Universal Music Int’l

Volbeat

The saying goes that while we may be through with the past, the past is never really through with us. For their seventh album, Rewind, Replay, Rebound, the multi-platinum selling Danish rock band Volbeat—Michael Poulsen (guitars/vocals), Rob Caggiano (guitars), Kaspar Boye Larsen (bass), and Jon Larsen (drums) —have built upon the DNA-distinct, psychobilly punk ‘n’ roll sound they are known for. They have made their sound fresh for themselves andfor their diehard legion of fans by distilling from and paying homage to rock ‘n’ roll’s rich, storied past. The end result finds the band reaching a creative summit.

With their own nearly 20-year history, which includes tours with Metallica, Motorhead Slipknot and beyond, over one and a half billion streams, a 2014 Best Metal Performance Grammy nomination for “Room 24” from Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, and multiple Danish Music Award wins, Volbeat return with an album that, when all is said and done, will help usher in the rock ‘n’ roll resurgence that is both long overdue and inevitable. It also aims to bring rock back to the forefront.

“The whole point for us, and a lot of other bands, going into the studio, is because you still have something to prove —not just for the fans, but mostly for yourself,” says Poulsen. “You are still eager and have that desire when it comes to music and lyrics. As long as you are inspired and you are satisfied with what you come up with... I will say this is our best work because it has to be our best work until the next records comes. But we would not be able to do this record if it wasn’t for the work we have done in the past. No matter how old the band gets or how many records we do, there is always going to be that signature sound.”

The stakes are not only professionally higher for Volbeat and Poulsen. They are elevated personally, as well. The frontman became a father two years ago, and in order to be away from his family by making music and touring, he has been firing on all musical cylinders and playing music he and the fans love.

To keep things interesting and in order to remain true to their sonic identity, Poulsen and his bandmates knew they had to dare to try other things and to introduce “new elements that haven’t really been touched upon on previous albums. The balance and challenge was to incorporate these new ideas into what is typical Volbeat,” and that meant mining their own personal pasts and that of the genre they traffic in. All of those elements and contrasts combined are ultimately the connective tissue that will bind the album to its listeners.

“There is a side of it where people will go, ‘Oh, wow, we didn’t know you could sing like that,’” Poulsen says with a laugh. “Yeah, me either!’ The album has a hint of going back in time to your childhood. If you listen to the lyrics, the listener can go back in time and think of his or her own childhood. Whether it’s a certain smell, a color, a location, a feeling, or something that happened in the summer that made you feel good, or when you were really struggling, but you found your way through to the other side and continued being inspired by life and the challenges therein. The songs are personal but they are relatable.”

With the album, everything is cyclical. “With the lyrics, you go back in time to your own childhood and fly away to what you did as a kid,” Poulsen continues. “When you do that, you replay that when you grow up. If you’ve been going through something and you have been down, and then rise up and get stronger, that’s the rebound. But it also references the music. Some songs could easily be on our first two or three records —that is where we rewind. Now, in 2019, we replay it, and we even become stronger.”

On Rewind, Replay, Rebound, the band invited several guests tp appear and give the record a thick and varied rock ‘n’ roll vibe. In addition to working with backing vocalist Mia Maja on several tracks, Volbeat once again recruited the Harlem Gospel Choir, who appeared on the song “Goodbye Forever” on a prior album, to feature on three songs, including the single “Last Day Under the Sun.” Weaving the choir into the Volbeat sound was a seamless process, with Poulsen saying, “I didn’t have to think about it. I knew they would fit. They are on three songs when they could have easily been on more.”

Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon is featured on “Die to Live,” the result of touring together and a love for the singer’s gruff and powerful style. Raynir Jacob Jacildo (piano) and Doug Corocran (sax) of JD McPherson’s band also appear on the song. Poulsen explains, “I wanted that Jerry Lee Lewis-like piano playing. We knew these guys would be able to do it, with the sax on top, with a sort of a Little Richard feeling. They nailed it.” Exodus and Slayer guitarist Gary Holt also performs on “Cheapside Sloggers,” with Poulsen explaining, “I wanted to add something new and not typical, so why not bring in Gary Holt? He is a great guitar player, and the solo sounds great.”

