Ben plays both solo and with The Symbolics.
One of the songs that you did was dedicated to your grandfather – what’s the story behind it?
There’s so much to tell…
His whole life was on Long Island – he was Polish, his father was a farmer and he was a farmer.
He was an incredible athlete, he was a boxer, he was a baseball player, an incredibly fast runner and until he was 70 years old he would go to the beach every day – winter, summer – and run along the beach, old man doing this!
He was a smoker all his life and he got emphysema eventually – this was a middle of my high school, so it was 12-14 years ago – he got really sick and he couldn’t leave his bed for a long time.
While he was in his bed I wrote this song – its called “Haze Soul” – and I got one chance to play it for him before he passed on and I played at his funeral.
My aunt is the one that keeps our family together – all the Bullock manor is stoic and stone-faced and don’t talk to each other – she keeps us all together and she loves telling the story of one time she saw me play at my high school, ’cause that’s what I do.
I didn’t really look at her until I was done – she recounts that she was proud while looking at me!
Family stories are one source of inspiration – any other sources?
Things happened to me, man.
Best things I wrote are just forced upon me – I don’t think that any of music is mine.
I think that the things I have are based on the events that happened to me and I didn’t get to choose the event.
Same thing with my grandfather – he got sick….none of these things are mine.
You mentioned something about being a professional musician and being against the idea of working as one
Music is something, I think, that belongs to human beings intrinsically.
We have the evidence that rhythm and beat comes from our heartbeats – every kid is born into this world and they’re crying.
But you know what? Every note in western theory is just picked, its random – you have 12 notes, but they’re arbitrary for the most part.
It doesn’t matter if you keep the beat or keep pitch – music is something that belongs to everybody.
I wanted everybody playing with me, because there’s not a single person in that room that couldn’t keep a beat even if they think they can’t.
Its part of the community, its a human thing, so…I think that I got off track, I forgot the question!
That’s alright! That’s how interview should be.
You started your career, you said, two years ago?
No – that was Jim Waugh, the guy that inspired me.
I started playing guitar when I was 16 – 14 years ago.
I graduated from Northeastern with a music degree, but I went into Northeastern as an engineer.
Selling myself music has never felt good – its like prostitution almost.
This is something that I was given – I should just give it to people for free.
I feel the same way about clerics and religion – I don’t think that there should be any professional religious people.
If you have a gift of making people feel better – how can you charge money for that? Its all part of the same thing.
I think that music is a part of how society holds itself together.
When you were growing up, were there any specific artists that you were looking up to?
My dad loves Bob Dylan.
The first show I ever went to was The Band – I was 10 years old and I think that it was at this club in Providence, could be Lupo’s.
I remember standing on this balcony and The Band, for some reason, had two drummers and it was crazy, so this must’ve been 1993 and I was on the balcony with my father. Everybody was jumping and the balcony was shaking.
I love The Band – they write about such very real things and the same thing with Bob Dylan. He stood for something – he said real things.
Recorder mysteriously cut off the conversation around 7:45 mark, but some other topics discussed with Ben included:
Influences – Cake, STP and, most of all, techno music/Röyksopp
Live recordings and how they fail to capture the atmosphere of an actual event.
Future plans – starting a family and moving forward with music.by