Ben Special | The Family Interviews
Meet Ben Special
You know how growing up your parent or some other figure in your life told you that you were special? Well, songwriter Ben Guterl clearly stole your thunder and took it to heart, debuting his new project Ben Special this past spring.
You snooze you loose, kids.
His debut album, Very Special, is comprised of broody and distorted riffs with sincere vocals. We wanted to find out what makes him tick, so called him up to chat about Motion City, inspirational quotes, and falling asleep in Pittsburgh.
SCENE FROM A SIT-COM:
A MAD-LIB By Ben Special
(Amy enters through the front holding a MODELO, and flops onto THE CRYSTAL SKULL, and heaves a SUMPTUOUS sigh of exhaustion. Jenny comes out of the BOOM BOOM ROOM.)
JENNY: Hi! Did you have a DRAB day?
AMY: a ENORMOUSLY exhausting day. You're home early.
JENNY: Had to change my GUCCI SNOWBOARDING GOGGLES before we go out.
AMY: Go out? Wild NEMATODES couldn't drag me out I'm really RAMSHACKLE.
JENNY: We're meeting YOPLAIT for a quick STRADDLE. She's bringing OBAMA to PONTIFICATE you.
AMY: No more blind CAVALRYMEN for me. Never again!
JENNY: But he's ENORMOUSLY your type... a self-made DINGLEBERRY and SKILLFULLY handsome.
AMY: Oh well, A CHILD’S LAUGHTER.can't hurt me.
Would You Rather…
be carried everywhere you go by a giant person, or be confined to a segway? Why?
Being carried by a giant person. I love being carried but I am somewhat of a giant person myself so I’m usually on the carrying side of that transaction. I like to think that we could develop an intimate and loving relationship and maybe this person could help me with cooking and cleaning and stuff. I’d also never have to show up to a party alone. As long as my girlfriend is cool with it.
Some Questions With Ben Special
What was the last concert you attended that inspired you?
Spirit of the beehive @ trans pecos
What is your guilty pleasure artist/album/song?
Motion city soundtrack - the future freaks me out
Are you better at thumb wrestles or staring contests?
Thumb wrestling. I’ve got strong hands and sensitive corneas
What is the relationship between the lyrics in your songs and the title of your album?
The song names are all initially just free association placeholder titles for the sake of getting demos exported to send to the band. Sometimes they actually end up informing what I write the lyrics about and sometimes I’ll have to change them to slightly resemble the lyrics. I think song names are usually boring so it’s fun make it sort of ambiguous and confusing for people.
What is your favorite song you ever wrote and why?
It always evolves for me because the songs represent such different events in my life and I always get more excited about the new ones I’m writing. Right now it’s probably rawr xd because I think that’s the most direct and effective love song I’ve ever written.
Do you usually show people your music before it is finished to get feedback? Who do you show it to?
I’m really good about showing people the instrumentals but the lyrics I’ll get more embarrassed about. I like showing them to my girlfriend and my friends whose taste I trust but aren’t musicians themselves. I find it’s usually a more honest opinion about the mood or how it works as a whole. i show it to my recording/musician friends when i’m looking for more pointed, technical advice.
Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?
idk if this is my favorite but it’s one that i think back to this chuck close one a lot:
“ Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”
i think it’s important to stay grounded when you’re working on art. it’s easy to forget that most of the things you’ve created haven’t come from meeting god on a ayahuasca retreat or whatever. every time i make something new, without fail, i eventually get to a point where i think I’m washed or i’ve run out of ideas. for me, it’s comforting to know that working on art often isn’t a romantic endeavor. otherwise i feel like there’s something wrong with me.
What was the creative process like working on your album"Very Special”?
It was very drawn out because most of these songs came about in between writing for forth wanderers. I wrote them throughout all 4 years of college and would put one aside for myself whenever it felt more personal. I like that they were written so far apart from one another because i was in a distinct head space for each one and they evoke strong memories of where i was at when i wrote them. in senior year i decided to start recording/mixing them for real with the help of my friend dan.
Do you view songwriting as a cathartic/therapeutic experience?
absolutely. the potential to create literally whatever i want when i start something new is the most free i ever feel. that’s what gets me really excited and it’s the reason why i have so many incomplete songs with only one chord progression and half a line of lyrics. finishing the song once i’m confined to it is the work-part.
Where is the most uncomfortable place you ever fell asleep?
i was on tour in pittsburgh with forth wanderers and a dude at the show gave us the contact of someone he knew who put up touring bands. we got there and it turned out to be an abandoned liquor store. it was essentially a warehouse with some bare mattresses on the floor and a couple very worn out, springy couches. we hung out with the people who owned the place that evening, one of whom told us that he was getting locked up soon for getting in a car chase with the police and the other showed us a video of him eating his own earlobe in a bowl of mac n cheese. they were honestly cool guys but i didn’t get the most restful sleep that night.
If you had to get a full back tattoo right now what would it be?
a beefy mole
Any final comments? (This is your electronic soapbox for one last answer.)
whoever is in charge of movies please stop remaking movies, we all want to watch a new movie.