Ben Howard: “My guitar playing has always been a kind of car crash of whatever suits me and whatever use I can get out of it.”
“I’m not a great romantic in that traditional sense.”
Image: Samir Hussein / Getty Images
English singer-songwriter Ben Howard has described his approach to the guitar as “a kind of car crash of whatever suits me” .
- READ MORE: Robert Fripp and Toyah return with cover of The Hives’ Hate to Say I Told You So for Sunday Lunch
Speaking to Guitar World, Howard opens up about the creative process behind his new folktronica album ‘Is It?’, saying: “it is very much fundamentally a guitar record… it’s just that the guitars are doing weird things.”
“I’m very instinctive and impulsive when I play and not necessarily as traditional as people think I am,” the musician, known for his unique “pick and go” percussive strumming style, describes his approach.
Pointing to a Martin Dreadnought Junior he keeps within reach — one of many guitars that featured on the record — Howard says, “I usually play in open C, and this had just sort of slowly dropped through the years that it’d been sat on the sofa.”
“It had never been tuned – just to itself – and it had been slowly falling through the bottom parameters of what an acoustic should do. It ended up making a feature on the record, just because it had this real scooped sound with a really bright top end, not much in the mid-range and then really low bottom strings.”
“The guitar has always been an instrument that is my access to melodies,” he explains. “Then, the technology that goes with guitars is my access to random generated melodies and random generated audio that then triggers my brain into thinking there might be a song in there.”
Elsewhere, the guitarist also shares that he used a right-handed Silvertone guitar on the album — despite being a left-handed player — because he’s “always excited by how a fingerpick comes back when you play it upside down.”
“My guitar playing has always been a kind of car crash of whatever suits me and whatever use I can get out of it,” Howard says. “I’m not a great romantic in that traditional sense. It’s about what noises these things can make, what purpose they can serve and what they can do for the imagination.”
Ben Howard’s North American tour will kick off this October. Tickets are available at his website.