By Misty Mac Photography

Press Releases


"It's been a long road filled with good and bad, success and failure, falling down and getting up," Ben Labat says of the winding path that's led to Homeward, the compelling new album by Ben Labat & the Happy Devil.

Indeed, the Louisiana-bred singer-songwriter has already led a dramatic and eventful existence, and the new ten-song set reflects the influence of the journey that's brought him to this point in his life and career. The experience gained in his travels is reflected in Labat's distinctive, emotionally resonant body of work, which already encompasses four albums, and throughout Homeward.

"This is probably the most personal and mature collection of songs we've created so far," states Labat. That assessment is confirmed by the vivid lyrical insight and catchy melodic craftsmanship of such memorable new songs as "The Wilderness," "Set It On Fire," "Darkness," "Nothing But the Past to Lose," and the poignant title track.

Labat has been accumulating life experience and musical expertise since childhood. With a mother and grandfather who both played piano in their local Methodist church, he grew up singing hymns with his family, and became proficient on guitar, piano and trumpet before he reached his teens. In high school, he joined a series of bands and honed his budding songwriting skills; one of his compositions was selected as his official class song.

Labat received his first national exposure after joining the Baton Rouge-based combo The Terms, which built a committed nationwide fan base through diligent roadwork. The Terms' 2006 indie album Small Town Computer Crash generated considerable excitement, performing on national TV and placing at #11 in Billboard's Heatseekers chart, before a car accident on the way to a gig abruptly ended the band's career. In the wake of the accident, Labat moved to New York, spending a year writing and recording new songs before returning home to Louisiana, where he got married and started a family. Tragedy struck again in 2009 when Greg Ladanyi, the legendary Grammy-winning producer/engineer who'd served as Ben's manager, producer, label head and mentor, died in a freak on-stage accident in Greece.

Labat put the sadness behind him and focused on moving forward musically, launching Ben Labat & the Happy Devil as his creative outlet. The new band released three acclaimed albums, A Face for Radio, Soapbox Anthems and The Revival, between 2010 and 2014. All three sets showcased Labat's rapidly maturing songwriting and increasingly expansive musical vision, while the band earned a reputation as a first-rate live act whose upbeat, uplifting shows offered a potent mix of powerful originals and artfully rendered cover material.

Ben has performed all over the U.S. in some of the country's most prestigious venues including New York's Cutting Room, Los Angeles' Viper Room, The Exit/In in Nashville, and the House of Blues and more recently with Ben Labat & The Happy Devil at The Parish in Austin and Tipitina's in New Orleans. Several of Ben's songs have been featured on such TV shows as The Ghost Whisperer, The Real World and Jersey Shore, as well as the Kevin Spacey-produced film Mini's First Time and Middle of Nowhere starring Susan Sarandon.

Labat's vibrant compositions are firmly rooted in the experience of a keen-eyed observer who's seen the highs and lows that life has to offer, and who continues to absorb new insights while working full-time and raising three kids.

"Besides writing and playing music," Labat acknowledges, "I have and probably always will have a job where I sweat, teach, reason, get dirty and learn. The people I work and interact with are what provide the best influences, muses and experiences. I have been a roofer, worked on oil rigs 200 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, taught high school physics and robotics, managed a fleet of work vessels, and trained and instructed Brazilian jiu jitsu. Life is meant to be lived, not watched at a distance, and I've written my best music by living in the world."

Homeward features Labat's longtime bandmates Jerry Martin (guitar) and David Guidry (bass) and recent addition Travis Lovell (drums), along with an assortment of talented guest players, including keyboardist Travis Thibodaux, who is also a touring member of Journey; female vocalist Ansley Rimmer, a member of the band Hydrogen Child, which also includes former members of The Terms; and noted New Orleans blues guitarist Colin Lake.

"From the beginning, Ben Labat & the Happy Devil have been a group of musicians, audio engineers and songwriters working to create songs that we want to play," says Labat. "While I write all the lyrics and do a good bit of the arranging, the songs would not have the same depth and richness without the incredible group of people working on them. I even consider Brett Grossman and Rob Smith, the two gentlemen that helped mix Homeward, as members."

That enlightened spirit of collaboration helps to make Homeward a consistently engaging, deeply soulful experience.

"This is probably the most folk/Americana-style album we've put out," Labat notes. "There's harmonica and ukulele on a few songs, where in the past we might have used electric guitar. In my opinion, this is a hopeful album. It touches on death and then laughs at our insignificance on this planet, talks about going home and then getting lost in the wilderness, gives advice to our younger selves and finds humor in standing on an ex's doorstep feeling stupid.

"The bottom line," Labat concludes, "is that everyone involved in the creation of our albums believes in what we are doing. We want to get back to the place that music brought us when we were young, frustrated with ourselves and oblivious to the real world. Music was an escape and it was fucking fun! I never want to lose that, so we don't set deadlines or quotas or budgets, we make the music we want to make, how we want to make it and we keep it fun. We sincerely strive to write the best damn songs you have never heard of...yet."