Interview with music’s new surfing phenom Ben Howard

Interview and photos by Odog

What are your influences? What influences your music?

Mostly people I guess. There’s obviously a few musicians who’ve had the biggest impact in terms of the style I play but it can be anything. Nature’s always a big factor, guess I’m just a romantic at heart!

Surfing and music are intertwined in our everyday lifestyle and ‘surf’ culture. Does surfing or the ocean influence your music or do you try to separate the two?

Yeah, music’s always been a sort of split personality thing for me. It’s always been something I’ve done in my own time as a sort of reflective practice. It’s only recently the music and surfing have come together. Not saying I play the guitar whilst surfing but I’ve been playing a lot of surf events and stuff. And the other way as well, I’ve had a lot of surfing friends and peers coming to shows and enjoying the tunes which is cool.

What do you think about more, surfing or music?

Surfing… I think we all suffer from that.

Any life changing experiences?

I think life changes every day. Without sounding like a full on hippy I reckon even the smallest things mould you and change you as a person. I’ve had a couple of scary times when things look pretty bad. Septicaemia in a Sri Lankan was probably the funniest. But I think those experiences often have the same amount of effect as a few choice words from a stranger.

Fave wave? Favourite place to surf?

There’s a couple of waves back home that I love but I rarely get to see them anymore. Had some really good surfs in the North East recently. Fucking cold but some cracking waves shared with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Starting to realize that the company’s almost as important as the waves.

Explain the last 6 months.. highs/lows?

It’s been a bit of a mad one really. I had some pretty bleak times at the beginning of the year, playing up in London town, not surfing much, suffering from winter, and generally not enjoying myself. A few things have come together since then though. Quiksilver taking me on board has been a treat, a sunny mix of festivals and trips to France this summer was a roar. Playing poker with Slater, Jake Patterson, Peter Mel and so many childhood heroes was up there with the best times for sure. I got to support Xavier Rudd on a few dates through Europe over Xmas as well which was a big highlight. Real honour to get invited to play that.

What does the future hold?

Lots of music hopefully. I’ve dropped out of studying to be a travelling minstrel so yeah, lots of music. I’ll be doing a lot of stuff with Quik this year, snowboard and surf events and the like… and then setting up a summer of festivals and beer I reckon. But after that we’ll see. If I could do this full time I’d be stoked.

Being a surfer and a musician how do you feel about the cliche’d comparisons with Jack Johnson, especially in the mainstream media? Are you ‘the next jack johnson’?

I can take it. I think once you get to know the music you realize how different we are. But for now it’s fine, I have a lot of respect for how Jack Johnson got into the music world. He blew the doors down and in some respects was the first person to genuinely combine music and surfing. It’s a much better comparison than a few others I’ve heard that’s for sure! James Blunt popped up once. That hurt!

Where can we see and hear, buy your music?

At the moment I’m living and playing down in Cornwall a fair bit, so yeah a few dates there. Also up in London still. There’s the Quik Sessions coming up soon and there’s plans to be in Europe come the summer so we’ll see. I’ve just sold out of my first EP so I’m recording a bunch of stuff at the moment, the idea is to get a few free downloads on Myspace within the next couple of weeks.


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