Ben Watt w/ Bernard Butler

Ben Watt w/ Bernard Butler

Zachary Cale

Wed, April 2, 2014

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Rough Trade NYC

Brooklyn, NY



This event is 21 and over

Ben Watt w/ Bernard Butler
Ben Watt w/ Bernard Butler
After twenty years in Everything But The Girl, and ten years as a respected DJ and record label boss of Buzzin' Fly, Ben Watt announced last year he was parking everything to complete two long-planned creative solo projects.

The first - published by Bloomsbury on February 13 in the UK (June in North America) - is his long-awaited second book, 'Romany and Tom', a dazzling portrait of his parents. The second is 'Hendra', his first solo album for over thirty years, released on his own new imprint, Unmade Road through Caroline International on April 29th. It is, in Ben's words, 'simply a folk-rock record in an electronic age'.

'I had come to a plateau with the labels and clubland,' he says. 'I had a need to go back to words and music, not just beats and other people's work. Once I made some space, a lot of ideas just tumbled out.'

It was in 1981 that Ben first appeared on London indie, Cherry Red, as a young nineteen-year-old experimental folk artist. His first single was produced by the maverick Kevin Coyne. With his second - 1982's 'Summer into Winter' EP - Watt coaxed alt-folk icon Robert Wyatt into collaborating on two tracks. His early work drew comparisons in the press to Tim Buckley and John Martyn and culminated in his debut album - 1983's 'North Marine Drive'.

'I put it all away when I teamed up with Tracey as Everything But The Girl in 1983,' he says. 'But as time has gone on - even in spite of the last ten years in the electronic world - something has made me want to go back to see what I left behind. And I realised I'd left things unfinished.'

'In the end I wrote the songs for 'Hendra' unexpectedly. My sister died suddenly as I was finishing the book. I think it all came to a head. My mind was full of a lot of stuff. I just went down into the basement at home every night and retuned all my guitars into unfamiliar tunings as a way of beginning again and just started singing.'

The upshot is ten songs. Unsentimental. Impressionistic. Songs about close family and strangers, resilience and hope. All set in vivid landscapes where the outside comes inside and clings to the stories.

Recorded in London and Berlin, the music is a meeting of worlds: languid folk, distorted rock and fizzing electronics; in part a result of the album's two central collaborators, ex-Suede guitarist, Bernard Butler, and Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson.

'I turned instinctively to Bernard very early on,' says Ben. 'I knew his overdriven, string-bent intensity would be the perfect foil to my own warm open-tuned style. It adds tension to the songs. Ewan has a foot in both my recent worlds. He can do thrumming Berlin techno, but also things of great delicacy and grace. I also wanted his vintage 70s poly-synths as a contrasting colour, and a burnished 3-D sound, which of course both play to his strengths.'

The album also includes one other unexpected stellar camo - Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who adds plangent slide guitar and backing vocals on 'The Levels'.

'We met by chance in London just before the album,' says Ben. 'We didn't know each other. He invited me to hear his demos. I thought he was joking, but two days later he texted me and invited me down to his studio and we got on well. During my album, 'The Levels' seemed like a perfect track for him. I rang him up and he loved the song and he did it the same weekend. Wish everything was that simple sometimes!'

How does it feel following up a debut album thirty-one years later?

'Sometimes I laugh and think it could be the definition of the difficult second album; it has certainly been a long time coming,' he says. 'Some might see it as a strange fork in the road after Buzzin' Fly, but everything for me has always been about finding a truthful and vivid point of connection with an audience - whether on dancefloors or in folk clubs. Words, beats and notes - it's all we have. It's just a question of playing them in what feels like the right order at the right time, and at the moment, 'Hendra' just feels right.'
Zachary Cale
Zachary Cale
.Zachary Cale is a songwriter originally hailing from Enon, Louisiana. He has released three full length albums, "Outlander Sessions" (2005), "Walking Papers" (2008), a full length rock record with his band ILLUMINATIONS entitled "See-Saw" (2008). His third solo album 'Noise of Welcome' is out now on ALL HANDS ELECTRIC (USA) and Adagio 830 (EUROPE).

"Zachary Cale is one of those unassuming guys who, once heard, earns your undying loyalty. You just want him to be a breakout star. He's the type of singer-songwriter that will appeal most to fans of Wilco and Iron & Wine." -The Brooklyn Paper
Venue Information:
Rough Trade NYC
64 N 9th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249