Ben Howard tour manager Oli James reveals the bits about the Brits you didn't see
ONE of the biggest winners at the BRIT Awards ceremony last week was Totnes singer-songwriter Ben Howard, whose debut album Every Kingdom was launched in at the Hippo in Plymouth back in 2011.
Alongside Ben at the ceremony, in which he won the awards for Best Male and Best Newcomer, was his Plymouth tour manager Oli James, former director of Plymouth Music Collective, who lives at Turnchapel.
"For a while there had been talk about Ben winning Best Male, so we knew there was a chance that it might happen," says Oli, "but you learn never to believe the hype.
"I had actually been told he'd won earlier that day by the record label, but was sworn to secrecy."
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Ben only realised seconds before the announcement when the cameras that had been zooming around the room suddenly focussed on him – he was completely shocked.
"He was rendered speechless in front of a live audience of 15,000 and seven or eight million TV viewers!" says Oli.
When it came to singing, however, Ben gave a fantastic performance with India, the cellist in his band, in arguably the most heartfelt, emotive delivery of the night.
"The whole BRITs affair is so showbiz, there's focus on the way everything looks more than anything," says Oli.
"But we were determined to make sure his was a stripped-back set and the smaller stage worked perfectly for him."
The performance obviously came across well as Only Love, the song he played on the night hit the singles chart at number nine this week, while Every Kingdom, has re-entered at number four in the album chart this week, behind re-entries from BRIT winners Emile Sande at number one and Mumford & Sons at number two.
Oli says that backstage at the BRITs was quite interesting, Ben's dressing room being next to Mumford & Sons – whom they know well having just returned from supporting them on tour Stateside – with Taylor Swift's on the other side.
"She seemed reasonably down to earth, but opposite was Robbie Williams who spent the whole time parading up and down the corridor in shades flanked by three bodyguards..."
And Oli says that the red carpet 'arrival' scenario really is purely for show.
"Everyone involved is already in the building, they then get in a car, are driven round the front, 'arrive', pose for photos and speak to the press.
"Ben spent about an hour-and-a-half doing interviews and then we left and returned round the back of the building – it was a totally mad experience!"
Both Ben and his local crew have a break now for a few weeks before heading off to Australia next month and then America where, as well as the Coachella Festival, Ben will be headlining a show at Central Park in New York.
Oli says that this year won't be as hectic as 2012 which was pretty much non-stop touring.
"Ben will be back in the UK to do some festivals but there are more gaps in the itinerary for him to write and record his second album."
If you want to see him locally, you can catch him at the Boardmasters festival, Watergate Bay, in August.