When I spoke to Benjamin Booker he was at his home in New Orleans; a rather nice place to be considering he's been on the road since February. It's been a big year, and it doesn't look like things will be slowing down anytime soon.

His self-titled debut album is (in my opinion) one of the most refreshing albums of 2014. It's loud, honest rock and raw with emotion. Not only will Booker melt your heart with the blues, he'll help you let off some steam with those heavily distorted jams too. While you're busy deciding whether to revel in the moment or let loose and dance, you'll also be busy deciphering whether it's 1922 or 1992.

"Growing up I was really really obsessed with music and listened to a lot of older stuff, but also a lot of new stuff too. When I was writing, I was just writing songs to share with friends, so I wasn't thinking about anybody hearing them. I think that writing songs for yourself and not thinking about other people. I don't know, maybe you do stuff that's weird or different because of that."

His Mum only went to see him play live for the first time a few weeks ago, in Florida where he grew up. When I asked him why she hadn't been to see him earlier, it was obvious his music was something he'd kept to himself for a while. "I think the whole thing is just a little weird to them, playing shows and doing this music thing. I don't know, there's a lot of people... I have like best friends who didn't know I played guitar until I started playing shows and had an album out," he said. Either way, we're happy she's now 'seen her son' do his thing (sorry, bad pun).

Once Rough Trade signed Booker late last year, it wasn't long before people got to talking. Yet it was mainly his successful stint at SXSW 2014 that hurled him into the hype, "I had just started playing, like properly touring, maybe like a month before SXSW. So that was a very weird experience, it was kind of horrible," he laughed. "I don't know, I try to not look at any of that stuff, because it'll drive me crazy. But I'm happy, I'm happy there's been such good reviews."

As energising as Benjamin Booker is, seeing him in the spotlight made me question something else. Why aren't there more black guys performing garage rock? Convinced that it must simply be just a genre specific thing, I asked Booker his thoughts. "Um I mean, it's something that has come up before but I just really never thought about it. When I was younger I would go to punk shows and stuff, and of course I was the only black kid at the shows. It just never crossed my mind, which is maybe why I've never had any problems with it," he said. We then went on to discuss the many bands that came before him, "I grew up listening to Bad Brains, The Dirtbombs, The Gories, TV On The Radio and all those people playing rowdy music. I don't know, it's something I've never really thought of but it has come up a few times."

Admittedly I felt a little intrusive, because when it comes to great music, the politics of it all should be irrelevant. However, it is very interesting too and Booker was more than happy to elaborate, "It's hard if you, maybe not so much in the UK, but in the States, it is hard if you deviate from the norm. When I was in middle school and started wearing Converse and band shirts I definitely got picked on a little bit by the other kids. I was into skating and if you're black in America and you're into rock, you might get some flack at school." All the better for his success though, a kind of 'in your face' to the rest of them, "Yeah, I mean getting picked on as a musician is like the best thing that can happen to you."

It was at about this point that I realised how cool this guy is, he doesn't give a shit. He's just doing what he loves. You know those people who are naturally cool but don't necessarily think they are? I tend to listen a little more intently to these kinds of people, which is why the rest of this article will play out as an advice column (yes, life advice from Benjamin Booker).


Music you should really listen to:

"I like a lot of older blues stuff from the '20s. I'm a really big fan of Blind Willie Johnson and Furry Lewis, we cover one of his songs, 'Falling Down Blues'."

"I'm really into this '90s stuff from Glasgow, Life Without Buildings. There's also another band from Glasgow called Amazing Snakeheads who we played a show with in Hamburg. I really like that band."

"We just played a festival out here in New Orleans called Voodoo Fest and I saw Lauryn Hill which was awesome. That was like a dream come true, she's the greatest."


Spend more time in Brighton:

"My favourite place that we played was Brighton, which I think we're playing again next time we come. Our booking agent lives there and it's maybe, my favourite town ever. I always grew up next to the water and stuff, I was born in Virginia Beach so I just like beach towns. Plus it's an older town too and the people are really friendly - it's a great place for music. The band that we played with from Brighton was the coolest too - Tigercub."


Volunteer:

"I got a job here in New Orleans working for this non profit and just started doing that. I used a lot of stuff in that job that I used when I went to school for journalism, working for the non profit...It's called HandsOn New Orleans. It was really fun, I've always liked volunteering and I've pretty much done it since I was twelve years old. You always feel good helping other people."


Benjamin Booker and his band will be returning to the UK early 2015. Just in case you weren't down with his advice, please take mine and buy your tickets here.