Lozz Benson has gained a strong reputation as a musician in recent years, having toured as part of the Jon Butler Trio and played alongside Urthboy, Missy Higgins, Fanny Lumsden, Nathan Cavaleri and Tonight Alive. As a songwriter and singer, she has collaborated with Paul Kelly and Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil) but now she’s revealed her exciting new solo-based project – Benson and the Outlaws.
She’s kicked it off with the excellent new single and video clip ‘Something On The Wind‘ and ahead of this week’s single launch show, Lozz kindly took the time to answer the PTW Six Strings Q&A and reveal her influences, current listening and future plans.
What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of alt-country/Americana music?
Cosmo’s Factory by CCR, 1970. It had such a big impact on me and it led me to other alt-country artists. I have recently discovered Jerry Douglas who has been a big influence of late, and I always go back to Levon Helm. I always daydream listening to these songs trying to imagining how they were crafted and came to fruition within that individual or band.
Describe your latest release…
Written in Tucson, Arizona towards the end of the John Butler World Tour. We had three days off, in which I went and visited the Saguaro National Park. I then recorded this song six months later in Sydney at Love HZ Studios. I played drums, piano and vocals, and Michael Carpenter did all the rest and helped me bring it to life. The experience I want the listener to feel is how I felt, especially in the piano break. It is the feeling of absolute wonder and awe at starting out at a vast landscape of cactus, rolling clouds and desert.
What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve played?
I travelled down to The End Festival in April this year after being on the road for four months with my dear friends to play. We sat under the stars around a campfire and I ate too many marshmallows. This is what playing music means to me – being with great people and playing nothing but three chords and the truth. Next to that experience, I would say playing Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado would be a career highlight.
How did you learn to play your main instrument?
I started on piano, then picked up the drums. In high school I had a band with my sister and cousins and we would jam to Zeppelin and Guns and Roses. I was always listening to music. I had a cassette tape that every time my fav song came on the radio I’d rush over and hit record. It was this mashup of songs – from P!NK to My Chemical Romance. The first album my mum brought me was Get Behind Me Satan by the White Stripes and I’ll never forget buying the single ‘Steady As She Goes’ and leaving it on repeat. Listening to the drums and feeling inspired to play, and trying to teach myself what I heard on the records.
What do you consider the finest song you’ve written?
I think as songwriters we are always honing our craft. We are always trying to write a better song, and for me, I am always working on my lyrics. I think my best song is still yet to come as I am still young in my songwriting career. I did write a song called ‘Ruby Sun’ not long ago which I am really proud of. I really crafted the lyrics and told a story. Maybe you’ll hear it one day. I was inspired by Banjo Paterson, Paul Kelly and the Australian landscape.
If you could sit-in with one other musician (living or dead) who would it be?
Do you feel there is a strong alt-country music community in Australia and if so, what does it need to keep growing?
Yes! A dedicated community. Lots of singer-songwriters both male and female, and great bands. I think there are a couple of people right now in the scene doing an absolutely amazing job at promoting and keep the scene alive, from organising regular residences and in-the-round style gigs where we hear from a couple of up-and-coming songwriters. Keep the gigs coming, the festivals both big and small and supporting everyone on their own journeys and musical endeavours.
Because music has been devalued (e.g. we now can listen to a new release for FREE on Spotify etc.) it’s really important to support the artist directly by buying merch or a ticket to their show!
What can we expect from your live show?
You ain’t never seen anything like it before. Literally. When have you seen a cowgirl play a Keytar?
What’s been your favourite Americana/alt-country release over the last year?
Fanny Lumsden’s Real Class Act. Always amazed by this team and their work ethic. Love the songs, and also have a lot of respect for Fanny and Dan. Another artist and release I love is ‘That’s How I Got To Memphis’ by Charley Crockett.
What are your musical plans for the next 12 months?
Release two more singles, keep writing songs, hopefully try and get some some festival bills and play more shows. I hope to travel to America next year and take the Outlaws with me!