Over the years, BRENDAN BENSON has grown accustomed to doing things alone – releasing four solo albums to date starting with 1996’s One Mississippi and followed by 2002’s Lapalco and 2005’s Alternative to Love. After a brief hiatus when he co-founded The Raconteurs (aka The Saboteurs in Australia) and spent a few years touring and releasing two albums with them, he made a return to solo work with 2009’s My Old Familiar Friend. Now, with the release of his latest album What Kind of World just a couple of weeks ago, we sat down to chat with Benson about inspiration, the Raconteurs, and creating a cathartic experience.
By Meghan Player
“I always wanted to be part of a band. I never wanted to be a solo artist,” begins Benson. Speaking on the eve of his latest album [What Kind of World] release, the singer/songwriter is short and to the point when talking about his experiences.
Originally starting out as a solo artist, Benson released three albums before taking a brief hiatus where he co-founded The Raconteurs – a side project that consisted of Jack White, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keller.
After two subsequent albums, and touring across the world – Benson returned to his solo work. Whilst the last Raconteurs album was released in 2008, with other members turning to focus on other projects, Benson reflects on his time with the band with a gentle fondness.
“It’s [writing] a lot easier with a band. Your ideas are performed instantly, as opposed to how I usually do it,” Benson reflects. “Anytime I work with others, I grow as a musician and writer. Working with the Raconteurs was a big growth spurt, I think.”
That ‘spurt’ saw Benson return to his work as a solo musician with his 2009 album, My Old Familiar Friend – and for his latest release, What Kind of World.
Undoubtedly, when listening to Benson’s albums – each one uncovers a new layer of emotional and spiritual brilliance – an undoubtable cathartic experience for not only the listener, but Benson himself.
“[It is] very much [a cathartic experience]. I feel at home in a recording studio,” Benson explains, “If it wasn’t for my family, I would be living in one still. I feel as though I’m fulfilling my nature when I’m in the recording studio.”
Working on his latest album, Benson continued his growth as an artist – especially when it came to experimenting with new sounds, styles and techniques.
“That’s what making an album is all about. It’s the fun part,” Benson tells. “Experimenting. Exploring. A lot of times it doesn’t pan out, but it’s part of the process. Often, it leads to something magical!”
While audiences may see What Kind of World as the musician’s next step – a natural progression in his vast career – Benson chooses to step out of that mind-frame, allowing others to analyse that element of his sound and style.
“I don’t have that sort of perspective on it,” he explains. “And honestly, I don’t care to. I don’t analyse my career in that way.”
Undoubtedly, whilst being a man of few words, Benson’s parting words today are still ringing in my ears – a wonderful, yet simple reminder of not only what it means to be an artist, but what it means to other people.
“Elliot Smith told me, ‘If you think it’s cool, chances are others will too.’ He was a man of very few words, but I think that is good advice for any artist.”
Special thanks to Brendan for taking the time to chat to us. A special thanks also to Helise at Shock.
What Kind of World – is out now through Shock Records.