While the songs are riff-driven and room-filling, the topics Poulsen tackles lyrically give the album additional depth and dimension. “Last Day Under the Sun” was inspired by Johnny Cash. “When I read his book, he went through tough times with alcohol and drugs... He walked into a cave to lay down to die. But he wakes up and feels like he has been given a second chance, and becomes a believer of God. You can hear it in his music —something very strong happened to him in that cave when he came out. That’s something every one of us goes through in life —we struggle with depression and demons. Every one of us steps into that cave and comes out a new person with a new mindset or new hope or new meaning.”

“Pelvis on Fire,” with its cheeky title, nods to the fun and frivolous rock of yore. “It’s a pure rock ‘n’ roller,” according to Poulsen. “When you hear songs from the ‘50s and  ‘60s, and read the lyrics, they are not that deep. What the fuck is ‘Tutti Frutti, oh Rudy?’ [laughs]. That doesn’t make sense. But it sounds great. It is a feeling. It’s a movement. It’s sexuality. It’s emotional and that thing we feel when we hear good rock ‘n’ roll.”

“Rewind the Exit” and “Die to Live” both explore how the pursuit of perfection can be a hollow goal. About the track, Poulsen muses, “Perfection, if you ask me, doesn’t exist, and it fucks up a lot of people to think that they need to be perfect to have a good life. What would you do with perfection if you reach it? What’s left? If you don’t have something in front of you, where will you go? If you stay on the top, how boring would it be to walk backwards?”

“When We Were Kids” finds Volbeat ruminating on the immortality and innocence we all naively experience in our youth “when you think you can live forever and had your whole life ahead of you,” while “Leviathan” revisits the childhood fable about the wonder of a little boy who thinks he can fix the world’s problems by communicating with a sea monster.

“Sorry Sack of Bones” wanders into less serious territory and gives itself over to multiple interpretations. “It’s like when you have the worst hangover, and you feel like a sorry sack of bones,” Poulsen explains. “But there is another side of it, like a horror script,” where you wake up in the woods and feel your body deformed, crushed, and you have a flashlight and there are tons of bags of body parts, and you are left to wonder how you got there. “Cloud 9” explores the idea of keeping the memories of loved ones alive and close, while “Maybe I Believe” is about learning to trust in yourself and others to achieve great things. “Parasite,” which was penned in a few minutes, looks at those people whose sole function is a parasitic existence.

“The Awakening of Bonnie Parker” is the band’s take on the classic Bonnie & Clydetale. “Bonnie had a great desire to be a movie star and she wrote tons of letters to the movie studios, who would always write back saying they couldn’t use her. Clyde was also a saxophone player who carried around a sax in the back seat of the car while they were robbing banks. In our story, Bonnie wakes up from the dead and is convinced that Columbia Pictures has been calling and she is the next big thing. She picks up Clyde’s saxophone and brings it to his grave and tries to convince him to join her on her trip to Hollywood, but he is content and has found peace in his coffin.”

“The Everlasting” is an ode to that fire that burns upon cremation and can take you anywhere you want to go before the last farewell, while “7:24” is an autobiographical celebration of becoming a father and references the exact time of the birth of Poulsen’s daughter. He finished performing on a North American Metallica date and flew home to Copenhagen to welcome his newborn child. He then hopped a flight back to the U.S. for the next show.

The deluxe edition of Rewind, Replay, Rebound features unheard demos from the album’s pre-production, an alternate version of “Die To Live,” and two new songs. The first, “Under The Influence,” Poulsen says “is a song for my girlfriend. It’s about me  being high on love for her and becoming a fan of her personality.” The second, “Immortal But Destructible,” “ is about being a young kid where you have all the time in the world in front of you and feeling immortal but at the same time fragile.”

Ultimately, Volbeat have not lost the musical fire in their veins or their passion to create and progress. They strive to outdo themselves and their previous output. It’sthatwhich keeps them hungry —and musically honest —on Rewind, Replay, Rebound.

