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Ben Cooper is a teller of stories, as seen in the fanciful album trilogy he launched in 2011, The Family Tree: The Roots, a chronicle revolving around a fictitious nineteenth-century family (the Northcotes) whose protagonists, unwittingly or not, chart a course for future generations. The second installment of the series, The Family Tree: The Branches, was released in 2013. The project embodies Radical Face’s fascination with big story arcs, history, and genealogy. The characters in his sometimes dark tales are drawn from research, personal experience, and his own imagination.
Cooper’s own story could be the stuff of legends itself. As a teenager in Jacksonville, Florida, he had his heart set on being a professional skateboarder, but a serious back injury scotched that. He had played in rock bands but largely disdained band politics, so, inspired by books such as East of Eden, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and the works of authors such as Cormac McCarthy, he embarked on writing a novel. He lost his entire manuscript in a computer crash. “So I decided to try it in record form,” he says. Radical Face’s penchant for otherworldly narratives was revealed on his 2007 release Ghost, a concept album based on the notion that houses retain memories of what transpired inside them. The song “Welcome Home” from Ghost has garnered over twenty-two million YouTube views, mostly due to a worldwide Nikon commercial. Further television support has come from shows such as Private Practice, Skins, Eddie Izzard, Weeds, as well as his late night national television debut on Last Call with Carson Daly.
This is music of magic and intimacy with mass appeal.