Walking In Between: Ben Rector
Indie phenom stops by Stubb’s Thursday
By William Harries Graham, 2:00PM, Wed. Nov. 6, 2013
Tomorrow night, indie sensation Ben Rector plays Stubb’s. A hit-maker since he was in college, he’s gained recognition mostly through word of mouth and has followed that up by starting his own label. In a time of artist independence from the major labels, Rector’s winning.
“It’s a pretty unique time to be a musician,” he says. “The decision to start a label was really just out of utility. We needed an official entity to release music, so we filled out some paperwork and made a label.
“I understand that the relative success I’ve had is in being fortunate enough to come along at a time when people have instant access to purchasing any music they enjoy alongside the ability to instantly tell lots of other people about it, so I’ve tried to be smart about running my business well.
“That means from decisions on where and how to tour to when and how to write/record/release music. I’ve also been fortunate to work with talented people who believe in what I’m doing. The rest, though, has just been people sharing the music with their friends, and for that I’m really, really grateful.”
Rector grew up in Oklahoma listening to Star 103.3. The station played hits spanning the Sixties to the Eighties, Rector’s strongest influences being James Taylor and Billy Joel. He classifies his music as “singer-songwriter pop” and himself as “a strange mix of creative and practical, easygoing and ultra competitive.”
He started releasing music while studying business at college in Fayetteville, AR. When he was a sophomore, he began touring to support those releases. By the time Rector was a junior, with both popular success and critical acclaim, he realized that music would be his full-time job. After college, he headed to Nashville.
“There’s certainly a lot of great music happening there. The concentration of talented players, writers, and singers is something really special, I think. I’ve not lived in New York or Los Angeles, so I can’t speak from personal experience, but I’ve heard people say they feel like the community in Nashville is uniquely welcoming and inclusive.
“I’ve certainly felt both welcomed and included, and I’m glad I live there.”
His fifth and latest full-length, The Walking In Between, comes titled from a line on the album: “Life is not the mountaintops, it’s the walking in between.” Rector explains.
“It’s referring to the fact that I think we put a lot of emphasis on mountain-top moments when they can end up being pretty few and far between. It’s easy to overlook where you’re at and focus on what you’re working towards, and there’s not anything wrong with that, but I feel like in the instance that you end up getting to that mountain top, it can – in my limited experience and humble opinion – be a little less satisfying than you thought it’d be.
“I think it’s worthwhile to try and find as much joy in the in-between as the mountain top.”
While off the road, Rector remains an avid golfer and cheers his Alma Mater’s teams, the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, “holding my head in my hands while we usually lose,” he laughs.
Favorite live experiences: “Walking onstage at the Tabernacle in Atlanta and not being able to hear the count in for the first song because the crowd was yelling so loud. Also watching the band and I on Jimmy Kimmel and selling out the Ryman [Auditorium in Nashville].”
Advice for musicians starting out: “Spend a lot of time and effort trying to become a great songwriter, and get used to working hard.”