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Oh Wonder

There is a sign pinned to the wall of Oh Wonder’s recording studio in south London, a pact of sorts, signed by the band’s two members, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, in the winter of 2012.

“We wrote it to say that we’re dependent on one another,” explains Vander Gucht. “That there are things we want to achieve, and we can help each other get there.”

She reads out the sign, a four-line list of the pair’s musical ambitions: “‘We have a publishing deal off the back of writing incredible songs’; ‘We are in-demand songwriters, respected for our art’; ‘We feel that anything is possible and live the yes life’; ‘Music earns us an amazing living and we travel the world thanks to it.’”

That Oh Wonder have achieved all of these ambitions in the space of just two and a half years is testament to their talent and their perseverance, but even they seem a little startled by how much more they have attained: the 20 million plays on Soundcloud, the recording contract with Universal, and now their debut album, a collection of 15 impeccably-crafted songs that explore London and loneliness, love and the need for human relationships.

Vander Gucht was a classically-trained solo performer and West a singer-turned-producer whose lives and careers overlapped for several years — a run of near-encounters and half-conversations at gigs and venues, and vague introductions through musical acquaintances and mutual friends.

It was only when they finally sat down in West’s former studio in north London with a view to producing an EP of Vander Gucht’s solo material that they realized their great musical bond. “We found all our favorite bands were the same bands, all our favorite songs were the same songs,” says West. “It was a day of saying ‘Oh you should listen to this’. And then the other one saying ‘I know that song. That’s one of my favorite songs.’” “It was,” adds Vander Gucht, “really, really odd. I’ve never had that. I’ve never felt that closely aligned with someone, musically speaking, and more widely in terms of how we view the world.”
It was West’s suggestion that they begin writing together — purely for fun at first, as an exercise in songwriting and collaboration while they pursued their other musical projects. The first song they wrote they called “Body Gold” and was, Vander Gucht says “the marker for what the sound of Oh Wonder was: electronic and really R’n’B, which was totally surprising, and totally different to our solo work, but we were really proud of it.”

Still, for 18 months they did nothing with it. West moved to London and released an EP as part of a duo, Vander Gucht was busy writing and recording as Layla. “But we thought it was a waste, just sitting on our computers, festering for another year and a half,” says Vander Gucht. And so they decided to post it on the internet, anonymously.

That day they went to a café in east London, posted the song on Soundcloud and emailed a few of their favorite music blogs about it. 
“And so we were in this café,” Vancer Ducht remembers, “and we were looking at the play-count, and I think it said six plays, and then all of a sudden these blogs started posting the song — really lovely write-ups saying ‘Who the hell are these people? They’re about to break the internet.’” They sat in the café and watched the play count climb to 100. A few weeks later it had reached 100,000 plays. Seven months further on and we’re 20 million plays. “It was just really, really bizarre. And odd. And completely accidental,” she says. “We didn’t tell anyone it was us, we didn’t ask people to listen, we didn’t tell our friends, it was so far removed from us. But I genuinely think that the reason so many people connected with it was because it was really sincere.”

It was after the success of “Body Gold” that they came up with the idea of releasing a song a month, for the course of a year. “We approached it as a songwriting project rather than an artist project,” Vander Gucht says. “And so the most important thing of all is the song and we would never release what we consider to be a bad song.”

They had already written two other tracks: “Shark” and “All We Do” — a track Vander Gucht finds most affecting. “Because it’s about playing it safe and not pushing yourself beyond the parameters of normal life,” she says. “It’s about just existing and not wondering or being inquisitive. It’s about how a lot of people sink into the monotony of everyday life. And how it’s a shame, because the world’s there for the taking, and you’ve got to go grab it and have an adventure.”
Their own adventure soon gathered pace. They found they could write quickly, finishing the body of a song in 20 minutes or so and spending more time, they say, on the production. “Writing together is a weird magical thing,” says Vander Gucht. “More than anybody else in the world I trust Ant. Which makes the writing process totally open, totally vulnerable and non-judgmental, and means you can say all of these things openly in a song.”

