Take This To Heart Records have released their 2023 Fall Sampler that includes tracks by Pony, Orson Wilds, Snarls, Magazine…
Exclusive: Useless ID’s Yotam Ben Horin Streams “Young Forever” Solo Album
Yotam Ben Horin’s new solo album, Young Forever, is getting an exclusive stream a day ahead of release via The Punk Site. When Ben-Horin says, “I was pretty much born into music,” the Useless ID frontman isn’t stretching his storyline so much as revealing his roots in light of his latest solo album. Ben Horin‘s mother was a multi-instrumentalist and music teacher and started taking him to concerts at a very young age. Most were classical performances, but one night in 1983 happened to feature his favorite band at the time: Musical Youth, the reggae group widely recognized for the cast-iron classic Pass the Dutchie, Ben Horin‘s mom must have known it’s not, in fact, about marijuana! To understand where Ben Horin‘s own songwriting lies on the pop-rock spectrum, it’s best to start with one of his earliest memories, a second grade yeshiva class, not long after his family moved from Israel to Brooklyn.
“I had this teacher who used to bring a parakeet to class, and he had all these tricks up his sleeve which made school more interesting. On top of that, he had this little AM radio on while we were taking tests. The Beatles’ ‘Michelle’ used to come on every now and then, and it struck me what a beautiful song it was.”
Right around the same time, Ben Horin and his younger brother, Ari, discovered a splintered drum set, just the snare and tom, in their family’s apartment and proceeded to “make quite a racket” alongside Ari‘s manic Casio melodies. The connective tissue between Ben Horin‘s earliest sound experiments and decades of vastly different bands, everything from punk acts Useless ID and SPIT to glimmers of grunge with Superdrive and even folk and pop sessions, was actually a friend’s bat mitzvah. “I remember the DJ—another kid from class—playing Nirvana’s ‘Lithium,'” says Ben Horin. “When it started, I thought it was The Beatles, but then the chorus kicked in and it was like, ‘This is crazy!’ From that moment on, I wanted a guitar and became obsessed.”
Ben Horin got his first guitar at 14 after working for his dad’s construction company. He “picked it up pretty quickly,” often learning and building songs by ear as the axe “became [his] best friend.” When Ben Horin‘s family returned to Israel in the summer of ’93, his guitar filled the silences of lonely nights and afternoons. Starting over in a new country with a new culture as a teenager was less than ideal, but one person made the move a little bit easier. “He was the first kid to talk to me and be super friendly,” Ben Horin says of the kid described in Boy With Glasses, a brittle Young Forever ballad that ends with a sucker punch sequence about his passing. “We hadn’t kept in touch since that year…. One day, I looked him up on Facebook and noticed that there weren’t many photos, so I started digging and found this long post his best friend wrote, which turned out to be a eulogy. I felt so bad that I went and wrote the whole song in 10 minutes.”
Young Forever is full of moments like this, deeply personal diatribes that put Ben Horin‘s long career in perspective alongside the relationships that have shaped his private life. This is especially true for Paola, Ben Horin‘s partner; her presence hangs over the album’s smartphone spreads and many of its massive hooks, including the revved-up rhythms of In Between the Highs and Lows, the delicate, guitar-guided verses of Here With Me, and the Frank Black-inspired, curtain-closing minor chords of Across the Sea.
As has been the case since Ben Horin‘s solo debut, 2012’s Distant Lover, each tightly edited track provides a welcome contrast to the wild and wooly records of Useless ID without sounding like a scrapped MTV Unplugged shoot. “I try to take my solo material as far away from punk as I can,” explains Ben Horin, “so I don’t just sound like a punk singer playing chords on an acoustic guitar. I leave room for any influence that may enter and just let it happen.” That explains why the album’s title track features sun-baked Springsteen vibes and a fierce solo from Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins, while Leopard reflects the female perspective of rock ‘n’ roll icon Joan Jett, the track was was originally written for Jett, but that ultimately fell through. “My solo albums kind of write themselves. That’s what I like about them; I’ve learned to not only listen with my ears, but with my gut as well. If something feels off, I’ll address it right up until we print the record.”
“In March 2020, when Covid hit and we were all forced to be in lockdown, I had an album’s worth of new songs but hadn’t really given it much thought as far as making a new album. I had just been separated at the airport from my then girlfriend (now wife) and instead of sinking into a depression, I decided to put myself out there and play live shows online for the people at home. After having such a positive experience with the first one, I did another and another and started getting this thing going. Every now and then, I would try out a new tune and see what the response was and promised that once we’re all out of this funk, I’m taking all the money that was tipped my way and recording a new solo album. When I arrived at Flying Blanket Studio one year later, I arrived with 13 acoustic demos, leaving much room to interpretation. Bob Hoag (the producer) and I narrowed it down to the strongest 10 and went to work. The creative juices started flowing right away and after 10 days, the album was complete. Listening back, there is not much of the pandemic’s influence in these songs since, besides one (“Young Forever), they were all written before 2020, but together, these songs make for my most hopeful album to date and give a feeling that if we were able to overcome this, we can overcome anything.”
Young Forever will be released on the 20th May via Double Helix Records