- We interrupt my usual Cheeseboy shenanigans and blabbering to bring you the first ever Blog O' Cheese celebrity interview. -
I emailed Ben Cooper, otherwise known as "Radical Face", on a whim - doubting that he would ever respond to some dude in Utah that teaches first grade. His band, "Electric President" just released a new album entitled The Violet Blue in February. In addition, he just barely released a solo EP entitled Touch the Sky under the "Radical Face" name last month. Needless to say, he is a busy man.
When I received an actual reply from Ben, stating that he would be happy to answer a few questions, I rejoiced by cartoonishly whelping and dancing like a kooky moron. My wife, who for some reason likes country music, had no idea why I was so elated. Had Mr. Cooper seen my reaction, I doubt he would have granted such a request.
There is a pretty good chance that you may never have heard of Radical Face, Electric President or Ben Cooper, in which case, may I introduce you to the WORLD OF AWESOME?! The man, only 24 years old, is a musical genius. If you are a fan of The Postal Service, Freelance Whales or pretty much just good music in general, you will love anything and everything Ben Cooper. If you do not like his music, there is either something wrong with your hearing or you are an idiot. (I only call my readers "idiots" with the greatest amount of love and respect.)
Anyway, I asked Ben three questions. This is how it went:
Q: As a , I fear that music education is not being taught to young kids. How did you get into music as a kid and what where some of the musicians you listened to and had an influence on you?
A: The first group I got into as a kid was, of all things, . I heard it at a friend's house in the 2nd grade. We used to spend a lot of time just sitting in his room, drawing comic book characters and listening to The Doors "Greatest Hits" that he'd taped from his dad. And at the end of the tape was " " from , which I assumed for the next ten years or so was a Doors song until I picked up a copy of "The Wall". But that was the first band I really listened to. Later, in middle school, I was really smitten with Nirvana, , and The Beatles. This eventually led to The Pixies and Sonic Youth, which kind of opened the floodgates to all the independent bands out there. It was around then that I bought my first guitar, and I've been at it ever since.
Aside by Cheeseboy: So cool! I was into all those bands as a kid too. Especially Pink Floyd.
Q: Much has been made of the shack behind your house in which you record your albums. I have seen video and it is really just a shack. So the question I have is why do you record there? Is it because of convenience, necessity, or perhaps a more authentic sound?
A: I started recording there out of necessity. I didn't have anywhere else to work, and I wanted to learn to engineer my own music. So I just dealt with it. But in time I grew endeared to it, and now I love it, warts and all. I've recorded in proper studios a handful of times, but I always came back home and scrapped everything and went back to working in the shed. It's doesn't look like much, it's hot, the roof leaks, it doesn't sound too great, but I don't mind any of that. I think the important thing is to be somewhere you enjoy working, whatever shape it might come in. You can work around the rest.
Q: What advice would you give a young kid that is looking into music as a career?
I'm not sure if I'm in a position to be giving anyone advice. I'm still just figuring it out as I go. But something I've always told my siblings, that works with music as well, is: "Most of the things around you -- your house, your furniture, the video games you play, the music you hear, the movies you see, the books you read, the food you eat -- is made by people. None of it is magic. You can make those things too, in your own style, if you decide to." I always used that thinking as a way to tackle big projects and not be intimidated by them, or think they were beyond me. I try to pass it on when I can.
Still don't believe me that Ben is ultra-cool (on account of his answers and the fact he took the time to actually email me back) and a great musician? Check out this terrific video of the guy and hang on until the end in which he shows you the shack behind his house where the magic happens.
In addition, check out the video for the single "Welcome Home." I defy any of you to listen to this song more than once and NOT be addicted. Amazing stuff:
Finally, I told Ben that I was thinking about teaching the first graders in my class one of his songs and I promised that I would send him the video. He thought that was pretty cool.
You can find all of Ben's stuff on the iTunes store under "Radical Face" or "Electric President".
I can finally come down from Cloud 9 now. "Leave it better than you found it" is what my Scoutmaster always said. What did he know anyway? (I mean besides knot tying, Indian folk lore, basket weaving and how to take care of horses?)
Tomorrow we shall return to our normally scheduled Cheeseboy nonsense, where I go back to only semi-successfully being funny.