Who or what inspired "I Paid My Money" on Fear of Pop Vol. 1?
IF YOU PAY TO GO SEE A MOVIE AND, GOD FORBID, YOU'VE MADE A MISTAKE AND WALKED INTO A SHITTY ONE, YOU DON'T GET YOUR MONEY'S WORTH BY STICKING THE WHOLE THING OUT. CUT YOUR LOSSES AND LEAVE. THIS APPLIES TO ANY INVESTMENT.
The song that has always touched me the most has been The Best Imitation of Myself. It seems to be a song about "being yourself" and not putting on a face for others. With the new album out, the song Jane sounds a lot like Best Imitation, lyrically. I was wondering if this is a big issue with Ben, personally, and if he is still struggling to be himself with the band's fame. Also, WHAT THE HECK IS TOM AND MARY ABOUT?!?!?
I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT BEING YOURSELF WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN PEOPLE'S LIVES. FOLLOWING YOUR HEART. BECAUSE IT SO OFTEN GETS YOU IN TROUBLE IN THE SHORT TERM, BUT IT ALWAYS PAYS OFF IN THE LONG TERM. IF I HAD ONE MESSAGE THAT I THOUGHT HELD ANY WATER AT ALL, IT'S 'BE YOURSELF' OR 'BE TRUE TO YOURSELF'... SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
TOM AND MARY IS JUST PURE SUBTEXT WITH NO ACTUAL PLOT. IT'S A GOSSIP SONG. EVERYBODY KNOWS SOME SHAMEFUL SECRET ABOUT EITHER TOM OR MARY, THAT MARY OR TOM HAVEN'T FOUND OUT ABOUT YET. MAYBE MARY'S HAVING AN AFFAIR AND TOM'S THE ONLY ONE WHO DOESN'T KNOW. AS THEY'RE JOINING A PARTY OR CROWD, THE AWKWARD SILENCE BEFALLS THE ROOM. SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
From: Rosejmort@aol.com (Rose Mortillaro, New Orleans, LA)
Are there any particular charities or causes that the band supports? (I would like to make a donation to charity in honor of the birth of the twins.)
ANYTHING RELATED TO CYSTIC FIBROSIS. I DON'T HAVE ADDRESSES WITH ME IN AUSTRALIA BUT I'LL TRY TO GET A FEW TO FRANK SOON. THANKS.
From: Astro111@aol.com (Robin Abelson, Delmar, NY)
Ben, do you consider yourself a pioneer in music in any way?
I DON'T KNOW. I THINK THAT INNOVATION IS OVER RATED THESE DAYS THOUGH. IF YOU FOLLOW YOUR HEART AND YOU HAPPEN TO BE IN A WHIRL POOL OF CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MAKES YOU AN INNOVATOR BECAUSE YOU FOUND A WAY TO REACT TO THE TIMES, THEN YOU WILL PIONEER SOMETHING. THE POINT IS JUST TO BE HONEST AND EXPRESSIVE WITH THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF CRAFT TO HELP IT ALL OUT. I JUST SHOOT FOR WHAT WORKS FOR ME AND LET TIME TELL. I'VE ALWAYS JUSTIFIED THAT I DON'T CRANK OUT HITS, BY FEEDING MYSELF THE CLICHE THAT MY MUSIC IS AHEAD OF IT'S TIME. THAT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER. SOMETIMES I ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT. I WROTE ALMOST ALL OF OUR FIRST ALBUM LITERALLY YEARS BEFORE WE RECORDED IT FIVE YEARS AGO AND I THINK THAT IF THAT ALBUM WAS JUST RELEASED NOW, IT WOULD HAVE FOUR HITS. I DON'T KNOW IF THAT CONSTITUTES PIONEERING OR NOT. DAVID BOWIE WAS A PIONEER.
From: joe s schanderson
As you know there are a healthy amount of your demo recordings floating around. Having listened to many of them, do you feel that producers or band mates have had the most impact on their final production. I'm specifically recalling a VERY slow version of jackson cannery.
IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE WAY PEOPLE HEAR A SONG, AND ABOUT THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT PERFORMING IT. HELL, IN POP MUSIC, THE BAND AND THE PRODUCTION CAN LITERALLY BE THE SONG. I WAS IN THE POSITION OF DEMOING AND RE-DEMOING SONGS FOR MY FIRST PUBLISHER IN DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE SOUL GOT SUCKED OUT. JACKSON CANNERY MUST HAVE BEEN DEMOED 5 OR 6 WAYS. A WASTE OF TIME. BY THE TIME BFF GOT TOGETHER, EVERY LITTLE NOTE HAD BEEN WORKED OUT, SO WE COMPENSATED FOR THE DIRGE BY GOING INTO THE STUDIO DRUNK AND PLAYING LIKE LITTLE KIDS. ROBERT AND DARREN NEVER LET ME GET BOGGED DOWN LIKE THAT AND ALWAYS FIND SOMETHING FRESH TO MAKE THE SONGS WORK. CALEB KNOWS WHEN WE'RE FULL OF SHIT AND WHEN IT'S REAL. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I'M COMFORTABLE WORKING THESE DAYS.
From: Julie 'anti-gavin'
What's your favourite Australian Band considering you now live here?
I LIKE YOU AM I ; BEN LEE ; LIVING END ; UH... THERE MUST BE OTHERS. I'VE HEARD MOSTLY LIFT MUSIC AT THE HOSPITAL ON THIS TRIP.
From: Brian Chan
Ben, do you suppose that on future albums there will be more songs penned by other members of the band (like "Magic" on the latest album)? Will we get to hear any vocals by Darren or Robert in the future on such songs?
ROBERT AND DARREN AND I KNOW WHEN A SONG IS OURS; WHEN IT'S COMING FROM THE PLACE THAT IS 'US'. IF DARREN HAD WRITTEN FIVE SONGS LIKE "MAGIC" THEN THE ALBUM WOULD HAVE BEEN HALF DARREN SONGS AND THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN COOL. MY "FEAR OF POP" SONGS WEREN'T 'US' AND HAD TO FIND ANOTHER HOME. DARREN IS WORKING ON SOLO MATERIAL FOR A POSSIBLE ALBUM AND THAT IS THE BEST HOME FOR MOST OF THE SONGS HE WRITES. HIS VOICE AND A GUITAR ARE MUCH MORE APPROPRIATE FOR MOST OF HIS SONGS. HOPEFULLY, YOU WILL HEAR A LOT OF DARREN IN THE FUTURE THIS WAY, AS I PREDICT A LONG SUCCESSFUL CAREER WITH MANY HITS. ON REINHOLD, HE DIDN'T WANT TO SING "MAGIC". HE WANTED ME TO SING IT. I WAS A LITTLE SCARED BECAUSE I LIKED HIS VERSION SO MUCH, BUT I GAVE IT A GO AND HE WAS HAPPY WITH IT. IT'S A SONG I CAN REALLY RELATE TO. THERE'S NO TELLING HOW THE NEXT ALBUM WILL UNFOLD. ULTIMATELY, OUR RECORDS HAVE TO HAVE FOCUS AND A POINT OF VIEW AND NOT SOUND LIKE A TALENT SHOW. ROBERT AND DARREN HAVE GREAT VOICES, AND WE'LL KNOW WHEN TO USE THEM.
What do you have in your pockets right now, and what is the most vulgar thing you own?
EMBARRASSINGLY, TODAY I ACTUALLY HAD A HALF EATEN COOKIE, AN OPENED TUBE OF ZINC CREAM AND ONE BABY SOCK IN MY POCKETS, ALONG WITH RECEIPTS FROM DOZENS OF USED FURNITURE SHOPS BECAUSE I'VE BEEN RELOCATING TO ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA. MY WHITE TOYOTA MIGHT CONSTITUTE VULGARITY.
From: Anna cgp
'Don't Change Your Plans' reminds me of (this is a compliment by the way) 'It's Not Easy Being Green' or 'Rainbow Connection' which, as we all know, are classic Kermit the Frog hits. Ever considered doing a Kermit cover? or even better, a Kermit duet?!?
NO! BUT FUNNY YOU MENTIONED THAT. WE'VE ALWAYS HAD A CERTAIN KIND OF SONG THAT WE DESCRIBED AS 'FROG ON A LOG'. "PLANS" IS THE KING OF 'FROG ON A LOG' SONGS ISN'T IT?! 'EVAPORATED' WAS ALSO CONSIDERED ONE.
From: CMMART9956@aol.com (Chris Martin, Pittsburgh, PA)
This Question comes from Chris Martin from Pittsburgh, PA. (One of the guys who went swimming with you kids out in Lancaster, PA) 1. What new music excites you these days? Are there any new bands that you can recommend to your fans? 2. What are some of your favorite cities to play?
