Coming back means you left once. And for Baltimore-area singer-songwriter Ben Dehan, leaving may prove how essential it can be to get back to what you love.
After touring the country with pop-punk band American Diary over a decade ago, DeHan a few years ago made the decision to put music aside in favor of a more conventional life. . The problem? Putting that passion aside proved to create a hole in his psyche as he struggled to maintain happiness without a creative outlet at hand.
And so, finally, after years away, he only recently made the decision to return to the art he loves so much – this time, with his cellist now financier Lauren White. This return will include a visit to the Frederick area at 3 p.m. on July 9 at Smoketown Creekside. This performance follows a recent show which saw the songwriter, along with White, perform at Monocacy Brewing.
“Frederick is always fun,” DeHan said in a recent interview. “People love the music at Frederick, and we love playing there.”
DeHan is once again showing up to crowds across the country as he releases new material. His latest single, “Comeback Kid”, tells how determined he is to maintain a life in music. Its video, shot at the Recher Theater in Towson, sees DeHan not only perform, but also relive some of his old life with American Diary as snippets of archived footage appear throughout the final product.
Filming the video was a special night for DeHan, he said, as his former band was the last full band to play at the popular concert venue before it closed (band members All Time Low followed the performance of his band with an acoustic set of their own). It wasn’t until he saw the final cut of the video that he realized he was working with something special, he said.
Speaking of something special, DeHan was quick to point out how unique a career in music can be. And while it might once have been something he thought he’d never pursue again, he’s now as happy as ever to be working, writing, creating, and enjoying his time to reconnect with an art that continues to be instilled deep within him.
“Being a musician – we choose to do that,” he explained. “It’s more work than any other job I’ve ever done in my life. It’s non-stop. But I love this. I love music, and I don’t even feel like I have a choice in the matter. It’s like walking out one side of the room and out the other. Training, writing, responding to fans is my life.
An important part of this equation is his decision to release songs in a methodical way. Instead of releasing a group of tracks in a traditional LP or EP format, DeHan takes an approach that includes him releasing a song roughly every six weeks. While the most recent is “Comeback Kid,” the singer noted that more new music is coming sooner rather than later.
Even so, it misses the way it was, he said, because he’s used to the full-album approach that has dominated music releases for decades. Although it’s a sign of the times in today’s world, the singer lamented how special LPs were – and for some, they still are.
“An album is a snapshot of time and it captures something,” he noted. “I have a lot of respect for songs grouped in this way. We are trying to do EPs at the moment and are seriously thinking about the theme. The part that connects it – the singles mentality – is how we release music now. For example, when we release an EP, we make a single every six weeks. We’ll do each song and then release the EP as a whole. That’s just what’s got people’s attention right now. It’s our full-time job, so we’re trying to make a living. We have to keep people excited about each song, so a lot more thought goes into it. There is now a strategy that did not exist then.
Another strategy that DeHan is about to tackle is a little more personal: in September, the singer must marry White, both his partner and his collaborator. The decision to spend their life together comes after the pair have grown romantically together in recent years. In fact, as DeHan joked, he didn’t even know White played cello until the COVID-19 pandemic began. Still, the partnership has proven to enrich the lives of both musicians, both onstage and offstage.
“Honestly, it made us a stronger couple because we had to learn how to deal with conflict as a couple,” White said while reflecting on the dynamics as a couple and bandmates. “For me personally, it’s a really cool way for us to spend our time together. We’re both busy people, and I think if one of us wasn’t in it, we wouldn’t see each other. No. Practicing sometimes – yeah that sucks, and you don’t want to practice every day, but we can because we live together. It ends up being quality time as a couple.
As for what’s next — aside from Frederick’s performance and the September wedding — DeHan noted that he plans to release another song in about three weeks. From there, the plan is to return to the studio early next year for what he hopes will be a full release. For now, however, he’s content to perform songs old and new across the country while raising money for the projects he has on his plate via a GoFundMe campaign.
Through it all, however, the one thing that remains constant as he grows is his commitment to the art of songwriting – and that goes far beyond just a comeback.
“It’s my livelihood,” he said. “We learn to make smarter decisions just to keep going. We know we have to roll with the punches.
“At this point,” he concluded, “I think we’re pretty good at turning anything into a positive.”