.

Raconteurs' Brendan Benson Mans Vintage Gear For "My Old, Familiar Friend"

July 23, 2009 11:50 AM ET

For his first solo album since 2005, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Brendan Benson unwittingly reached back to something decidedly more anglophilic than the Southern-fried rock he makes with the Raconteurs: Elvis Costello. "It's that Farfisa!" says Benson, who used the organ on the bouncy "A Whole Lot Better," a track off the upcoming My Old Familiar Friend. "It's a tough instrument to use — people instantly say, 'That sounds like Elvis Costello!' But I love the Attractions, so it's cool with me."

Benson was aiming for a retro sound on the album — he used all vintage instruments — which he recorded in Nashville, London and Los Angeles with producer Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters). "I'm not saying 'vintage' in a snobby way," he says. "I've been collecting 1960s guitars forever. I just love the way they sound." The throwback vibe is apparent on tunes like "Eyes on the Horizon," which borrows from the Zombies and the Beatles, and the string-laced, disco-fied "Garbage Day."

Benson started writing songs for the album during his 2005 solo tour, when he'd sing into a handheld recorder backstage after shows, or in his van commuting between venues. ("There's all this van noise in the background," he says.) Once back in Nashville, he cut demos and posted them on his MySpace page, where fans offered criticism. "At that point, I didn't have a label," says Benson, who parted with V2 after his last solo LP and has since been picked up by. ATO Records. "So I said, 'Fuck it, I'll put the songs up so people can check them out.'"

The harshest feedback came from Norton: "He's very strict — he dictates everything, down to how the kick-drum pattern should go," says Benson, who wasn't used to working with such a heavy-handed producer. "But I was glad. After making records by myself for so long, I wanted somebody to fucking take control."

As for the Raconteurs, he says the band is on hiatus. "Doing two back-to-back records wasn't our plan," he adds. "When we made Consolers of the Lonely [released in 2008, two years after the band's debut], we thought, 'We'll do this record, do our respective things, and maybe come back together at some point."

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

prev
Music Main Next
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.

X

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

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com