The Glenarm native discusses his move to America, the Nashville scene and writing with musical heroes. Click Play Audio for podcast interview with an exclusive acoustic and album track.
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Nashville – 'Music City USA', where Wrangler jeans never go out of fashion, home to an incredible 30,000 songwriters, one of whom is Ben Glover.
'People automatically think of country music when they think of Nashville, but to be honest the real vibrant scene is the indie/alternative scene,' Glover said on a return home to promote new album Through the Noise, Through the Night . 'It’s a really inspiring place - there’s a real creative charge in the air.'
Glover has spent most of the last year writing and performing in the United States and has found inspiration in southern culture, frequenting the old homesteads and headstones of musical idols such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.
‘First we went down to Montgomery in Alabama and visited the grave of Hank Williams, which was a pretty amazing experience. We spent an afternoon in June, I think it was about 25 degrees, scorching hot, and I had my guitar with me playing some old Hank tunes.
‘I also visited Johnny Cash’s home in Dyess, Arkansas, and probably out of everything that was the most special. I’m sure a lot of people have seen the Cash movie and the opening scenes where it’s filmed in his old house.
‘The house is still standing, it’s a real old shack, falling down but there’s an old guy still lives there who invited us in, and it’s the same floorboards and the walls and the cotton field where Cash worked as a kid out the back. It was pretty overwhelming.’
Glover's debut album The Week The Clocks Changed featured guest appearances from the likes of Vince Gill, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale. Continuing the theme, every track on his sophomore album is a collaboration, with Glover penning tunes with some of Music Row’s finest songwriters.
‘I had the real honour to write with Mary Gauthier, one of my favourite songwriters and artists, so to go over to her house and write with her was something really special.
‘The song I wrote with Mary actually is one of the darker songs on the album. It was a song I started in Glenarm, about a character that’s a little bit displaced in her life and I wanted to take it into a darker world and when I got the opportunity to write with Mary, I thought, "This is the girl to write a dark song with".’
On the surface, the Queen’s Law graduate looks every part the respectable solicitor, with smart winter coat, sensible shoes and M&S style coloured scarf, but when he takes his guitar out of the case and plays a different beast emerges. The decision between suit and guitar was an easy one.
‘I never had any intention of being a lawyer. I always wanted to go to University but I could never see myself coming out the other side and making a living being a solicitor. I always knew I would be a musician ever since I started writing songs, since I was 15.
‘It may be a bit un-rock and roll to say but I enjoyed academic life and studying but the passion for music was always greater so when I finished Queen’s I just threw myself into getting some kind of career happening in the music.’
Coming home to play in Belfast, Glover contends he simply loves to perform live, no matter where in the world he is.
'It sounds a bit more glamorous to say you're playing gigs in Nashville, than saying you're playing gigs in Ballymena or Larne, but at the end of the day, you're doing your thing, so if there's an audience there to hear what you do it's great - be it in Northern Ireland or Nashville.'
Ben Glover plays The Black Box on Friday Feb 12. For more details and booking check out www.blackboxbelfast.com