Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Exit music (for a ben)

Season's greetings, fellows!

First up, thanks to all of you who've been checking in with me over the past few months to see how I'm doing and keeping my spirits up. There've been a bunch of you checking in weekly, even daily, and putting up with me in all moods which is a quite remarkable feat of human perseverance. Thank you one and all, even whoever anonymously tried to post on this blog "please don't get your hopes up about being well again", which as far as get well messages go is impressively obscure.

And indeed, in a move which has alarmed the world of Homeopathic Medicine, all these positive vibes haven't actually made me any better, and as a few people have begun to ask what my plans for 2015 are with that unspoken air of expectation, I figured I can no longer postpone the following announcement:

I am hanging up my musical boots for the forseeable future.

I'm not sure what it is I dislike about the expression 'indefinite hiatus'. Maybe it's because normally when you hear it, it's out of the mouths of big touring acts who mean "we are bored, but we'll be back when we want some more of your money". That is not why this is happening. I don't even have musical boots to hang up, come to think of it, and this place is rented so I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to hang stuff up anyway.

Since the last update (whenever that was), I've been prodded by a number of specialists and treated to a variety of consultations and tests which ranged from pleasant conversations to some kind of heavy petting. Result: this - whatever this is - doesn't seem to be ear-related after all, if it ever was, and I'm being tested for everything from the trivial to the terminal. As the year approaches its close, with my general outlook getting more depressing and the tests getting a bit more invasive, my inability to stand up, play guitar and sing (or indeed, do any of those three individually for any extended period of time) has proven to be the final frustrating nail in the coffin that I sometimes feel I'm headed for, hammered in with all the commitment of a recent graduate on a zero hours contract.

So, there you go. There's a huge part of me that can't quite believe this is happening, even though I've known for quite a while that a proper, long term break is my only real option. In much the same way that it is the fear of many humans that they'll be forgotten after they're dead, it's the egotistical fear of many artists that they'll be forgotten whilst they're still alive, and I'll happily claim to be no different. I have poured countless hours into this for many years, and to see it end even temporarily on anything other than my terms is pretty heartbreaking.

Still, I leave you in the capable hands of my friends and peers. Oxygen Thief recently converted his one man solo show into a much heavier trio, Frank and the Sleeping Souls are somewhere in the stratosphere and Beans On Toast is enjoying incredible success, Retrospective Soundtrack Players reached new heights with their latest album, Jim Lockey is reinvented (again) and holy moses, have you seen how hard Billy The Kid works? If I can't give 100% to this musical adventure, keeping up is going to be near impossible.

But this isn't the last you'll hear of me. I won't be far away, hanging around on social media, filling up your timelines with Mountain Goats songs and other such nonsense and hey, it's not all bad, at least since I've been unable to make it to my own shows no-one's asked me to play Party In The USA. Plus - important news - I have all the songs written for a third album, and even if the bastardly stars align and I can never bring myself to go near a recording studio ever again or I choose tomorrow to fall under a bus, I do at least have a handful of demos that will make their way out into the open someday and they're ones I'm particularly proud of to boot.

For my part, I'll keep you updated on the news whether it's good or bad, and in the meantime I keep with me a lot of excellent memories, from hundreds of shows with friends and clubnight afterparties in York, to those unforgettable 2000Trees sets and standing on that hill at the Olympics, all of which I can barely believe I deserved, especially that last one because it wasn't really anything to do with me.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay great. I'll do my best to be back.

And if not? Well, it's like the old artistic adage: always leave them wanti


  1. Big hugs & prayers for your healing.
    When you are restored we will enjoy your music again.
    In the meantime I hope Christmas is as good as it can be in the circumstances.
    Steve x

  2. You have friends and they are thinking of you and wishing you well - take care and stay strong. Cx

  3. Best wishes Ben. Will continue to keep my fingers crossed that you get better soon. Ian

  4. Thinking of you, bud. Take care! xoxo

  5. Totally gutted for you. Kinda understand having been diagnosed with a life limiting condition myself. But this completely sucks, you are such a brilliant artist, sending much love xxx

  6. This makes me sad in ways i did not expect to feel. Especially towards a 'one-eyed-monster-of-hate-and-self-loathing' (tm). It's been heartbreaking to see all of this develop, to see it happen to one of the nicest, down-to-earth gents. May the prodding produce some good. maybe we'll even catch up on that drink we've been promising each other for the last couple of years! I have cat's now and I can also make a cracking cup of tea! Take it easy dude..


  7. Oh man, this just sucks. Hope you get better soon and hope you have a couple of nice days with your family

  8. Good luck Ben hopefully a new year will bring a new start and you get back fighting fit

  9. Absolutely gutted for you mate. I had a great year watching you play with fun and passion, I loved that you came and talked to my 10 year daughter after the Colchester gig like it was the most natural thing in the world.
    Please write, please record, please release.
    I will miss your live performance's terribly, get well soon, enjoy life, and hopefully we'll bump into each other at somebody's elses gig somewhere.
    Truly, all the best, John R

  10. Matty AKA Reggie Francis24 December 2014 at 04:43

    Get better soon you absolute hero.


  11. Really sorry to hear about this Ben. I hope the quacks get to grips with whatever is ailing you and that you are able to get back to what you love sooner rather than later.

    Wishing you all the very best. Take care

  12. you WILL beat this. it may take awhile, but there will be a happy end to all this shit.
    wishing you only the best,

  13. All the best Ben. Merry Christmas and I send much love your way.

  14. Thoughts, hugs, warmth your way. Take care. Wishing you the best.

  15. I am sorry to hear about this Ben. I've been aware that you've not been very well for a while, and whilst I'll admit to not being overly familiar with your music I remember from years back you offering multiple cups of tea to my band when you were working at (I wholly forget its name) practise studio in Reading (at least, I think it was you!), and thoroughly enjoying seeing you live on a number of occasions.

    As a sufferer of chronic light headedness/dizziness for the last 3 years, and on and off a few years previously, I can understand what you're going through to an extent, though it sounds like you have it really rough. The docs reckon they've come down to one cause for mine, but I know there can be SO many, so I hope they find yours soon and get you back to good health. You must have hundreds of well-wishers offering their help, but if you want to get in touch then feel free, think I've given my twitter below.

    Wishing you the best.