The things they chose to say all possess a striking tenderness and a tangible passion for life, ranging from exquisite break-up songs “Drive,” “Landslide” and “The Rain” to quiet rallies against materialism, gambling, gentrification and globalization, and, in “Lose It,” a song that serves as a tribute to a night out they once had in Melbourne, where as the sun came up Vander Gucht found herself at a party dancing in her underwear to Destiny’s Child. “I’ve never before felt what I felt at that night,” she says. “I didn’t take any drugs, and I wasn’t even drunk, there was just something heady in the air. It was the first time I’d ever felt untethered from myself.”

Though they vary from piano-led ballads to whip-sharp electronica, what unites all of Oh Wonder’s songs is their extraordinary sense of humanity. “We didn’t realize it at first, but a lot of our songs about relationships and support,” says Vander Gucht. West points to album opener “Livewire,” “which is about needing someone to lift you up, someone who can bring you up from your lowest point, bring you back to life, be the heartbeat you need…” and to “White Blood,” about times in life, in illness or difficulty, when you “really need someone with you”, and to Heart Hope, inspired by watching the area around their home in east London rapidly gentrify, and feeling that for all the shiny new buildings, what people really need is other people, “it’s saying actually all you need is a heart and a soul and to be connected to yourself and to each other.”

“They’re songs about humans, and about people being there in your life,” says Vander Gucht. “People need people. And that’s what this album looks at, from all the different angles: it’s about being grateful for the people in your life, for relationships of all sorts.”

Perhaps most of all, this album is West and Vander Gucht’s tribute to each other, to the partnership they have formed, the places it has taken them and the confidence they have given one another.

Vander Gucht tells a story that perhaps best sums up the depth of the belief they have in one another — the bond, the trust, and the faith they have in their own music: “I used to have lots of jobs,” she says. “I worked in Waterstones, and waiting tables, and Ant was the person who told me to give them up. He told me to call up my boss and say ‘Sorry I can’t work at Waterstones anymore, I’m being a musician.’ He said we’re going to do this. And that was the same day we wrote that sign.”

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James Blake

Following his three critically acclaimed albums, 2010’s ‘James Blake’, 2013’s Mercury Prize winning ‘Overgrown’ and 2016’s ‘The Colour in Anything’, James Blake has established himself as one of the worlds most talented and influential musicians.

Since 2010 he’s won an Ivor Novello award for best contemporary song for Retrograde, received his first Grammy Nomination (Best New Artist) and has played sold-out live shows in some of the most prestigious venues in the world including The Sydney Opera House, Radio City Music Hall and Glastonbury Festival. He remains a founding member of the 1-800 Dinosaur label collective and earlier this year hosted a successful BBC Radio 1 residency. 

James’ unique songwriting and production skills have become increasingly influential throughout modern music. In 2016 he contributed songs and production to ‘Lemonade’ by Beyonce and Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ and followed up in 2017 with production and writing on Jay Z’s ‘4:44’ LP, all the while teasing his growing audience with quintessential new material in the form of ‘Don’t Miss It’ and “The Car Beside You Moves Ahead”. In early 2018 he co-wrote the track ‘Element’ on Kendrick Lamar’s Platinum selling ‘Damn’ and was involved in the era defining ‘Black Panther’ OST where he collaborated with Lamar again on ‘King's Dead’ and "Bloody Waters”. Off the back of these collaborations James and his band joined Kendrick as support during the 2018 Damn tour. To round off the year James delivered a show stopping vocal on “Stop Trying To Be God’, the first single from Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’ LP, and appeared on stage a the VMA Awards in NY for a televised version of the song alongside Scott. 

This year James turned 30 and he’s found that milestone to be a useful marker allowing him to take stock and appreciate everything that has happened to him. His constant thirst for change and ability to move the musical dialogue onwards has meant that he has become one of the most essential and anticipated modern artists. People across the world are fascinated to discover what he is going to do next and as 2019 approaches it feels like the perfect time for James to take centre stage. To be continued... 

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Florence + the Machine

What happens when your dreams come true?

