Apr 17 2012
Welcome, Ben! It’s fantastic to have you as my guest.
Hi, Molly. Thanks for having me.
You’re from Pontypridd, Wales. Would you describe your hometown to us?
It’s dull, grey and always raining, and we have lots of hills. It is ok — a bit of a shithole to be honest. There is nothing really for people to do here. A lot of people drink a lot out of boredom, or maybe that is just the people I am surrounded by. LOL. It really is a beautiful place in the mountains, but the towns are crap. It’s quiet where I live, so I guess it’s nice. I just wish that the sun would come out once in a while. LOL!
Please tell us about your early years. What kind of childhood did you have?
It was okay, I think … It involved a lot of singing and performing in primary school. I used to participate in a lot of plays. I even got to play Santa one year! Singing in primary school was cool. We got to sing a lot of cool songs like the Beatles. I was in the choir, but got thrown out ‘cause I was not the most behaved of boys! The worst thing I remember about my childhood is my dad leaving, but that is a different story for another day.
When did your love of music begin? How long did it take you to realize that you had a true talent that would become your life’s work?
I have always been interested in art, anything artistic. I began drawing and thought I was going to go to art college at one point, but other things happened. I started writing stories in secondary school. I worked on writing a few books but never actually managed to finish them. I left school at 16, and that is when my friend Paul sold me his guitar. I was always dabbling in music and singing, but never tried to play instruments or take it further. My friend saw I had an interest in the guitar, sold me his, and the rest is history, and also ash, as I burnt that guitar for firewood, don’t ask! 🙂
I started staying in to play instead of going out and getting drunk. LOL! That guitar saved my life I think! So I owe him! I paid him £100 for that guitar. My second guitar was bought from Pete Rawbone, ex BenSem member, for £10, and I still haven’t paid him back!
A tattletale tells me that you were a bit naughty in high school, and didn’t get the best grades. Any truth to that?
I was naughty; lol! I wasn’t nasty, just playful; the truth is I was bored. The teachers were useless, there was no encouragement from them whatsoever, they really didn’t care. I had to leave school and have a friend see my talent, the music teachers saw nothing, because they were never there, and took no interest unless you were a teacher’s pet. I was never challenged with the work, and never revised for the exams. I had really low grades except for art. Now looking back, it may have been a good idea to have tried, but I don’t regret anything I have done, because it may not have got me here.
So, don’t keep us in suspense. What path did you take after you left high school?
I left school at 16. I tried the work route, but that was never going to happen. I cut grass in the local cemetery, I helped build the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, I painted and decorated, worked on computers in sales, cleaned toilets, worked in Game station, worked in Argos and loads more. I was trying to keep money in my pocket whilst chasing the dream. All I wanted was to play music and sing. I never had a clue or plans for my future. I just had a guitar and myself. For me, that was my contentment, well, most of the time!
You were born Craig Andrew Semmens. How did you become Ben Semmens? What happened to Craig Semmens?
I created Ben in the shower one day when I was at my lowest. I needed someone or something to get me past it all, to give me the strength because I’ve struggled with depression all my life. I have got through everything with Ben, he is the other me, and I have got through everything I have with him. Ben is my way of dealing with all the hard things in life, and so far it’s worked, apart from some very low points, but that is too dark to discuss here. Craig is still here, too!
On a similar note, you began as BenSem but are now Ben Semmens? Why did you make the decision to fly solo?
I had some truly great times with BenSem, I have to be honest I never saw us splitting up. Things happen, people grow old, and become a pain. LOL! Everyone who was in BenSem was amazing, great friends, and awesome people. I think the band ended after Western Lights. A lot happened. We had done lots of shows, and at the end, everyone was drained mentally and physically, and cracks started appearing. I always kept writing and when the original BenSem split I went back to the studio with new members, and recorded more. Sadly it wasn’t me, it was loud; it was brash and it was chaotic. It was great but not where I saw myself going. It took me two weeks to make the decision that it was the end, and that it was time to go off on my own. It’s been lonely and very hard, but I am glad I did it. If any mistakes are made they are mine, and I only have myself to answer to. Things have been going better than ever, and I deal with my stress not others and it’s bliss. 😉
Your music is truly something special. How would you describe your music?
It’s from my heart and off my sleeve. It’s my life, my emotions, and my ups and my downs. I would describe it as sad, but with hope, and everyone needs hope. I just hope it helps people as it has helped me. My music is my serenity.
You recently came to America via a company called Pledge Music. I know this was an extremely exciting and rewarding opportunity. Please, tell us all about it.
Pledge is a great way to give artists the creative freedom music needs, and give fans what they want without a record label getting in the way. The music industry is ruined because of the labels, and I have all the freedom I want in creating. Pledge is the way forward. I’m doing what I love with no idiots telling me how to dress etc. I am living the dream. Sex, drugs, and rock n roll is old-fashioned; it’s all style and no substance. It should be all about the music, and Pledge makes it about the music, the fans, and nothing else. I love it.
I recorded the album with Ben Thomas, a very talented man. I had to go to the Cumberland Island in the USA to work with him, but man it was worth it. It was amazing, and I learnt so much from him, and the island is beautiful. I could get use to the sun instead of Welsh rain. Going back to tour soon, so excited about that!
I know that the U.S recording opened your eyes to a lot of things? Anything you can share with us?
It was truly a dream come true, and a blessing. I am very lucky to have experienced this, and I owe it all to management and the fans. I’m already writing another album, as I was inspired so much on the island. It also shows that no matter how crazy an idea sounds, if you want it to happen, you can make it happen.
Where can the cool peeps hear your amazing music?
We have finished the album and those who have pledged have received the download. We are still working on the artwork and putting the CD together which we are hoping to get out asap. The fans have been waiting so patiently, and I really am grateful for their support and patience. 🙂
The music is available on www.bensemmens.com or www.facebook.com/ben.semmens.music or www.youtube.com/bensemmusic. If you would like to pre-order the new album you can go to www.pledgemusic.com/projects/bensemmens
I‘m going to be a little Julie Andrews for a moment. What are some of your favourite things?
LOL! I love computer games. They help me escape and chill. There is nothing better than a good zombie movie, and I am a major comic fan. I love all things Batman, and have a strange connection to the Joker. My favourite author is Stephen King. I love the stories, and the worlds that he creates. I’m currently reading the Dark Tower books at the moment, and they are awesome! I like all things chocolate, and a good burger or pizza is my idea of good food.
Okay, so now I’m Julie Andrews evil twin. Well, maybe not so much, but what are your least favourite things?
I hate bullies. I hate working out, but it must be done, and I can’t stand mushrooms, but I think a lot of people know this now 🙂 Mushrooms are the food of the devil, apart from magic ones!
I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?
I’m picky about food. A bad chip or fat on bacon makes me feel sick, so I have to pick them out. I usually end up with a small pile of food on my plate that I won’t eat. If I ever eat at your house please don’t think me rude, I am just fussy.
Who are the artists who have inspired you? Whose music might we find you listening to on a lazy Sunday afternoon? A crazy Saturday night?
I will listen to anything. If it has a good tune, and I dig it, it deserves my attention. I think I have been influenced by many artists. A lot of artists my mum used to listen to when I was young have influenced me. I was brought up on a lot of country music, and old crooners. On a Sunday you can find me listening to Nat King Cole, Joe Cocker, Cary Brothers, Greg Laswell, there are loads … On a crazy Saturday you will find me listening to, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, and Iron Maiden.
A lot of music inspires me.
Any parting words for the masses? Where can peeps connect with you?
Keep it real people, and if you fancy a listen check out:
Take care all and thanks for reading. And Molly, you rock! x