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Think you could knock off a tour as big as Ben Wright Smith’s? Find out his secrets to staying sane on the road

Victorian folk artist and touring machine Ben Wright Smith must be tired. His string of Sand Grabber shows was as far reaching as the success of his single by the same name, but he’s not quite ready to take a break yet.

Tomorrow BWS is headlining the official Sand Grabber single launch at Melbourne’s Ding Dong Lounge for a special gig that’s showing all signs of packing out completely. On the eve of his tour’s final night we caught up with Ben for a quick chat about Aussie acts, future endeavours and surviving the tour life.

ben wright smith

After knocking off a tour with too many dates to count, Ben Wright Smith’s biggest and best year ever is culminating in one final gig.

HAPPY: Hey Ben! That was one mammoth tour. Do you have any survival tips for maintaining sanity on the road?

BEN: Hello…that’s a good question…not sure how intact my sanity was to begin with, but I’d suggest lots of pairs of undies and some good books.

HAPPY: You’ve played basically all over Australia now, has any town or city surprised you with their support?

BEN: Loads! This year I really wanted to focus on playing all around the country and especially playing lots of smaller towns who might not see as much music. I was really surprised how welcoming all the folks have been on the tour and how beautiful some of the spots have been.

HAPPY: Were there any near-disasters that endangered the Sand Grabber tour?

BEN: There were probably a fair few, really. We started the tour travelling with four other bands on a bus from Tassie up to Darwin over 18 days for the Up The Guts tour. The organiser Jimmy bought the bus and there was an element of uncertainty the whole time about whether it was going to get us across the entire country. Once we finished our show in Darwin we flew back but Jimmy and Jack had to drive it back and they got about 50 kms on the road before the poor thing called it quits. I think they got it up and running again after a few nights camping under the stars.

HAPPY: Are there any less-travelled destinations more musos should be making their way to?

BEN: Definitely. Being from Victoria, the East Coast run is very common but I couldn’t encourage musicians more to go check out Central Australia and the Northern Territory. Some of the coolest venues and some of the most fun crowds I have played to.


HAPPY: You must be pumped for the last gig. Any surprises awaiting the Ding Dong crowd?

BEN: Well if I told you it wouldn’t really be a surprise would it? So no…no surprises at all.

HAPPY: You’ve handpicked some brilliant supports for the show. What influenced your choices?

BEN: I always like picking our own supports when we get the chance, especially in Melbourne as it happens that so many of the local bands tend to be the ones I’m listening to a bunch. It turned out everyone we asked was keen to play so it came together pretty easy. It’s kinda fun curating your own little music festival and I was stoked to have everyone involved.

HAPPY: You’ve played with heaps of other Aussie artists on tour. Is there anyone you came across that we should be keeping an eye on?

BEN: YES! The Pretty Littles, Scotdrakula, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, Ali E, Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird, Jeffers Limit, Leah Senior, Zól Bálint, The Outdoor Type, Will Chittick…I’m not kidding – listen to this shit, it’s awesome.

HAPPY: Have you been writing much on tour? A lot of artists seem to find it tough balancing the two mindsets. How does touring affect your creative output?

BEN: Yeah I’ve been writing some stuff. I don’t find it slows me down too much. Only thing is getting it down can be harder, as after playing a show you don’t necessarily feel like picking up a guitar and strumming away for a few hours. I’ve been writing some ideas down in my book so I hope they’re cool. Seeing so much good music makes me want to get home and get working on some new stuff too.

HAPPY: Once the album drops next year, will you consider another tour so far-reaching?

BEN: For sure. One of the most fun things ever is travelling around with your friends playing tunes. Hopefully it’ll be even bigger. We’re in talks of maybe heading back to the U.S. so that would be nice. Hopefully we can start booking more shows wherever. Maybe Cambodia or around Asia could be cool as I haven’t spent that much time around there. I’ve also been getting into a lot of funk music from the 70’s from Thailand and Laos so I kinda wanna see what going on over there too.

HAPPY: Once you’ve walked off the Ding Dong stage, what’s next on the cards for Ben Wright Smith? Aside from some well deserved R&R of course.

BEN: Yeah, a bit of that. I get bored pretty easy so I might record some more music. I’m looking forward to hanging out with my friends. Hopefully they remember me.

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October 6, 2016