First, you spend a bit of time enjoying that fact. Florence Welch grew up in South London and spent her teens partying with art students and boys from bands, quietly longing to make music herself and believing that the best way to join those boys onstage was to first prove she could out-drink them all. So her response to the massive, world-wide success of her extraordinary debut album Lungs in 2009 and the equally huge follow-up Ceremonials in 2011 was fairly predictable: she worked hard, she toured hard, and she partied even harder.

‘I never do things half-heartedly, so I just totally dived into that world of parties, awards ceremonies, and yes of course I’ll come out of a clam shell and open the Chanel show! The parties and the video shoots and the madness all just blended in to each other and it was fun. But underneath, there was a lot of darkness, and Ceremonials is actually a very dark record when you listen to it. Lyrically, it sounds like somebody who is very overwhelmed. It was underneath this huge cathedral of sound - and I felt like I had to just become as big as the sound. But then it all cracked.’

She regrets very little of this – ‘Maybe some of the outfits,’ she says drily – but eventually, you have to adjust. There comes a point when you realise that your dream is no longer a dream, it’s your reality, and you need to make it work for the long term. For Florence, this meant establishing a new way of working that was fun, but also sustainable and free of drama. ‘I’ve come back to the work, now,’ she says. ‘That’s what I like.’

Her third album was more restrained and pared-back (relatively speaking, because Florence knows herself well enough now to declare ‘I’m never going to be minimal’). As always, it was inspired by what was going on for her at the time. Released in 2015 and following her previous two albums straight to the top of the charts, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is a gorgeous album about heartbreak, neediness and longing. Over a long world tour, she says those songs changed as they often do when repeatedly played, and finally taught her that everything she really needed was already inside her.

‘It was a low, low period of my life,’ she explains. ‘The songs were incredibly cathartic, but the process of making it was so painful. Then touring it, I somehow came back to myself.’

Towards the end of that journey Florence was in New York, a city that has always had a special place in her heart and in her family history. It’s the city where her mother grew up; where Patti Smith – a performer Florence lauds in the new album track Patricia as ‘My north star’ – was at her creative height; a city built on optimism, with its population of immigrants and its soaring skyscrapers. In the summer of 2016, it was also alive with an urgent, crackling energy, with the race for the US presidency heralding a huge shift both in the US and – soon after – in the UK.

‘It was a crazy time in New York. It was only a few days, but it crystallised somewhere in me, I guess because no one knew what was going to happen, we were all on the edge, trying to hold on to each other. I found myself walking the streets talking to strangers, and the shows seemed to take on a bigger meaning. Everyone was reaching in the dark, trying the figure it out: my friends and I in small personal ways, the world in huge ways, but it somehow all felt the same.  I came home with a lot to write about!

'You couldn’t help but feel real sense of collective heartbreak over the last few years, about so many things, but I could see that people wanted to reach out to each other. Those moments of human connection seemed important, and inspired a lot of the songs. So there’s despair and anger, but the underlying feeling is that of wanting to hold and embrace people. There’s a lot of love.’ I guess also I was thinking of love in a bigger sense, bigger than romantic love, which for me is usually painful. If before I thought perhaps someone else could fix me, or make it better, this album kind of deals with the deeper issues underneath that. If the last albums have been a cry of, “ITS YOU, IT’S YOU, IT’S YOU!” This is more an acknowledgment of, “Oh, it’s definitely me!"’

In contrast to the previous album, this one came easily, naturally, with songs arriving in a rush, often almost fully formed. ‘It was a really creative period for me. I was reading a lot, writing a lot – poems, as well as songs. Although a lot of them then got eaten: Hunger, Grace and No Choir all started as poems, but got absorbed into the songs.’

It’s as raw and honest as ever, made up, she says, ‘of joy and fury’ – with the joy winning out, in the end. After working on it in London and LA, she returned to New York to do the final mix, and it was the daily view of that iconic, soaring skyline that gave the album its upbeat title. ‘I was staying in Brooklyn, and I would drive over the bridge every day and see the city. That view is just so full of hope - you can feel the possibilities.’