I KINDA LIKE THE LEN RECORD ACTUALLY. IT'S FUN AND IT COMES FROM THE RIGHT PLACE. THE FATBOY SLIM RECORD IS FUCKING CLASSIC. OTHERWISE, I'VE BEEN LISTENING TO PROKOVIEV AND RACHMANINOFF. NINA SIMONE. PLACES TO PLAY...I'VE ALWAYS LIKED LONDON, LAWRENCE KANSAS, AND A WHOLE SHITLOAD OF OTHER TOWNS I CAN'T REMEMBER NOW.
From: Priti Ubhayakar
My questions are: If you could only leave one song [of yours] for your great great grandchildren to listen to and remember you by, what would it be and why?
I'M SORRY. I COULDN'T REALLY SAY. I DON'T BELIEVE I'VE QUITE SUMMED IT UP ON ONE SONG. A FEW OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD WOULD BE: BOXING, PHILOSOPHY, EVAPORATED, AND DON'T CHANGE YOUR PLANS. I DON'T KNOW WHY. THEY JUST POPPED IN MY HEAD.
From: Daisy2831@aol.com (Allison Kirkland, Durham, NC)
Was there a turning point in your life that made you realize that you wanted to be in a band and make music, or was it kind of a gradual desicion? Also, what are some of your other interests besides music and stuff?
I GREW INTO THE BAND THING. I WAS BORN A MUSICIAN, I THINK. I ALWAYS KNEW THAT'S WHAT I WAS. I JUST BECAME FATHER TO TWINS, AND NOW I FEEL LIKE THAT'S MY PURPOSE AND MAIN INTEREST.
From: EWFish@aol.com (Eric Williams, Glendale, CA)
- Have you ever written a song with some other singer's voice in mind, and who would you love to hear cover one of your songs?
I USED TO ALWAYS WRITE THAT WAY BECAUSE I'M NOT FOND OF THE LIMITATIONS IN MY VOICE. I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO HEAR BLACK PERFORMERS LIKE STEVIE WONDER DO MY SONGS.
From: Adam Steinbaugh
Would you kindly tell us the story about you and Dave Matthews Band's "Crash"? I heard you were in the room or something, but I'd like to hear the story directly from the horse's mouth.
WE HAVE A MUTUAL FRIEND WHO WAS RECORDING DAVID'S DEMOS FOR THAT ALBUM. I DROPPED BY TO SAY HELLO AND HE WAS SITTING THERE WITH A GUITAR SINGING, 'CRASH INTO ME, CRASH INTO ME' OVER AND OVER AGAIN, AND I THOUGHT, MAN, THAT ONE'S GOING RIGHT INTO THE SHITTER; IS THAT THE WAY HE WRITES SONGS? WHEN I HEARD IT FINISHED, IT REMINDED ME THAT EVERYONE HAS THEIR METHOD WHICH MAKES THEM UNIQUE, BECAUSE I LOVE THE SONG NOW.
From: Evan Westmore
Living in Adelaide, Australia now (im an Aussie), do you see many people with scars on their shoulders?
CAN'T SEE THE SCARS FOR THE MULLETS, MATE.
From: Christopher Schulte
I've found the Internet to be a wonderful resource to keep track of going ons and news events with you and your band. What's your opinion of the Internet? Are you aware of the many incredible services that form an almost cult-like worshiping of the music you help produce?
I'M PROBABLY NOT AWARE OF IT ALL. I'VE SEEN A LOT OF IT. I'M INTO THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE AUDIENCE AND US. I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD THING. I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE HAD THAT SORT OF TOOL AS AN AVID MUSIC FAN IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE. I SUPPOSE THAT I'M SHOWING MY APPRECIATION FOR THE INSTITUTION OF THE INTERNET AND FRANK'S SITE IN PARTICULAR, BY ACTUALLY TAKING A FEW NIGHTS AND TALKING ON THIS COMPUTER.
From: Todd Harrington
What type of piano do you use and how many of them are brought on tour?
A BALDWIN SF-10 AND A BALDWIN M (WHICH HAS TACKS IN THE HAMMERS) I HAVE ANOTHER SF-10 AT HOME, AND AN OLD TURN OF THE CENTURY UPRIGHT PIANO CALLED A STEIFF (WHICH I USED ON BRICK)
From: Drgnphly14@aol.com (K.J. Johnson, Kansas City, MO)
What is the weirdest thing you've ever seen at a concert?
