Eighteen months ago Ben Markus was given one year to live.
But the prolific musician did not take the news as an invitation to give up on life. And he has used his battle against cancer as inspiration for his 10th album Going Home by TMB (formerly The Markus Band) which he has written with his partner Janet Croston.
Ben, from Silsoe, said: “The album is inspired by living with the situation of being told I have terminal cancer. But it’s taking that as the starting point for songs looking at life and mortality.
“It is almost a reunion album, because the band we’ve done it with are the most prolific line-up of my band, who played together from 1999-2007.
“The more that I do my music right now, the more I feel like I’m a normal person. Otherwise the illness and the patient can leave you feeling like you’re a professional patient, and I don’t want that – I want to feel like me.
“If you’re a musician you do that because you don’t want to work a 9-5 job. But that also means that I can work on the music when I am feeling well enough, and if I am feeling ill I can stay in bed.”
Going Home is a classic Ben Markus record, with a mix of powerful ballads and soulified melodic rock.
While this is Ben’s 10th studio LP, it was Janet’s first experience of setting words to music as she co-wrote all 11 tracks.
But although she is a trainer by trade, Janet was already an accomplished wordsmith, whose poetry and other writing has been published.
She said: “The album is about living and loving and embracing life. There are no miserable songs, although some of the ballads might be tear-jerkers.
“I had never written words for songs before, this was a new experience. But we went to record the album at The Lodge in Northampton and when we walked in all the lights were off – apart from on the mixing desk which turned out to be the unit they used to mix Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Then when we were bringing the instruments in the keyboard was the original Hammond organ from Jethro Tull.”
Going Home will be available on July 21 as a CD and download. Find out more at http://www.tmbmusic.co.uk/