Award-winning Californian wine brand, Barefoot Wine, has teamed up with Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to help keep Britain’s beaches ‘barefoot friendly’. The 2011 Barefoot Friendly Beach Rescue tour will visit 14 beaches around the UK between May and September, collecting litter and returning the beaches to their natural state.To celebrate the fourth annual ‘barefoot friendly’ Beach Rescue Project from Barefoot Wine and SAS, hotly tipped rising star Ben Howard will be performing an exclusive invitation-only acoustic set at three of the beach clean ups, only for volunteers. Sophie Eggleton caught up with the Devonshire talent to find out why this initiative is particularly close to his heart and to see how he’s feeling as the release of his debut album draws closer.
You grew up in Devon, had you noticed a decline in the cleanliness of the beaches?
On the whole not really. The last few weeks has been pretty bad as it’s summer and there’s always a small minority that time of year that don’t care what they leave behind.
Some of the places nearby have definitely improved the last few years.
If so, has it put you off surfing in the UK?
No, not at all. It frustrates me to see people neglecting some really beautiful areas, I still surf and more often than not I tell people to pick up their rubbish.
How does the decline affect the surrounding community?
Most of the coastal places around my area are really small communities that rely pretty heavily on the sea so any deterioration is felt hard for sure. It’s getting better though not worse! The initiatives of Surfers Against Sewage, and now with Barefoot Wine’s involvement, are really making sure the sea stays clean. The guys are pretty clear, there’s no excuse in this day and age to keep polluting the sea.
Will you be mucking in with the volunteers?
That’s the plan. The recent Porthtowan show for beach clean volunteers was great to see so many people involved. Soundcheck ran through the beach clean that time so I couldn’t get stuck in, hopefully the timings are better at the other beach cleans so we can do our bit.
What would you say to those as yet undecided about getting involved in the clean up?
Get involved, it’s amazing what just a short amount of time from everyone can accomplish. It’s always a good laugh and a good excuse to get outdoors.
The Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project began 4 years ago what results or improvements have there been already?
I think the biggest improvement is just public awareness. It’s a great thing to see, a company bringing the issues Surfers Against Sewage have been trying to tackle for years into the public sphere a little more. It’s easy for people to make a physical change to their environment and Barefoot Wine are proving that.
The music we play usually varies from melancholy to four to the floor but I think we’ll try and keep these shows upbeat. I guess people can expect guitars, cello, bass, drums and singing, variations around that really!
Are environmental projects always going to be something you try to get involved with, are they particularly close to your heart?
It’s nice to have an interest outside of the music world and I guess the natural environment is something I’m more familiar with. It feels good to play your part even on the smallest level.
You have been tipped by the likes of Zane Lowe and Dermot O Leary, although flattering do you feel a sense of added pressure?
Yeah there’s always been pressure. The word potential has been lumped on me all of my life. It’s great to get to a point where people you look up to are acknowledging you; It’s very flattering for sure. You never know where you are when it comes to what you’re playing and whether people get it so it’s really encouraging more than anything to have the like of Zane Lowe playing your tunes.
Your debut album is released in September, are you nervous?
Definitely nervous. Very excited as well though.
Will you read the reviews…and how will you react to any criticism?
I’m not sure, I guess it depends what gets criticized. We’ve lived with this record for a year and a half and spent so much time and effort on it. I like to think there’s enough love in that record to get it past any negative commentary.
Does the prospect of success and the fact that fame comes along with it daunt you at all?
Yes to a certain extent, the fame side of it is a little weird. It is what it is though.
What is on your ipod right now?
I lost it! I’ve got a bit of all sorts on the old mac though.. Daughter, Lykke Li, John Prine, Willie Mason, Emika, and Arthur Russell are probably the top spinners at the moment.
What can’t you travel without?
Ones in foreign countries with sea views.
Any bar with a well stocked whiskey section.
Rumour wine bar.
Your most extravagant purchase?
A 99 flake the other day for £2.80!
What products can’t you live without?
Where is next on my places to visit?
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Do as you would be done by.
What is on your shopping list right now?
It’s actually toothpaste. No Joke.
Do you social network?
Yes, I go to the pub with my friends.
Plans for the rest of 2011?
Play music, play music, drink, play music.
Ben will be performing exclusively on 26th June (Cornwall), 9th July (Fife, Scotland) and 6th August (North Tyneside).To register for any of the clean ups (from 28th May in Greenwich to 10th September in Northern Ireland) please follow the link sas.org.uk or facebook.com/SAS
The full list of beach cleans is:
28th May, Greenwich, London
29th May, Broadstairs, Kent
30th May, East Witterings, Sussex
25th June, Widemouth, Cornwall
26th June, Porthtowan, Cornwall
9th July, Kingsbarn Beach, Edinburgh, Scotland
10th July, Bellhaven Beach, Edinburgh, Scotland
26th August, Whitley Nay, North Tyneside
27th August, Saltburn By Sea, Cleveland
28th August, Scarborough, South Bay, Yorkshire
29th August, Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire
Wales & Northern Ireland
3rd September, Newgale Beach, Pembrokeshire
4th September, Llangland Beach, W. Glamorgan
10th September Portrush, East Strand (Northern Ireland)