Ben Folds: "Paper Airplane Requests" | Talks at Google
Ben. Folds is a singer-songwriter. Multi-platinum. Selling, artists. He's also a TV, and, film, star, he's. Done a number of things. Outside. Of the music industry, that he should be very proud of he's. A father, he's, a photographer. He's, also the soundtrack, of my youth no, big deal. My. Mom is here you can ask her she knows yeah, so we're, super excited to have you here thank you so much it's a giant honor to have you at Google today so thank you yeah thank you. Differently. Today I know, that most of you in the room know that Ben has a performance, tonight at the Fillmore so he's, gonna reserve his voice hopefully, you win tickets so you can go hear him you, have been completely. Jam-packed, on this fall tour all the way until I think I saw your last shows gonna be in Honolulu. So that may not be so, bad but it's been a pretty packed tour and it's, called the paper airplane request, tour so I thought what we could do is just start off with tell, us why it's calm on the. Second half of the of, the. Show. With the set is. Requests, and. Instead. Of people shouting, the request which is. Scary. If you're sitting on stage. Close. Your eyes you see people with pitchforks. They, sound angry. Because. You can't understand this then I just well you know people, just make paper airplane and throw that soso, base guys walk around the stage and pick. Those up and play them I mean it didn't occur to me how many songs that. I had either written done. Been involved, with that might. Be. On the stage so I I, brushed, up on a couple hundred and then I've got about 50 left that I just can't seem to crack at the memory what's. One of those 50. I. Don't. Know. You. Know stuff like there's. They're the songs that I would have never thought to play on. The piano by, myself, is why I like what. I did a move, over the hedge for, DreamWorks. It was a kids movie and the. Songs I wrote for that I never expected, to come back to haunt me in any way. The. Songs. Make me think of conference, calls. But. Yeah. So there's one of those it's just like kind of cacophony. Horns. It's. A kitty song I never thought about playing it before but it's in the book in case someone asks ok yeah, and somebody yesterday asked for something I wrote when I was 16 years old which got on the internet I didn't know so I, couldn't remember it well if you so in the flip side of that what's been your favorite song of all the paper airplanes, that have landed on the stage what's been your favorite song to play oh I, don't know I don't really have favorites, of anything, Oh even, of your own stuff no especially. Of my own stuff I think I've got a block there so yeah, try. To be a fair dad well. So Ben is really, involved with his fans he's huge into social, media and so what we thought we'd do next is just kind of highlight, some of the some, of the ways that Ben outreaches. To his fans and what. We'd love to do since we're on the topic of the tour is can you talk to us a little bit about the VIP experiences. That you offer around soundcheck. Before each of your shows. And why you do that, well. I mean, quite, honestly I do, it because. I'm. Gonna tour I want, to make the most of it you know I like, touring, fine but I also, like. Being home so, so. It takes, care of a whole lot of stuff at once on tour. Then, normal I've been approached about these for you know a few times and didn't really want to do them because the idea of look. I Bon, Jovi's great I think my job is gonna make it fun but the idea, of like I think I'd seen Bon Jovi standing, and you. Know taking, pictures with people for two hours of I don't want to do that. But. What. We realized this is we could do something like a class, so. What. We do is something sort of called. A master class not, really a master class but it's almost a master class and then, I will let people come up if they want to play the song and we'll talk about it, fine so it's it's like a it's like a class for people who, of any. Age that want to talk about commiserate. About where they are in music, or. You. Know music, education and we were bringing local. Music teachers and to begin with because, I think if we can talk about music it's best to do it in context, of. Having. Learned it which as.
