Heavy Load

Ben Ward

Classic Rock - - Contents - Heavy ques­tions for heavy rock­ers In­ter­view: Ian Fort­nam Or­ange Goblin play HardRock Hell’s Doom vs Stoner at Sh­effield O2 Academy on Septem­ber 30. They have a new al­bum due in 2018.

Or­ange Goblin’s stat­uesque front­man on his pro-football days and sur­pris­ingly ‘shy and re­tir­ing’ side.

Since form­ing Or­ange Goblin in 1995, Ben Ward – all six feet five inches of him – has steadily built a rep­u­ta­tion as one of rock’s most ex­u­ber­ant front­men. Fresh from a hec­tic week­end spent bel­low­ing more than 700,000 punters into ab­ject sub­mis­sion at Ger­many’s Wacken and Poland’s gi­gan­tic free Wood­stock fes­ti­vals, the sur­pris­ingly ‘shy and re­tir­ing’ leviathan re­veals that, pierced arse or not, football’s loss was metal’s gain.

What’s the big­gest pub­lic mis­con­cep­tion about you?

Peo­ple think I am how I ap­pear on stage: a large, over­bear­ing, con­fi­dent front­man type. But when off stage I can be quite shy, re­tir­ing and like to be left alone.

What are the best and worst drugs you’ve taken?

Al­co­hol’s the an­swer to both. It gave me some of my best times and a lot of the worst. I’ve been to some dark places with booze in the past. Par­tic­u­larly in my early twen­ties when I was on the brink of al­co­holism. I’ve got a lid on it now. Last year I had a self-im­posed ban, two months with­out a drop. I never thought it pos­si­ble to do an Or­ange Goblin tour sober, but I proved my­self wrong.

What’s your big­gest re­gret?

Most boys har­bour am­bi­tions to play pro­fes­sional football or front a rock band, and I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to do both. When I left school I played football for two years at Queens Park Rangers. I had a good cou­ple of years, but dur­ing that time I dis­cov­ered heavy metal, booze and drugs, so football fell by the way­side. For the last twenty-two years I’ve can’t say I re­gret any­thing.

Have you ever been stalked? It’s weird see­ing Or­ange Goblin tat­toos. There’s one guy in par­tic­u­lar, who’s the proud owner of a huge chest-piece with all four of our faces in im­mac­u­late de­tail. When he posted it on­line it was like an Alan Par­tridge mo­ment.

I can’t say I’ve been stalked. Or­ange Goblin don’t at­tract groupies or stalk­ers. Most of our fans are over­weight, bearded, sweaty met­al­heads. We don’t re­ally ap­peal to bunny boil­ers.

What’s the least glam­orous lo­ca­tion you’ve ever found your­self in while on the road?

A pub called the Axe And Cleaver in Bos­ton, Lin­colnshire, one of those re­ally rough English dock towns full of steve­dores and sea­men. You didn’t want to say a word out of turn or you’d risk a proper right-han­der. In Boze­man, Mon­tana the show ca­ter­ing was the an­te­lope the pro­moter had shot that morn­ing. What’s the most dam­age you’ve in­flicted on stage?

I’ve fallen off stage and done my­self dam­age. At a fes­ti­val in Ger­many I was given a pill just be­fore go­ing on stage, and half­way through our set I started to come up. I got too close to the edge of the stage, fell into the crowd on to the mic stand and pierced a hole in my arse. I thought some­one had stabbed me, so got back on stage, told the band to stop play­ing and said: “Get se­cu­rity, I’ve been stabbed.” The band had to point out that no one had stabbed me, I’d ac­tu­ally fallen on my own mic stand, caus­ing my­self se­ri­ous arse in­jury.

What were you like at school?

I was what Amer­i­cans re­fer to as a jock. I’ve al­ways been tall, so I was al­ways picked for the school football team, school bas­ket­ball team and I was pretty de­cent at cricket. I went to gram­mar school, did al­right in my GCSEs, but as soon as I left school I went to play football. I was plan­ning to study elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing and be an en­gi­neer in the RAF.

Where do you stand po­lit­i­cally?

My grandad was a miner, and my un­cle. I re­mem­ber him be­ing ar­rested dur­ing the min­ers’ strike. He had to leave our fam­ily home in Kent when they closed the pits and move to York­shire to work at Selby, so we’re tra­di­tion­ally Labour in my fam­ily. But

I think they’re all crooks, no mat­ter what their po­lit­i­cal lean­ings; ly­ing, cheat­ing to­er­ags out to ben­e­fit them­selves rather than the peo­ple they claim to speak for.

What in your life are you most proud of? I’ve got a six­teen-year old son who is very in­tel­li­gent, do­ing very well at school, very good at every­thing he does. He’s turn­ing into a bright, funny, po­lite young man and I’m very proud of him and the way he’s been brought up. I’m proud of the band and what I’ve got in life. I don’t re­ally have any­thing to com­plain about, I’m quite com­fort­able.

A man of your stature could get away with be­ing a hor­ri­ble bas­tard. Ever been tempted to ex­ploit your phys­i­cal be­ing for ne­far­i­ous ends?

When I have too many I’ve been known to turn into a hor­ri­ble bas­tard, and prob­a­bly a bit of a bully be­cause of my size, and I’m not proud of that. There’ve been times when I’ve had to apol­o­gise to a lot of peo­ple the day af­ter a night out.

What will be writ­ten on your tomb­stone?

I’ve had a de­cent in­nings, I’m a nice enough bloke, so hope­fully noth­ing too hor­ri­ble’s go­ing to be writ­ten about me.

“I fell into the crowd on to

my own mic stand and pierced a hole in my arse.”

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