Allow me to introduce Benjamin Darvill a.k.a Son of Dave. Ex-Crash Test Dummies member, eternal eccentric and harmonica fiend. Despite recognition over the years from NME, Uncut, Dazed & Confused and the like, he remains confusingly off the radar. So here he is, in all his bluesy glory.
Hi Benjamin! How are you today?
I’m fine thank you. Are we pretending we are friends out for lunch? Or shall we let them know I’m writing to a complete stranger? I’m not wearing any pants.
Is it common for people to think your name is Dave of Son of Dave?
Yes, very sympathetic of you. I’m often addressed as “Hey Dave”, but I’m used to it. I let it ride. If people feel awkward calling me ‘Son of Dave’ they can call me by my real name, Benjamin. This is all my own damn fault for making things complicated and being a smart ass. Maybe one day I’ll be rich and successful enough to do away with my real name completely, like Stink, The Urge, or Slish did. They hired mean people to make sure nobody mentioned their real names anymore. I can’t afford that service yet.
You’ve recently released your album ‘Blues At The Grand’. It feels a lot more upbeat than ‘Shake A Bone’ which had a more speak-easy, smooth sound. Is this a conscious decision?
Upbeat. Yeah, that was a conscious goal. Try to cheer up after years of hard times in a personal hell. That, and I have to try to sell records to ‘normal’ people using more familiar language on real drums, bass, guitars, pianos and horns. It’s a fun challenge, trying to make music for the hard working masses, but I’ll probably stay down here with ‘cult’ status playing disco blues which is still too damn ‘specialist’ for the bastards.
Some tracks like ‘Titty Shake’ have really heavy and unexpected RnB base lines. Are you influenced by that genre?
Ha ha, made you say ‘Titty Shake’ ! But it’s not as questionable as it might sound, like your website’s name. I’m not so much influenced by modern r&b as I am irritated by it. I try every once in a while to help it along. The grooves and sounds can be great but the lyrics make me sick usually. For decades now. All part of the Decline of The Great American Empire and all that… I’m already getting flack for this tune from some people for it’s naughtiness. Maybe because I’m a white guy, I’m not allowed to say something vulgar. That ought to start an argument or two eh? ‘Titty Shake’ isn’t even vulgar. It’s quite quaint by modern standards. That’s precisely the point of the tune. Those filthy strip joints found everywhere lack tease, imagination and humour, much like a lot of modern R&B.
I can’t help but picture you as Bert from Mary Poppins because of all the instruments you incorporate. What’s your favourite instrument to play?
My favorite instrument to play is harmonica. These questions are easy! I like playing piano, but I’m really just a hack. Guitar always left me cold, though I can write some tasty parts on it. It’s kinda like eating meat- highly over rated and completely avoidable if you wish. Too much will block up your arsehole.
Yours gigs feel quite intimate. I’ve seen you bring fans on stage to candle lit tables and sing to them…Will this change as your audience grows?
As the audience grows, so will the ticket price. There’s pressure on me to actually hire a band. I don’t like change though generally. Hmmph.
When you’re not making music, what do you like to do?
I have lots of secrets. I like to write. Acceptable hobbies to talk about are collecting old 45’s, and playing with my pet rats. Brilliant animals.
You review a lot of mainstream music on your Youtube channel…with hilarious results. What do you think is the main problem with modern music?
Well, it could be said that there’s no problem with it, that things are the same as they always were. Plenty of crap but plenty of good stuff too. But i suspect that more and more, the mainstream is steered by marketing crap to teenagers. These days, good music often doesn’t bother to compete on radio with the crap, partly because radio has ended, moved on, or changed it’s shape, and partly because the overwhelming power of television talent shows has cheapened the popular appetite so much that great music can’t be understood anymore. I don’t know. I love to complain about the state of things, but maybe that’s just my bad attitude and ignorance. I like Laura Mvula. She’s popular and on Sony. That says something. Jake Bugg is young and cool. Maybe there’s no problem.
What can we expect from your upcoming shows?
You can expect the same thing you’d expect from anyone who’s dedicated his or her life to rockin the shit out of an audience and makes a living at it. I will play a few new ones, I’ll have a few new gags, the years come and go, but like the Punch and Judy show, I do what’s expected of me and I don’t mess with a winning combination (until they give me more money, heh heh heh).
Are there any artists you’d like to recommend to the gigslutz readers?
My mates: Nick Marsh, K.C. McKanzie The Urban Voodoo Machine, The Future Shape Of Sound, Ska Cubano
Thank YOU, it’s great to be asked questions. Makes me feel like a superstar