Fletcher or, as his high school friends used to know him, ‘The Only Ginger Goth in Bondi’ has certainly done his time at the Music School of Credibility. Having released a fair few records with bands Bluebottle Kiss, The Devoted Few and artist Sarah Blasko, he’s now striking out alone with the beautifully written, honestly produced Upon Ayr. Catching him mid-tour, we quizzed this British-Australian ‘man pain’ folkie on his music and motivation.
Hello, please introduce yourself and your music to the uninitiated.
My name is Benjamin Fletcher but my friends call me Fletcher. I live in London but grew up right near Bondi Beach in Australia. I’ve heard my music described as ‘Misery Folk’ or, as I like to call it, ‘Fisery’ – good ol’ fashioned ‘man pain’.
Tell us a bit about your latest release?
I wrote my debut solo record Upon Ayr in tour buses, humming into iPhones in transcontinental train toilets, in small sweaty European band rooms, during sound checks and under the pier on the beach in Brighton. There’s lots of singing about movement and wide spaces and asking: What is home? It took me a year and a half to record it in Sydney, London, Stockholm and Berlin. The fact that the songs are all fleshed out demos and most of what you hear is first take is a real departure for me from my previous recordings and something I’m very proud of.
What was your best ever gig?
I’m currently on tour with Sarah Blasko around Australia and each night we’re playing with a 50-piece orchestra. We all had the best couple of gigs of our lives when we played two nights at the Sydney Opera House last week. I used to go to the Opera House when I was a kid for school and think the musicians were magicians and the sound was like some strange enchantment…I was quite sentimental and nostalgic the other night playing on that stage.
What’s the worst thing about being a musician?
Maybe finding an open laundromat on a Sunday in the Eastern Bloc. The angry, emotionally unstable headline acts’ stage crew/tour manager. Electric shocks some microphones give your lips in random venues around the world. Working out what to say on stage in-between songs while tuning a guitar. The waiting. So. Much. Waiting. Oh and rehearsals or as I like to call it: Band Punishment. But I really love it all… Honestly, I do.
What inspires you?
Running. Meditation. Kerouac’s ‘Big Sur’, Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels. Thomas Wolfe’s ‘You Can’t Go Home Again and Look Homeward’, Angel. P.T Anderson’s great film ‘Magnolia’. The great Carl Sagan show ‘Cosmos’. Pretty much any Midlake song.
If you won a billion pounds what would you do with it?
That is so Dr. Evil of you. In true Dr. Evil fashion I would buy a deserted island in the South Pacific. I seriously just checked and you can get islands for 10-50 million USD. I’m seeing the world’s largest water slide from the top of the island’s mountain down to the ocean with a ski lift to take you back up the top. I’d buy Abbey Road recording studio and relocate the whole studio to my island with Nigel Godrich on salary. I’d make the Presley’s an offer they couldn’t refuse for the all leather suits Elvis wore in the ‘68 Comeback Special… I’m finding it really stressful to spend all this money.
Which of your songs is your favourite and why?
There’s a song on my record called ‘Dance To The End Of The Night’. That one really gets me going. But my favourite is probably whatever I’m writing at the time. I’m writing one right now about the GREAT Patti Smith book ‘Just Kids’. That book really spoke to me.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m in Australia about to launch my record here in a couple of weeks. I’ll be rehearsing with my new band in Melbourne soon, can’t wait for that. I have a harpist in my band. A HARPIST!! Then I go back home to London and play lots of shows throughout April in the UK/EU with Sarah Blasko. My album comes out in the UK/EU in May so I’ll play as many shows as I can get my hands on until people are sick of my face then I’ll retreat and write another record. Wash, repeat and continue!
Finally, we’re always looking to expand our musical horizons. Do you have any recommendations of bands or artists we should be looking out for?
Oh sure! There’s a great singer who I love called Jeff Hanson. A young guy with the voice of an angel. He unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago but he left behind some beautiful albums. Also the guitarist from Band Of Horses. His name is Tyler Ramsey. His album I love is called A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea. A relatively unknown singer from the 70’s called: Jimmie Spheeris. Get his album called Isle Of View.
photo credit: Matt Booy