Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons talks with us about Communion Show @ Underground Arts on 1/9/14!

In case you haven’t heard, there is a cool Monthly Showcase series sweeping the US called Communion. Founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons (along with Kevin Jones & Ian Grimble) back in the UK in 2006, Communion Club Nights bring a roster of rising music stars to cities across the country. Their line- up features a mix of local talent in each market paired with a resident artist or two who perform all dates in a given series.

On Thursday, January 9th, Communion comes to Philly’s Underground Arts in their first series of 2014, which includes The Weeks, an indie rock band from Jackson, Mississippi, Team Spirit from Brooklyn, and a sampling of must- hear Philadelphia talent, including Toy Soldiers, City Rain Tunes, and Rosu Lup.

Tickets are $11 in Advance and can be purchased here.

I got the chance to chat with Ben yesterday about Communion, the music selection process, and his plans for 2014.

ROP: Hey Ben! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Are you calling from New York today or the UK?
Ben: I’m in New York. It’s quite white, isn’t it? It’s great. I’m all about the landscape in the winter. The Communion Offices are based here so I moved over from the UK about two years ago. My focus right now is on running Communion operations in America.

ROP: Very cool! So let’s talk about your career in music so far. You started out as an artist and now you’ve moved into behind- the- scenes work as well. Have you always been full- time music?
Ben: I’ve been playing since I was five years old, as a pianist and drummer. I started producing and set up a home studio when I was about fourteen. I just got more and more heavily into it. I went to university for a brief minute, in America actually. I realized when I was up there that I didn’t want to be an astrophysicist and so I went full on into music and since then I’ve been professionally involved. I actually had a sit- down lunch with one of my musical heroes when I was there, Branford Marsalis, and he encouraged me to follow my dream and become a musician and not be too concerned with getting a degree. So I took his advice.

ROP: Well, we’re glad you did! Now how did Communion get started?
Ben: I started Communion when I was 19. Me and Kevin were living together and had a band at the time called Hot Rocket. We wanted to have a way to play regularly but bring more people to our gigs. We saw other musicians in a similar situation as us, who were really good but were sometimes playing to empty rooms and we wanted to change that and do everything we could to fill a club room. That’s led to a very successful live promotions company in the UK and we currently do 450- 500 shows a year.

ROP: I read that Communion now has a record label as well. Do you want to talk about that?
Ben: Yeah.  A lot of the artists we were supporting from a live standpoint were shopping for record deals. We decided to learn that business as well and help them. We launched in 2009 and have released 45 records since, with some of the artists going on to be Grammy– award winning, multiplatinum selling. It’s been an amazing journey.

ROP: Who are some of the artists released on Communion Records?
Ben: Ben Howard, Daughter, Gotye, Willy Mason

ROP: Wow, that’s incredible! Those are definitely some of my favorites. Now, circling back to Communion, the concert series, how do you choose the cities in the tour schedule?
Ben: I always try to find a mix of major markets and first time markets, just to give the bands an opportunity to play somewhere they’ve never played before.

ROP: How do you go about choosing your artists?
Ben: There’s a whole bunch of different ways. Sometimes it’s a recommendation from a friend. Sometimes it’s reading about them or hearing about them on a radio station. Sometimes we work with people in the cities, like Bryan Dilworth. He’s been looking after the Electric Factory for many years. He’s got a really good feel for the pulse and what is emerging. We collaborate with people like Bryan in each city. We also try to team up with the best local radio stations and get recommendations from the musical directors of each radio station. Stations like WXPN are really at the front line of discovering and supporting new talent.

ROP: So who are some new artists you’re listening to right now?
Ben: There’s Caveman and Tennis out of Denver, they’re fantastic. A husband and wife duo. Catfish and the Bottlemen, they’re a British rock band. Rubblebucket. Beach House

ROP: So what are the big goals for Communion in 2014?
Ben: It would be great if by the end of the year, people invested into the “come- back” model. We’re still really trying to educate people and encourage them to come back every month. Currently it feels like people come just to see the bands they want to see. We want to get to the point where they trust us to put on a great line- up, even if they don’t know the bands. That would be an amazing place to get to. Of course, another goal is to put out a bunch of great albums with Communion Records over the next couple of months.

ROP: Sounds like you’ve got quite the full plate in 2014! Well, Ben, thank you so much for taking the time to interview with us. I’m really looking forward to the show on January 9th.
Ben: Thanks, so much Jenn. Appreciate it!

For more info on Communion in the US, visit: http://communionmusic.com/

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Recap: Communion @ Underground Arts

  2. Katie Antonsson

    February 8, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Totally didn’t realize this niche of artists was connected. I’ve been obsessed with Gotye, Daughter, and Ben Howard for a while.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.