DARREN PASSING OUT ON THE DRUMS FROM JACK DANIELS IN SEATTLE.
From: FeelAwake@aol.com (Hannah Gayle, Corpus Christi, TX)
If you could have one superpower for a day, what would it be & why?
I'D LIKE TO BE 'TOOTH REGENERATOR MAN' AND BE ABLE TO GROW NEW TEETH WHEN THE OLD ONES GO BAD. ACTUALLY, THE ABILITY TO GROW HAIR ON MY HEAD WOULD BE PRETTY COOL TOO...
From: Ashley Minor
My favorite song is smoke...I was wondering if there were any particular life experiences or happenings that contributed and influenced the song.
ANNA GOODMAN WROTE THE WORDS TO THAT SONG. I WROTE THE MUSIC TO THE WORDS. SHE AND I WERE MARRIED WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG AND HAD SPLIT WHEN SHE WROTE THAT. I PUT SPECIAL ENERGY INTO THE MUSIC ASSUMING IT WAS ABOUT WHAT WE HAD LEFT BEHIND.
From: Starside5@aol.com (Deniece Michele Willmais, Dallastown, PA)
Now that you're married and have the twins, will you settle down more and be Daddy or will you be the same Ben that we all know & love?
YOU WON'T RECOGNIZE ME NOW. I'M WEARING SWEAT PANTS AND DRIVING A STATION WAGON AND LISTENING TO KENNY G. THE LIVE SHOW WILL INCLUDE A SLIDE SHOW OF MY CHILDREN WHILE WE PLAY 'YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE'. THE OPENING ACT WILL BE A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER SELLING HIS SELF HELP BOOKS. ALL MY NEW SONGS ARE ABOUT CHANGING DIAPERS AND DRIED UPCHUCK THAT YOU FIND DRIED ON YOUR SHOULDER OVER BREAKFAST AT 6:00 AM. OTHER THAN THAT, I'M STILL THE SAME GUY...
From: CMS912@aol.com (Christina Solmaz, Denver, NC)
Who do you admire most in your life and why?
I ADMIRE MY PARENTS FOR RAISING ME WITH LESS MONEY THAN I CAN EVEN IMAGINE ONE PERSON LIVING ON. AND FOR NOT FUCKING ME UP IN THE PROCESS (WELL... NOT TOO BAD)
From: Mitchell McGirt
My name is Mitchell McGirt. I've known Ben and Robert since the days when they lived in Greensboro. I also knew Darren when he lived in Greenville. I guess you could say that I knew them in their "Green" phase. What was it about Darren and Robert that really appealed to you when you decided on a final, solid line-up for the group? I mean, why not Snuzz or Dave Wright or Evan Olson? Many people I know are copying "Shut Up and Listen to Majosha" onto their own CD's with CD burners. Will you ever officially re-release that album? What did you like about working with Caleb Southern?
MITCH, YOU BASTARD! WHEN I MOVED BACK TO NORTH CAROLINA, I WANTED TO JUST BE IN AN OLD FASHIONED NORTH CAROLINA DO IT YOURSELF BAND FROM THE GROUND UP BECAUSE I'D BEEN IN THE MIDDLE OF LOTS OF BULLSHIT IN NEW YORK AND NASHVILLE. MUSIC STOPPED MAKING SENSE TO ME WHEN I'D LEFT NORTH CAROLINA AND MAJOSHA. WHEN I CAME BACK, I WANTED SOMETHING NEW WITH TWO PEOPLE I REALLY DIDN'T KNOW INSTEAD OF SLIPPING BACK INTO OLD PATTERNS. ROBERT WAS SUGGESTED BY MY BROTHER, AND DARREN, I JUST LIKED. I NEVER HAD HEARD HIM PLAY. I THOUGHT WE MADE SENSE TOGETHER, AND THEY WERE INTO MOVING A PIANO AROUND. TURNS OUT THEY'RE PRETTY GOOD, HUH? SNUZZ, I'D PLAYED WITH AND ALTHOUGH I LOVE HIM TO DEATH, I THINK HE AND I DON'T BELONG IN THE SAME BAND. THERE'S NOT ROOM ENOUGH FOR TWO OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVES AND I THINK HE NEEDS TO BE THE LEADER OF HIS OWN BAND. DAVE WRIGHT IS SIMILAR. GREAT MUSICIAN, BUT I SEE HIM BEING HIS OWN BAND. ABOUT CALEB; HE'S THE FOURTH MEMBER AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED AND I CAN'T IMAGINE RECORDING WITHOUT HIM. ROBERT'S A FUCKING ROCK STAR AND YOU GOTTA HAVE THAT, INSIDE AND OUT; HIS ENERGY POURS OUT OF HIS INSTRUMENT AND INSPIRES DARREN AND ME. DARREN SINGS, WRITES, AND PLAYS HIS ASS OFF. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW? YOU IN A BAND AT THE MOMENT? YOU STILL WITH THAT GIRL FROM NEW GUINNEA?