A. Rock, musician you're, really supposed to put off the idea that you've rolled out of bed one day and, smoked. A joint started, started, making up songs. You. Know between that point which is obvious, that happened. But. You, know at some point you you did learn and I'm a big fan of, as. Much formal training as possible, and music no matter what kind of music you make I think it makes. It better. So. That. Gives me a chance to do that it gives me a chance to, you. Know connect, people on things like national down for the Arts which sort. Of, tentatively. Was up on the chopping block for a, little while and. You. Know stuff. Ya know so. That the, VIP then makes me feel good because I feel like I'm hearing, from a lot of teachers I'm talking, to people we're talking about music and it's not as much of a celebrity affair, right, so, it's given it's been a good thing you know it's actually and. I'm, working on I think I'm writing, a book and. It. Seems that way. I can't. Tell people with a straight face I'm, working, on my memoirs. But, it's good for that too because I, was. Talking to people about music, all the time and of all ages and where they're, coming from and how they're learning it is is, helpful. To me when I'm outlining the, things that I think are important, when. You're cramming the. Music. In your head yeah I think one, of those experiences. Is called ask me anything and, then about almost. Anything about, me. Ask, me almost, anything about music so you've, had some really, interesting folks. Come through have you ever had any one that's blown you away or, have been really musically, talented. Oh yeah. I think almost everybody, who, has bothered to, step. Up play. A song has been really impressive to me and. Yeah. And sometimes a couple a couple days ago I was, sort. Of taunting. A kid to write a song on the spot. Because. They. Were wondering, about every. Every, night of. My solo career just about since like 2002. I've, sort, of had a freestyle, song on stage, it's. It's been a it's. Been a. Sort. Of a tradition, where I explain Chicago, we were making a live album this guy goes rot that bitch, no rock this bitch, and, he does admit I always been playing fast enough or loud enough or something but we were making a live album and I made up a song called, that for. Him and that. Became popular cinema, became a code word people would ask for that and I and I do with symphony orchestras. Regularly. Where I'll, freestyle. Song and then I'll dictate. Parts, that I hear in the orchestra, and so. Yeah I was trying to get the kid to you. Know. Put him in that position let, him make something up because we, can do that. So. Okay, you're here at Google and. We. You. Know beyond. The obvious search, engine that I'm sure you use, sometimes. Heard of a spirit, of it yeah we. Also own, a little video property, called YouTube so. Knowing. All of that and knowing how involved you are with your fans you, talk to us a little bit about digital, technology, and how you use it to keep in touch with your fans. To. Be very, honest, I. Think my fans have always been the, types who, are very. Head I always, have been ahead to. The point where in. 1999. I was signing at least, as many burned CDs. And. And. I was fine with that and I think that because, I've embraced however. They want to be excited about music and, open. To it it's been, really, more of Latin, that now my you, know my management of, that, you know is he's. He, goes from politics, that's. He. Doesn't know anything about music. And he's and he also comes from social. Media I personally. Have been on. Facebook for a total of about three minutes once to. Check it out in aspect this is your Facebook page. What. The, last time I did it people were sending me emails about poking. That's. How far back it goes I, do. You. Know I do read the news on my phone okay. Good. I know that's a terrible bit. Do you watch do you watch a lot of YouTube you use YouTube as a resource, for your music or fur I do especially. Like we know one thing is what, because I make up a song every night sometimes. I want to remember what it was people. Always film, it so I'll go back in fact one time it came in handy because had. Some guy. Be. A little bit of a jackass on online. Saying, that I had stolen this song. From. Some guy I'd never heard of and and. He. Was kind of famous like a comedian and in UK so everyone, was jumping on the bandwagon say, I thought, Ben was better than that to steal, a song and my. God I don't even know I didn't really want to click on the song they said I stole, sir I didn't even want a record I've ever haven't heard this damn thing anyway.
