Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us what instruments you play?
My name is Ben McMaster and I am a singer/songwriter/guitarist. I write what I think you could classify as alternative/pop/rock songs. That’s a lot of slashes!
“That Was Close EP”. Available now on iTunes,
Napster and other online retailers, is just now
getting radio airplay. My next aim is to have an official launch.
How long have you been a solo artist?
Too long. About 5 years.
Do you work with other musicians or are you purely a solo artist?
I work with whoever wants to work with me. I am not against the idea of starting a band.
Who are the musicians in your (live and/or recording) band?
I was working with a guitarist for about a year and a half and we parted ways before I started work on “That Was Close EP”. I needed a tighter sound. I worked with a piano player, a cellist, a violinist/viola player and a drummer. My engineer and I played the bass and guitar parts. All vocals are mine.
What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
As I said, I have no objection to being in a band. I think you need the right people before you go for the right sound. I just haven’t met the right people yet.
Did you always want to be in a band when you were growing up?
I wanted to be everything.
What music did you listen to while growing up?
Whatever my mum liked. It wasn’t until I left high school that I truly developed my own taste. The Beatles were the first band that helped me discover the power of modern music. U2 and Radiohead have sustained that.
How long have you played your instruments?
What was your first guitar?
A small acoustic. I remember buying a new one because it was too small for my mutant fingers.
What is your current equipment?
Just myself and an acoustic for gigs. If I have other people playing, I might play a semi-acoustic.
Are you self taught or did you have lessons?
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
That would unleash a power too great and terrible to imagine.
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
I use whatever I can get my hands on. In any situation.
Do you record at a purpose built studio or do you record at home with portable digital equipment or pc/mac with audio software?
I record outside home.
Any new recordings planned?
Planned, no. In my head, yes.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
I think it’s a balance. When playing things live, there needs to be less analysis of the music, more about the experience, I think.
Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
I still like “That Was Close” as a slow-building rock song, but “Lies In Wait” has a kind of centre of gravity to it.
Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Ooh, good question. Probably all of Europe, all of the UK, USA, Canada, Japan...who knows!
Whoever likes my music. That’s a good answer.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
I find it to be the most natural thing in the world. Of all aspects of music, it’s probably the thing I enjoy the most. And my source of inspiration could be anything. These days, I’ve taken to a “let’s see what happens” approach in which a melody will come and that will be one part and then I wait for another part of the song. Lyrical content is usually free-flowing. I don’t apply subject matter to song until after it’s written. Then I may tweak words.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
What, famous people? Sure. Bono, Neil Finn, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Thom Yorke. Ever heard of a band called Augie March? The best band in Australia. I’d love to write lyrics with their lead singer, Glenn Richards.
Who are your favourite song writers?
I think I just mentioned them. I’m quite impressed with a couple of other modern artists, such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Muse, The Killers, The Panics, Hoosiers, Coldplay, Feist.
How do you promote your music and get your music to new fans?
Any means possible. Gigs are not a very financially viable option for me at the moment. I have been doing internet promotion for a long time, as well as simply meeting new people and putting them onto my music. I’m good at that.
Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
I’m with both of those, but I don’t use them often.
There are a couple of others like them that I have found useful: Number One Music, Worldsings, iSound, Amie Street. Even standard ones like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube. Especially YouTube.
Do you think the internet overall is a good or bad thing for new artists?
Overall, good. I think internet radio is probably the best of it.
Do you think such sites are good for independent and unsigned artists?
They can be. It depends on what the artist does with them. The problem, I find, is that consumers are so quick to change social networking sites that the artist becomes confused and has to start over again, which can cost time and money. The best thing for an unsigned act is to become signed.
Would you sign with a major record company?
If the deal’s right, yes.
What would you call your style of music?
As mentioned before, Alternative/Pop/Rock.
How do you relax?
What’s your best/worst experience at a gig?
One venue in Footscray, Melbourne, called “The Nic” had me on. I had a band, but it was not a very focussed band. And the venue operators were horrible to us. That was the worst it got. But at the same gig, just when it looked like nobody would show, about thirty of my friends turned up. That was a good thing.
Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
I don’t get nervous any more. I make sure I’m in a constructive state of mind. It’s not as hard as you think. I think it’s like anything; practice makes perfect.
What is your day job if you have one?
Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
I would like to be a full-time working musician.
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not yet, no, but that could be a possibility.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I would just like to add that I am very grateful for this opportunity to be interviewed and I look forward to sharing it with fans of my music very soon. God bless and peace out!