Have you ever wondered or seen a band that you think deserves more exposure and appreciation because they have all the qualities and talents? We do most of the time. Ideals, our choice for Music Of The Week, is one of them. We’ve been their huge fans for more than a year and when we finally have a chance to ask them questions that we’ve been keeping in our minds, we feel genuinely ecstatic. Read below our interview with Ideals’ drummer Benjamin Ward and get inspired! Meanwhile, don’t forget to take a peek at our favourite Ideals’ music video Significant Other.
Ear to Ears (E2E): How do you describe your music to those people who have never heard about you before?
Benjamin Ward (BW): Rich harmonies and heartfelt lyrics. Its big, dramatic and intelligent indie inspired by bands like Joy Division and The Cure but with a backbone taken from our wider contemporary musical influences; some parts of the new songs are pretty heavy and different to our first E.P in a lot of ways while at the same time sticking to what made Ideals work so well in the first place, that really excites me. I try and make the percussion interesting as possible, I don’t particularly want it to sound like the drumming you would find in other bands of our genre.
E2E: What is the ideal of Ideals’ music?
BW: Just four friends playing songs that mean the world to them.
E2E: Could you give us a little picture how is it behind the writing session?
BW: To be honest it’s always changing. Most of the time Andrew, Ben or Simon will have a riff, a harmony or some lyrics that they want to turn into a song. We all come together as a full band in the studio or acoustically round one of our houses and add to the idea, we all have input to every part and eventually we build the song up from the ground. This could take a few hours or a few months depending on the song and how we feel it should progress. It really relies on how developed the initial idea is, if Andrew comes to practice with a fully formed song and has a kind of knows how he wants the other parts to go it can sometimes be an easy and quick process, but then I suppose the nature of a democratic band can mean that if someone doesn’t agree with a part it can go right back to square one. Sometimes it doesn’t even work like this, we could be rehearsing for a show and someone will start playing a riff or I will start drumming and we all just get super into it and decide to make it into a song, this sometimes involves mixing the parts and ideas of one or more songs. It is at the same time the easiest and hardest process of being in a band, but it is where every band in the world is on equal footing, song writing is literally what being in a band is all about. It is a personal and rewarding experience, it’s a joy to make music with your best friends.
E2E: We learn that you guys have known each other since you were much younger, does it help you get along as a band?
BW: Yeah, it does. Me and Andrew have been making music together since we were 14, we have grown up listening to the same bands and discovering live music so musically we really are on the same wavelength in most ways. Simon went to our high school but was in the year above so we didn’t really know him but he played in bands too and sometimes our bands played together. In 2007 Me and Andrew formed a band called ‘It’s A Trap!’ and at a houseparty hosted by a mutual friend I got talking to Simon for the first time in my life and asked if he wanted to join an indie band, thankfully he said yes because now he’s like my brother. That band existed up until Ideals, together we learnt how to make songs and play shows, it was a lot of fun, we basically grew up as a band together and then went on to form an adult band as solid as Ideals as we became adults ourselves. We didn’t know Ben Smith when we were younger but we love him so much it feels like we did.
E2E: You have changed your guitarist 3 times. How does this affect Ideals?
BW: It’s weird, it’s like Ideals has had a different life with each E.P. With the first E.P we had Matt. I love Matt with all my heart, he’s an older friend to me than even Andrew or Simon, he helped us write some brilliant songs and was so much fun. It was a shame he had to leave, but then I instantly loved Johnny when he came in, I think he influenced us in a different way to Matt, he had very American orientated influences which I liked a lot. The last E.P was recorded with Johnny and I really am a big fan of his input and guitar work, again it sucked when he had to leave but again I instantly loved Ben Smith when he joined. Ben is in all honesty the most solid member we have had, before it could sometimes feel like it was mine, Andrew and Simon’s band with an extra guitar player. That isn’t to say we intended it to feel like that, but compared to how involved Ben is with every single part of this band it just sometimes did. He writes just as many songs as Andrew and together they are seriously brilliant.
E2E: What keeps you going in making music?
BW: Just a love of music and my friends. Its an experience we share together but if we ever stopped I would still keep doing it for the rest of my life, it’s such a part of me now that I will need to do it until the day I die. It’s good to be able to express yourself and there’s not really a purer form of that than playing music. I think we have all been through so much together, making the transition from childhood to adulthood as a band gives you a lot to write about.
E2E: After releasing your EP, Let Your Anger Leave You, what can we expect more next from Ideals?
BW: So much more! We have been keeping quiet recently as we are currently demoing for an album, it’s all sounding really fucking exciting and we can’t wait for people to hear it.
E2E: What is your latest obsession?
BW: My mum got me an absolutely beautiful guitar for my birthday so I’ve been playing that an awful lot and recording little demos onto my computer, I just need to learn how to sing a bit better and I might stick some on the internet for free download. My little brother bought me a really old game called Burnout on the original xbox kind of as a joke, I don’t ever play video games anymore but I literally have wasted days of my life on this, I used to love it when I was 13 so it’s like nostalgic entertainment. I guess I stick to my old obsessions more than I find new ones, I have a lot of obsessions already, you would need to take a long and disturbing list.
E2E: Do you have any ritual before you get on stage?
BW: Nothing in particular. I make sure I have had enough to eat and that I am completely hydrated, I stretch and warm up and like to have had at least 1 redbull before I go onstage just to make sure I have enough energy. The guys will do vocal warmups like 30 minutes before we go up, it helps so much, especially for Andrew on some of the more challenging parts like the opening to ‘Lungs’. To be honest we all will normally have had at least one drink and most will usually have something to smoke as well, gigs are like giant parties, we try not to overdo it but we often get excited…
E2E: What is your favourite spot in London and why?
BW: I love different parts of it for different reasons. Obviously there’s some brilliant fun to be had in Shoredich and Soho on nights out and the financial district is stunning to look at but at the end of the day my favourite spot is a hill in Greenwich park that overlooks the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. Greenwich is just down the road from where I lived while at university, most of the area surrounding it is pretty rough and ugly, of course I love it just as much because east London is one of the funnest places on earth but that park was like a little escape from the madness of city life.
E2E: What is your favourite drink?
BW: Alcoholic = it’s quickly becoming red wine, I hated it for so long because of some disgustingly pathetic drunk experiences that 14 year old me had but I’ve really started enjoying it again thanks to my dad’s constant efforts to get me to drink it.
Non Alcoholic = Welches Grape Soda or Milk. Welches Grape is the sweetest drink known to man, it’s simply life changing.
E2E: If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
BW: Han Solo because he does whatever the fuck he wants. He helps save the galaxy from some absolutely biblical problems that no smuggler should ever have to deal with and he gets Princess Leia without trying or even looking like he particularly wanted her in the first place. He just gets her because he’s so obviously awesome, there’s no way she’s going to deny him. At the end of the day he owns the Millenium Falcon, is quite a nice man under all his roguish charm and he has Chewbacca as a best friend so yeah, Han Solo. Also if he kept that reward Leia gave him at the end of the first film before he decided he wanted to be hero and help blow up the Death Star he is probably fucking loaded.