Ben Carey is an optimist. After years of working on Ocianic, the project most dear to his heart, he’s been pulled away once again. Following the release of their debut CD, simply titled, U, Ben and Ocianic band mate Aaron Hendra struggled to get the exposure and distribution that this effort deserves. As Ben explains, “Ocianic has had its high times and its low times, but all-in-all I think its just proved that if you stick together and believe in what you are doing, you can achieve anything and you can get it done.” Of course, traveling the globe on tour with Lifehouse isn’t such a bad gig, either mind you.
When Ben heard that Lifehouse was looking for a guitarist for their current world tour, he jumped on board. Ben had actually met Lifehouse front man Jason Wade some time ago, and the impression he got was very positive. “I met Jason when he was sixteen, before he became the ‘famous Jason Wade,” Ben says with a smile. “I remember thinking, ‘Hey, that kid’s going to be a big star one day.’” Fast forward to 2005 and Ben is on tour with Jason and Lifehouse, whose single, “You and Me” off their self-titled album has been burning up the charts. Now Jason is Ben’s boss! “It’s been a really good fit right from the word go,” says Ben.
Not only is Ben touring with Lifehouse, but he is also touring with VOX. He’s a self-proclaimed “HUGE fan” of VOX since he recognized his attraction to the guitar as a kid. He calls himself the “proud owner” of some great vintage pieces, as well as new ones that are being added to his tour rig. The pride and joy of his collection is a vintage Collector Series VOX AC30, number 30 of 30, which was part of the 30th anniversary series. “I’ll only use it in the studio for recording, because I’m afraid of the road wear, and the hard conditions that an amp takes on tour. I’m putting the old horse to rest, really,” he says with a sigh. In its place is a new set of AC30 Custom Classic amps, which Ben is really excited about adding to the tour rig. As he says, “The new AC30s are incredibly reliable. You can tell they are built to take on the road, and withstand the abuse that they would get. And you can tell a lot of thought went into building them. You have to check out the new ones because they are actually built with that same vintage tone, but are also built to travel. It took a long time for this amp to come out, kept us waiting some time, but it was worth the wait.”
Ben is truly in love with the VOX sound. He elaborates, “You can get pretty heavy, fat, guitar sounds out of a VOX amp without too much break-up. I like a lot of definition in the notes, and I like it to be warm and sparkly at the same time. VOX amps have a breadth about them that just makes the notes seem very 3-dimensional to me. Also, the thing that’s really cool about VOX amps is that if you plug a different guitar into it, you definitely know you’re playing a different guitar. It’s also important that the amps compliment the character of your playing.”
But his collection doesn’t stop there. Ben has recently become the proud owner of a collection of new VOX gear. This arsenal includes three VOX Cooltron pedals: The Brit Boost, Bulldog, and his absolute favorite pedal, the Big Ben. “That pedal rules!” he exclaims.
Thoroughly enjoying his playing with Lifehouse, Ben thinks, “This is the best band I have ever played with. Every member of the band just gets it. Every night we step up, we try and push the envelope and think about what we could do better, so the audience really feels the connection.”
In addition to the Lifehouse tour, Ben was on the road throughout 2000 with Savage Garden. Ben and Aaron have firm plans to continue the Ocianic project in the future, “Both of us are just going to fulfill our commitments the way we have to fulfill them and take it at that point a day at a time as to what feels right.”
Words by Emily Gulotta
Photo by Keith Smith