Here I've compiled some of the main releases from my back catalogue, with a few notes about each. I'll be adding to this discography and touring again this year.
Ben James Wood - Fruit Guilt (Self-released 25.11.16)
1. Cantaloupe (Lyrics/SoundCloud) The most rewarding and delicious fruits are the ones that take time to prepare and time to eat. The ones that, if we didn't know better, one might think were not suitable for eating and just discard. Sometimes I know what's good for me and I just don't have the strength or drive to get to it. In winter 2015 I'd drag myself out grocery shopping to buy healthy food and make myself well. I'd bring home delicious fruits and I'd put them in a bowl on a table, to stare at me, keep me company at my loneliest, judge me and ridicule me until they went bad, then I'd throw them away. Then, next time I went shopping... etc.
2. I Wanna Meditate (Lyrics/SoundCloud) Looking back on the night I spent hiding in a top floor apartment in a rough neighbourhood, fearing for my life, while an angry Polish man smashed the door and shouted in a language I didn't understand, I considered the ways in which I may have dealt with it differently and the role of meditation in confidence and self-belief. Read the full story here.
3. I'munna Speak Your Language (Lyrics/SoundCloud) World travel is immeasurably valuable, but meeting, communicating and living with local people, as you travel, is the most direct source of growth and knowledge and more important than any bucket list of sights or cool photos. It's also really, really difficult.
This release was produced with Bob Matthews at Silver Pine Studios, It's available to download in high quality lossless download or as a set of three postcards, drawn by me and each with a different download code, so you can mail the record to three of your friends and remind them that you love them.
Ben James Wood - Who's Keeping You Warm? (Self-Released 20.11.15)
1. Who's Keeping You Warm? (Lyrics/SoundCloud) Not the most eloquent or intelligent song I've ever written, rewritten and rewritten again. My friend Matt told me a story about lending his jacket to a special friend on a cold walk home one night and then never seeing them again. Given that they definitely hadn't died and that his need for his jacket was considerable, we considered what that might mean.
I finally recorded this track in the summer of 2015 in my apartment and then shelved it because it sounds like the work of somebody with no idea what they're doing. I'd also toured it extensively as Yo'True and decided to put that project to bed around the same time. That November I ended up performing the song a-cappella at the Sidewalk Cafe open mic in NYC. This was a huge thrill for me and even though my performance that night was an absolute car crash, I developed a little sentiment for the song and the moment and decided to share. Available to download on Bandcamp, or just stream it as much as you like from the links above.
Yo'True - The Dough (Single, Rogues Records, 11.03.13)
1. The Dough (Lyrics) I was a soft, malleable, dizzy twenty-something when I began to hear somebody close to me telling me that I ought to be taking responsibility, finding gainful employment and preparing for the future. She had plans for me. I didn't have plans for me, I still don't and these little digs were suspicious and not right. I escaped in the most weak and pathetic of ways and am happy to report that I'm now a soft, malleable, dizzy thirty-something. On this song I projected into the future, to a world where I just did what other people want me to do.
Drums/Percussion - Henry Danowski
Bass Guitar - Peter Miles
Everything else - Me
It started with such promise. I finished this track with Peter Miles at Middle Farm Studios, a few people were into it and then I had a record label contract in front of me. Granted, there was only one label interested and this was to be their first proper release, but they convinced me they were legit. The day before I signed the deal to release this single and a full length album (Wild Rice, see below), I thought about my favourite artists, the years of self-released material, trial and error, patient love of their craft and I thought about how little respect and time I have the music industry in general. I made up my mind not to sign it. I woke up dreaming and, after a pep talk from a friend, signed it anyway. This single was softly released and people in Italy really seemed to like it. That's about as good as things got.
Yo'True - Wild Rice (Limited edition orange vinyl LP, clear vinyl LP, CD Album, download and Spotify. Rogues Records. 29.07.13)
1. The Wildlife (Lyrics) During an unreasonably long drive through central Europe with Darwin Deez, my friend Greg asked me what my superhero superpower would be. After I'd panicked and grappled with the crushing reality that I had no idea who I was, Greg informed me that there is only one noble superpower, this is the ability to talk to plants. We wrote down some of the adventures of Greg's superhero, Dr. Plantastic and when I decided, one year on, to 'figure out who I was' with a few bold steps outside of my comfort zone, I wrote this song to ask for help from Dr. Plantastic, his canine sidekick DaMarcus and friend, Carol.
2. The Dough (Lyrics/SoundCloud) This song is so, so disappointed with its poor, uneducated relatives.
3. Time Trials (Lyrics/SoundCloud) I'd just started to become obsessed with R&B slow jams so I wrote one about racing pigeons and it didn't really resonate with people. The succession of nasty, scalp-grating, pre-school modulations may have had something to do with it.
