‘My mate Pete says we sound like Gallows having a fight with The Bronx’: an interview with Ben from The Smoking Hearts

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The Edge caught up with – slightly drunk – lead singer of The Smoking Hearts Ben just after their Takedown set for a chat about his favourite bands of the festival, how The Smoking Hearts ended up on tour with the incredibly divisive Black Veil Brides last December, and why it’s always best to have ambulances on standby when The Smoking Hearts are playing.

Did you enjoy your set at Takedown?

Yeah, I did. It’s really weird actually – we haven’t played together for months. I haven’t seen any of the band or anything for four months; we’ve just had some time off and been writing for the new album. The reception we got was absolutely great though, one guy had flown down from Glasgow just to see us!

Do you play a lot of UK festivals?

Honestly, the UK is kind of a new territory for us, which is weird, considering we’re from London. In Australia, I’m famous! But, in the UK, people are a lot less bothered. In the UK and Europe we’re a lot less well known than we are America and Australia. Over there, we’ll play massive shows and huge festivals, then we’ll get back here and no-one knows who we are. We’re the biggest band no-one’s ever heard of!

What’s your favourite festival to play?

It’s got to be Soundwave for me. That one always has the best line-up. When we played it there were bands like System of a Down and I Am The Avalanche there, and those are some of my favourite bands and that made it an amazing experience. I’d love to play Reading though, that’s always been the dream for me. I went to Reading when I was 17 and I always said that once I’d played Reading, that was it, I’d made it. So, hopefully we will be playing Reading this year. If we don’t, there’s always next year!

How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it before?

I’m not sure, to be honest, but my mate Pete from Wales always says we sound like Gallows having a fight with The Bronx. So I’ll go with that!

What bands have you enjoyed at Takedown, and who did you most want to see?

We caught Idiom’s set, they’re great friends of ours, and we actually toured with them in September last year. There’s just something about watching your mates jumping around onstage, it’s just an intense experience, because you know what it feel like and you know they’re just having the best time. I’m really gutted I didn’t get to see Feed The Rhino though, I remember seeing their first ever show and knowing they had something special.

I’m looking forward to seeing loads of bands as well. I can’t wait to see Funeral For A Friend especially. And the guys from Rise to Remain who been massive supporters of The Smoking Hearts from day one, they’ve always helped us get tours and shows and things like that. So it’s really good that they‘re playing. 

How did you end up on tour with Black Veil Brides last year?

They asked us to play after we met them playing Soundwave. You do a lot of flying at Soundwave, and I met Andy [Biersack, Black Veil Brides frontman] because I was drunkenly shouting at him for reclining his seat when I was sat behind him on the plane trying to eat! Somehow, we made friends after that though, and when they came back over here, we were the first band they asked to play with them on their tour.

We had such a great time on that tour, we really enjoyed meeting the Heaven’s Basement guys, the whole thing couldn’t have come at a better time really. We were all really pissed off, as we’d just got off a tour where ticket sales weren’t the best and we were all a bit fed up with being in a band. I make music videos as well, and I wanted to go back to working on that. But then, the Black Veil Brides tour came along, and they were sold out, insane shows and they really inspired us to carry on and keep being in this band. We even wrote a new album because we felt so inspired and it only took us about three and a half months.

Have you ever had a creepy or intense fan experience?

God yeah, loads! Even today some guy just came and sat down with us after our set today and was chatting away to us and putting his arm round me as if we were old mates, and none of us had ever met him before! I don’t really find it creepy though, it’s kind of endearing.  I really like that our music can touch someone’s life in that way. The only thing I don’t like is when people ask me to sign things, as I have the worst signature in the world! Seriously, it looks like I’ve just scribbled an M on whatever they’ve given me!

What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had or seen at a show?

We did a show in Lincoln a couple of years back and there were emergency exit stairs at the back of the venue, which I climbed right to the top of. At the same time Nobba [guitarist] climbed right to the top of the speaker stack, and when the song kicked in we both jumped. Nobba pulled four ligaments in his heel and still hasn’t recovered, and I have no cartilage left in my knees and have to wear knee braces when I go on stage. I actually crippled myself!

The Smoking Hearts are currently on tour with Halestorm; tickets can be purchased here.

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