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Hi Ben, Welcome to Review Zoo, thanks for being here.

 

 

So, new band, “Love Is Enough”. Please can you tell us about the birth of the band and how it came about?

So yeah, basically I have known Thor (drums) for many, many years (played in other bands with Thor in the past) and I have also known Cam (Vox/Bass) for years too…on the eve of Covid, I had gone to Thor’s home studio to track some guitars for another project I was doing and just wasn’t feeling it. As I was about to go home late at night, Thor asked if I would have a listen to a track Cam had written – Immediately I was hooked, loved it and so excited I ended up staying into the early hours of the morning to write and record all the guitars (for what would become ‘Dreams’). A week later and we were put into lockdown – but not before I had tracked another song (called NEW – this didn’t make it to our debut album, but is still kicking around, so may see the light of day on album #2)!

We decided to keep in contact as a virtual ‘hang out’ and ended up writing 2/3’s of our debut album over Zoom chats…then as lockdown ended, we decided to get into a rehearsal room together and the chemistry was there from the first moment…

We have all been in the industry and know exactly what we want/don’t want to do, what mistakes to avoid and all three of us (and our families) are all aligned and have come together – it is beautiful and magical to be part of this – our band name is our ethos – Love Is Enough.

Ben Whatsley

Ben Whatsley
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Vigier Guitars

 

What does the writing process look like for Love Is Enough?

As I touched on above, we are very particular – so for writing in Love Is Enough we all write equally, which is a big part of the sound – as all three of us have a real different POV and flavour – someone will bring a song in, maybe all written or part written and the other two will pull it apart, add their parts and the songs take a completely different life of their own. Some songs go through several re-writes until we are happy. We all have good home recording skills/set-ups, so makes it easy to pass demos over and work on them outside being physically together all the time – of course, once in rehearsal we get a different feel for the song – then re-write/demo etc. until we are happy – to take the story full circle, we then go to our producer (Neil Kennedy @ The Ranch Production House, Southampton) with the demos and start the process to pick apart, work on each line, part, lick, vocals, harmony and build back up, so we are ready and confident to finally go into the studio to track for the finished product.

What got you into playing Guitar?

My Mum (inadvertently). So it was the summer as I turned 11yrs old, my parents had just split up and my Mum took me back to where she grew up – Colchester – as we went round and visited the sights, we dropped into a music shop where my Grandfather (who sadly passed away before I was born) would visit and play piano – as we stepped into the store, my head was turned to the row of guitars and I connected!! I then spent the next few days of the holiday pleading with my Mum, who, as both my older sisters played instruments, said it better not be a fad and with some Birthday money finally helped me to buy my first guitar (an Encore E76 Strat copy in black), but things were so tight back then I had no amp to begin with – funnily enough all I had was a headphone amp (Rockman) – but I didn’t care – I was just so happy to sit and lose myself with that guitar and the magic has stayed with me since that moment.

Switching subject slightly, I’m well into my Guitar gear, I know you are, and I’m sure there are a lot of readers who’ll be interested to see what your rig is like live compared to what you use in the studio. Please can you talk us through your set up?

Absolutely – so my live rig is completely different to my studio rig and I see many products that are tools to get the job done…with that in mind, here we go…

Studio Set-Up:

Amp(s): Bogner Shiva 20th Anniversary 1x12 Combo (KT88 valves) – in the studio this was with me in the control room (where I tracked) and patched through to a Zilla 2x12 Cab (with same speakers as the Bogner) in the live room to capture the sound. Mic wise on the cab, really simple, an SM57 (mainly) and an AKG 414 (both on axis). This was more a control issue. I love Bogner stuff and use(d) the Ecstasy 101B for many years – but due to the integration of the Fractal gear/switching and that the Shiva had (to me) something special with the clean tones (and matched the Ecstasy with low/mid gain sound that I wanted – I run my gain around 10/11am max!!), I have since sold the Ecstasy to stick with just the Shiva.

FX: Very easy here – Fractal Audio FX8. I love the Fractal stuff – you can delve deep into the editing – if you really want - and the quality of their effects is nothing short of stunning. Also, the external switching this provides for the amp makes this such a great and diverse rig to use.

