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Spotlight: Ben Speight of Future Haunts

Future Haunts
(Image credit: Madeleine Keinonen)

BEN SPEIGHT

HAILS FROM: Brisbane, QLD
PLAYS IN: Future Haunts
SOUNDS LIKE: Soaring indie-rock with a Britpop flair
LATEST DROP: I Can't Change The Way You Change (EP out now independently)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
Japanese Fender Jazzmaster. I’ll admit I saw Tom playing Jazzmasters in his other band Good Boy and just loved the look and sound so got myself one – haven’t looked back. It’s a modern one but it just plays so well and stays in shape easily, every other Jazzmaster I’ve picked up just doesn’t feel right to me. It’s got a really thin neck, I’ve replaced the pickups with Lollars (JM neck, P-90 bridge) and it just goes hard.

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I absolutely hated guitar when I first was forced to learn it through primary school – I think there was a really bad teacher who just couldn’t deal well with kids at all! But I picked it up again in high school because sport really wasn’t my thing, learnt on my Dad’s old acoustic and just kept begging for an electric. Finally the old man caved and took me round to about 50 shops in Brissy to get one – it was some type of Ibanez, back then they were running hot in the entry level market and there wasn’t too much else around that looked good to me. I don’t actually have it any more come to think of it, pretty sure I lent it to my cousin and haven’t seen it again!

What inspires you as a player?
I grew up with a lot of 2000s indie and rock, so I think my playing style kind of naturally defaulted to a lot of power chords and bridge pickup drive. But since playing in Future Haunts I’ve made a conscious effort to play differently, use different pickups and basically undo a lot of the style ingrained through my formative years. Tom was a huge influence there, teaching me all these jazz chords and weird stuff that still doesn’t make much sense to me, but it sounds alright so I’ll stick with it!

Are you much of a gear nerd?
Not really a huge gear nerd. I mean I’ve got a fair few pedals lying around collecting dust, mainly used for studio stuff but don’t really make it onto my board. But not really into the ultra boutique-y kinda gear, sometimes the simple stuff just works well, and plus that stuff’s too expensive! Favourite pedals are the good old Crowther Hotcake, Tym Savage Toecutter Deluxe and MXR reverb gets a lot of use. Amps we gravitate to Fender stuff, hotrod deluxe or deluxe reverb reissue.

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
Absolutely would love a custom made Shub guitar. Jon Shub in Melbourne who plays in the band Gold Class makes them and they’re just downright sexy and exactly what I want in a guitar. One day…

What would your signature model look like?
As above, the Shub would scratch the itch. But I think another option would be having a Mustang with a Jazzmaster vibrato system. For me, Mustang vibratos always go out of tune after using them no matter how well it’s set up (maybe I just play them wrong!). I actually bought one of the newer cheap Mustangs and fitted a jazzmaster trem myself, so I kinda got there but my dodgy craftsmanship can’t match someone who knows what they’re doing!

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
I reckon John Lennon or George Harrison would be a good pick. Simple but oh so effective and some of the melodies and hooks they’ve written are just next level. I’m more into guitarists who write good songs and know when to serve the song rather than anyone who’s technically fast or complex.

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Matt Doria is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Their bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (on which they also serve as Editor), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Their go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, they only picked up after they’d joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Matt was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped them see the light…