Here at Surf Europe we have been following Devon surfer and guitar player Ben Howard for a while. He is both a freakily talented muso, a good surfer and even better bloke. Last night at the UK Brit Awards, Ben tore a new arsehole in the place winning both Best Breakthrough and Best Male Artist. While One Direction and the like ponced around in suits, Ben wore jeans and a tee and came across like the humble, honest, guy he is. His legions of fans went mad.
Gabe Davies for example, whose brother Owain manages Ben, kept a live Facebook commentary, his last comment being “Them jokers have only gone and blown the bloody doors off the Brits (once they play – the roof is next!)” Which proved true. Now I had as much chance of trying to get an interview today as I had trying to get a hand shandy off Taylor Swift, but here is an interview we did with Ben last year just when he had finished his album Old Pine, before he blew into the stratosphere. Despite his new celebrity status you can tell from this interview that he won’t change one bit.
Surf Europe: So Ben, what’s happening in your world right now?
Ben Howard: Well right now, we’ve just about to play a few more big festivals and then have a break. My first album is just about done, finished and completed so that’s a pretty big.
How long has that been in the making?
Well I suppose almost two years from start to finish. I signed with Island Records this year, and that’s bought a lot to it. To have a label supporting it like that, with guys in their back catalogue like Nick Drake and John Martyn, has been massive. But the songs have been kicking around for a while.
In that two years, things have changed a lot huh?
My God, yeah. I can’t really believe it. Two years ago I was just gigging around the UK, with a small loyal crowds, and just going surfing and playing music. I mean I knew I wanted to make a living out of my music, but to be playing big festivals and working with Island, and doing live sessions on Radio 1 and Radio 6, being played in radio 2, yeah, it’s been pretty mind-blowing.
That mix of music and surfing is pretty important to you?
For sure, that’s probably the two big drivers in my life, my two passions, so if I’m doing them I can usually rest pretty easy.
Do you get to combine the two?
It seems to be getting a little harder – gigging around Europe and the UK’s big cities I’m away from home and the coast more and more. I try and get to France when I can.
Do you get down to that part of the world often?
As much as I can. I mean earlier in the year we had like two days between gigs in Belgium and Amsterdam and myself and the band just bolted down there to get a couple of surfs, recharge the batteries and then bolted off again. So this year, to get paid to play and hang out there is a massive bonus.
And what can we expect from the future?
Look it’s just what I’ve always done. Just write songs that reflect who I am and where I’m at. I’m having the time of my life, I’m young, I’m traveling and surfing and trying to be creative with my music. Look I’m working hard, but so far the goal is to just keep doing what I love and not get too caught up in the rest of it all. That’s the simple plan.