I use a Taylor 214ce DLX for all my acoustic work and for all electrics, used just the one guitar in the studio – my special, custom built Vigier Ultra HH (Ruby) – fitted with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a Seymour Duncan Jazz at the neck. There is really something very magical about this particular guitar, it sounds and plays right on the edge, like you really have to control her…and I love that!! Her tone has a quality that I have never found in any other guitar – and I’ve been lucky enough to play many, many, many different guitars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Set-Up:

So, we use a ‘silent’ stage set-up. This means we do not run amps on stage and everything is mixed and blended for our IEM’s (In Ear Monitors) or FOH (Front Of House) as we split our signals, more on that later.

So mainly I use a Fractal Audio FM3 to replicate our ‘studio sound’ – yes there may be a debate about modelling gear not the same as valve amps etc…but honestly, a valve amp would not give us the simplicity, freedom and options that the FM3 provides. All amps and FX in one easy box…and, once ‘in the mix’, at volume, I challenge any listener to pick out what is digital (FM3) or on our backings and a valve amps (Shiva), as they are all well blended and mixed to give the audience the full CD quality live experience. As for my personal experience, I have what sounds like pristine/studio quality guitars in my ears – and it sounds beautiful!! As I was saying, we use IEM’s and get a separate feed to what the audience hears – we use click and cue tracks, to make sure our songs run flawlessly and we blend with backing tracks for the complete sonic experience – it really does sound like the CD in our ears and makes for such a good live experience.

NOTE:

I use the same 2 expression pedals with my live and studio set-ups: The Fractal Audio EV-2 mini expression pedal and a spring-loaded Mission Engineering SP1 – I had not used a spring-loaded pedal before, but I am loving it – especially as it is set up to automatically turn on as soon as I touch it, but always auto-off when not touching it – no switching on/off. Really simple and as it is the same size as a Dunlop ‘CryBaby’ Wah, The Mission Engineering SP-1 it feels ‘just right’ for me when I step on it!

On the guitars side of things it is very simple. I have been a Vigier artist for twenty years this year and you’ll always see me with a Vigier in hand (studio/home or live). I am very fortunate to consider Patrice Vigier a father figure and I have so much love and respect for Patrice, as both a master luthier, but mainly as a beautiful soul. For live I tend to use the G.V. Series guitars, but you’ll also see me with various other Vigier models too…I can’t imagine playing anything else, for me personally, the 10/90 neck, the stability, tonewoods and overall craftmanship are unrivalled – I know that when I grab my Vigier from the rack, it will always deliver – for many years I would have problems and not trust my guitars live (Gibson/Fender/Ibanez), but with Vigier, I have the confidence to enjoy my playing to the full and that is massive for a guitarist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know you’ve played 7 string Guitars in the past, any plans to explore that route with Love Is Enough?

Good question…well you never like to say ‘never’…right now, no plans to use my 7- strings, I write and play (as I have done for many years on 6-string guitars)…tbh, I do toy with my 7-strings every now and then and if the song needs/calls for it would absolutely use it – a firm believer that you have to do what is right for the song!!

 

Which piece of gear is your ultimate favourite, can’t live without bit of kit?

Very easy question…my Vigier Ultra (Ruby) – so precious to me I do not play this instrument live anymore, she is too special and only for studio/tracking use.

Do you play any other instruments?

Bass – more for fun, just as any guitarist can play Bass…though I did play Bass both in the studio and some live sessions with the amazing Mary Spender some years ago now. I really like programming stuff in my DAW (such as using plugins like Arcade or Spitfire’s BBC Symphony Orchestra) – you’ll hear a lot of this across Love Is Enough’s material (where all three of us contribute equally to this).

Your biggest influence?

Love.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Right now, let me see…for new artists, I am really enjoying both Cadet Carter and DARLIN (both on our management) and looking forward to our separate tour dates with both bands later this Spring! Apart from that, I love a lot of 80’s pop, like A-Ha, Duran Duran and Tears For Fears as well as more modern stuff, like Biffy Clyro, All Time Low, The 1975, Manchester Orchestra, Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Charlie Puth….prob my favourite album recently has been ‘Fine Line’ by Harry Styles – the production on this album is superb!

