The Lodger – Cul​-​De​-​Sac of Love (Q&A, and more …)

The Lodger return with their first album in over 10 years, Cul-De-Sac Of Love. If you are looking for ‘bright, harmonious hooks and memorable melodies‘, look no further.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Ben Siddall about how the new record came about.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

Well, I think I knew I was onto something when I first started trying to make a noise on a guitar when I was 7. It certainly caught my imagination. I wasn’t completely aware what that something was until late 2003 when I wrote a handful of songs including Getting Special and Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion and I thought – wow, these actually sound like me.

How did this record come together?

The Lodger had just over ten years off and in the meantime, I was teaching myself how to produce, recording other bands, playing with other bands, and generally sorting other aspects of my life out. Around the end of 2019, I was scanning through some old hard drives and realized I had about 40 songs I’d never really done anything with so using the wonders of Whatsapp, me, Joe and Bruce got our heads together and whittled them down to a smaller number and decided we would at least record them for posterity. We managed to meet up to record the rhythm tracks just before the first lockdown and we realized we rather missed doing this band.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

To me, it is completely irresistible. Not just with writing music and words but more generally learning new things and keeping a curious mind. I’ve always got some new creative projects that I’m obsessing over.

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

This is a great and very difficult question to answer! If they have to be alive then it could make things tricky… perhaps Stephin Merrit could help make some of my lyrics even more acerbic and bitchy. I’d like to watch someone like Paddy McAloon or Andy Partridge at work because they seem to have a frequently complex but non-muso flair to what they do and I sometimes worry I’m a bit too schooled in my chords and harmony and overthink it.

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

Every single time I write a song I have to believe it could stand on its own as an A-side or I kind of wouldn’t bother. Of course, there are times when you don’t hit the target but I tend to throw those ones away and nobody hears them! 

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?

That would depend on who I making it for. You would usually make a compilation cassette for a new friend or a boy or girl you’re chasing – it’s a perfect way of saying “this is me”. It’s a chance to say so much without words.

A strong opener is essential. Something that grabs you straight away. Maybe Sandy Nelson’s Let There Be Drums. Most of my compilations have Different Drum by someone on it, loads of good covers of that.

I watched the whole of the Sopranos recently so perhaps The Dolphins by Fred Neil could feature somewhere.

This question is too difficult for me!

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

Lots of fun to be had. Record production is the ultimate musical expression I think. If you write the music and words, that’s only half the picture. If you can see it through from those moments when you’re fumbling around trying to find the right chords or the right sentence to when you’re adding the final tambourine hits on the chorus or doing something daft like pulling all the tape out, stamping on it and then feeding it back in again then you’re doing your job properly. Or being brave enough just to delete the whole thing and start again if it’s rubbish. Music is all about taste and record production is putting all your finest ingredients in the pan, serving it up, and hoping your guest doesn’t get food poisoning.

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