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Ben Helm & The Gel Wells Leave "Tracks of Love" in Their Path

Rebecca Rose

Ben Helm is a singer/songwriter based in Louisville, KY with a passion for Rock & Roll. He released his debut self-titled EP in 2016, and followed up with the 2018 full-length LP Frame of Mind, featuring his backing band, The Gel Wells. Their most recent offering is the Tracks of Love EP. The six-track collection was recorded here in Louisville, and released on Valentine's Day via the band's Bandcamp profile. The title track "Tracks of Love" is available on all major streaming networks as the project's lead single. I caught up with Ben to ask him about the past, present, and future of Ben Helm & The Gel Wells.

Tracks of Love is your second EP and third project with your band. What brought the group together, and how long have you been at it?

In 2015 my friend Daniel Duncan linked me up with a drummer he used to play with by the name of Greg Morris and Greg’s been my right-hand man ever since. Finding a consistent bass player became more of a challenge, when our first bassist, Rob Collier moved to Wisconsin we ended up getting Elijah Humble to play on our first (and currently only) LP, "Frame Of Mind" and now we have Tony Downs on board for our latest EP, “Tracks Of Love” which is great because Tony and Greg have been a true rhythm section since 2016 as part of a group called “Heat Machine,” as well as various other projects aside from mine. They’re such great musicians, and a lot of fun to work with, and the help I get from Steve Sturgill (lead guitar and keys) and Will Owen Gage (lead guitar) speaks volumes as well.

As the sole songwriter, how do you communicate your ideas to the band?

I tend to show up with the songs already written with chord charts and the band plays along with me for however many practice sessions it takes until we’re finished, normally it doesn’t take very long. I honestly could not feel more lucky to have such a great band back me up, The Gel Wells, as I dubbed them, provide just the right groove for these songs.

How did the ongoing pandemic affect your process of recording and releasing music?

I seriously thought the recording session we had booked would have gotten pushed back by months given how serious everything had gotten, I almost pushed the date back to late summer or fall. The band and I were sounding really tight by late February, and then the Covid storm hit. By mid May however, the Governor announced that groups of ten or less would be permitted, as long as it was done safely. I immediately thought, “Welp, La La Land is Huge! We could be up to 24 feet apart if we wanted to, we’ll only have a week to get our groove back, but I like a challenge.” As fate would have it, we knocked out the 5 songs plus one new one, (Heroes) in a weeks time, and recorded the EP as originally planned. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t say the honest truth that studios like La La Land and the people who run them are such a godsend to so many artists in our community and I’m super grateful to Anne Gauthier for helping us bring this project to life.

What can listeners expect from you in the future?

Making records is always fun, but hopefully we’ll be able to play more shows once enough people are vaccinated. This has been a really abnormal and scary period for everyone, and there’s no doubt that live music in particular is greatly missed in communities across the country, and I cannot wait to be able to play these songs live in a room full of positive people who have not been able to experience any kind of social norms within the last year and counting.

Stream the new EP and the title track "Tracks of Love" below!

Otis is the late morning host on WFPK. Email Otis at ojunior@lpm.org