Benmont Tench, the longtime keyboardist in Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, releases his first-ever solo album, "You Should Be So Lucky," today (February 18).
The set includes 10 originals as well as covers of Bob Dylan's "Duquesne Whistle" and the standard "Corrina, Corrina," and Tench tells us that while he's been writing songs for most of his life -- dating back to the Mudcrutch band he was in with Petty and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell -- he really hasn't an outlet for the material since the early 70s:
"I've always written songs, since I was a kid. Always. And the first band I was in with Tom and Mike, Mudcrutch, we all wrote songs, and when it got to the focus on Tom and the Heartbreakers I kept writing songs, but it wasn't anything that was up the Heartbreakers street, I didn't think, and I don't think they did, either. So I just kept writing songs for the hell of it... Nobody seemed to be all that interested, so I thought, 'Y'know, I don't want to, like, make a record just for the sake of making a record.' And this time around I kind felt like, 'Well, there's some good songs here and I think they should exist in some way other than on a demo hidden in my closet. I think they're good songs, and I think they deserve to be heard.' "
"You Should Be So Lucky" features appearances by Petty and Ringo Starr, but Tench says they're not there only for name value:
"I saw something written about the record, and they didn't say it but I thought, 'This looks like I loaded it up with some famous people,' and I didn't. There's nobody on her who isn't on there because they're my friend and I thought they were the right musician for the song. Like, Tom wasn't stunt-casting; I love the way he plays bass. Ringo isn't stunt-casting; he's the best drummer in the world."
Tench will play three shows at the Los Angeles club Largo on February 20-22 to celebrate the album's release and is currently working on finishing the next Heartbreakers album.