4. Bedford (Lyrics) Bedford was the last song I wrote for my old band, Encyclopedia. It was never a Yo'True song and never supposed to be on this album, even though I recorded it during the same sessions. Shortly after I signed this ill-fated record contract I was on about the label decided there weren't enough songs on the record and I needed to write and record more, immediately. You know, so that Wild Rice would be a respected, full-length release. Once I drove a six hour round trip in one night to watch Zeke play an 18 minute set at Camden Barfly and I don't need to tell you how worth it that was. When this lyrically vapid song about writing songs and believing in myself became the dealbreaker for the album being released, my heart began a slow, sometimes spirited, Yeovil Town FC-like descent.
5. Achiever (Lyrics) A song about the question "What do you do?" in the context of a party or social event. When I entered the studio with Peter Miles on day one of recording, this was the only song I'd finished and everyone, myself included, was very confused. It was supposed to be a new Encyclopedia record and I'd just ruined it.
6. Wild Rice (Lyrics) I've never particularly liked my name, particularly after that Waynes World movie where the horrible, greasy industry guy shared it. I wanted to have a nickname my entire life, but you can't give yourself a nickname, that's up to your friends, or your teammates. My friends weren't nickname kind of people and I didn't get picked for teams. I was DJing in the van, still on that Darwin Deez tour I mentioned on 'The Wildlife', when Greg (AKA Big Prawn) turned around and magically decided to call me Wild Rice. It was one of the best feelings I've ever felt. The name didn't stick, but that's ok.
7. 108 (Lyrics) For a few months one Spring I frequented room 108 of a student dormitory in Central London. When it turned out I could no longer stand by the things I said and promises I made in that room, I imagined the walls of the room judging me, putting me down and calling me a liar, telling all the other rooms and shouting it down to the street. That's before I'd heard of anxiety as a mental health issue.
8. Pilot Light (Lyrics/SoundCloud) A sentimental song about a red haired girl.
By the time this album finally came out I'd spent every penny I had on rehearsals for the band and trying to exist in London. I couldn't get work and I couldn't get anyone else in the industry to believe in me, so I packed up and went back to Yeovil. Nobody noticed.
"My ultimate dream in 2001 was to play in a band that toured in a van. Nothing more."
A blog post about Encyclopedia. Read more
Encyclopedia - So Hot Right Now (CD Album (SOLD OUT) and download. Self-released in europe. Littlebird Records in Japan 24.04.06)
1. You Can Say No (But I Hope You Don't) (Lyrics) At this time I had a real problem eating peppers, tomatoes, or really any raw, fleshy fruit or vegetable. The texture in my mouth made me feel physically ill. Then she said no. We usually opened the show with this song.
2. Emily (Lyrics) Emily was one of the people on the Yeovil music scene with impeccable music taste and great style. We hung out very occasionally, but she grew up faster than I did.
3. Me & My Guitar (Lyrics) A brief history of Encyclopedia - Me and my guitar, me and my best friend, me and my big mouth.
4. The Girls In The City (Lyrics) We drove into the village of Glasbury, mid-Wales as the sun was setting and the streets (Or rather, street) were deserted. Outside the village hall we saw Pickled Dick and Blame It On Edd waiting for us. Nobody was optimistic, although we probably drank a cider and laughed about it. At door time a hundred kids poured through the door, as though it were the highlight of their week/month/year and proceeded to have the absolute time of their lives. We went on last that night and during The Girls In The City, without any prompting, the audience took their shoes off, made a pile of them at the side of the stage and proceeded to pretend to dance as though they were animals. different animals. Elephants stamped past me trumping their trunks, snakes slid on the floor and monkeys linked arms and ate imaginary bananas. When the song was over, they put their shoes back on and continued to enjoy their evening. It was one of my all time favourite moments.
5. Yeah, Shave It (Lyrics) This iconic phrase was coined in the 90s at the Griffon School, Sherborne. I wasn't there, but my friend Ben, the drummer with our previous band The Superfriends, was. It sort of means "Yeah, whatever" or "Yeah, deal with it" or a variation on that. We printed 1000 stickers with Yeah, Shave It on them and people understandably misunderstood them, more often than not.
6. I Love U 2 (Not The Band) (Lyrics) I love the idea of song titles that, when called out or requested by a member of the audience, offer me tonnes of witty comebacks. This was one of those, the song itself is about nothing at all.
7. Don't Leave Me Hangin' (Lyrics) I tried to write a slow song. The first time we decided to play it live was opening for The Steal in Chinnery's, Southend. We could not have picked a more inappropriate moment 'take things down for a minute'.
8. Young Hearts (Lyrics) Having spoken word samples from movies was THE thing to do in those days. I picked this edgy sequence from the movie The Hot Chick and then wrote a song around it.
9. What's Happening (Lyrics) Oliver wrote this song and goodness only knows why he didn't write more.
10. Hangin' Out, Playin' Nintendo (Lyrics) I tasked myself with writing an Encyclopedia song and I absolutely nailed it!
11. The Best Days Of Last Summer (Lyrics) Probably the fans' favourite for 'best pop song I ever wrote'. Oliver has the original on cassette and it's much sadder.
