As pop comebacks go, Ben Watt’s return to the spotlight is impressive.
Watt, son of late Scottish jazz musician Tommy Watt, released his second solo album Hendra in April, 31 years after his debut, North Marine Drive.
Of course, that doesn’t tell his full story – there’s the small matter of forming Everything But the Girl in 1984 – but nevertheless, the two albums are a lifetime apart.
“Part of me perhaps wishes I’d done it a bit sooner,” says Watt. “It’s not easy making a record and getting it widely accepted when you’re 51. Certain doors are closed, which I should have second guessed.”
While certain doors may be closed, many more opened when Watt announced he was returning to songwriting. He’s performed all over the UK this year, appeared on radio stations and silenced crowds at Japanese festivals during the summer.
“I had no idea the first album had so many fans over there, but there was this reverent crowd mouthing every word,” he says.
North Marine Drive was released when Watt was 19.Watt then formed Everything But the Girl (EBTG) with Tracey Thorn, who he’d met at university in 1981. They went on to release 10 albums, as well as get married and have three children together. Understandably, Watt might wish he’d made another album, but he wouldn’t change his story for the world.
When EBTG went on their hiatus in 2000, dance music became Watt’s next diversion.
Watt found himself in his studio, picking up a guitar and songs began flowing.
As you might expect, the songs deal with getting older, the blows that knock us all and what tools we have to fend them off. In Watt’s case, he found humour, anger and disdain were the most abundant feelings, and within a short space of time, he’d written 12 songs, 10 of which made it onto Hendra.