Ben Montague returns this summer with his brand new album 'Back Into Paradise'. We've listened to some of the tracks from the new LP and we've gotta tell you, it's his best work to-date. The "uplifting and anthemic" record is something that fans have to hear and one that will surely gain him legions of new fans.
In the run-up to its release, Female First got the opportunity to put some questions to Ben in a new and exclusive interview. To find out what he had to say about a variety of topics including his love for Adele, working with some brilliant names in the industry and more, read on...
We've heard a sampler from your forthcoming album and love the tunes we've been able to listen to - how much work has gone into this record and what creative process did you go through to create it?
Thanks guys. Well I have to say that a huge amount of time, love and work went into making this record. If I am totally honest with you I wasn't going to make another album after I got bitten a bit by the industry. So I took a little time off to write and get inspired again which in a round about way had to happen to get to the place where I am now. I found that I had a lot to say and songs where just pouring out of me so after I toured supporting Shane Filan, I decided to do a Pledge Music campaign, set up my own label, and then got in touch with my dream producer Peter Vettese. And then it all came together.
The experience was was amazing! I got to work with some inspiring musicians on the record including Ed Sheeran's Drummer Mark Pusey, Amy MacDonald's Bass player Jimmy Simms and the one and only Robbie Macintosh, who is Paul McCartney and John Mayer's guitarist. We recorded half the album in Rockfield studios where the likes of Queen, Coldplay, Led Zeppelin and Oasis all recorded and then finished it off at Battersea Park Studios in London.
Working with my producer Peter Vettese was inspirational. He knew exactly where I wanted to take the record and how to get the most out of me vocally. We have become great mates and just laughed every minute of the day we where in the studio.
Where do you draw influence and inspiration from, not just for this LP but material that you've done in the past?
I always try and write about things that are actually happening in my life or the lives of people I am surrounded by. I like to draw inspiration from different circumstances I have found myself in or people who have come and gone in my life, whether that be a girlfriend , a friend, a family member. Not great for ex girlfriends I have had I guess! The making and the writing of this new album was heavily inspired by the loss of my grandmother, who was always a big supporter of me and my music. Just wish she could have heard the finished record.
What was the experience like of working with Jake Gosling, Martin Brammer and Jim Duguid with this record?
Jake is incredible. We wrote together a few years ago on my first album 'Overcome', a song called Never Enough, before he produced and co wrote with Ed Sheeran on his album +. If I am honest I was really lucky to get a day together with him as he is so busy, but we met at his studio ate some nandos and wrote Serendipity in about 3 hours! Such a legend!
Jim and I wrote a song called 'Another Hard Fall' a single off my last album 'Tales of Flying' and Falling. We kept saying lets get back into the studio and write another song but I was always on tour and he was always in the studio working on other artists. Then one day I was in the same studio block (Tileyard near Kings Cross) writing with another act, and then I bumped into Jim and Martin (who I am a big fan of) and we all said lets write tomorrow... and that was that!
What were some of your favourite tracks to record for this new album and why?
'Back Into Paradise' was one of my absolute favourites because it was the song that for me shaped the direction of the entire record. Plus I had never recorded a live brass section on any of my songs before so that was awesome. But for me the best song was 'Another Chance' which I wrote about my grandmother. It was one of the hardest songs to sing as I kept getting chocked up every time i sang it but we got here in the end. Peter decided to get a gospel choir on the record in the chorus which for me made the song come alive... it is my favourite song on the album!
If you could turn any of the songs on the new album into a new collaboration, who would you want on it and which song would you change?
I would love to do a duet with Adele. Her last album '21' was such an incredible record and one I still play all the time. It would have been amazing to get her singing 'Runaway' with me on the record because the song is about finding someone you have just met and wanting to fall in love and runaway with them!
You've already said that this album is your 'most real' one to-date, how are you hoping the fans and new listeners respond to this work?
It is always really hard to think about how people will react to a new album. I just hope that everyone who hears it will find a song or two on the record and be able to relate to it in their life. My fans and I are very close and so a lot of them know who I am and the kind go person I am. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and so I hope they will feel they are getting a true record and one that reflects me and my life. With out them I would not have been able to make the record, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Last time we spoke to you, you were gearing up for a European tour at the end of 2014, how was that whole experience?
It was out of this world! I got to go to some cities I have never been to or played in like Berlin, Dublin and Amsterdam! I did the tour with my dear mate James Walsh from Starsailor for which was a laugh a minute. We did our own set and then both of us would join the other one on stage and sing a few songs together.
You're back out on tour this coming October, what should those coming to those live dates expect?
Just a good time really! I don't like to take myself too seriously on stage. I used to do that and never really enjoyed the performance. I think people want to come to a gig and be entertained, listen to good songs and have a laugh. I love getting the crowd involved in the songs and asking them to sing along and maybe even get some of the audience on stage with me.
How has the past year changed you and seen you evolve as an artist?
Definitely a huge amount. I have been through a lot of incredible ups with my music and some very steep downs! The good times make you remember why you love doing what you do and the downs make you want to fight a little hard to keep on doing what you love doing. Touring for me has been the best part of my career so far, I have got to play ing some incredible venues , meet some amazing people on the road and make lots of very close friends. There is nothing like performing your songs to people who have travelled (sometimes a very long way) to hear them. I am very lucky!
Finally, what should we all expect from you in the coming months?
Well I have just become Hard Rock Cafes 'Artist of the Month' worldwide so you can catch my new music video in ever Hard Rock Cafe around the world. My new album comes out on 15th June and I am playing the Isle of Wight Festival on saturday the 13th June.
'Back Into Paradise' is officially released on June 15 through Absolute via Universal.