It's been nearly a year since Brooklyn-based producer, musician and songwriter Ben Rice made his critically acclaimed debut as a solo artist with "The Getaway," his impressive, Americana-tinged single, along with its introspective, acoustic-driven, follow-up indie ballad "Autumn Days." Marking his return to the limelight, Ben releases his easygoing, summery, chill-out song "I Think We Got It Right" into the universe.
Laden with entrancing, spacious guitar hooks, a gently-pulsing bass line, and exquisite "less is more" production, "I Think We Got It Right" is the one track you'll want on your summer playlist as you're heading off to that worry-free, well-needed escape from everyday life. Ben's expressive and enticing vocals conjure up impressions of a modern-day Tom Petty, infused with subtle essences of Oasis and The Verve. This is solid, honest songwriting and music you need to hear.
In the year that's elapsed since Ben's solo debut and his current single release, the native Brooklynite has been anything other than idle. Aside from being occupied with producing music for a variety of artists in his Gowanus recording studio, Degraw Sound, Ben organized the second annual installment of Degraw Fest (a daylong musical festival which showcased ten bands who recorded at Degraw Sound) in August 2018. He is in the midst of coordinating the event's modified "unplugged" format this year, which takes place in Brooklyn Bridge Park over four weekends in July and August. Ben will be performing at the third installment of this year's Degraw Fest on Friday, July 26.
SoundThread Music Blog recently caught up with Ben to chat about his new single, the Tom Petty comparisons, and plans for forthcoming activity as a solo artist.
[STMB]: Congratulations on the release of the new single! Can you tell us a bit about "I Think We Got It Right"?
[BR]: This is my favorite question to avoid so I’m glad we’re kicking things off with this :-) Thematically, like a lot of my tunes, it’s dealing with the ongoing existential crisis that we all live with and I suppose I’m trying to put what it feels like to get older into some sort of context for myself. One of the nice things about getting older is that you’ve made enough mistakes that the important things in life start to get a little bit clearer.
[STMB]: The overall vibe and atmosphere of "I Think We Got It Right" is outstanding - from its soothing, pulsing bass line, reverb guitar hooks, and honest, heartfelt vocals up front in the mix. How does that magical mix come together in the studio?
[BR]: Thank you. Sometimes things come together effortlessly in the studio. Sometimes you really have wrestle them into place. You can get cool stuff both ways. This was one of those times where the song came together pretty effortlessly -- I tend to have a pretty clear idea of what I want to capture before I start recording and I was lucky to have my friends Greg [Wieczorek] and Pete [Remm] play on the tune. They’re brilliant musicians so there’s magic in it from take one. I don’t like to start recording until the song’s ready, so I think with the combination of having the tune in a good place and working with great players, the hardest part really is just not mucking it up.
[STMB]: Aside from the solid songwriting and production throughout your music, you've often been likened to a fresh, modern-day Tom Petty in the music press. To what extent has he (or other songwriters/musicians) been an inspiration or influence on the music you create?
[BR]: Who’s Tom Petty? Just kidding, I’m not about to Greta Van Fleet this question. Honestly, it’s a comparison I’ve been getting since I was a teenager, so at this point it feels pretty natural and I take it as a compliment. When people first started making the comparison I was a bit annoyed because I wanted to sound like Oasis and I was like “god damn it, how come people think this sounds like Tom Petty, it’s supposed to sound like Oasis!” So I started listening to more Tom Petty and I was like, “damn this guy is good”, perhaps the American Oasis, if you will, where he can go out and play 25 songs in a row that you didn’t even realize that you knew. He’s a genius songwriter so if I think about it in the abstract it feels pretty ridiculous to get mentioned in the same sentence, but I’ll happily take it.
[STMB]: The first installment of Degraw Fest Unplugged kicked off on July 12, and you're scheduled to perform at the 3rd installment on July 26. Can you tell us about the event and any other plans in the works for Ben Rice?
[BR]: I’m playing solo acoustic this Friday, July 26th at Pier 3 in Brooklyn Bridge Park for Degraw Fest Unplugged, which is a little music festival that my studio Degraw Sound puts together every summer. It’s kind of become the one time I can’t make any excuses to not play, so it’s my annual time to come out of studio hibernation and play some tunes. I enjoy playing live, so I may try to do some more shows. I’m curious to see how it feels playing solo acoustic because that’s something where I can just grab a guitar and do it whenever. Really I love playing with a band, but I’m just quite particular so at this point in my life there are some hurdles to making that work in the way I’d want it to work.
I’ve got a bunch of songs I’m recording that are in various stages of completion which I do plan to release, but I’m not sure if I’ll keep them coming out as singles or if it’ll become and EP or LP. Basically, the short answer to the question is there’s a lot of stuff being made and there’s a lot of stuff that could happen!
Thanks to Ben for taking the time to chat with us and provide all the insightful responses!
If you're in the Brooklyn/NYC area, be sure to catch the last two installments of Degraw Fest Unplugged, which feature Ben Rice and Queue (July 26), and Eighty Ninety and Sophie Colette (August 2). Previous July performances featured Kevin Daniel and Common Jack (July 12), and Pearla and Yella Belly (July 19).