Ben Sheers is an up and coming Scottish singer songwriter, hailing from Aberdeen. In the past he has worked with other musicians on various projects and, more recently, has started releasing his solo material online and his latest release, The Last Christmas Drink (Is On Me), can be heard below:
I got to ask him a few questions about his music.
With the huge success of Lewis Capaldi and the increasingly popular songwriter Gerry Cinnamon it’s a good time to be a Scottish singer/songwriter. Why do you think solo singer/songwriters are so popular at the moment? It’s rare to see a band break through to the upper echelons of the charts these days.
“It’s funny you should mention those two, heard a little bit of both, their music is opposite ends of the spectrum isn’t it, one sings from a Mills and Boon novel, the other about big hard crazy jackie from the gorbals being a belter, one sounds like a comedian the other thinks he’s a comedian.
I can see the attraction on both sides but I can honestly say I don’t listen to either. So, no it makes no difference where you’re from, I don’t think its a good time to be a solo Scottish artist, they’ve always been about. It’s just that bands at the moment…I don’t know…nothing out grabbing you by the balls just now really, everything’s safe….”.
Who are your musical heroes and inspirations? Is there one artist or group who’ve been the biggest influence on your music?
“I look to albums, certain songs being more of an influence than actual artists, cos most have lost the plot at some point or other, haven’t they? I’ll mention Bob Marley as an example, I love his songwriting, it’s universal, a certain way he lived free….but jeez he had about 11 wives and 35 kids didn’t he? [laughs]
Dylan, Young, Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Brown, Richard Ashcroft, The Smiths, so much more….loads of great albums of theirs have been an influence, but that guy who free climbs Alex Honneld…he’s an inspiration ain’t he? Actually I’m going up snowy Ben Nevis next week, a walk in the park compared to what Alex does….”.
How do you feel about the modern music industry, do you think streaming music helps an artist reach people or is it unfair for the artist to allow people to listen and enjoy their music without paying for a single or album as it used to be?
“They wont take risks with artists will they? Not now. Maybe they got to much ear wax or something, I don’t know, the industry, the suits etc, that’s the way it is now… streaming, downloading music, go on YouTube there it is, but I like vinyl heads and I can understand that, something about a nice new album, can’t beat that warm sound on a good player.
If an artist puts his or her music on YouTube or other online services they know the score, the way I see it is if more people hear and connect then that’s fine… even if I don’t make a cent, I’m sharing something sacred. If they get it then great, just the way it is today. Now how do I get the cash to make that no. 1 album that’s in my head?! [laughs]”.
Your latest release is a Christmas song in the classic tradition. What’s the song about in a nutshell and do you have a favourite Christmas song of all time?
“It’s all about that Christmas spirit, you can still feel it at that time of year, can you? I hope so…I can, despite all the commercialism and shite it’s not gone, it’s deeper than that….awhh feck let’s just get drunk tonight, throw some snowballs, fall on our asses in the snow outside the bar,tomorrow’s Xmas day, [laughs] and we’ll meet cousins and family we never knew we had, consuming more booze and eating too much food while watching great telly again and again…. ! But it can be a feckin horrid time to be lonely as well.
I didn’t set out to write a Christmas song,I’d been playing with the riff for a while started finger picking the strings in harmony,the words just came out so I went with it,probably wrote in in the summer [laughs], I’ve got another 2 versions of the song I want to try to record, one a more kinda spoken narrative version with just strings… yeah it ain’t going away that easy!
Favourite Xmas song……The Pogues ft Kirsty McColl, Bowie and Bing, White Xmas, the real traditional ones ye know, can do without Slade and Band Aid ffs, give us a break this year please!!”
5. What is in the pipeline for next year, musically, for Ben Sheers? And where can people find out more about you and your work?
“As I mentioned I’m planning on spending some of my hard earned in the studio recording The Last Xmas Drink again, and about another 5-7 songs that I’ll be trying time permitting, gotta work ye know pay the bills etc…yeah, so more studio time, more mountains, more booze, more of the same really, I’ll be looking into more of this promotion thing as well for some of my other completed stuff.
You can find more Ben Sheers material HERE