Artist: Ben Rothermel, 21
You used to be in the band noredtape. When did you decide to go solo? It was made very easy, I went away to college and the band stayed home. We ended the band, and I studied songwriting down at Visible School in Memphis, Tenn. It was there that I learned what a singer-songwriter was.
What artists have you shared the stage with? At the end of December . . . I got to open up for Denison Witmer, which was a really cool experience. I used to listen to his music a little bit in high school. It's always a pleasure to play with the local bands around here. I've been performing with my friends The Beggar Folk and even local singer-songwriter Adam Taylor recently.
I know you grew up in York, but are you more into the Lancaster scene now? I live in Manheim, right above Lancaster. When I came home from college, I came back to the Lancaster area to marry my wife, Amber, and we just decided to stay in Lancaster. I've . . . performed at the local coffee shops. I've done a couple shows, but not many. The problem that I've had when performing over in York is that people don't listen to me. That happens everywhere, but it seems to happen a little bit more in York.
Has the wedding made its way into any of your songs? Definitely. I can think of one song off the top of my head that I wrote right during the time before I got married. The entire stress of preparing for the actual wedding ceremony drove me to write a song called "Guess I'll Just Sing About It," which is just all about sometimes the only thing you can do is sing.
Do you have a formula, or do you just go with the flow? When I was down in college, I was taught to take down notes, so I carry around Moleskine (journal). In the back, I have a page dedicated to little ideas, so whenever I hear something that jumps out to me, I write it down. Sometimes, those will kind of carry further. I'll take them home and maybe a verse will come. The best songs for me happen when I'm able to be at home and near a guitar . . . and have the lyrics of the song and music come at the same time.
Are you working on an album? Yes, I actually am. What started out as a little five-song EP, just gave birth to the idea of a full-length album. It's been an interesting trip so far. I'm at the very beginning of it all. I hope to have a full-length album released (by) January 2011.
Are you working on the album yourself or are you going into a studio? I worked in studios before down in Tennessee, and I've also done the basement or garage studio thing. What I'm doing is a unique combination of the two. I'm going to be recording material at my house, but I'm going to have professional studio musicians come up from Tennessee and Maryland to record with me and I'm going to have it mixed by a professional sound engineer. Trying to choose just, like, 10 songs to put on an album has been the hardest thing for me.
Describe your sound and style. I'm like Bob Dylan without all the cigarettes or like Coldplay on an acoustic guitar.
What are you feeling when you take the stage? It's a whole lot of nervousness, but that's all right. Every time, I tell myself it's all right to be nervous like in the last "Rocky" movie . . . when Rocky turns to his son and he's like, "I always find that I fight a little better when I'm nervous."
Do you think you play better when you're nervous? I think I do. It wears off around the second or third song.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
Ben Rothermel performs a free show at 6:30 p.m. Friday at The Aurora Café, 104 W. Main St. in Mechanicsburg.
On the Web
For details about Ben Rothermel, visit www.benrothermel.com.
Listen to the interview at www.flipsidepa.com.
Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.