From: "Miller, Paul"
who do you guys consider your peers ? do you follow other "non-traditional" bands like Morphine or 16 Horsepower ? who's your favorite female musician ?
I ALWAYS LOVED MORPHINE. I LIKE LIZ PHAIR, TORI AMOS, BJORK, JONI MITCHELL. I DON'T KNOW WHO OUR PEERS ARE.
From: "Dennis, Rick"
Was it just fortuitous that Messner's beginning features a scream of "I'm not tired!" and it ends with a Lullaby or was the album designed that way? To me, this turns the work into a song cycle about the various things we wish we were numb enough to tune out but are unable to. In the final analysis we have to look for comfort somewhere outside ourselves. We need someone to sing us to sleep. I think this makes the gospel style of Lullaby even more fitting.
WOW. THANK YOU. COULD YOU EXPLAIN THAT TO THE CRITIC AT ROLLING STONE?
From: "Andray Abrahamian"
Your lyrics are amazingly powerful. Do you write them first, or find the tune before the words?
IN A WAY, I THINK THEY COME AT THE SAME TIME. USUALLY, I REALIZE THE MELODY FIRST, BUT THE MELODIES OF MY BETTER SONGS GENERALLY REFLECT THE MOOD OF WHAT I'M THINKING ABOUT AT THE TIME. SO THE WORDS ARE SORT OF INHERRENT IN THE SONG, IF I HAVE THE PATIENCE TO FIND THEM. I ALSO HAVE HEAPS OF THINGS I'VE THOUGHT AND WRITTEN, APART FROM ANY MUSIC IN MY NOTEBOOKS WHICH EVENTUALLY FIND HOMES.
From: Brian Noe
As the father of 6-year-old twin sons, I'd just like to know if you have any idea what you've gotten yourself into! Peace and good luck...
THANK YOU. AFTER A FEW WEEKS, I THINK WE'RE GETTING A GLIMPSE!!...
From: WastedWrds@aol.com (Jonny Morgan, Redwood City, CA)
I found your latest album to be dissapointingly "polished." Why the concious musical move away from the good old distorted-bass-piano-and-harmony rock 'n' roll that your fans, at least this one, know and love? I understand that musicians must "branch out," and I also know that you play for your own sake, not ours. Why the eletronica, though? One of the things I've always loved about BFF is that they had their own sound, instantly distiguishable from any other band; with all the techo-synth stuff, you're starting to sound suspiciously "hip" for someone with such a fear of pop...
"TECHNO?" ARE YOU JOKING? MY MOTHER STILL SAYS "GRUNGE". DO YOU THINK THAT THIS RECORD SOUNDS LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE? I'D BE A LOT RICHER IF IT DID.
WE'RE NOT PART OF A POLITICAL MOVEMENT, WE'RE MAKING MUSIC, AND IT'S PUT TOGETHER LIKE A BRICK SHIT HOUSE AND WILL HOLD UP FOR YEARS LONGER THAN IT WILL TAKE YOU TO UNDERSTAND IT. RELAX YOUR WHITE MALE SOUL. BE FREE. DRESS UP IN THIS YEAR'S CLOTHES IF IT ALLOWS YOU TO HAVE FUN AND BE YOURSELF. OR NOT. LET ELLIOTT SMITH MAKE A RAP ALBUM. LET HARRY CONNICK JR MAKE A GLAM ROCK ALBUM. LET US USE A MONO SYNTH ON 3 SONGS. LISTEN TO MUSIC FOR WHAT IT IS, NOT WHAT IT'S WEARING. OR BUY SOME SKATE SHOES AND WRITE MUSIC REVIEWS. I DON'T MAKE MUSIC TO TELL PEOPLE WHO I AM, OR WHAT MUSICAL CHESS MOVE I'VE MADE. I'M JUST STATING HOW I FEEL, HOPING THAT SOMEONE ELSE OUT THERE MIGHT FEEL THE SAME WAY. ANYWAY, WE'LL MAKE MORE ALBUMS, AND MAYBE WE'LL STUMBLE ON ANOTHER DIRECTION THAT YOU LIKE AGAIN. BUT WE GOTTA FOLLOW OUR HEARTS. THE ONLY WAY YOU'LL KNOW WE'VE MADE A "CONSCIOUS MUSICAL MOVE" IS IF WE REPEAT OUR FIRST ALBUM OVER AGAIN, WHICH I'M SURE, WOULD BE A MUCH MORE LUCRATIVE ENDEAVOR. THANKS FOR SPEAKING YOUR MIND.
