Former Hungry Kids of Hungary bassist Ben Dalton is taking another shot at stardom.
Dalton, best known as the bass guitarist and backing vocalist for the late, great Hungry Kids of Hungary, is back as the lead singer and songwriter with new local band Born Joy Dead.
Dalton is a relatively shy guy, so putting himself out there as the frontman of his own band was a little uncomfortable and awkward for him at first. But he’s quickly learning how to go with the flow.
“Born Joy Dead really just started as a solo project and I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go in,” he says. “I just knew I wanted to do something. Our old band Hungry Kids of Hungary broke up a few years ago, and I was in two minds about whether or not to keep going with music or to just become a regular guy.
“While trying to decide what to do with my life, I went into the studio and the first track I did sounded pretty cool so I made a decision that I would like to do it live. I spoke to a few friends that I knew from back in the day and they were keen to join the band – so we started from there.”
Everyone knows everyone in Brisbane’s music scene, so it’s hardly surprising that Dalton found eager pals so quickly. “It’s been a blossoming time for friendships,” he says, “and that’s been really good. The band has taken on a different feel, now that there is a group of us, as we’ve all got such different influences and styles, which is really cool.”
So what does BJD actually sound like? “I’m heavily connected to ‘90s music, that was the era I grew up in – my golden years if you will – and I was listening to Weezer, Sonic Youth, Sound Garden. I like how weird the more mainstream music was back then, if that makes sense?
“BJD is a mishmash of grunge and pop but we’re open to playing around with different styles. We don’t really care what we do or how it can be categorised as long as we enjoy it and it has a good beat.”
The group has just released their debut EP, Stones in my Shoe, featuring singles Hey Blood and Upside Down Inside Out. Emulating their idols, the EP mashes together elements and inspirations from some of their favourite artists — you’ll hear a bit of a George Harrison vibe in there, as well as the unmistakable influence of St Vincent and Tom Petty.
The transition from bassist and back-up vocalist to lead singer and main songwriter is a big leap, but so far, Dalton has been up for the challenge. “It’s been tough but I’m getting on top of it,” he says. “Back in my old band, I was just playing bass and the occasional back-up harmony so it was pretty tough to get the guts up to want to stand up the front and write lyrics that are personal.
“I’ve got my head around it now; I’m starting to feel more comfortable and I’m really enjoying it. Now I can get things off my chest and it’s actually a really good outlet. Being in a band is a much more personal experience now.”
Born Joy Dead play Black Bear Lodge Friday on May 8.