While it may be a brisk and rain-soaked Melbourne morning, over in Nashville, Tennessee it’s muggy as hell and Brendan Benson is relaxing after a day of housework. Yes, rock stars do housework as well.
But then again, Benson doesn’t seem to display too many characteristics of a man who has released five successful solo records and also played alongside megastars such as Jack White.
Humbly, he discusses the prospects of his latest record What Kind of World as well as family life, the Nashville music scene and becoming a father.
“I’ve been on a lot of blind dates where my publisher will set me up with someone,” says Benson, in regards to the collaborative musical community that makes up the Nashville scene.
“In Nashville it’s just kind of a thing, people are doing it all the time, they get together or they get paired together to write music, and when it works, there is nothing like it,” he affirms.
Despite this being Benson’s fifth studio album, with a pair of successful albums with the Raconteurs (or the Saboteurs as they’re known in Australia) also under his belt, he admits songwriting still remains a mysterious beast and something that he never approaches in the same way each time.
“That process has eluded me for years!” He says, “I never came up with a formula or technique, it’s always different for me.”
“When people want to know how I write my songs,” he continues, “there’s no good answer, it just seems to happen, it can happen at a good time or at bad times, mostly bad times actually; like I’ll be out to dinner, have a good idea and just have to rush home to get it down on tape,” he says with a laugh.
Despite the sporadic dissention of his muse, Benson admits that it is still refreshing to return to his solo work, despite his enjoyment of playing and touring with the Raconteurs.
“I guess being in the Raconteurs I started to miss my fans, and I missed playing for them. It is daunting though, because once again it’s all back on me, if I’m not feeling it one night, there is nobody who is going to come and pick up the slack or kick my ass and say let’s fucking do this,” Benson says.
As far as motivation goes, Benson was gifted with the most significant inspiration of all in 2010, with the birth of his first son; something he admits has become paramount in motivating his creative capabilities.
“My son was a whole new motivation, something I had never, ever felt before. I was making this record for him and he was my reason for doing this,” he admits.
“Sometimes in the past I would stop and think to myself, ‘why am I doing this?’ and I would lose sight of what it was I was trying to do, but then it just all made sense when he came into the world, he was my new inspiration” Beson affirms.
It seems to have paid off as well, because the new biggest critic has given the record the thumbs up and can’t get enough of listening to his father’s music.
“Oh he loves it!” Says Benson with a chuckle. “He dances around like a crazy person, and he says to me, ‘daddy sing?’ which means I have to put the record on for him, which is something just so inexplicable …how rewarding that is.”
Benson heads to Europe this month to play dates across five countries, before returning home for more North American dates, but admits he has a keenness to make it to Australia in the not too distant future.
“I’ve never been to Australia, so I’m definitely trying to sort out something out that can see me getting down there, see what all the fuss is about!” he says assuredly.
There’s something for fans of the Nashville musician to look forward to. In the meantime, fans can enjoy the 12 hook-ridden rock and roll offerings of Benson’s poignantly named, What Kind of World; a title he confesses actually doesn’t have much of an underlying meaning.
“Honestly it just sounded cool to me,” he says laughing.
“I’ve been asked this question a lot of times and I don’t really have a very good answer, it just sounded very lyrical to me and like something I wanted to say… although I’m not sure why”.
Whatever the motivation is for What Kind of World, Brendan Benson is happy to admit that he is content with the record, and looks positively on the future both as a musician and as a family man, two endeavours he seems sure to succeed in.
What Kind of World is out now through Shock Records.Write a Letter to the Editor