I Realized, oh wait a minute I made that song up on stage mostly, in 2011. Way before that guy had this first record out so, I went on on on, YouTube, found, if someone had had. Posted. It and sent that to the guy in the UK he's like okay. Well. You have a press conference now for me. Because, everyone. Thinks I'm a fake, I've, been smeared. That's. Awesome. Well, so it's sort of in the same, vein of. Digital. Technology, you have three children and. There's. A ton of folks. Here at Google who are also working parents. Do. You allow, screen time do your kids use. Digital. Technology, for music, research - they. Do, they. Live in it you know they. Went. To a Waldorf School for a few years to wash. Them clean of, it which i think is good - I think a combination is, good you, know some time off I, think, was really good for them and then time on is good I don't really I think, anything, can be addictive, and, certainly. You, know with kids you know iPads. And, stuff, like that can start to you. Know seem. Seemed to form an addiction, but, but you know if short, of that it's really amazing is they have at their fingertips all. This information, that we didn't have and I think also they. Learn pretty quickly. How. To discern. Fake. Information or, you. Know invalid. Information, I'd rather not use the word fake anymore. Invalid. Information, from, valid information to where my, generation. Wasn't, ready for it right. And. I, think you know. Also. Like you know emails, and things like they kind of know how. To do that without getting in trouble there was a moment, in the Waldorf, class. One. Year where two of the kids had gotten on Instagram. And they, weren't supposed to even be on it but, they gotten on it and we're calling, each other horrible. Names I mean stuff that I meant, look. I've. Said. A few bad. Words in my day I can't, repeat the kind of things were saying I thought they were so gross. The. Teacher had them. She. Printed, it out as if it was a play, and. Had. Them read. It aloud, into. Each other's face, in front, of the. Class and they, would. Say well. Your mother is a effing. B that likes to cram. D's, and. Wow. And. The teachers like I don't think that's what it said. Well. It said something like that will you you're, sitting in front of him you. Say it to him and that's what you're doing when you put it online I think kids learn those things and, so it's a different era I think almost anytime the danger is talking about for someone like me is because I've been through all the eras and, I think that naturally. We're all programmed, to think that new, technology. Has some evil into, the world component. To it it's, like everything. That was ever invented that was ever important, was just a sign. That the end was near and. That's the way our brains work so I sort of got out of the business and and. I. Understand, I'm not a total idiot, there's. An electric piano. What. I think of those. All. Right well we're, gonna, focus. On something else you love seen, see me. Photography. Yes so if you guys haven't checked this out Finn has one, of the most amazing, photography. Sites it says split, between his, music career and his photography, where, he is actually, selling, a lot of his work a. Lot of his work is highlighted, so we, wanted to just kind of ask you about a couple of these I understand those might be your own children, would you run it back Wow oh sure of course. Anyone. Know the movie the room, like. You know Tommy, was oh my. Daughter, drew.
This Whole big, collage, of the room with all the quotes randomly. From when she was 14, it's. Really, good. No. No Lisa is one of the characters you're, tearing us apart Lisa. Anyway. Sorry. Okay. So these, are is this, that's. That's Lou Ian Gracie they were I mean, I I'm, gonna guess who were six, five, they're probably five I love the back story on this too and you can find this out on his site Ben they were in a hotel he was on tour and he had just gotten the incidentals. Or the hotel room and was kind of maybe obsessing. Over how much you spent on bottled, water. And. Then, captured. This amazing. Moment of your children just kind of taking, in all the scene outside of the hotel room yeah, people. Watching 24, is blue and. You're, friends with a bunch of famous people -. Bob. And Jeff Bob. Saget, okay. I just picked a couple of you, know some of your work is all amazing with some of the stuff it seems to me you're really, interested in in. Photographing. People and. Somewhat. Obviously. Your, performances, but behind the scenes - as well but. There's actually this is what I was hoping you could talk to us about because I found this really fascinating. He's, got Ben has three photos of his experiences, at Bonnaroo, in 2006. 2008. And 2012. But. