Ben Fagan is sitting at the bar in the downtown Wasabi, enjoying a beer. It takes only a few moments in his presence to realize that the young Charleston musician is, in fact, exactly how he looks at this moment: relaxed and easy-going.
As I sit down and order a water, Fagan, the frontman for Ben Fagan and the Holy City Hooligans, orders a second beer and compliments the bartender. “The main ingredient is cold,” he says and takes a sip.
The singer-guitarist is a life-long Folly resident. Earlier in the day, Fagan and the Hooligans, a laid-back combo specializing in white-boy reggae and groovy jams, were at the frontman’s home studio laying down tracks for the band’s latest, Freestyle Sessions 1. Needless to say, Fagan is proud of his hometown. “I want my music to be Charleston and Folly. I want people to feel what I feel when I walk out there,” he says.
A good example is the song “Just Be Loved.” Fagan wrote the tune in the middle of the night on the beach while he walked the shores alone. Of course, he does more than just stroll the beach. He hits the road.
The day before our interview, Fagan and the Holy City Hooligans were in North Carolina playing a gig for a sorority. For the next few weeks, they’ll continue to play across the state before Fagan heads out to the West Coast for month. When he gets back, the band will once again hit the road and perform at bars around town promoting Freestyle Sessions 1, which hits the shelves May 27. He’s also working on a disc with his brother Chris.
The road life is nothing new to Fagan, who most recently fronted the Plainfield Project, which toured all along the East Coast and up to the Canadian border; Plainfield was also a multiple winner of the Charleston City Paper‘s annual Best of Charleston readers’ pick for best band. Prior to that, Fagan was a contestant on the reality TV show Pirate Master. He won the competition and walked away with a cool half million.
But no matter where he goes, Fagan looks at Charleston as the inspiration for his music, which is why he’s never left the shores he grew up on. “It’s sorta like being a kid still, only pretending to do grown-up things,” he says. “I wanna bring the feeling of Folly and Charleston to people, because a lot of people don’t get to come here.”