Superman Revenge Squad
Superman Revenge Squad is one man and a guitar from Croydon, home of trams and, er, wordsmiths. Well it should be if Ben is anything to go by.
SoundsXP: Do you stay away from convenience food?
Ben: I try to. But often fail.
SoundsXP: Do you like Coldplay? :-)
Ben: I’m not a fan. Although I’m sure there are plenty of worse bands out there. And I’m sure they are nice fellows. They don’t make me rush to turn off the radio when they come on. But I certainly don’t sing along. I mentioned them in Idiot Food mainly because I read a thing in the Guardian with them where they were saying that the record company were at the brink of making people redundant at one point because Coldplay had pushed back the release date of one of their albums. This seemed quite strange. And somewhat depressing.
SoundsXP: Are you a pessimist or an optimist?
Ben: A bit of both really. My songs would suggest that I’m a pessimist I suppose. But I generally think that people are inherently good, which would make me a bit of an optimist. But sometimes things happen that challenge this view.
SoundsXP: Your name (not Ben, the superman one) is unusual. Can I take it that you are a comic book geek?
Ben: Hmmm. No, not really. I have read comics in the past. And occasionally I still do. But I like the idea of them more than the reality. I like the artwork from comics from the early days, like Batman comics from the 40s. I just saw the name of the super-villain group in a book about comic villains that I flicked through in the shop at the Tate and liked it. I like the name because I thought it was funny being a squad and only having one person in it. Actually, I got a copy of a graphic novel called Superman vs the revenge squad from e-bay this week. It seems pretty terrible though.
SoundsXP: I was in Croydon the other day for Witchfest. It's quite a grey place to me, awash with depressing buildings and reluctant trams. What's your take on the place?
Ben: I agree. But that’s all part of its charm. But there are creative people here, hiding away. And it is easy to escape to London.
SoundsXP: Tell me all about, "This is my own personal way of dealing with it all" (and at £2.50, that is a bargain, especially in the present economic climate).
Ben: It’s a CD containing 11 of my songs. I recorded it in my flat in an afternoon, with a friend called Simon and his collection of recording stuff. Most of the songs I’d been playing live for a while, apart from “You Be A Friend, I’ll Be A Friend To You”, which was the oldest song but I’d never played it live. I’ve started playing it now though. I think £2.50 is a fair price really – it doesn’t need to be any more. It’s on “my best unbeaten brother records” which is a name I made up to put on the CD; it seems there is already a record label in Australia called “best unbeaten brother records” – it is nothing to do with them!
SoundsXP: Can a four pack of Fosters really create a masterpiece?
Ben: Probably not. But the sight of a man putting his four-pack down to urinate against the wall in the middle of the day on a busy shopping street can create a sense of mild disgust.
SoundsXP: Do you like playing live? You've got quite a few gigs coming up and have just supported Jeff Lewis in the wonderful 'Windmill'. Can you be yourself on stage or do you adopt a persona? Are you shy?
Ben: I am a bit of a shy bloke in reality. But I enjoy playing live. I guess I know what I’m doing, know the songs, and enjoy people hearing the lyrics. The Jeff Lewis gig on Monday was a joy, as his fans seem like nice folks, and Jeff stood at the front watching my set too which was nice.
SoundsXP: I think Robbie from Eastenders is really sexy because he's recognised from the telly. Your lyrics are full of wonderful observations that tap in to mainstream media society. Is there an agenda behind your lyrics or do you just write whatever influences you at that moment in time?
Ben: A bit of both maybe. The lyrics can take ages, and do combine a kind of stream of consciousness with a load of editing in my head. I can probably sum up what most of the songs are saying quite easily, but they can start off being a collection of ideas with nothing to do with each other.
SoundsXP: I love your vocals because sometimes it sounds like part of your voice can't be bothered and part of your voice is pumping with emotion. Well that's how I hear it. Do you feel comfortable with your vocals?
Ben: I go from quite liking my vocals to thinking they sound pretty awful on a regular basis. Luckily I quite like singers that can’t really sing, so I’m happy with what I’ve got really. I guess my voice is just a means of getting the words out there than anything else.
SoundsXP: If you could wake up as somebody else who would you wake up as?
Ben: I’ve invested quite a few years in being me, so I’d be a little bit annoyed if I was suddenly someone else. It would be like supporting some little no-hoper football team with a passion for thirty years and then waking up and whole-heartedly supporting Manchester United. It would just be wrong.
SoundsXP: I really like your music, Ben. There is something so simplistic yet so complex about it. Have you really only been doing this for a year?
Ben: Well, I was in a band called Nosferatu D2 before this, a two-piece with my brother on drums, that was a lot more angry than the superman Revenge Squad stuff. And I started to get annoyed because people couldn’t hear the lyrics properly at gigs because it was all a bit noisy.
SoundsXP: What music inspires you? What music makes you shake your head with slight dismay?
Ben: I love Will Oldham, Jeff Lewis, Alasdair Roberts, people that do stuff they want to do and don’t sound like they just want to sell records. Jack Mountain too.
SoundsXP: What next for you? Are you going to record a song about christmas in Croydon seeing as we're heading for December?
Ben: I actually wrote a Christmas song with Nosferatu D2 – have a listen to it here: http://www. last. fm/music/Nosferatu+D2 - it’s called “it’s Christmas time (for god’s sake)”. I don’t think I’ll write another one this year! I’m gonna record another 11 songs in the new year, create another CD.
And I shall look forward to that Ben. You can buy Ben's current cd by visiting his myspace. In our present economic climate its music that you can afford to listen to and music you cannot afford to avoid...