Exclusive Interview: Ben Haenow talks touring and his soulful new ‘Alive’ EP

Exclusive Interview: Ben Haenow discusses his new 'Alive' EP 1

With an incredible new EP under his belt, Ben Haenow is coming out of the darkness and taking back the night. His passion and undeniable talent are well and truly alive!

Proving that he doesn’t need a record label to create musical masterpieces, Ben has been busy recording in the studio. The Croydon-born crooner is currently touring around the UK and at each and every show, he’s selling copies of his latest record.

To no surprise, Ben’s followers are loving his new five-track EP. He’s already achieved a lot in his career but with the love and support of his fans, Ben is sure to keep on rising.

We recently boarded Ben’s tour van in Manchester to catch up with the man himself. In our exclusive interview, he spoke about: the evolution of his music over the years, releasing songs independently, life on the road, his engagement and much more.

You can read highlights and hear our full interview with Ben Haenow below!

You’re once again performing around the UK. As a whole, how would you compare this tour to your previous one?
It’s a bit more hands on for sure. Obviously, taking turns with driving the van and stuff. But we’ve got a crew of people around us that are actual friends and family. Last time, it was amazing but we kind of had a load of session musicians who’ve been doing it for a long time and done it for a lot of other people. This time, it’s kind of us doing it ourselves so it feels fresher I think and it feels a bit more kind of energetic I guess.

Fans certainly seem to be enjoying the shows so far, how does it feel to see people singing your lyrics word for word?
It’s amazing. I mean that’s kind of what you get into it for. I can’t explain that feeling. To get on a stage and have people singing words that you’ve written back to you, to be honest Mark, there’s no words to describe it. It’s just an incredible, incredible feeling.

Exclusive Interview: Ben Haenow discusses his new 'Alive' EP 2

At the shows, you’re selling your new ‘Alive’ EP. For people who haven’t yet heard it, how would you describe the record?
It’s kind of a progression of where we came from last time I guess. There was some stuff on the last record that maybe I wouldn’t have chosen; you know to kind of go down that sound and experience. It was a great thing to do; to learn to write different songs but it’s kind of bringing it back to rock and soul which is the initial sort of thing that I wanted to blend together. So it’s definitely an evolution of the sound; it’s not completely stepped away from it but it’s more raw and more us really.

It’s being released independently this time. How would you say the recording process differed to your debut album? Do you feel you had more creative control?
100%. Even with writing the songs. On the previous record, it was a case of you get put in with a bunch of people and you say from 9am – 6pm you’ve got to write a song because you’re not going to see those people again. Well, I see him (Alex) everyday. Me and Alex wrote this all together, you can take your time over a song and that’s something important to me. To get to write a song, write some melodies, listen to it and think ‘hang on a minute, we can improve that’ rather than just being ‘that’s what we’ve done in the day and that’s what happened’ so there’s been a lot more freedom. Taking it on yourself, I think, makes you feel more precious about the songs. The experience of getting out there and playing them to people first of all is definitely more nerve-wracking because you’re not spreading the blame or whatever. If people don’t like the songs, you’ve written it all yourself and there’s nowhere to turn. It definitely feels more personal I guess.

We seriously love the title track ‘Alive’, are you planning to release a single from the EP or any music videos at all?
Yeah, totally. As I say, the initial vibe for the tour was to get the hardcore fanbase, get to some intimate venues and kind of show the new stuff off to those guys first rather than just throwing it all out there to people and saying ‘what do you think?’ The feedback’s been great and we’re going to roll out, I guess, a proper promo thing for it. We’re going to do a month of actually getting out there and targeting people and putting it out there. But yeah, for sure, there will be videos and a single to follow very soon.

Are there any lyrics on the EP that you’re particularly proud of writing?
All of them man. Arrogantly, every single one. I think the song ‘Rising’, for me, is a song that came together really really quickly. As cheesy and stupid as it sounds, it was kind of written from my heart. I’m marrying my fiancé and we’re getting married in a couple of months time. It was after kind of going through all of the stuff that we’ve been through after the show, it has been up and down, and not thinking maybe that you’d get to carry on doing it. To get to write something about someone who’s really just kept me strong through everything; really, genuinely, when all the shit hits the fan and you’re getting negative comments in the press. When people built you up and knocked you down. To be able to go back to somebody and just be in a complete bubble, and be surrounded by them and not feel any different to the person who started years ago, really for me.. that’s kind of what made that song special to me. So yeah, that’s what I enjoyed writing.

How did you choose the tracklist? Were there lots of other songs that didn’t make the cut? If so, do you think we’ll get a chance to hear them on a future record?
Yeah, for sure man. The idea of coming out with an album, I think, was a bit… I dunno, we didn’t want to throw all our guns out at once like ‘here’s twelve tracks, there you go.” I think the way the music industry’s going at the moment is very single orientated so people will take a song from an album and maybe the rest of the album will go unheard. So, we wanted to release it in snippets almost so people will listen to all those tracks. A couple of months down the line, once we’ve got a bit more promo on, another 5/6 track EP. That then adds up to the whole album. So, yeah, we’ll definitely be getting more tracks out in the next few months.

If you could swap places with one person in your band for a night, who would you choose? Do you have the urge to rock out on the guitar like Alex or play the drums?
Ben:I’ve always wanted to be a drummer; I think it’s a great thing to be. Sitting at the back and keeping the beat. It’s something different. I’m not particularly good at an instrument but I can bash the fuck out of things so I’d love to be a drummer.
Alex:He’s not a bad drummer actually.
Tommy Sugar:You’ve got good rhythm.
Ben:Thanks mate.

What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Ben Haenow? Can we expect more shows and more new music later this year?
We’ve got some interest from Sony South Africa and some other guys out there. So what we’re hoping to do after this is to kind of roll out there to do some touring and do some radio touring. Get a new EP under our belt. Yeah, just generally getting out there and playing more man. We don’t want to stop. It’s one thing being locked in the studio and making music but the whole point and the whole thing I enjoy about it is getting out there and playing to you crazy people.

Finally, to end the interview, what’s your ultimate life motto at the moment?
“What goes in the van, stays in the van.”

At this moment in time, Ben Haenow’s ‘Alive’ EP is only currently on sale at his concerts. Plans are underway for an official release so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that. Here at CelebMix, we’ll post more details as and when they’re revealed.

Ben’s tour continues tonight in Cambridge and the final gig will take place in Dublin on the 31st March. You can purchase tickets for Ben’s remaining live shows here.

As well as making time for an interview, Ben also recently took over our Twitter account for a live Q&A session. If you missed that, don’t worry, you can view highlights here.

Make sure you also check out our exclusive interview with Alex Haenow (Ben’s talented brother and guitarist) here. Alex spoke to us about: his time on tour, hearing Ben’s song ‘Brother’ for the first time, dealing with tinnitus as a musician and much more.

Have you been to see Ben Haenow on tour recently? Which is your favourite song on his new EP? Let us know by sending us a message over on Twitter @CelebMix!

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Written by Mark Willis

When I'm not writing articles or travelling through time and space in the Tardis, I love singing along to Avril Lavigne and other pop/rock music. I also enjoy hunting demons with Sam and Dean Winchester! Twitter: @MarkWillis1993