From: "Claire Harrington"
How do you think living in Chapel Hill and/or being from the South (not necessarily the same thing) has affected your music? Also, what do you think of Eastern Carolina BBQ? Claire & Tom Harrington Washington, DC (residents of Chapel Hill '94-'97)
I'M NOT A BIG BBQ FAN, BUT I HEAR THAT CAROLINA BBQ IS THE BEST. WE ARE SUCH A SOUTHERN ROCK BAND WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT. HOPEFULLY THERE'S SOME FAULKNER IN THERE WITH THE LYNARD SKYNARD.
From: "James Clarke"
What's the difference between the audiences you play to in America and the audiences you play to in England ?
ENGLISH ARE PRETTY INTENSE. YOU SING HARD AND LAUGH HARD AND YOU STEAL MY SNEAKERS. YOU GET ALL THE JOKES. SOMETIMES YOU GET THE JOKES THAT WERE NEVER MADE. YOU LISTEN. IN AMERICA, THINGS CAN GET MORE LITERAL. BUT OFTEN I FIND THAT AN AMERICAN AUDIENCE WILL FEEL A STORY MORE BECAUSE OF THAT. JOHNNY CASH STYLE. AMERICANS ARE INTERESTED IN WHO YOU ARE. ENGLISH ARE INTERESTED IN WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
From: IRSHMN100@aol.com (Darrel, Louisville, KY)
What did you think of being mentioned by Adam Duritz in the song Monkey by Counting Crows?
I WAS FLATTERED. I LOVED THEIR ALBUM AND COULDN'T BELIEVE HE'D EVEN HEARD OUR MUSIC.
From: "Brian Keegan"
The backing vocals you guys employ are one of the favorite aspects of the BFF style...you guys really fill up a room for a three-piece. I was wondering, are there any bands or arrangers in particular that influenced the development of the backing vocals, or did it just evolve from trying to find ways to to fill out songs as they developed? Who are your favorite piano players? Brian Keegan/Amy Smith Attleboro, MA
I'VE ALWAYS PLACED THE VOCALS IN THIS BAND BY CONSIDERING THAT SINCE THERE ARE ONLY THREE OF US, THE TWO OTHER HARMONIES HAD TO BE PLACED IN A WAY TO MAKE THE LEAD VOCAL INTO ONE OF THE HARMONIES. I ALSO LIKE TO PUT HARMONIES ON EXTENSIONS RATHER THAN ROOTS AND FIFTHS, VOICE LEAD THEM CAREFULLY SO THAT THERE'S NOT BIG CLUMSY JUMPS OF CHORDS. ANOTHER FACTOR IS THAT ROBERT HAS A VERY HIGH RANGE THAT CAN BE USED, WHILE DARREN HAS A VERY RICH VOICE. DEPENDING ON HOW HARD WE WANT TO STICK A PART, I'LL HAVE THEM TRADE SOME. DIFFERENT COMBINATIONS SIT DIFFERENTLY. IT'S BASICALLY TRADITIONAL ORCHESTRATION, WITH JAZZ VOICE LEADING.
From: Chris Smith
Do you consider your music strictly entertainment, or do you hope that a message comes across?
THERE MUST BE A MESSAGE, BUT THE BEST WAY TO GET THE POINT ACROSS IS TO MAKE IT FUN TO LISTEN TO SO THAT THE POINT SINKS IN ON REPEATED LISTENS.
My name is Chris Smith and I am 23 years old. I work with middle and high school age kids on a pretty regular basis and have been able to relate to them through your songs when we couldn't relate any other way. I appreciate that you are willing to express your anger, joy, etc. in an honest way without giving it a destructive bent. This has helped me work with many kids who need to express real emotion, but fight for a constructive way to communicate (most of them have been kicked out of school for problems with drugs or violence). Thanks again for expressing clear thoughts in such a singable way.