High As Hope is an album made by an artist who now feels far more certain about what she can do. She sings about New York and South London, looking back over her teens and twenties from a new, more mature perspective, and to the future with a fierce optimism. She sings about her relationship with Grace, the younger sister who, she says ‘has always been the one in our family who tried to take care of everybody – including me’. But then there’s also Big God, which is about having her text messages ignored: ‘I try and mix high and low,’ she says with a laugh.

Above all, it’s about acknowledging, as she sings on one of the album’s standout tracks, that ‘we all have our hunger’, holes in our psyche that we try to fill with love and hate, addictions or obsessions. And realising, as she sings in the unusually fragile a cappella opening to No Choir, that happiness doesn’t always have to be big and dramatic – it can often be found in the most mundane routines and moments, in everyday things that aren’t usually celebrated in songs.

‘I did a double interview with John Cale recently, and he said, “Work is more fun than fun.” And he’s right. I don’t get FOMO any more, I don’t care if I miss a party, I don’t care if I’m not at an awards ceremony, and making this record was one of the happiest times. I’d just ride my bike to the studio in Peckham every day, and bang on the walls with sticks. It was going back to the way I first made Dog Days, Between Two Lungs and Cosmic Love. I totally found the joy in it again.’

For the first time, Florence has also taken a production credit.  ‘I’ve been involved in every single part of it,’ she says. ‘I’ve always very much been in control and I’ve always essentially co-produced, but it was about naming that, saying, “This is my sound, this is what I do.” So this time, I wanted the title.’

She then took these tracks to Los Angeles for a final polish with her friend and co-producer, Emile Haynie, and added texture by bringing in musicians such as jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington and 2017 Mercury Prize winner Sampha. A lot of songs are pretty much as they are on her original demos, she says, with her guests adding a final sprinkle of beauty. ‘It’s odd because I made a lot of this album alone, yet it’s also the most collaborative record I’ve ever made, because I just got friends in to play on it. Which was a fun way to make a record.’

It's a sign of Florence’s new confidence as an artist that she is branching out into new areas. Her first book, Useless Magic— a collection of her poetry, lyrics and artworks—will be published by Penguin in July, and she knows now that she’s in this for the long term.  ‘The people I really respect are people like Nick Cave, Patti Smith and PJ Harvey who have consistently put out excellent work, but also managed to retain their lives and some semblance of normality,’ she explains. ‘They’re the people I look up to: they seem to have very much retained a solid sense of self, and a life, while continuing to make great work.’

So High As Hope marks a new chapter, the beginning of a far longer journey for Florence Welch. ‘It’s always a work in progress, and I definitely don’t have everything figured out. But this feels like quite a pure expression of who I am now, as an artist, and an honest one,’ she says. ‘I’m just more comfortable with who I am.’