I was driving to Bournemouth one or two days or evenings a week for six months, making this record with my Uncle. Oliver was around a bit as well, (That's Oliver on the left of the front cover, the beautiful one), he played all the good guitar bits. You can read my blog about Encyclopedia from last year, if you're interested. At a two-piece, off the back of this record, we toured the UK extensively and had incredible highlights such as supporting Imogen Heap at Bristol Colston Hall, having our music released in Japan and selling out 300-400 capacity hometown shows.
Encyclopedia - Emily (3" CD Single, limited edition of 500. Alcopop! Records. 18.09.06)
1. Emily (Lyrics) The one from the album, no difference at all except this time people liked it more. The Messenger referenced in the first line of this song is MSN Messenger. The particular CDs we were listening to at the time were 'Designing A Nervous Breakdown' by The Anniversary, 'Look Now Look Again' by Rainer Maria and 'Four Minute Mile' by The Get Up Kid.
2. What's Happening (Lyrics) This is Oliver's song from the album. We didn't have any more songs to go and record as B-sides, so we just used what we had. I'm pretty sure nobody actually put this miniature CD in their CD player anyway, s
3. The Things You Do & The Things You Don't (Lyrics) "I know this isn't love, I read an article about it online". This song didn't make the cut for the album, which instantly made it a cult classic B-side. It's actually one of the best Encyclopedia songs, emotionally speaking. Here's a cool video of us playing it live at Exeter Cavern Club.
4. Get A Drummer (Acoustic) We once played a show supporting Capdown at the Ski Lodge in Yeovil. I accept that this story is already absurd. There were some punx in the audience that night who didn't take to our music and got a bit aggressive, the rest of the punx just shouted "Get A Drummer" regularly throughout the set. I couldn't get over how funny it would be if we'd had a song called Get A Drummer that night and I could have thanked them for the song request and dedicated it to them. So I wrote the song and saved it for next time, but nobody ever shouted it again and then we got a drummer.
This was Alcopop! Records first ever release. It got played on the radio a fair bit around its release, which was different. In October 2016 we reformed to play the 10 years of Alcopop! birthday bash on a cruising boat on the River Thames in London. It was great.
Encyclopedia - Hilary (7" Single. Self-released. 27.7.09)
1. Hilary (Lyrics) A Canadian person intrigues me and I begin to crave travel and adventure. If you fly halfway across the world and it doesn't change your life forever, there was hardly any point doing it.
2. Get A Drummer (Lyrics) Another rewrite of a perfectly good song to make it average at best.
Bonus Track: Hello (Lyrics) An early effort at writing a song on piano (Ended up playing it on a synth, but still) highlights a wealth of unfortunate lyricism.
This was our first effort at recording a rock song as a rock band. It's not the worst thing ever made, but it's one of those releases where I listen to the words and wish I'd read more books.
Encyclopedia - Difficult Season (CD Album and download. Self-released. 25.10.09)
1. Intro D'Album Par Encyclopedia (Lyrics) The sad death of the record shop from the point of view of the record shop.
2. Night Bus From Brixton (Lyrics) It took us two and a half hours to get from Brixton to Euston and somebody threatened to stab us on the night bus. I had hiccups for most of the trip and no amount of death threats was gonna stop them. They were trying to tell me something.
3. Heartache (Lyrics) I was suffering from severe acid indigestion and it was trying to tell me something.
4. 07/08, Difficult Season (Lyrics) The direct parallel between the quality of my life and the performance of Yeovil Town FC. This is actually a pretty good song all things considered.
5. Jen's A Model (And I'm A Rocker) (Lyrics) In this song I decide Jen is an attractive person because I'm told she's a model. I struggle to escape the fact that I'm not attracted to her at all so I pretend to be cool. It's such a non-event that I'm amazed I still remembered it the next day, let alone wrote a song about it.
6. The Singers In The Bands I Like (Lyrics) I knew that I wanted to be a better songwriter, but, unwilling to invest the time into learning the skills, I wrote songs about wanting to be better instead. My lap steel guitar solo is a midtone moment in a succession of shadows.
7. Don't Fret It, Don't Sweat It (Lyrics) In which I tell someone it's fine if they never want to see me again, I'm totally cool with it.
8. Buddy, You Got No Idea (Lyrics) A date at the West End theatre production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Musical ends catastrophically a few months later when I forget how to write simple pop songs and dream of writing lyrics that actually mean something.
Bonus track: The Fine Line (Lyrics) Doing stupid things against the advice of your friends.
Tellison - Wasps' Nest (Split 7" Single with Tubelord. Banquet Records 04.08.08)
1. Wasps' Nest Many long, sweaty hours in a tiny room in the basement of a house in Hammersmith, London
I played keyboards, guitar, BVs, percussion and whatever else I could do to keep my nervous hands busy in Tellison for two years of heavy, heavy touring. We covered the UK at least five times between 2006-2008. Once Henry threw a flight case at me and broke my toe. Another time Stephen got us chased out of Derry, Northern Ireland. Because of all the touring, we didn't spend so long writing and recording and this is the only track I make an appearance on. A few high pitched backing vocals in the chorus.