B.E. Godfrey
Gig Seeker Pro

B.E. Godfrey

Houston, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Houston, Texas, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Indie

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


"for a moment I’d almost forgotten that I was standing in a club best-known for hosting sweaty punk shows" - Houston Press


"I personally don't mind a little regular dance with death in my life, but in general I feel like a big part of the excitement in attending something like this is the danger element," - Houston Press


Houston folk-rockers listenlisten have been pumping out some of the best local records in Houston since the release of their self-titled 2007 EP. We here at Rocks Off are big fans, not just because they're from Houston, but because they bring a solid new angle to the indie-folk scene, a combination of murderous Nick Cave-esque dirge balladry with all the antiquity and fragility of the Mountain Goats.

Thursday night, front man Ben Godfrey will be playing with his solo project B.E. Godfrey at Mango's. We decided to reach out to him for an update on the status of listenlisten and his solo band in anticipation of the show.

On the listenlisten front, we probably shouldn't be expecting much, at least not anytime soon. When asked where the band stood now, Godfrey replied, "listenlisten continues to exist as a collective effort among the members involved. Lately, this hasn't been something resulting in any live performances -- but that doesn't necessarily mean it's impossible."

So in the interim, Godfrey is busying himself playing solo. For him, this is a very different way to stretch out his creative legs. "The only similarity with listenlisten is that I sing for both, but I think my delivery is very different on this material than it has been for most listenlisten songs," Godrey says.

He went on to elaborate that, "they are different experiences for innumerable reasons -- one important reason that it's just a different point in time. Sometimes a difference in time changes everything. Every moment is almost an entirely new reality or unique existence."

But even Godfrey's solo band is growing and changing as time goes by. If you've seen him perform live in his solo capacity before, you might have seen him playing with "only a guitar or keyboard."
Instead, Thursday night will represent a much larger B.E. Godfrey band. When asked what to expect from it, he replied, "lately I've had a growing cast of players joining in to fill out the sound. Thursday should actually be B.E. Godfrey at its largest with violin, electric guitar, bass, drums and keys."

Whatever the future for his main band, it seems Godfrey is getting along just fine building a new one. So far the band has only released two singles on their Website, but Godfrey promised more will be coming over the next few months, including an EP being mixed right now and set for a possible spring or summer 2013 release. - Houston Press


Godfrey’s solo work feels smaller, more intimate, and it has sweet fragility about it that distinguishes it – a short poem to listenlisten’s grand epic. We spoke with Ben over a cup of coffee at Black Hole recently about his solo work and listenlisten.

So, what’s been up with listenlisten?

Godfrey – Just not doing live shows.

Why? You guys are phenomenal live!

Godfrey – Shane [Patrick] is the other big force in listenlisten and he just wasn’t happy doing live shows. He just really enjoys writing and recording more so he wants to focus on that.

The last album, Dog, was amazing. It’s this gorgeous and haunting record that so masterfully executed, yet I never got the impression that it got the reception it deserved. Was that reception just my perception or…

Godfrey – That’s sort of how we felt but it was also that we had a lot of problems getting it pressed. We had a lot of different things lined up to happen for promotion but there were all these delays and it just wasn’t ready in time. The pressing plant kept saying, “Oh, it’ll be ready next week.” Then it was next week, and then it was the week after that, and so on. It took two months for something they said would be done in two weeks. That was frustrating because we booked a tour and didn’t have them with us so that made it pretty tough.

Why the solo stuff?

Godfrey – I write a lot of songs… at least I feel it’s a lot…and listenlisten aren’t always interested in the different things I’m doing. A band dynamic is different; everyone has to contribute and it’s their ideas too. I can’t just say, “I like this so we’re going to work on it.” But if it’s my own thing, I can do whatever I want. I have these songs I’m happy with but I don’t want to just throw them away; I want to do something with them. Also, I like playing live so it’s a way for me to keep doing that.

Who’s playing with you on the solo material?

Godfrey – I’ve been working with Mike Regino who plays violin, guitar, and piano. He used to be guitarist for Mechanical Boy. He moved to Austin so it’s a lot harder now but he still plays when he can.

Where are you recording?

Godfrey - listenlisten records are all Shane’s engineering – he has a home recording studio. For my solo stuff, Reggie O’Farrell of Western Civilization has a studio in Austin – they were fun and easy to work with, the guys I was playing with had moved out there, and it was nice to be secluded for a couple of days. I’m not sure where I’ll record next.

What differentiates your solo work?

Godfrey – It comes back to making more decisions because with a band it’s really whatever anyone wants to do as long as everyone else agrees that it sound good. This is more me just figuring it all out for myself.

But from a musical standpoint how is it different or is just an extension of listenlisen?