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Awards: 
Award Name: 
Grammy Awards
Award Nominations: 
7
Award Nom Categories: 
2011 Best New Artist
2013 "Ceremonials" Best Pop Vocal Album
2013 "Shake It Out" Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
2016 "Ship to Wreck" Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
2016 “How Big How Blue How Beautiful” Best Pop Vocal Album
2016 "What Kind of Man" Best Rock Performance
2016 "What Kind of Man" Best Rock Song
Award Name: 
Brit Awards
Award Wins: 
2
Award Nominations: 
10
Award Categories: 
2009 Critics' Choice
2010 "Lungs" MasterCard British Album of the Year
Award Nom Categories: 
2010 British Female Solo Artist
2010 British Breakthrough Act
2011 "You've Got the Love" British Single
2012 British Female Solo Artist
2012 "Ceremonials" MasterCard British Album of the Year
2013 "Spectrum (Say My Name)" British Single
2016 British Female Solo Artist
2016 "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" MasterCard British Album of the Year
2019 British Album Of The Year
2019 British Female Solo Artist
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MTV Video Music Awards
Award Wins: 
1
Award Nominations: 
7
Award Categories: 
2010 "Dog Days Are Over" Best Art Direction
Award Nom Categories: 
2016 "The Odyssey" Best Long Form Video
2016 "Delilah" Best Choreography
2015 "Ship to Wreck" Best Rock Video
2010 "Dog Days Are Over" Best Art Direction
2010 "Dog Days Are Over" Video of the Year
2010 "Dog Days Are Over" Best Rock Video
2010 "Dog Days Are Over" Best Cinematography
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MTV Europe Music Awards
Award Nominations: 
4
Award Nom Categories: 
2009 Best UK & Ireland Act
2011 Best UK & Ireland Act
2012 Best Alternative
2015 Best Alternative
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Billboard
Award Categories: 
"Ship To Wreck" Billboard AAA Chart #1
"What Kind Of Man" Billboard AAA Chart #1
"Dog Days Are Over" Billboard AAA Chart #1
"Ceremonials" Billboard US Alternative Album #1
"Ceremonials" Billboard US Rock Album #1
Award Name: 
Q Awards
Award Wins: 
3
Award Nominations: 
6
Award Categories: 
2010 Best Female
2010 "You've Got the Love" Best Song
2015 "Ship To Wreck" Best Video
Award Nom Categories: 
2009 "Lungs" Best Album
2009 "Drumming Song" Best Video
2009 Breakthrough Artist
2012 "Shake It Out" Best Track
2015 "How Big How Blue How Beautiful" Q Best Album
2015 "What Kind Of Man" Q Best Track
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Shockwaves NME Awards
Award Wins: 
4
Award Nominations: 
8
Award Categories: 
2012 Best Solo Artist
2012 "Shake It Out" Best Track
2013 Best Solo Artist
2013 "Sweet Nothing" Best Dancefloor Song
Award Nom Categories: 
2010 Best Solo Artist
2010 "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" Best Track
2010 "You've Got the Love" Best Dancefloor Filler
2010 Best Dressed
2011 Best Solo Artist
2012 Hottest Female
2016 Best Solo Artist
2016 Music Moment of the Year
Award Name: 
Mercury Prize
Award Nominations: 
2
Award Nom Categories: 
2009 "Lungs" Mercury Prize
2015 "How Big How Blue How Beautiful" Album of the Year
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2009
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Ben Howard

Ben Howard is a young acoustic troubadour who will make you feel as though he is the first young acoustic troubadour you have ever heard.

He brings freshness to the form, gives it lustre, making it all seem brand new even as his songs have about them a quality of wisdom and a rootsy authenticity as old as the hills. 
 
He is something of an acoustic guitar whiz, having mastered the art of strumming, plucking and hammering the instrument for rhythmic purposes. And he’s only 23 but already - minus any of the usual army of public relations people and pluggers behind him - can sell out a 400-capacity venue, including some of the capital’s coolest venues, at the drop of a plectrum, having amassed a secret society of fans via the UK’s fiercely loyal surfing community that has already spread over the water to Germany, France and Holland.
 
Devonshire based since a young child (his parents now live in Ibiza, where his granddad has lived for about 50 years), Ben was steeped in music as a child.  His mum was “a bit of a hippie” who played guitar and flute and appeared at open-mic nights around Dartington’s music college whilst his dad, an interior designer, would strum a guitar every now and again too. 
 
Because of his parents’ record collection, Ben is, he admits, “still fairy addicted” to all the classic 60s and 70s singer-songwriters, from Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan to Van Morrison and Richie Havens.
 
Educated in Devon, Ben studied journalism in Falmouth but following a short-lived placement on a surfing magazine in Newquay, he gave up six months before graduation when he realised he could “get away with being a musician full-time”. 
 
“A lot of people said I was crazy to leave that close to the end of the course,” he laughs, “but a friend of mine said, ‘The most beautiful lives are the ones that take risks’, which was encouraging. And my parents were very supportive. They told me to do whatever makes me happy.”
 
His forthcoming debut album, due for an Autumn release through Island Records was recorded in a converted barn in Devon, and has turned out darker in its lyrical content than he imagined it would. The melodies come easy, but he worked hard on the words. “There’s a lot of stuff about people and relationships, and about myself - I’m quite self-indulgent in that respect.”
 
