10 Questions With… Ben Rector
Today I am incredibly excited to bring you 10 Questions With… Ben Rector! Ben is a singer/songwriter from Nashville. His songs, including “When a Heart Breaks,” “Beautiful,” “White Dress,” and “Forever Like That,” are all over the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart. His latest album, “The Walking in Between” debuted at #16 on the Billboard chart.
Fellow ATWN contributor Kristi C. and I checked out one of Ben’s tour stops this week, and it was incredible. Ben is one of those performers who is just as good live as recorded. He plays the piano with every cell in his body and every ounce of his soul. With endless wit and charm, the moments between songs are as entertaining as the songs themselves.
Ben took some time out of his incredibly busy tour schedule to answer our questions. Here are his answers…enjoy!
Since “The Walking in Between” is your fourth album, have your musical influences changed over the years? How so, or what are your standbys that haven’t changed?
I think there are influences I go back to over and over (James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Randy Newman, Billy Joel, etc.) and then anything I’m hearing a lot will make its way into songs. On this record though, I don’t think my influences changed, I think it was more that I tried not to mimic the influences, but to dive deeper into what I could do that was unique.
We heard that “Making Money” was one live take. Nice! Was that a specific goal for the song, or did it just happen?
Thanks! I wasn’t necessarily thinking that I’d do it that way when I wrote it, it just ended up being the most effective way. As an artist I really want to feel competent as a writer and player and singer, so for the song to be recorded the way it was and to convey what I wanted it to emotionally felt really satisfying.
“I Like You” is a fantastically fun song. What made you select one of its lines for the album title?
You know, when I wrote that song, I wanted it to be sweet on the outside and a little meatier underneath. It’s funny, some people take it at face value, that it’s a light, cheesy pop song, and others actually dig into the lyrics and see that it’s saying more than that. The reason I chose the title from the song, is I feel like that phrase is the most succinct way to sum up the theme of the album.
With your upcoming tour, you’re covering a lot of ground in a short period of time! What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of touring?
My favorite parts are getting to visit parts of the country that I enjoy, getting to eat good food and be in interesting places. My least favorite part is probably just that it can be pretty draining.
Your songs have been included in an impressive number of television shows. What do you think makes your music so appropriate for TV?
You know, I don’t know. I’ve been really thankful that shows have used some of the songs, but in total honesty, I feel like there are people who have a lot more traction in that world than I do. Some people have a knack for a song that creates a mood that really fits a scene, and sometimes I think my songs can be a little too specific to be used effectively.
If we searched through your music library, what’s one song or album we might be surprised to find that you listen to?
I love Katy Perry and anything Dr. Luke does.
Since we’re a bunch of writers and readers, what was the last book you read? How did you like it?
I’ve been reading The War of Art. It’s fantastic, but pretty dense. It’s not a story, just page long snippets of wisdom from the author. It’s been inspiring.
Most writers are either “plotters” who plan their novels before they write them, or “pantsers” who fly by the seat of their pants. When it comes to songwriting, are you a plotter, pantser, or a little of both?
I’m both. I feel like it’s hard to live solely in either world. It’s hard for stuff that’s completely plotted out to feel spontaneous and effortless, and it’s hard to finish anything if you’re always flying by the seat of your pants. I try to make a call on which hat I need to put on and switch when it feels right.
You write amazing lyrics, you wrote your own fabulous bio for your website…any chance you’ll try your hand at more writing? A book, perhaps?
You know, I’ve been interested in that, but it’s not something I’ve pursued at all. I’m trying to focus all my creative energy on music. Plus I don’t even know what I’d write a book about.
What’s the best advice you could give to any artist – whether the artist is a musician, a painter, or a writer?
Be excellent at your craft, never stop learning, and don’t be afraid to fail, it will cripple you.