Godfrey – I don’t think it’s an extension of it. listenlisten is a group effort which can’t exist without the various members’ contributions. This is just me on my own writing and arranging songs without much outside input besides what others contribute on a song by song basis.

This is more personal so the way I wrote it is really important to me and I don’t feel as comfortable about other people making decisions about it which is what happens in a group dynamic. I love everything the guys in the band – specifically Shane – have done, but if it’s a topic like relationships, family, or something like that where I feel close to it, then I want it to happen in a certain way.

It’s easier to define it the other way around – there are songs in listenlisten that I would never think of as solo material. A lot of the songs on Hymns From Rhodesia are songs I’d never do as personal music – it’s more of a concept album and something you do as a group effort.

I’d describe your stage presence as stoic, detached, and almost creepy. You stare forward and look possessed…

Godfrey – Oh, I can tell you it’s not intentional. I’ve never been nervous playing live…I guess that’s just what happens to my body when I’m focused on a song and where it’s coming from. That’s the physical response – I don’t know why.

So what do you see for the solo stuff and listenlisten?

Godfrey – Right now my solo stuff is just a thing I have out there but I’m working on trying to have a couple of people involved to try and improve the songs I have. If I can get those together as much as I want, then it will probably be an official release – 7” or EP – and listenlisten is grinding away at some new material. I could see my material and the band’s all being released on-line or in just very small runs both. - Free Press Houston


I’ve taken a listen to the couple of tracks he’s got up on his site, and they’re freaking incredible. They’re not listenlisten tracks, to my ear, but rather ramble on over through the realm inhabited by Iron & Wine, with the bitter, desperate erudition of The Mountain Goats layered on top. - Space City Rock


"Deaf Comes To Everyone," a song off of Ben Godfrey and band's latest album, sounds as if you're hearing him incorrectly at first. He sings the words from the title and you could swear he was singing about death - and he is in a way - but he's more singing about the ways that people shut themselves off or down, depending on the person or the situation in front of them. We've all practiced being islands before. Most of the time we prefer it. There's less worry, fewer bills and things that can keep us up at night. An ambivalence to most things and most mouths, most faces and all of the eyes out there, could be the greatest defense mechanism there is, but it's also the loneliest one. It's one that requires an ongoing resolve to make oneself unavailable to openings and to arms. It's an existence of necessity, like the tree that knows that when it starts to feel the skies open up and deliver a much-needed rain shower that it makes sure its roots are agape, ready to receive their nourishment. If the rain isn't coming, those roots stretch themselves in odd, but appropriate ways and try to get to whenever it can prey on available moisture. It will gravitate to the water at all costs - changing its posture and disfiguring itself beyond recognition, if that's what it takes.

A person could reasonably do a similar thing if the desperate times called for those desperate measures. Godfrey seems to think along these lines with Listen!Listen!, exploring the lengths to which the desperate folks might go to get to where they need to be in terms of their basic necessities. He sings, "The body knows what it needs," and it will go out and get it. Some just take enough to keep running and others take more than they should and both methods can lead to some strange entanglements. He sings of cowardly words and cowardly people, giving his lyrics the feel of vulnerable Jeff Mangum or Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck - though when do either of those fellows not sound as if they're vulnerable and a bit frail, looking out into the abyss. Godfrey finds the meat in the scraps, building whole songs and albums around man's innate ability to get by and his reluctance to believe that it's enough. There's always more to get, more to feel and more to give and, essentially, most of that can be good. - Daytrotter


This show reminded me how sweet, warming, rock music can be, as deviant musicians not only play their instruments, but dearly extend sound, noise itself, with their innermost notions.

These artists make Houston absolutely essential. A madhouse of enchanting instrumentation from wholly charming cowpeople. They are crafting a sound, of folk to gypsy to saloon from dusty ballads, idle mental shaves, into simply noise primitivism. Are they playing music, or simply playing? I doubt it matters to these childlike yet seasoned musicians.

Throughout I felt as if I had been removed from the world, taken from my hometown, from the ordinary, and placed elsewhere. Somewhere near or far, or whenever, but certainly not home, not something conventional; yet though astonishingly I at the same moments found myself reminded, by their play, of all the things which make home being worth getting sick over. A strange feeling, which I doubt I can truly relate, if only to say that these musicians have reminded me of the beauty of live music, of musicians developing together.

Thinking: Cat Power, Bedhead, Retsin, Commander Venus, John Fahey, Jack Rose, etc. - nerdfiles


Local musician Ben Godfrey, who was has most notably fronted local doom-folk group Listen!Listen! for the past few years and his own solo work, has been rummaging through people's personal effects for treasures and bargains at garage and estate sales since he could remember.
"My aunt would take me when I was a kid. They were total penny pinchers, but my cousins were too embarrassed and/or bored to go. I loved it cause I liked finding odd shit, plus I was a sucker for a deal since I never had allowance."