Life on the road with his band - India on cello, and Chris on bass and drums – has made them a close knit unit, and given them all a heightened “awareness of sound”. You can hear it too, in the gentle, note perfect harmonies and the fragility in which they are delivered. They hush rooms, scatter the audience with a sense of euphoria, and leave them desperate for much more of the same.
 
And it’s thus no wonder that Island were keen to sign them, especially after the label witnessed an ecstatic reaction during a performance at London’s prestigious Water Rats which had followed a month long sold out headline tour throughout France, Holland, Germany, and the UK.
 
Ben sees himself as the latest in the lineage of pioneering Island’s rootsy, folk-rock acts. “They sold me the idea on the back of their involvement with Nick Drake and John Martyn. That’s my era. When I saw their roster I couldn’t say no.”
 
Dark and alluring on tape, and creating this unique live story before the story’s truly yet begun, Ben Howard harks back to a classic and comforting time of old, albeit with a forward-thinking method of guitar performance. Spring is afoot, and Old Pine is a timely breathe of fresh air.
Ben Howard is a young acoustic troubadour who will make you feel as though he is the first young acoustic troubadour you have ever heard. He brings freshness to the form, gives it lustre, making it all seem brand new even as his songs have about them a quality of wisdom and a rootsy authenticity as old as the hills. 
 
He is something of an acoustic guitar whiz, having mastered the art of strumming, plucking and hammering the instrument for rhythmic purposes. And he’s only 23 but already - minus any of the usual army of public relations people and pluggers behind him - can sell out a 400-capacity venue, including some of the capital’s coolest venues, at the drop of a plectrum, having amassed a secret society of fans via the UK’s fiercely loyal surfing community that has already spread over the water to Germany, France and Holland.
 
Devonshire based since a young child (his parents now live in Ibiza, where his granddad has lived for about 50 years), Ben was steeped in music as a child.  His mum was “a bit of a hippie” who played guitar and flute and appeared at open-mic nights around Dartington’s music college whilst his dad, an interior designer, would strum a guitar every now and again too. 
 
Because of his parents’ record collection, Ben is, he admits, “still fairy addicted” to all the classic 60s and 70s singer-songwriters, from Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan to Van Morrison and Richie Havens.
 
Educated in Devon, Ben studied journalism in Falmouth but following a short-lived placement on a surfing magazine in Newquay, he gave up six months before graduation when he realised he could “get away with being a musician full-time”. 
 
“A lot of people said I was crazy to leave that close to the end of the course,” he laughs, “but a friend of mine said, ‘The most beautiful lives are the ones that take risks’, which was encouraging. And my parents were very supportive. They told me to do whatever makes me happy.”
 
His forthcoming debut album, due for an Autumn release through Island Records was recorded in a converted barn in Devon, and has turned out darker in its lyrical content than he imagined it would. The melodies come easy, but he worked hard on the words. “There’s a lot of stuff about people and relationships, and about myself - I’m quite self-indulgent in that respect.”
 
Life on the road with his band - India on cello, and Chris on bass and drums – has made them a close knit unit, and given them all a heightened “awareness of sound”. You can hear it too, in the gentle, note perfect harmonies and the fragility in which they are delivered. They hush rooms, scatter the audience with a sense of euphoria, and leave them desperate for much more of the same.
 
And it’s thus no wonder that Island were keen to sign them, especially after the label witnessed an ecstatic reaction during a performance at London’s prestigious Water Rats which had followed a month long sold out headline tour throughout France, Holland, Germany, and the UK.
 
Ben sees himself as the latest in the lineage of pioneering Island’s rootsy, folk-rock acts. “They sold me the idea on the back of their involvement with Nick Drake and John Martyn. That’s my era. When I saw their roster I couldn’t say no.”
 
Dark and alluring on tape, and creating this unique live story before the story’s truly yet begun, Ben Howard harks back to a classic and comforting time of old, albeit with a forward-thinking method of guitar performance. Spring is afoot, and Old Pine is a timely breath of fresh air.

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