Interview The Lodger

DIY spoke with the brains behind one of our favourite bands ever, Ben, frontman of The Lodger.

‘I’m obsessed with the classic three-minute pop song format, I’m obsessed with the concept of the perfect pop single’

Pop. His words not ours for a change. This is Ben from The Lodger’s mandate for music, how can you not like that? It’s refreshing isn’t it? You can’t set the bar much higher for yourself - so what would be the ‘perfect pop single’? ‘Have you got a spare hour? ‘Teenage Kicks’ springs immediately to mind, it’s got all the essential components in there. But then again I would describe ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush as perfect and that doesn’t really adhere to any formula, it’s unique and original and yet it’s still a wonderful pop song.’. That’s where the difficulties begin; there is no magic recipe for the perfect pop, no wand that can be waved to turn garbage into gold.

For starters you have to get yourself a band, practise all hours and then write some songs; or at least that’s the theory. The Lodger didn’t quite follow this process though. It all started with Ben experimenting at home and recording a collection of songs using a not entirely above board piece of computer software and the legend began from there.

Though this isn’t the band we see today; faced with the task of taking the ‘bedroom show’ to a wider audience Ben had a decision to make. ‘It was either just me playing a solo guitar and vocal thing, or I incorporated a backing track, with the sounds from the demos to accompany me playing over the top of it, but that would look stupid I thought so I wanted to get some more people involved. People that I liked as people rather than being the best musician in the land. I was teaching Lisa to play bass and I noticed after a couple of lessons that she was picking things up really quickly so I asked her to be in the band and that was that. Bruce [drums] is one of my best mates so once we’d secured our first gig he came on board too and we’ve gone from there’

Now the dynamics have changed it must be quite a different song writing process with more members to be involved than how it was at the start on your own? ‘It’s a very simple process in The Lodger really, what I do is write the words and music to a song on the guitar and then write down what I think the bassline should be on tab paper for Lisa and give her a rough recording of the song done with a mic and my PC. I live with Bruce so I knock on his door and play him a song and he generally will tap a rhythm out on his knees and he tells me whether the song is crap or not, which is actually an enormous help, because it’s all about quality control. By the time we get to the rehearsal, everyone kind of knows the song and then we can ‘experiment’ (but not in an improv Jazz school type way) with the basics of it, and this is where Bruce and Lisa can add their own style and mess around a bit with the basic song until it resembles another Number One smash!’

After casting the right people in the right roles, setting the creative process flowing, the next logical step is to head out on the road and from that first gig supporting The Cribs, The Lodger have played with a veritable who’s who of Yorkshire music – so who should we look out for on the horizon? ’ We have been very lucky to have got gigs with ace fellow Leeds bands and our Sheffield cousins right from the beginning, which is has been an enormous help in achieving a profile as a band from the word go, which I think is important. There is absolutely no point in hanging around is there? I’d watched a lot of friends start to become successful and I thought, hang on, I can do this too, so I’m having a go. To be honest, Leeds-wise you might as well go to and get the 18-track compilation if there’s any left as you are reading, there’s very little of worth that is missing from that compilation. 18 bands to fall in love with, can’t say fairer than that.’ He’s right, it’s a collection that’s packed with potential hits and stars to watch out for from a local music scene that is finding its feet more securely everyday.

When it comes to influences The Lodger are an amalgamation of all the great British pop luminaries and we’ve heard a host of people recently, yourself included, citing The Kinks as probably the best British pop band of all time. Quite frankly, we at DIY love the fact that they are getting the attention they deserve. Who else would you put up there with them? ‘You’re right The Kinks are ace, some of Ray Davies’ songs are frighteningly good. I’d also, somewhat controversially to some no doubt, put The Smiths up there, and Madness. Madness are viewed as a bit naff by some people I think, but here is a band that released classic single after classic single, it went on for years like this! And they did some great albums near the beginning too. The Buzzcocks are an enormous influence on my songwriting as you can probably hear. I’ve been revisiting Pulp recently as well, for about a year they were probably the best pop band on the planet. I could go on.’. It’s this passion for music that’s makes The Lodger so accessible to such a diverse group of people.

So hold on, let’s just recap this for those of you who haven’t been paying attention. This is The Lodger, frighteningly talented, able to craft a summery pop melody that Brian Wilson would kill for and also a fan of the pop that’s shaped the foundation of music for generations – you really couldn’t ask for more.

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