Godfrey says he had to earn money as a kid doing odd jobs around his neighborhood to support his youthful habits. Sales like this went hand in hand. These days he prefers estate sales versus the garage and driveway ones.

"Garage sales are definitely a different world, and you're more likely to walk away with less. But it can be worth it," he says.

Recently I got the garage and estate sale bug myself all over again, spending my Saturday mornings and afternoons looking for pop-up sales to hit up. It's obviously cheaper than the antique store vice I have had the past five years, though I still find time to kill at my favorite shops.

Plus in this economy if I can get a gym bag for one buck that would cost nearly $40 at Academy, I am winning. I don't know what to do with the wooden cigar box with a picture of Geronimo on it, but I am sure I can find a place for it.

Some of the best memories I have with my father are of waking up early on Fridays and Saturdays in the summer time and going to sales that he had plotted out from local papers and the popular weekly bargain bible The Greensheet. Along the way he was buying classic-rock vinyl that would one day light the spark in my brain to one day becoming a rock writer.

On top of that he was picking up books of all kinds to feed my brain and nourish me away from television. Godfrey's aunt did her own preparation for their weekly hunts.



"She would plan it all out with the Greensheet and Houston Chronicle ads and plot the routes on her key map. We'd early bird it and bug the shit out of people before they were ready," he says. Some garage sale pickers will start knocking on doors around dawn to get first dibs on merchandise. Godfrey remembers finding a bass guitar that propelled him into starting his own band.
"I think my first memorable find was a no-name small-bodied electric bass, It was $20. I coerced a friend to learn on it so we could start a band," he says. Most recently he picked up a crazy piece of vintage party equipment for his home too.

"The best recent thing is my "psychedelic control center" I got for $1. I didn't know what it was, but figured it out. It routes a signal input to other electronic devices, so basically I now have lamps that flicker with the decibel of whatever record is playing."

I have been using a few apps on my phone to help find sales, including one called Yard Sale Treasure Map, which is linked in with Craigslist and plots out sales with a handy Houston map and small descriptions of the sales. When I told a couple this past weekend at a garage sale in Garden Oaks that I got there with the help of an app they were excited and sort of startled.

Garage sales are usually just a family or a few friends piling crap up to get rid of so they can get money to buy newer crap. Estate sales are a whole other animal though, involving the death of family member, lawyers, and the usual familial strife that goes along with each.



Kelvin and Alex at Blue Moon Antiques off Ella near Loop 610 have been in the business for more than two decades and are routinely approached by families in the Heights to help clear out the home of a deceased relative. The legal wrangling is done once they get involved so they don't get to see the real fireworks.
They were presiding over a recent estate sale off T. C. Jester that I attended. I picked up a great looking American flag, a box of vintage matchbooks (including some from a bride's multiple marriages), and a book on the death of JFK for less than $20 in all. The house was something straight out of Mad Men, or at least the first few seasons when Don and Betty were still married.

Both guys prefer that the survivors not be on the premises when the estate sale goes down, because it can turn ugly when you see strangers walk out with cherished heirlooms, even if you are getting paid. At that last sale one of the daughters was walking around the house keeping tabs on us shoppers like a museum security guard.

A lot of the estate sales happening now involve World War II vets and their families so that means that a lot of mid-century furniture and fixtures are entering the market. So in 20 years or so when baby boomers begin to leave this mortal coil you can expect a whole new batch of goodies.

For their part the Blue Moon guys say that their antique store business ebbs and flows with the economy. It's easier to sell smaller items and Americana now than it is to unload huge - Houston Press


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Ben Godfrey wrote and toured nationally with listenlisten since 2005, performing on a handful of radio shows - including Day Trotter - released 2 full length albums, and a debut EP. 2009's Hymns From Rhodesia received great press despite an independent release with little distribution or PR. Rolling Stone called it a spellbinding collection of country-gospel songs haunted by loneliness and loss. And eMusic ranked it #39 in their Best 60 Albums of 2009 saying, Gorgeous folk-rock ... the good kind of sad a sympathetic voice to guide you through a crash-landing at the end of the world..

Over the past few years he has been fortunate enough to share the stage with some of his favorite artists, including: Bower Birds, Phosphorescent, Daniel Johnston, The Dodos, Fog, Samamidon, The Donkeys, AU, Shapes and Sizes, Dark Dark Dark, The Baptist Generals, Robert Ellis, Buxton, Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?, Peter & the Wolf, and Yndi Halda.

Godfrey is now focused on B.E. Godfrey & Co. Expect to see a steady stream of singles, artwork, and regular additions to the live show.