By the way, I am also very pleased to see that you have a positive
relationship with your dad. Has it always been that way?
THOSE ARE MIGHTY HIGH COMPLIMENTS. THANK YOU. IT'S WHAT I SHOOT FOR. MY FATHER NEVER TALKED BABY TALK TO ME, NEVER TREATED ME LIKE ANYTHING OTHER THAN AN ADULT. WE ALWAYS GOT ALONG LIKE FRIENDS.
From: Slaaneesh@aol.com (Stephen Leacock, Jupiter, FL)
How in the world did you get hooked up with William Shatner and get his vocals on "In Love?" It just seemed like a pair I would have never expected to collaborate.
I WROTE HIM A LETTER AND HE CALLED BACK. I JUST LOVE HIS VOICE.
From: John Saroff
Hey Ben! I heard you once lived in Montclair, my home town. Why? I mean, what the heck was a kid from the South doing up here in the burbs? What were your impressions?
I WAS IN THE PROCESS OF MOVING TO NEW YORK CITY. I HAD A FRIEND IN UPPER MONTCLAIR AND THERE I LANDED. IT WAS LIKE ANOTHER COUNTRY TO ME. I TOOK THE BUS IN ON ROUTE 3 EVERYDAY AND WALKED AROUND THE CITY WITH A BACKPACK TRYING TO GET WORK. IT SUCKED. THE PLACE IS COOL. I JUST HAD A SHIT TIME.
From: Oliver Abbott
Is Philosophy really about your Johnson?
NAH. JUST A JOKE. IT'S REALLY ABOUT MY DICK.
From: Sarah Ronnebaum
I'm a really big fan of the band, partially because I've studying piano nearly all my life. Did you ever take classical piano, and if so, who is your favorite composer?
I DONT' REALLY HAVE A FAVORITE. LIKE IN POP MUSIC, I JUST HAVE FAVORITE PIECES HERE AND THERE. FAURE'S REQUIEM ROCKS. BEETHOVEN'S MOONLIGHT SONATA. DEBUSSY, RAVEL, CHOPIN... ONE OF MY FAVORITE PIECES OF MUSIC ACTUALLY, IS SOLACE BY SCOTT JOPLIN; IT'S REALLY REALLY SAD TO ME, BUT IT HAS TO BE PLAYED THE RIGHT WAY.
From: Cheboygan County MSU Extension
What's the most embarrasing thing that's happened since you guys started the band?
DARREN PASSED OUT ON HIS DRUMSET AFTER A BOTTLE OF TEQUILA IN SAN DIEGO.
From: TheEgoist@aol.com (Johnny Bardine, Hershey, PA)
When you finish writing a song and go to Robert and Darren and say, "Hey, I've got a new song," how do you go about teaching them their parts without telling them how to play their instruments and whatnot? Do they ever dislike a song you've written? If so, what happens then? I'm asking because on stage and on recordings you guys seem so tight. It's really a pleasure to watch.
Who are your favorite authors? I read somewhere that in your free time on the road that you guys read. What was the last book you read? Have you ever read Ayn Rand or anything like that? Some lines in "Philosophy" (my favorite song) make me think that you may have.
When I met you and your band at American University in Washington, DC in April, I was taken aback by how friendly and sincere y'all were. (I was the guy who said that he "belted out a shifty rendition of "Brick" on your piano."
THERE'S NO ONE WAY THAT WE ARRANGE A SONG. SOME PARTS ARE BUILT INTO THE SONG, AND THE GUYS RESPECT THAT AND LISTEN TO MY SUGGESTIONS ON THE SONGS I WROTE. DARREN WAS REALLY OPEN MINDED TO MY DOING SOME ARRANGING ON MAGIC, WHICH IS REALLY COOL, SINCE HIS VERSION ON GUITAR IS SO DAMN GOOD. BUT AS WELL, I'M INTO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO PLAY ON THINGS I WRITE. IT'S A BAND, YOU KNOW.
AND YEAH, I'VE READ ANTHEM BUT THAT'S ALL BY AYN RAND.
From: Paul May
If the world was definitely going to end tomorrow, what three things would you like to do today?
CALL MY TOUR MANAGER'S HOTEL ROOM, GET ON A PLANE AND GO HOME.