Plugging In

Ben Morrison goes electric

San Francisco singer-songwriter and Petaluma-native Ben Morrison is striking out on his own with a forthcoming debut solo album and tour this summer, after collaboratively fronting string band ensemble Brothers Comatose for over a decade.

“I’ve been in the Brothers Comatose for over 11 years now,” says Morrison. “And last year there were some changes to the band.”

With the departure of band members Gio Benedetti and Ryan Avellone, Morrison and his brother Alex put the band on hold while they recruited new musicians. At the same time, Morrison took a much-needed breather from touring and playing over 100 dates a year with the band.

“We took a little bit of downtime to figure out the next step,” says Morrison. That next step turned out to be a detour into rock ‘n’ roll, and Morrison’s new batch of songs finds him incorporating electric guitars and drums, something not seen on a Brothers Comatose stage.

“I’ve always wanted to make a record with drums,” he says. “Sometimes, I write songs that don’t quite fit Brothers Comatose, so it was nice to have a different outlet for that.”

Now, these new songs have found a home in Morrison’s forthcoming debut solo record, Old Technology, which was recorded on two-inch tape at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studio earlier this year and which features older songs he’s kept on the back burners as well as new material written especially with this project in mind.

“It was really cool approaching writing in a different way,” he says. “A different sound in mind, a different angle to work from.”

Old Technology gets its record-release party on Friday, Aug. 30, at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, but curious listeners can preview Morrison’s latest single and music video, “I Hope You’re Not Sorry,” in advance on his website. Filmed by fellow San Francisco raconteur Sam Chase, the music video finds Morrison clutching a Fender guitar and singing to an empty chair in a smoky bar before donning a white jacket and fronting a full band.

“The song was inspired by a stalker I had, and no longer have,” says Morrison. “It’s a love song to lost stalker love, like realizing that your stalker no longer comes to your shows anymore and wondering what you did wrong.”

Ben Morrison Band performs with opener Kelly McFarling on Friday, Aug 30, at Sweetwater Music Hall, 19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley. 8pm. $15-$18. 415.388.3850.
Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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