Ben Harper Gets Heavy With Relentless7 on "White Lies for Dark Times"

February 12, 2009 5:11 PM ET

Ben Harper has plugged his guitar back in and cranked up the amp for his new album White Lies For Dark Times, an 11-song set soaked with hard rock and the deep Delta blues. "It's a sound I've been looking for and reaching for in my mind," Harper tells Rolling Stone (a full in the studio report can be found in our current issue). "We've taken turns kicking each others' asses in the most gracious fashion, pushing this into new places." Which means the album is more Cream than Jack Johnson, more "Faded" than "Steal My Kisses."

Why the louder sound? Harper's ninth studio album will be his first with his new backing band Relentless7, three Austin-based musicians who initially worked with Harper on 2006's Both Sides of the Gun. It also marks the first time Harper has recorded an album without his Innocent Criminals since 2003's Diamonds on the Inside. Even though he's fully committed to Relentless7, and will bring the band along for his slot at Bonnaroo, Harper still plans to keep the Innocent Criminals together, much like how Neil Young and Crazy Horse often took different paths but somehow always found their way back together.

Rolling Stone caught Harper and Relentless7 at Los Angeles' Spaceland in December 2008, where the band played White Lies tracks like the tough, howling "Number With No Name" and the brooding 12-string acoustic ballad "Skin Thin," plus a cover of the Queen/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure." The Smoking Section also talked with Harper about the R7 in the days following the group's slot on the Rock the Vote! Tour.

Related Stories:

Ben Harper Introduces New Blues-Rock Band Relentless7
Smoking Section Exclusive: Ben Harper's New Band
Ben Harper Turns Guitar Troubles Into Triumph at All Points West

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »