Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ben Kenney of Incubus (Interview About His Solo Tour)

Ben Kenney best known as the bass player of Incubus and a former member of The Roots is treating us to a solo tour this summer!

Ben is a one man band, he plays: bass, guitar, drums, a little piano, sings (and who knows what else he is capable of). I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with Ben and my friend Jennifer Solar. 
(Ben would like these tiles in his future home, ladies--take note).

Over tacos we chatted about life, man's purpose, our phobias, coffee, sports/MMA fighting (not me, until Ben tried relating it to ballet for me), our familys, Jenn and my law school finals schedule (riveting), babies, science, the works.  Ben is extremely easy and interesting to talk to. Jenn remarked that she hadn't had that philosophical of a conversation in quite some time (and we go to law school).

We enjoyed our conversation so much that we didn't even do a formal interview with Ben. But Ben subsequently answered some of our burning questions about his solo tour via email... drum roll please

Brittney Borruso: Who will be accompanying you on your solo tour this summer?
Ben Kenney: I'm not 100% sure yet. Right now it looks like Ari Sadowitz will stay on guitar and Ashley Mendel will return on bass and vocals. I want to go back to guitar and vocals. Unfortunately we won't have Sekou Lumumba for the shows in June. He'll be out on the road with Serena Ryder. But I'm hoping Joe Baldacci will be joining us again on drums. He's amazing.
BB: How many instruments can we expect to see you play for us?
Ben: I will probably just sing, play my guitar and a little bit of drum machine on stage. Anything is possible but I'll probably keep it simple. I played bass and sang last week for the first time. It was fun but I have a lot more experience playing these songs on guitar.

BB: Favorite song from your albums to play live?
Ben: There isn't an overall favorite for me. Whatever song feels like it's coming off the best usually takes my heart, and that changes from night to night. But that being said, I really love playing fast songs like "Aftertouch" or "Not Today". I like when those songs are played just at the threshold of too fast - that narrow zone where the song would go to shit if it were any faster. That's usually way faster than the album recordings too. That gets my blood pumping.

BB: What is your favorite part of touring solo?
Ben: Just getting to send my songs in motion at full volume in front of an audience. Getting to play these songs is like a reward for writing and recording them. They become unpredictable moments that will only ever happen once. Every night is different too. In both good and bad ways. Like my pop says: sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.
(BB: Lovely, I expect to see that quote trending on memes, tumblers, and pinterest boards everywhere.)
BB: What do you miss about touring with the band?
Ben: I miss the guys. I miss going to far away places with the family that we've become. Over the years so many people have come and gone in my life and one of the most beautiful things is being able to stitch it all together by traveling and rocking with my guys. We're a damn good band. I'm so proud to be a part of it. Oh, and the food! On tour with Incubus I eat better than you can imagine. Then I come home and starve to death. And I miss Daniel, my guitar tech. Working with him is like having a secret service agent by your side at all times. There's a long list of things I miss. Hopefully it won't be too long before it comes back together again.
(BB: Don't lie you've been ordering food from Seamless. Ben's being modest, Incubus is beyond just a damn good band, you're otherworldly and your concerts are like an existential carousel. So would it be out of line, if [we] said [we] missed you? Okay sorry I'll stop.)
BB:  You're a Jersey kid, did you go to a lot of concerts as a teen? Any venues that you've now played at yourself?
Ben: I really only went to punk and hardcore shows in NJ. Lots of them were in basements and VFWs and stuff like that. There were a lot of shows at places like Fastlanes and the Stone Pony. Most of those places are gone or dramatically different. I spent a lot of time at the Brighton Bar and that place is still rocking as far as I know. The first time I ever went inside MSG was to play with Incubus. I have such a backwards story. It's ridiculous. When I was about 8 or 9 I saw the Nutcracker Ballet at the Garden State Arts Center. The next time I was there was to play with The Roots. I was tripping out. I've never been in the lobby of these places as an adult but I've put in a few good days work inside. Kinda cool.
BB: Would you rather live in outerspace or under the ocean?
Ben: I'd rather live in space if the conditions were right. It would have to be a nice neighborhood too. I've become a diva in my old age. I would visit different oceans from time to time if I could afford the flights to other worlds. Living under the ocean would drive me nuts after a while. I get claustrophobic too.
(BB: Ahahahah I'm so glad I asked that, I'm with you on that one. Ben is referencing my claustrophobia that we discussed.)
BB: Anything we should look out for after this summer tour?
Ben: After the first run of shows I want to come back to NYC and keep working. I want to write more new music and record it. I also want to play around the city and test out new music live. It looks like I'll have a few solo shows in Europe at the end of the summer. I can't wait for that. It'll be my first time playing solo overseas. That's been a huge personal goal of mine and I can't express how geeked I am about it. I don't know what happens after that. Scary, but I can honestly say I'm ready for whatever it will be.
(BB: So you're saying that whatever tomorrow brings [you'll] be there? Sorry I said I would stop but that was too easy. Congrats though!! European readers get excited and don't miss this rare opportunity to see Ben's solo show in your area!!!!)

Thanks Ben! Make sure to purchase tickets for Ben Kenney's solo tour this summer, talent this great shouldn't be missed-- 
Enjoying our coffee, double shot espresso, and Americano respectively--coolest kids on Stone St.