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Biography

Metropolis was a solo recording project created by Ben Hardwidge in 1996. The project was all recorded on a Fostex Model 80 reel-to-reel 8-track tape recorder that belonged to a friend of his parents, which he hired for £10 a day. Ben played all of the instruments on the album, including keyboards (none of which were programmed), bass and guitars, and he also programmed the drum machine, a Roland TR-505, which had really shit sounds and couldn't keep time.

As well as the music, Ben also wrote the lyrics and script for the album, which followed the story of someone increasingly alienated by modern society. However, as Ben has the singing talents of a deranged chimpanzee whose voice has just broken, he roped in the talents of Ian Arkley (from Seventh Angel, Ashen Mortality and My Silent Wake), as well as Roger Light, Rebekah Armstrong and Paul 'Moo' Bird for the vocals.

At the time that he wrote the script, Ben was only 18, and thought that he'd made a ground-breaking commentary on modern life. However, it later transpired that he was actually just a depressed student who'd split up with his girlfriend, and wanted to blame society for this by writing a load of pretentious pseudo-philosophical bum spooge and calling it a concept album. Still, what do you expect when you have Roger Waters as a role model? You live and learn, don't you?

That said, Ben is still very pleased with the music and production of the album, and at some point he is hoping to remix it without the script. Highlights of the album include the rocking instrumental Spectrum, the eerie acoustic guitar and digital delay in Maria's Third Poem, the mellow and spacey Sleep Extension and the rocking prog-metal riffs of the finale, Welcome to Metropolis.

Ben self-funded the CD pressing with his student loan, which bought him a two-tone print on the CDs, and his Dad then produced the sleeves with a colour photocopied cover (using a picture by the very talented US artist Erik Johnson, who kindly let Ben use the picture on the condition that he bought a full-size print), and eight mono pages in the middle. The American rights to the CD were then snapped up by Rad Rockers, who distributed it in the states. Despite its pretentious overtones, the album received great reviews due to its unique sound, and half-decent production.

In 1998, Ben decided to take the project a step further by performing as a live act and a Metropolis band was formed. This originally comprised Adam Maslowski on bass and Rachel Enticknap on vocals, and Rachel was later replaced by Batalion D'Amour vocalist, Ania Zachar and then K-Nitrate guitarist Joanna Theobald. Metropolis did a couple of gigs at The Victoria Inn in Derby and then moved down to London and played all the usual rock and goth venues, including The Camden Underworld, The Devonshire Arms, The Red Eye, The Dublin Castle, Gossips and The Hope & Anchor. During this time, the band gigged with Needleye, Interlock, Jesus Fix, The Faces of Sarah, K-Nitrate and Angelwhore among others.

In 1999, the band recorded a cassette EP called 'Only Yours', which featured the tracks Understand Me, Only Yours and a cover of 'My Favourite Game' by The Cardigans. Rachel Enticknap wrote the lyrics on the first two tracks, while Ben wrote the music. Metropolis was finally disbanded by Ben in 2001 when he realised that most people find industrial prog rock about as interesting as a Jim Davidson video marathon.

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