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Saturday 08 January 2022

Interview: Benjamin Francis Leftwich Puts Away The Bottle & Is Set To Uncork His Latest Offering @ Komedia Brighton

He's never shied away from baring his soul, but Benjamin Francis Leftwich's new album - which will be aired at Komedia Brighton in February - is his most honest and deeply personal record yet. 

The 31 year-old singer songwriter has just released To Carry A Whale, a 10-track collection that comes after a period of huge change and development in his life following a stint in rehab back in 2018. 

Completely sober ever since, Benjamin has discovered a new love for both music and life itself and the album, produced by Sam Duckworth (Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly) and Eg White (Adele, Sam Smith) is the result:

"When I first met Sam Duckworth, we became friends that day and were discussing how I wanted to make a really concise 10-track album, which would also be the first album I've ever made without drugs in my system. 

"The title comes directly from that, as it's what it's like to live as a clean and sober alcoholic, which is a beautiful thing to be in that space, but you are carrying that thing which is really heavy, while being something to take care of. 

"We got rid of a lot of songs from the album, which were big songs, but just not thematically correct. 

"It's really an album about post-surrender, living awake and the things that accompany that, such as being able to look back with honesty, like on Sydney 2013, which is as specific as you'll get. Being able to do that isn't easy, but it's absolutely necessary for my survival. 

"For the first time in my life I'm being accountable and responsible for my part in things. 

"I drop a lot of names in those songs, which I cleared with everyone who is mentioned obviously. It's just what I have to do, so it's not a pity party.

"I'm really pleased to be where I'm at and my way is not the only way, but it's the right thing to do for me personally. 

"It can be heavy sometimes, but being able to look back like that and make those phone calls where I can tell people that things have changed, take ownership for my part in things, apologise and ask for forgiveness to move on is really important to do."

To Carry A Whale is Benjamin's fourth album to date, but the whole process of writing and recording this one was a different experience for him. 

He's rightly proud of what he has released before, but for the first time, he's been able to give every part of himself to making the very best record he can possibly do. 

"The biggest difference for me this time around is I have that extra 10% of almost scientific focus in the writing process, all those things I let slide because I couldn't be arsed or didn't care as much as I should. 

"At that time, If I was in a conversation, all I wanted was for it to end so I could go drink or use by myself, so that extra 10%, 20% or even 50% focus, all those twists and turns in the lyrics and not letting anything get across the line if it wasn't honest in terms of feel or content I might have let slide previously just didn't happen. 

"I'm aware that many of my most popular songs and many of the songs I love by other people have been written not in that way, but for me, I think I'm a better singer and a better writer when I don't have stuff in my throat and body. 

"I have the ability to go in hard on it now, too. This is important, as I want to say things accurately and I'm awake enough to accept that just because I have a song in the bag that's poppy and a good radio song, it doesn't mean anything if it doesn't fit the theme of To Carry A Whale."

The subject of his own addiction isn't an easy one for Benjamin to confront, but it's not stopped him from doing just that, both on the album and in his actual life leading up to it. It's been a hard road, but he"s all the better for it. 

"There are millions of people in the world who can drink, use or whatever and it works for them, as not everyone becomes addicted. 

"That stuff was my solution, but the problem is I'm allergic to it. I got really lucky when I was 21 and put out an album that loads of people fell in love with. 

"It took me around the world and gave me a life, a house and all this beautiful stuff, but I also lost my love for music at that time. 

"I was sat in a nice, comfy flat by myself and I was just f***ing sad. That's the truth. 

"There's no arrogance or self-pity there, it's just how it was. When I was in treatment I was really worried if I could ever write songs sober, but I feel more in love with it, more awake to it and more hungry for it than ever before. 

"Maybe I'm getting addicted to songwriting, but it's much better than what I was addicted to."

With a new album in the offing, normally Benjamin would be out on the road touring it, but like every other artist in the world, he's had to approach this one somewhat differently. 

He has a tour booked, but it's not until next year, but he's counting the days until he can play all these new songs that he is so proud of (as well as the ones fans know and love) to as many people as possible. 

"I'm really, really excited to get back out there for the tour in February, though. I think some of the new songs will work really well live and some won't, but it'll be a really intense setlist, with some of the deepest cuts from the old albums.

"My music is very people-based, emotion -based and romance-based, so I can't imagine there are many people who haven't had major emotional or romantic curveballs during lockdown, so I feel bad coming in and adding to that!"

Benjamin Francis Leftwich at Komedia Brighton on Tuesday 1st February 2022. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley & Jules Boyle


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