#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Ben Haenow


   

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Ben Haenow is probably best known for winning X Factor back in 2014. From there, he released his self-titled, debut album, the lead single from which (Second Hand Heart), featured the singing sensation that is Kelly Clarkson. Now, 2018 has seen the release of his second studio album, Alive. We thought it was a good time to catch up with Ben about everything he’s been up to and more! Check out what he had to say, in this interview…


Hey Ben, how’s it going?
Great thanks! Thanks for having me.

So you are about to release your second album, ‘Alive’, how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
Yeah, a bit of both. I’m anxious but really can’t wait for people to hear the new tracks so bring it oooon!

Where did the idea for the title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
The lead track is called ‘Alive’. It was basically written as a thank you to the fans for keeping my dream alive, so we went with that for the album too.

What’s the track you’re most excited for people to hear? What’s your usual process for writing/recording?
The process can vary, sometimes it starts with a vocal melody, or maybe a just a lyric idea or guitar lick. Then it develops from there. It might take a day, a week or longer before it’s all done but that’s the beauty of it. You can take a bit more time writing and playing with sounds until you’re happy. I’d say ‘Give Me Your Love’ is one I want to see reactions too.

Where do you take inspirations from when writing/recording your music?
I guess for this album, the inspiration came from my experiences between X Factor and now. I try to draw on personal experiences when writing as I feel people connect more with something if there is truth/reality in a lyric.

Collaborating with Kelly Clarkson must’ve been pretty cool, how was it?
It was great! She is obviously a very talented lady and boy can she siiiiiing! She was a true professional and an absolute pleasure to work with.

If you could collaborate with anyone else, who would it be and why?
Gary Clarke Jr
– I think the bluesy vibe is really cool and he has a pretty awesome voice too. I love his musical style.

What music have you been listening to most recently?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder recently so I’m on a soul trip at the moment.

If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
Selena Gomez
’s ‘Wolves’ – I love the song and have an idea I’d like to try.

That’d be pretty cool…you should do it! So, do you have any pre or post-gig rituals? Or have any of you got any weird habits?
Lots of weird habits if you ask my wife… but we (me and the band) have a ritual which we call ‘Ukla’… I cannot tell you what it is but we UKLAA before every show.

Do you have any other passions outside of music?
I love to cook… and eat.

What really grinds your gears (winds you up)?
The song ‘Jellicle Cats’ from Cats the Musical… I like real cats but that song, and those cats REALLY grind my gears!!

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you, in life?
I was 14, at a motorway service station, whilst en route to Devon with my dad and brother. I was wearing the Kappa tracksuit trousers with the poppers all the way down the legs… my brother thought it would be funny to pull my trousers completely off leaving me in my pants and a t-shirt in the middle of Little Chef!

Oh dear; that’s pretty embarrassing! So, what’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Guardians of the Galaxy 2… they’re great films.

If, in say 10 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Danny DeVito or Morgan Freeman… that would be fantastic.

If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
I’d probably be a KitKat… chunky.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t eat yellow snow… or brown snow… or snow in general!

Thanks very much for taking the time to chat!
No problem and thank you for having me!!! Hope to speak soon.


Ben Haenow‘s latest album, Alive, is available:


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#Review: Story Of The Year – Wolves

 


 

   

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Story Of The Year first captivated my attention with their debut album, Page Avenue, back in 2003. Since then the band have had a string of albums, been involved in a whole host of side-projects, taken a hiatus, reformed and run a successful PledgeMusic campaign, which all lead to this, their sixth studio album, Wolves.

SOTY - Wolves.jpg

The album opens with the title track, ‘Wolves’, which sounds like some sort of background, cinematic sound effects from a horror film, before leading into the intense, fast-paced, gang-vocal-packed song, ‘How Can We Go On’, which perfectly represents the band’s roots in alternative/hard rock. From there, the album weaves its way brilliantly throughout a whole range of powerful, thrashing, metal-like songs and emotionally-driven, rock ballads that you just can’t help but want to belt out loud.

One thing’s for certain; the band have truly poured out their honest feelings and inner-most emotions into every track on this record. It’s also the band’s first album to be recorded in pieces, across several, separate locations, meaning they could really afford to take their time to focus and perfect the sound they wanted to achieve. The album title, Wolves, was chosen to embody the concept of life circling you and closing in on you, just like a pack of wolves.

Some of my favourite and most stand-out tracks on the album have to be, ‘Bang Bang’ (dubbed “a fast-paced, electro-infused rager complete with a catchy chorus” by AltPress), ‘Youth’ (which is a short guitar track that feels anthemic beyond words), ‘I Swear, I’m Okay’ (a synth-driven ballad-esque belter), ‘Can Anybody Hear Me’ (probably one of the catchiest tracks on the record and a real sing-along tune) and ‘Like Ghosts’ (which is just epic and in places the use of synths remind me a little of the Stranger Things theme – this song was born to be in a movie).

Undoubtedly, the quartet have demonstrated how committed they are to making what could well be the best album since their debut.

The record was produced by Aaron Sprinkle (Anberlin, New Found Glory, Acceptance) and mixed by none other than Tom Lord-Alge and J Hall – which probably explains why it sounds particularly epic! It soars to incredible heights and tantalises the melancholic heart-strings in all the right places.

Undoubtedly, the quartet have demonstrated how committed they are to making what could well be the best album since their debut. It’s an inspired body of work that shows off a real depth to their songwriting and evolution in their style. They have managed to record a soundscape of vulnerability, fear and anxiety and present it in a really exhilarating and cohesive body of music. This is certainly an album not to be missed.

Rating
4


‘Wolves’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/wolves/1300989796


Wolves on Spotify

‘Bang Bang’ (Official Video)

‘I Swear, I’m Okay’ (Official Audio)


We hope you’ve enjoyed this review of Story Of The Year’s latest album! What are your thoughts about it? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or chat to us about it via our social media.


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Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


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