UNTIL two years ago, Ben Montague was carving a living out of odd jobs and pub and club appearances in his band. But then, a one-off show in Soho changed everything.
Playing with his friend James Hartman, Montague was spotted by Radio 2 bigwigs and his song became the station’s Record of the Week.
“It was really strange – all of a sudden I had to come up with an album but I didn’t even have a record deal so I set about writing a load of material, which I recorded in a mate’s bedroom,” he says. “It wasn’t how I envisioned writing my first album, I was actually really panicked and it was all very rushed.”
But in spite of its low-key production, this hastily-assembled collection of tracks won him a deal with EMI.
This year he’s set to release his official debut, Flying and Falling, which was produced in much less haste as Rockfield Studios, the recording home of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
“It was really great to record the album at Rockfield. I was working with Dave Eringa, who’s worked with people like Idlewild so he’s from quite a rocky background whereas I’m more pop / indie but it was so good working with him because we understood each other and compromised a lot.
“Dave’s such a great producer and he has a good system. We’d sit down and listen to tracks I really like so he’s get a clear idea of what I was after. It was never about ego with Dave - it was such an easy, enjoyable experience.
“Recording that album was so exciting - one of the best experiences of my life,” he says.
But while Montague thrived off the recording of Flying and Falling, inspiration for the album was far from exhilarating.
“It’s about a relationship I had with someone I love and it was very off and on. It’s about the highs and the lows of relationships – from the moment you tell them you love them for the first time and you’re nervously thinking ‘will this be thrown back at me?’ to the point where it falls apart and turns sour.
“It’s funny when you’re writing about love. If you write about the good side of it, it can come across cheesy but it’s okay to write about the melancholy aspect of it – it’s a fine line.”
He doesn’t intend to dwell on a life of melancholia to feed his songwriting, however. “I don’t just want to write about being sad - I do want to be happy at some point,” he laughs.
But his album’s not just limited to lost love. “There’s a track on there called Deep End, which is about the music industry and how being in the music bubble affected my relationship.”
It wasn’t only his relationship that was flying and falling, Montague’s album also charts the rapid ascension to stardom. “One minute I was playing to about 40 people in clubs and the next thing I was supporting The Wanted in arenas all over the country, playing to thousands of people.”
While a solo artist, Montague plays with the same band both on stage and in the studio. “I could have got other musicians in but I wanted to work with the band I tour with because we all get on really well, there’s great camaraderie and they are all really honest with me. I trust their opinions too. And they take the mickey out of me more than anyone else I know.”
Ben Montague brings his band to the Greystones on Wednesday (June 20).