“Ben Vendetta is a former freelance music journalist who published Vendetta Magazine from 1995 to 2002, and was director of PR for the Dionysus Records empire before co-founding Elephant Stone Records. He has written three novels — Wivenhoe Park (2013), Heartworm (2015) and Sunset Trip.” – Elephant Stone Records
How are you? How have you been?
I’m feeling much better than I was a year ago at this time. Last year, my wife’s cancer prognosis was bleak. The doctors thought that she had months to live but now, her most recent scans have shown that her tumours have actually shrunk. It’s nothing short of a miracle. The doctors are baffled (in a good way)!
Do you think we’re over the worst at this stage?
I think so to a certain extent but I’m disappointed that so many people around the world remain anti-vax. Things could be so much better.
What music/albums did you particularly enjoy in 2021?
2021 was definitely the year of Whipping Boy for me. The deluxe reissue and all the hype leading up to it on Twitter was fantastic. It’s special that such a monumental album is getting the plaudits it deserves. The Tim Burgess listening party was so emotional. Another great reissue is the deluxe Heavy Stereo package. I always thought that these guys got the short shift during the Britpop era. Their sound was much more glam focused than the usual suspects. Great band if you love T.Rex, Bowie, and Lennon.
My favorite ‘new’ discovery this year is an Australian psychedelic band called the Black Heart Death Cult. They had a new release this year and their hard-to-find debut was also reissued. Fans of Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Black Angels are definitely in for a treat. I also love the most recent Singapore Sling album which came out in late 2020. A ‘new’ to me discovery is The Fireworks. Not sure if they’re still around but they’re great if you love C86 bands like the Primitives and Shop Assistants.
How do you feel about going to gigs?
Arabella and I have seen a few local gigs recently and it’s been great to be out and about. Cleveland clubs require proof of vaccination at the door. Without that, Arabella would be too compromised to go to venues.
The arts have had a particularly tough time right through the pandemic, in comparison to other sectors. Is it difficult to keep going?
It’s difficult. I feel bad for touring bands who have lost so much revenue from not being able to sell merch at gigs. With streaming, touring is the only way for bands to make money.
Anything going on with you on the writing side?
Yes. After a bunch of discarded drafts, I’m on to something that’s really gelling with me. My work in progress is a novel called ‘Spiked’ which is set in 1979/ 1980 in the American midwest. The protagonist is a 17-year-old guitarist in a punk band so there will be suitable punk and post-punk references!
What are you looking forward to next year, musically?
I’d like to see a few bigger gigs. Not sure if the Jesus and Mary Chain have plans to return to the states for the Darklands tour but that would be fab.
Have you any plans yourself next year?
I’d like to finish the novel and, hopefully, get a publisher lined up. Arabella and I would also like to travel some more. Maybe Morocco?