If slow and steady wins the race, Ben Marwood is a future Olympic champion at something. Flung from the wreckage of a series of undercooked punk bands, he started solo shows in 2002 and after a chance meeting with the recently-solo Frank Turner in 2006 and a lot of shows under his belt, Marwood eventually found his way to the Xtra Mile Recordings stable in 2011. Debut album Outside There’s A Curse followed suit, and the follow-up Back Down was released in May 2013.
A mix of softly-plucked solo numbers and full-band songs, Back Down showcases the endlessly twisting lyrical style that has typified Marwood’s work, from tales of small-town love triangles to side swipes at the business end of the music industry, to accidental murder ballads (from single ‘Under Lock and Key’) and a reference to his increasing number of chins. This is intelligent and self-deprecating, recently drawing comparison to the likes of Bright Eyes and Death Cab For Cutie, and it’s a bandwagon worth jumping on even if it’s one that’s happy to take back roads.
A fierce believer in the DIY approach, Marwood signed himself to his own label, Broken Tail Records, in 2007 and released mini-album This Is Not What You Had Planned in 2008 to general critical acclaim. In 2009 he got drunk and played a Postal Service song fully-clothed in the bath tub of a house party, on camera, and is still living it down.
In the meantime he’s played shows with label-mates and solo legends Chris T-T, Franz Nicolay and Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun (and Frank Turner, needless to say) as well as having shared bills with Billy Bragg, David Byrne, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and Frightened Rabbit and picked up airplay from Radio 1, Radio 2, 6Music and Xfm. Despite his affiliation with Xtra Mile, he’s still keen to keep it DIY; self-managed and with the recording of both albums entirely self-funded, Marwood even releases the occasional EP on the side, his most recent efforts (Demons EP and Lay Low, a split with his friends Quiet Quiet Band) being released through tiny London label and long-time supporters Josaka Music.
Throughout all of this, since 1999, he owned only one guitar. In June 2013 on his first headline tour of the UK in eighteen months, the Saigon DM100e became his second. This summer he heads to the USA opening for Frank Turner, as well as an annual appearance at his festival of choice, 2000Trees in Cheltenham.
Ben plays the Saigon DM 100e.