20 Questions: Benjamin Shaw

20 Questions: Benjamin Shaw

Born (accidentally) in Canada, raised in Blackpool and now hiding in Melbourne, Benjamin Shaw returned with Megadead earlier this year. An album of disarmingly accessible songs filled with fuzz, brittle melodies, looping guitars, synths, self-sabotage, self-doubt, violent fantasy and uncertain swagger. Released through Audio Antihero (US/UK) and Kirigirisu Recordings (Japan), it’s a wild amalgamation of his previous work, blurring burned-out lo-fi, electronic pop, glimmering keys, field recordings, aching words, layered noise and uncompromising experimentalism. Today, Benjamin Shaw answers our 20 Questions:

Hi, how are you?

I am A-OK. I am not at work today and I have leftover falafel and baba ganoush in the fridge.

What’s the weather like?

Cold, wet and miserable down here in Melbourne. Reminds me of home.

How do most of your songs start life? 

At the moment I don’t have a guitar or any instruments actually, so everything starts as a melody in my phone. Then just kinda sits in my head for a while and the song builds up over time, and I tap words into Google Keep whenever they come up. Finally, it’ll go across to the laptop and then I ruin it.

What was the first single you bought?

With my own money, it was Michael Jackson. Something off Dangerous, I think. Remember the Time?

The Royal Family: should they stay or should they go?

Gooooo. OMG, get rid. It’s so embarrassing. It’s 2018, they need to be systematically destroyed, one by one, starting with the kids. They are everything that’s wrong with this stupid world.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you like to be?

I don’t really feel like I am even doing this. I work in a warehouse most of the time. But I wouldn’t mind just staring at the sea for a while, and then sleeping peacefully at night.

What’s your favourite book?

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Forever.

What were you like at school?

Kinda distracted, I think. Just could never concentrate on anything and spent a hell of a lot of time in my own head, staring out the window. Apparently, one teacher in primary school said that they’d washed their hands of me. Which I feel like was a bit mean.

What’s the music scene like back home?

It’s hard to know what home is, tbh. My hometown of Blackpool is a hard one to pin down. A lot of cover bands, like a lot, but more recently the grime and rap scene seems to be booming. Home now seems to be Melbourne, down under, where every person and their dog is in a band. There has to be a happy medium!

Best gig you’ve played so far?

I was full of cold, but I really enjoyed the launch show for my album ‘There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet’. One of my favourite bands of my time in London, Fighting Kites, closed the show, and I got to play as a band with my friends Neil and Kaoru. It’s a nice memory.

What’s your favourite single?

Why, it’s Golden Retriever by Super Furry Animals, of course.

What do you listen to in your tour van?

I don’t have a tour van or a car, and my bike has had a puncture for at least a year, but I do like to walk places and listen to podcasts on murders, pro-wrestling and meditations about becoming a mountain.

What were your favourite artists growing up?

Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi and Motorhead. The Holy Trinity.

Who would you want to play you in the film of your life?

Well, people have rudely said I look like Steve Buscemi ever since I was around 15, and since I now feel about as tired as he looks, I guess I’m ready to embrace my destiny.

Vinyl, CD, Download or stream?

I shipped like 6 boxes of vinyl down-under with me, and I’m still yet to set up my record player 2 years later, so I guess it’s not that important to me right now. I live in a tiny apartment and space is a premium, so it’s absolutely the Bandcamp app all the way. Any money I ever get from album sales always gets paid forward to other Bandcamp purchases, so err, send me monies.

What’s the best cover version you have ever heard?

‘Word Up’ by KoRn, obviously.

Tell us about your recent release?

It’s called Megadead and it’s pretty rad. It’s kinda all over the place, tbh. I have a real short attention span, so I tend to focus on the overall atmosphere more than detail, but I really like it. I mostly really like that I get to release it with my two favourite labels, run by my two greatest friends. 

If you weren’t doing this, what would you like to be?

I don’t really feel like I am even doing this. I work in a warehouse most of the time. But I wouldn’t mind just staring at the sea for a while, and then sleeping peacefully at night.

Have you ever been starstruck?

When Jack Hayter from the band Hefner messaged me on Myspace to say he liked my songs in like 2007, that was pretty much the best day of my life. It’s all been downhill from there.

Any hopes for 2018?

Nope. Just to keep healthy, take the least amount of shifts at work as possible, and work on my Iron and Vitamin D deficiency. 

What would be your dream collaboration?

I’m a control freak, full of contradictions and feel like everything I do is terrible right up until the moment it’s finished, so I’m massively fearful of collaborations. Having said that, it’d be nice to work with someone like Dave Fridmann, so he could do all the heavy lifting and make my stuff sound as nice as it does in my head.

https://bnjmnshw.bandcamp.com/track/push-it-down / https://bnjmnshw.bandcamp.com/album/megadead

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.