Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
Gomez lead singer Ben Ottewell performed a live solo set on WFUV in New York City.
Gomez lead singer Ben Ottewell performed a live solo set on WFUV in New York City. Courtesy of Paradigm Talent Agency
While we Gomez fans wait for the band's next release, gravel-voiced frontman Ben Ottewell has slipped out a solo project that shines a light on his mellow side. Shapes & Shadows, his first solo album, was six years in the making between Gomez projects. "When you're in a band where the guys all write, you're going to have a plethora of stuff," Ottewell says. "Some of these songs are six years old. It's nice to get them out there."
Ottewell, father of 3-year-old twin boys, has clearly been enjoying some time at home with his family, which might explain the softer sounds of these songs. Thematically, the tunes have a reminiscent feel, due in part to Ottewell's songwriting partnership with childhood friend Sam Genders (from the band Tunng).
Despite the recording process spanning both sides of the pond (including sunny L.A.), Ottewell says that the album "sounds English; it has that bleak midwinter thing." And, it follows the plan he made before heading into the studio: "What I wanted to do is have something with its own identity. It's quite short — only nine songs — but we wanted to keep it tight. I have a short attention span."
Ottewell was in New York to play the Neil Young tribute show at Carnegie Hall, where he had signed up to perform Young's "Unknown Legend." In this session, we talk about that choice, growing up in the UFO capital of Britain, and what it's like to build a life while working with friends. When discussing Gomez's imminent return (their new album, Whatever's On Your Mind, is due in June) Ottewell joked, "We keep going — that's the main thing. We're pretty much unemployable, so, we have to do this."