Ben Rice is an accomplished singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer and owner of Brooklyn-based DeGraw Sound. As a producer and session guitarist, Rice has worked with the likes of Norah Jones, Jonas Brothers, Valerie June, Fletcher and The Skins. As a guitarist, Rice has played in couple of indie rock projects that signed with Warner Music Group and toured internationally with Arctic Monkeys, Band of Skulls, The Bravery and Brendan Benson.
Rice’s self-produced, self-engineered and self-mixed, full-length debut Future Pretend was written and recorded at his DeGraw Studio during the terrifying and deadly first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sociopolitical upheaval of that year. The album which features contributions from the likes of producer Gian Stone, who has worked with Justin Bieber and Maroon 5; Norah Jones’ and Mavis Staples‘ Pete Remm (keys); The Autumn Defense‘s and Norah Jones’ Greg Wieczorek (drums); Raffaella‘s and Leyla Blue‘s Charlie Culbert (drums, production) and Eighty Ninety’s Abner James and Harper James is a personal and artistic reset for Rice, who saw Future Pretend‘s creative process as an opportunity to process seismic life changes and connect with our tumultuous present. Featuring nine reflective songs that thematically finds Rice offering intimate and personal ruminations on culture, our society and personal evolution. Sonically, the album finds the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, producer and engineer embracing what he dubs “big city Americana,” which isn’t really about cowboy shirts, boots and twangy guitars but about yearning for a halcyon days.
Future Perfect‘s latest single, the Damn the Torpedoes-era Tom Petty-like “Everything Changes” is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, twangy guitars an anthemic hook and the sort of Romantic yearning for the past that New Yorkers are known for. The song finds Rice’s narrator lamenting about the passing of time and the inevitability of aging while shouting out beloved places and a long lost innocence. Certainly, as a 40 something, who finds his city phasing him out while losing the places I loved, the song hits me in a deeply personal and familiar place. As James Murphy once sardonically yet wisely sung “New York, I love you but you’re bringing me down . . .”
“I wrote ‘Everything Changes’about watching the city I grew up in change and realIzing that every generation of New Yorkers has probably experienced something similar,” Rice explains. “The things that to me feel like authentic aspects of the city that are now slipping away might have felt like the strange and new things that ushered in change to previous generations.”
Directed by Abner James, the recently released video for “Everything Changes” is split between footage of Rice and his backing band performing the song in a backlit studio and James Spenser Saunders, who plays a young New Yorker, walking the streets of the Lower East Side and stopping at some of the places Rice references in the song. Shot during the pandemic, the video captures New York at its eeriest with beloved bars, clubs and eateries closed or barely opened. The video captures a city going through some incredibly unforeseen and unimaginable changes, the seemingly unending sense of unease and uncertainty of our world and a palpable loss of innocence.