Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Drummer Ben Sears’ first solo art show opens on March 3 at Ultra Pop! LEO asked him about his dual identities.
LEO: How did you learn to make art?
Ben Sears: I was always drawing and building things as a kid. My parents are both really creative and awesome people, so they noticed what I was up to and have supported me ever since.
LEO: Do you prefer museum art or street art?
BS: Is there much difference between museum and street art in the art world these days? If you are asking about old and new art, then I have an appreciation for both. I get just as much inspiration from Gustave Courbet as I do from David Choe. If something looks good or has a cool idea behind it, I’m into it.
LEO: What’s the connection, for you, between art and music?
BS: If I’m not making something, then I feel like I’m wasting my time, so playing music is a great way to make something when I can’t draw.
LEO: Do you hope to work more in art or music through the years?
BS: Art and music have always gone hand in hand with me. I don’t see any reason to not continue doing both as much and as long as I possibly can.
LEO: What band(s) are you playing with now?
BS: I play drums in Black God, and recently started another band called WHIPS/CHAINS. Both will have records out soon.
LEO: Who are some musicians, artists or other Louisvillians who inspire you?
BS: Honest, genuine, hardworking people always inspire me. My girlfriend and my ferret are the ones who look at my work the most and give me the best feedback. My friend Jake Snider is making waves in the creative writing community here, so big ups to him for making it work. I also need to give inspirational credit to Fork in Socket, because their music is fantastic and they are great people. There’s lots of people I probably forgot to mention, so sorry.
Learn more at ultra-pop.com.
C. 2012 LEO Weekly
at 11:47:00 PM
In the ’90s, Lollapalooza, “120 Minutes” and the nascent Internet helped make the world safe for genre-bending and various non-jazzy types of musical fusion (we’re still getting over rap-metal). One avenue that never fulfilled its potential was the intersection of ambient soundscapes, trip-hop and the fuzzed-out guitar bands of the Too Pure label scene — music that would have made pop and rock quieter, a narcotized haze of dreamy, fluffy, liquid beats and strums. Whistle Peak somehow accomplishes all this while retaining bouncy hooks and harmonies and keeping the noise to a sensible minimum. It’s the perfect soundtrack for floating off to nite-nite time or groggily reading the paper (or iPad) on a late Sunday morning, in the best possible way. There’s even a song called “Sleepy Pants,” if there was any doubt left. Make no mistake — this album comes highly recommended for lovers of sounds both familiar and surprising, and makes quiet sound confident and vibrant.
c. 2012 LEO Weekly
at 11:24:00 PM
As Sub Pop Records was helping guide Fleet Foxes from obscurity to mainstream success in 2009, the label’s next big widescreen folk-rock band was first meeting each other in a Seattle bar at an open mic.
Songwriters Jonathan Russell and Josiah Johnson joined forces, adding violinist Charity Rose Thielen, keyboardist Kenny Henseley, bassist Chris Zasche and drummer Tyler Williams, and the new sextet began rehearsing in a borrowed music room in the local library.
They recorded their first self-titled album in 2010 and, as it quickly became popular locally, they began touring around the West Coast, adding fans and winning the support of Sub Pop, who re-released a slightly beefed-up version of the album last April. The band toured for the rest of the year, with new friends like My Morning Jacket.
When LEO spoke with Johnson in January, the band was enjoying their first break in a while. “I’m back to living, clearing my head and listening to new music, figuring out what’s most interesting to me right now, before I start writing songs again,” the singer-guitarist said.
For the daunting sophomore album, the self-aware Johnson acknowledges that The Head and the Heart defined their sound so well early on that they now feel wary of painting themselves into a corner. “I think we’re all kind of excited to do something that doesn’t start with slow, gentle, acoustic guitar strumming and all of that …”
But that’s your bread and butter!
“I know, I know, but we can’t keep writing the same song over and over again.”
Those seeing the band for the first time needn’t worry that they’ve abandoned their popular sound already. “We have some songs we wrote around the same time that kind of fit in the same vein of the folky-but-with-piano feel we’ve been playing. We have 13 or 14 songs that we play right now. There’s a couple that are on the iTunes Session (EP) and a couple that sound good when we play them live but, every time we go to record them, there’s something missing that we haven’t figured out yet … That’s the fun part about finally having time off.”
Brand new material will also be tried out on fans, as the members, all of whom contribute, remain unconcerned with overzealous uploaders. Johnson does feel the pressure of heightened expectations, however. “It’s huge! On the one hand, when you write a song that you love, and you’re confident that people are going to also hook up with it, too — until you’ve written that song, it’s like, ‘Oh, man, I’m not gonna write another song that was that good …’”
They remain less concerned with how well the next album sells, and more concerned with living up to their own standards. “I think we’re confident about our instincts, but there’s definitely — when there’s a dry spell, you’re just like, ‘Oh, man, is that magic ever gonna come back?’”
THE HEAD AND THE HEART
WITH DREW GROW AND THE PASTORS’ WIVES
Tuesday, March 6
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road • 584-8088
$15 adv., $18 DOS; 9 p.m.
Photo by Shawn Brackbill
c. 2012 LEO Weekly
at 9:40:00 PM