- Victoria Davis
Ben Stidworthy grew up around Portland. He left to study religion and classical Tibetan language at McGill University in Montreal. Three years later, he's visiting home as the bassist for an angular, action-inspired, challenge-rewarding band of post-punks.
Ought's 2014 debut, More Than Any Other Day, comes via Constellation Records, a Montreal-based outfit revered worldwide for practicing the radical, anti-corporate politics they preach. (They're also home to such acts as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the late Vic Chesnutt.) When Constellation offered to release Ought's first LP, the label had one request: no licensing songs for advertisements. Eagerly, the band agreed.
In part and parcel, Ought was born of a student strike at McGill, where all four members attended. Tuition costs were getting out of hand and the kids stood up. The initial protests in late 2011 topped 30,000 participants. A university building was occupied and the riot policed rolled in.
It was Stidworthy's first year. At a party, just before things went haywire, he jammed with some new friends, including guitarist Tim Beeler. It went pretty well. But life—and politics—intervened.