The song which has the most meaning to you?

From Love Is Enough (and actually from any band I have been in), it would have to be ‘Stay’. Such a fun song that we close our set with and has become one of our fan favourites live – ours too! I also love that when Cam wrote this, his lyrics mean something so different to him, than my own interpretation – something Cam does so well with his lyrics, so that every song he writes you can make your own…also the memories of being sat up late, during lockdown, feeling lost and alone, with Thor on a vid call for company, while I wrote and tracked (demo) the main (what I call glitter) ‘guitar riff’. Though all our songs are so personal it is a hard question to answer (and does depend what mood I am in)…in fact, right now my favourite Love Is Enough songs are all the new ones for album #2 we are 19 songs into the writing process for!!

Stuck on a desert island, you can have one album, what is it?

Love Is Enough – Breathe (am I allowed to take my own album, as honestly, that is what I would do).

If it was any other album, most probably The Transformers 1986 Movie Soundtrack!!

What are your hobbies outside of music?

I collect Masterpiece Transformers – watch/enjoy anything geeky and most of all love spending time with my beautiful family.

Do you listen to any other genres outside of your chosen genre, if so which ones?

So, if you pin us as Alt-Pop/Rock that is a big slice of the music pie and you’ll see from earlier, my musical tastes are pretty wide!! I still like heavier music, bands like Volumes and Periphery are awesome, I guess, as something that has always been true, I like music if the melody grabs me, so anything with a great melody I can get into. I love musicals too and Les Misérables has to be one of the ultimate musicals!!

Have you got any funny tour stories you can share with us?

Yes many…ha!! So here is one for you that isn’t too naughty…many years ago, while touring with Junk DNA, we had played a great sold-out show at The Exeter Cavern Club and after we stayed and partied in Exeter…our Bass player in Junk DNA, Toby Phillips, grabbed me, a shopping trolly and found a really steep service ramp – planning that it would be fun to push him down this for a ‘ride’…well, let’s say we had been enjoying the after-show party, so I was probably not the best placed person to ask to do this – anyway, we get to the top, I start pushing him down and ‘woosh’ he was gone, out my grip and speeding down the ramp out of control, flipped over and narrowly missed decapitating himself on a pillar and in a shower of sparks he came to rest in a bloody mess two floors below me! Such were his injuries (one of his eyes so swollen shut and black) that we had to stay in Exeter for a couple of days until he was well enough to travel/drive again!

Do you ever get nervous before playing live and how do you deal with it?

Yes, I have always had loads of nervous energy and really can’t wait to get on stage and play – of course I always have in my mind a constant train of thought to make sure all equipment is set-up and won’t fail etc. In Love Is Enough we stay ‘straight’ before we play and it really makes the whole experience completely immersive and so amazing to ‘feel and live’ every moment.

For anyone new to Love is enough, which song should they check out first?

Any, you won’t be disappointed!! So far, we have released 5 singles, all have a slightly different flavour – as for the guitar playing side, maybe check out the solo to ‘Burn’ or ‘Falling’. With ‘Burn’ that was 2 takes in the studio and first take won…the solo to ‘Falling’ was one of the very few parts of the album that was unplanned – we had a break of a few weeks in-between tracking and the song had a really sweet acoustic interlude, but during the last week of tracking, I got home one evening and in my head could just hear this real ‘80’s’ solo, called up Thor and Cam played it over a video chat and both were like “you have to track that solo”!! Also, check out the many layers of guitars to ‘Dancing For Beginners (& Sinners)’ – again, the interlude is really well layered and the acoustic actually plays some really interesting voicings that underpin the middle of the songs harmonies.

Any new releases or anything else you’d like to mention?

Well, ‘Falling’ came out 3rd Feb, this song has so many levels to it and is really all about falling in love…our next single will be ‘All I Want’ and released April 14th (live this is like one long solo to play)!! After that the title track, ‘Breathe’ will be released June 2nd.

 

We are on tour with Cadet Carter in the U.K and playing Teddy Rocks Festival end of April – keep an eye on our socials/website (www.loveisenoughband.com) for all our tour dates and release news!!

Thanks Ben

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