Gomez singer Ben Ottewell, who has one of the best voices in indie rock, drops in ahead of his solo New Zealand show:

1. Describe your sound in one sentence.

To quote the Melody Maker circa 1998 ' The sound of a buffalo being back ended into a wood chipper'

2. Are you still playing the guitarlele?


Yep, the one I have is custom made by a guy called Roger Bucknall at Fylde guitar and its a very special instrument. Great for a different dynamic at solo shows.

3. When writing, do you fit words to music, music to words, or pull it all together at once?

Ninety-nine per cent of the time it's words to fit melody. On occasion there's a phrase that I'll find really resonant that I write around but normally it's music - melody - lyrics.

4. What is your favourite song to perform live and why?

A tune of mine called Blackbird. It's tricky as it's tough to get right and if it goes wrong it sounds awful. Played right however and it can be quite effective, the loopy guitar and counter vocals often send me into a bit of a trance, as if someone else is playing it......IF I get it right!!

5. Any new music on the horizon from yourself or Gomez?

We are planning to get together and write in the New Year so, if all goes well, a new album should follow. Been too long.

Ben Ottewell is performing in Auckland this month. Photo / Supplied
Ben Ottewell is performing in Auckland this month. Photo / Supplied

6. What does success as a musician mean to you?


Creative freedom, communication, luck.

7. There's not enough hours in a day - but what do you like to do most in your spare time?

Hang out with friends and family.

8. What message would you give any young person wanting to be a successful musician?

Make sure your songs mean something, it helps when you have to play them again and again and again.

9. You can only fit one album by another artist on your device — what is it?

Troubador, JJ Cale

10. You're curating a music festival. Who's on the bill, alive or dead?

Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Kraftwerk, Television, John Grant, Beatles, Radiohead, Portishead, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Sly & the family Stone, JJ Cale, AC/DC.

I'd let somebody else program it.

Ben Ottewell plays Auckland's Tuning Fork on November 14, supported by Being. Tickets from Ticketmaster.