Arts + CultureJune 10, 2024 / 5 minute read

Ben Lee keeping it real for Logan show

From dressing up in heavy metal wigs as his favourite 1990’s glam rock stars, to his anthemic hit reminding the nation We’re all in this together through the pandemic, there’s never a dull topic in conversation with Australian musician Ben Lee.

Heading to the City of Logan on 22 June as part of his first tour since moving back to Sydney after 30 years based in the US, Ben is happy chatting about his past, present and future in terms of his music, family and appreciation of modern culture.

But let’s begin with laughing over those huge wigs … from Motorhead’s lead singer Lemmy and his mutton-chops moustache to the vacant stare of Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne, Ben takes on multiple famous faces in Spandex tights and badly applied eyeliner for his new single Heavy Metal.

The tune itself is catchy and melodic with great guitar, while the video may have you cringing over your metal obsession last century if you ever took it as far as Ben has.

‘That song is sort of about the way I look back and heavy metal and glam rock sort of influenced the person I am today,’ Ben laughs, mentioning his childhood fascination with US glam rockers Motley Crue.

‘When you grow up on these debauched images it’s funny how it influences your ideas about gender and power and money … all of that stuff.’

Ben explains his new music clip was inspired by the documentary The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 11: The Metal Years.

‘When we saw it, we thought let’s just recreate the movie shot for shot with all different bands and cool things,’ Ben says.

‘Most of the budget went into the wigs,’ he laughs again. ‘We went into a great wig store and learnt all about the science of how they fall and what you can do when it is natural hair and how it responds to movement – wearing each of them was like the character coming to life.

‘Also the thing about all the metal bands back then was that their lifestyle was aspirational content for teenage boys. It was basically like all those metal bands were speaking to you, telling you that you can live like us, live the dream, you can have it! First, that’s not true, and it’s also a damaging idea to put out there.’

Ben feels like his teenage self is a permanent fixture of his DNA – not a surprise since he began his musical career at age 14.

Even then he was never the typical music star Australia had been brought up on in the 1970s and ‘80s via the years of television show Countdown.

‘I always viewed it as a very long game and back then I thought I would be doing my best work in my 70s. It may have sounded absurd but now I believe I’m getting better – I’m halfway there!’

After 30 years of touring, he still loves the live experience and will bring his best to the stage at Kingston Butter Factory, Kingston, on Saturday 22 June.

‘I just want it to be real at a human level, not just pretending to enjoy myself. It’s like respect for myself also – I wouldn’t feel good about myself if it was purely just a performance.’

The audience will hear the songs they know and love such as Catch My Disease and Cigarettes Will Kill You through to some treats from his upcoming album titled This One’s For The Old Headz, due for release in September.

‘It will be kind of interesting to have this mixture – when you go to a show you want to hear songs, you have songs that are very meaningful to people and you always play them, then I want to play new stuff as well,’ Ben says.

‘All these songs on this upcoming record are kind of like a selection of what made me love music in the first place and how that’s still totally alive in me.

‘And just with the process of getting older, you are relating to it differently, you bring a wise mind to kind of reflect on some of these things, so it’s an interesting record full of loud guitars and harmonies and reflectiveness.’

He sees his salute to the 1990s on the new album as a way to connect with people of all ages.

‘It’s funny because when you talk about the ‘90s it’s got an interesting space where there’s nostalgia for people that were there, but there’s also like the fantasy of nostalgia where young people love and idealise the ‘90s and are interested in it as a time before social media.

‘They want to know what it was like – and then you have the people who were there sometimes not remembering it like it was. History is malleable.’

As for Ben, the multi Aria Award-winning singer/songwriter is now making Australia part of the present, having returned from the US a couple of months ago to live in Sydney.

‘We are enjoying being here for the moment. Me and my wife put out podcasts and music and events and we are working with interesting people.

‘But we’re a circus family – when the phone rings, we answer it.’

Ben Lee plays at Kingston Butter Factory on Saturday, 22 June with special guest Andy Martin, from 8:00 pm. Visit the Ben Lee event page for bookings and more details at BEN LEE With Special Guest Andy Martin – LoganARTS


Your Privacy

This website uses ‘cookies’ for analytical purpose and to improve site user experience. By continuing to browse, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.