A Bristolian singer-songwriter who’s got a fierce way with an acoustic, and a vocal maturity that belies his 24 years…
Name: Ben Cooling
Location: Bristol, UK
Style: “Acoustic, folky rock”
Look out for: His debut EP The Hell With Consequences, out now, and the single Breathe Again
It’s not too often we go along to a gig, hear the support act and say, “Right, we need to get them in Songwriting ASAP”. But that’s what happened at the recent Wayne Hussey show in Bristol, where Ben Cooling blew us away with a raw acoustic set that called to mind the likes of Jonathan Richman, Billy Bragg and John Fairhurst.
A few emails and a few days later, we were chatting on the phone to Ben. He told us that, like most people, he started out playing in rock bands around the age of 15 or 16, inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy, but “sort of got talked into doing the acoustic thing” only fairly recently.
“It really just came from me writing a few songs, just for myself, and playing them to friends,” he says, “and them saying ‘You’ve got to put that out!’. So I kind of got into performing solo by accident, really. But I do enjoy it, because it gives you that much more control over what you’re doing.”
Once bitten by the solo bug, Ben started frantically scribbling away and has written, he says, “close to 70 songs” in the past 18 months. Which is handy, because it wasn’t long before Bristol collective Circus City, who Ben already knew from the local live music scene, were on the phone asking if he’d like to get involved with their label. The result being his The Hell With Consequences EP, which is out now.
Plans for the future include lots more gigging – “I really want to get some festival gigs next year,” he says, “and it would be good to play outside the Bristol circuit generally” – and recording a follow-up EP for release early in 2015. “Really I just want to move forward in any way possible,” says Ben.
Once a few more people heard his songs, we have a feeling Ben will be moving a lot further forward than he perhaps realises…