Breaking new ground with a more refined sound
Having spent much of the last five years playing shows across the midwest and releasing a handful of albums, Toledo’s Ben Stalets has recently been more focused on dialing it back. “We’ve been playing fewer shows because I refuse to reprint CDs,” says Stalets. He’s holding out for the release of a new album— the first in nearly four years, tentatively titled “Everybody’s Laughing”.
With bassist Will Doremus and drummer Mark Poseler still in the mix, the band has added two new members: guitarist Justin Frey along with Drew Rochette on the keyboard and harmony vocals, all packaged together as Ben Stalets and the Forbidden Fruit.
While alt-country has always been the backbone of Stalets’ music and overall style, he describes the new album as “Genre Neutral”. “I really do feel like it’s genre neutral. All the great bands back in the day were making things that were so eclectic, but these days a band puts out a record and it’s labeled as (being a certain type of music),” says Stalets. “I definitely had no goal going into it with what I wanted it to sound like.”
The band spent much time in 2018 and 2019 at Whistle Pig Studio, working with Detroit-based music producer Bunky Hunt. “The songs are lyrically less cryptic,” Stalets explains— another departure from the previous albums. “I feel more articulate in calling a spade a spade. I’m a lyricist first and foremost, and I had a bit of a breakthrough in how I feel about what I’m trying to communicate.”
Stylistically, “I’m way more into jazz than I used to be— artists like Miles Davis and Django Reinhardt,” says Stalets. “I’m still obsessed with the outlaw country guys like Willie Nelson, but I’m able to appreciate his music even more now.” In particular the album Stardust, which references a number of musical styles, including jazz. “It’s really a huge discount to call Willie Nelson just a country musician,” says Stalets.
The tentative title for the new album is “Everybody’s Laughing”— A reference to a quote from Mark Twain’s Following the Equator: “The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.”
“The way I look at it,” says Stalets, “everybody is laughing, which means everyone is suffering— were all in this together.” As for the new album, “We’re hoping to release it before the end of the year, says Stalets. “We’ll definitely have at least one new track out by then, and we’ll start to book more tours as well.”
For more info check out facebook.com/bennystalets.