London-based singer/songwriter Benjamin Shaw releases There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet on 21st November, the follow up to his 2009 I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got EP. Gutter spoke exclusively to him about his upcoming album, live gigs and limbs in the freezer…

What did you draw on for inspiration for There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet?

TAHTAC I think, is a London record. London is a horrible place to live, everybody knows that, yet we’re all here, day in day out, trying to make it work. Obviously, it will never work, we will never get what we want, and we’ll have all depleted our life expectancy in doing so. When we have been bled dry of all hope and impotent rage, at least – at the very least – we will still have wine.

Not since Morrissey have there been such lyrical fantasies as “picturing your limbs in the freezer”. Elaborate?

I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to much Morrissey. But I don’t think he’d mind me saying that, so I guess he should be applauded. Having worked all manner of shitty jobs over the years, I think the picturing limbs in freezers lyric was a culmination of years of hate, dread, boredom and a bit more hate. I think it’s a fairly standard occurrence to hate your job and the people you work with, so much, that you want to make up nasty songs about them. I am glad I was able to do so in such a subtle and poetic way.

What do you strive to bring to a live gig?

Being someone who doesn’t really enjoy playing live, or in front of anyone at all, I’d say the main thing I strive (and struggle) to bring to a live gig is myself. I’m not even very good at it. Remembering the songs, getting the (frankly very simple) chords right, and trying to keep my dinner down, just doesn’t come natural to me. I’m much more at home at home. Over the years though, I have become more at ease with my live handicap, and the messy playing and forgotten words have become an integral ‘part of the act’. Sometimes it’s even quite enjoyable. For me anyway.

In today’s competitive music culture, how do you stand out and remain relevant?

There are gazillions of bedroom misery-peddlers scattered across the internet, and even more singer-songwriters hawking their wares on the live circuit, all trying to ‘stand out’ so to try and join them would probably be fighting a losing battle. I’m fairly embarrassed being a musician at all, if I’m honest, and to want to be anything other than myself would probably send me over the edge. As for remaining relevant, that is the least of my worries!

You describe yourself as a mix of “Sparklehorse, Hefner, The Moldy Peaches and Gram Parsons”, why?

These are just some of the artists I have stolen from over the years: Sparklehorse for the production and acute sadness, Hefner for their bawdy tales of awkward englishness, Moldy Peaches for their clever carelessness, and ol’ Gram for the hard times.

What do you hope your album will achieve?

Career-wise, I’m not too fussed, but I would very much like this album to sell an awful lot of copies, bringing me enough money so that my wife and I can have some time away from our stinking day jobs. Having heard the album though, I shan’t be holding my breath.

There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet is out on November 22nd on Audio Antihero Records. 

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