signed by Ben Watt!

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Where and when was your first show? Excluding school bands - I was in three - my first proper gig was in 1980 at a tiny club in Richmond, on the outskirts of London. I was seventeen and jealous that friends of mine from the local art college were getting gigs there, so with a certain amount of precocious force of character I doorstepped the booker and said I ought to play there. ‘What do you sound like?’ he asked. ‘Like The Durutti Column with songs,’ I said. ‘Sounds great,’ he said, ‘I can get you on next Wednesday.’ I was stunned. I had no songs. ‘That’ll be great,’ I said. I went home and wrote ten songs in ten days and did the gig. It was opening for The Thompson Twins who were to go on to be something of an indie-pop crossover sensation shortly after. But on the night we played there were about sixty people in the room with a monsoon lashing down outside. On the upside, I wasn’t booed off and the booker turned out to be Mike Alway who was about to become A&R at Cherry Red which kickstarted my recording career at the same time. 

What band/artist would you consider to be your main influence?
I have always tried to sound like myself. Perhaps I was helped by the punk ethos which rejected bloated rock and American vowels. I turned towards singers from the English folk-blues scene - people like Kevin Coyne and John Martyn. Martyn was a bit influence on my guitar playing, less so his lyrics. But I also absorbed a lot of jazz from my dad - he was a jazz musician. I loved Joao Gilberto’s guitar playing. I also liked early Tim Buckley and Nick Drake when I nineteen.  

What is one of your most memorable or off-the-wall touring experiences?
In 1985 Everything But The Girl was invited to perform behind the Iron Curtain in Moscow as part of a youth festival. We were the English music delegates along with reggae band, Misty in Roots. We performed one show supporting a juggler to a crowd of non-clapping Russian officials and members of the secret service. 

Favorite Food:
Strawberries, potatoes, and dark chocolate. But not necessarily all at the same time.

Favorite Drink: Gin and tonic or a glass of Cornish pale ale.

If you were to have a film/movie based on your career, which actors or band would you select to portray yourself?
Sponge Bob

Cat-Person, Dog-Person, or both?   
As a child at the zoo I always wanted to see the Tapir, and then go in the nocturnal house. What does THAT say about me?

What two words would best describe your music?
I’ll leave that to others.