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, back, check me on this Ben this, is the first time you asked, the audience - yeah. Yeah. So, talk to us a little bit about what inspired that, and what became a sort. Of someone, when you see that first one. You. Know enlarged, because. It's a pretty big negative, you can see people happily. Flipping. Me off all the way back to about 50 60 thousand, people back, there, and. Then I just have became a thing I just you know I just asked him to do that stand on my piano with very. Large camera, and photograph it I give, myself one. One. Or two shots really quickly, but. Yeah you can see I maybe someone. Must have dehydrated, this. Year and then they've got a trough through the middle so they. Yeah, they're just and the trees change some too which is kind of cool not so much between these two but the first one yeah, is. That, something that you do, at other performances. All, right well one of the things a connection. Back to Detroit one of the things that I love about, what. You do you spoke a little bit about this when you are performing, with. Orchestras. Or symphonies, and someone, shouts out what, was it rock this bitch or mom that bitch yeah I just, think it's unbelievable how, then you take 10-15, minutes whatever it takes to compose. That song sort of lives so was, hoping you could talk to us about your experience, with a Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Since you're here in Detroit yeah, Detroit. Has a great. Symphony Orchestra, I mean they really do it so really in Grand Rapids actually, does -. Dude. Dude monotone, today. Yeah. What. Can I say I don't I don't then, I can see the conductor, this giacomo virus. But. Yeah they've, got they've got a great Symphony, Orchestra these really do I, you. Know it comes to the. Rock. This bitch moments, with the Symphony. Orchestra, they're, they're all a, little. Different. In. Terms of how receptive. They might, be as an organization, to that, because. They, have a lot of rules. About they show up and they understand, what they're playing and they're not put in a position of looking like they're. Not prepared you, know it's it's that really, I understand, why that's not fair but. They're. All they've all relaxed, in Detroit it was fine about it and. They've relaxed, a lot because I think they can see that it works. It humanizes the, orchestra, to me because. The, audience sees the orchestra is something that may well just be stuck in the 19th century I mean they don't really, look you, don't you don't see it it's not personal. It's our personal thing there's an orchestra is not a diva oriented, individual. Or anything it did not come from that came from from, the whole thing as one his. One group and when you see people reacting, differently to, how am I going to do this thing that he's asking me to do and having to kind of sit up and the very proper. Classical, musicians or has to do this I think. That's interesting and it's interesting for the orchestra to puts. Their ear to the test and it's. Good for me because it teaches me I mean there's you can't learn enough about orchestration. It's, it's it's such. A. Wormhole. It's it's it's it's an art that takes years and part, of the reason that we have trouble with it now is because most. Of orchestration, is done in the computer and the. Computer doesn't. Actually give you a real.
Idea Of what it sounds like in the space it does an amazing thing with telling you the theory of it but, the real art of orchestration. Is that so I get, to to be on stage and go oh I was wondering what it would sound like if I put the Piccolo's two octaves, above the bassoon and had them do this and then, I get, to hear it there on the spot which gives me nightly. Orchestration. Lessons. Yeah do, you. Let the crowd, also shout out the song or when, they say rock this bitch gee you decide what song you're gonna know, I just make it up I think the last time the. The ibelieve here, was without there's a woman who asked, Detroit. Rock City was, it I'm, yeah that may be what I did yeah yeah yeah that's right yeah so I had them I had them I knew there was some I had my tour, manager print, the, lyrics, to the. Kiss song Detroit, Rock City and I made up a whole new, orchestral. Melody. Had, nothing to do with the original music. It's. It's interesting to, attend. A symphony, and hear hecklers, it's, not usually, something that you do but really. In this case it's become something do you hear it at your other shows - do you ever get something we don't think in the symphony like more, Adagio. Yeah. How. Do you deal with hecklers, otherwise. Or is that not really a thing because your fans are so ingrained, with you oh I. Think most, of my audience is, pretty. Nice people, people. Speak up but that is the thing with the orchestra, and that has gone through. Historically. It's gone through a lot of periods, and you. Know in Mozart's. Times good example it was coming back to more informal. Time, and, he encouraged, people to clap between, movements, yeah you're. Looked, at as an idiot, if you clap between movements, now. You. Used. To be I, mean, there have been eras, of, classical. Music where, they. Drank, played folk songs in the middle of it composer. Would bring out one of this new tunes, but then would play all kinds of, other stuff so. It's, become, another thing, and. I think it's intimidating to, people and. So. You know I think, it's nice that they, can actually I don't think heckling, is probably great but I think it's good that they can feel comfortable enough, at the, symphony to, to to. You. Know to be a little less formal I think is good at. The same time I think, that the Symphony, Orchestra is an institution. Needed, um a note down at all in order, to accommodate, for that or in order to bring in more people they don't have to play like children's. Movie, music, and put a screen. Up and shit like that that's, not. Okay. That's true so you're you're, basically, our modern-day, Mozart. Thank. You I've. Already lived a lot longer. So. Outside. Of this any other connections. To Detroit we know you're playing at the Fillmore tonight which is an unbelievable, venue. Babe Fillmore, was the state right am, i right when. It was the state theater, I was very excited. To. Have. When. I when I went. Solo. Was right around. My. Album, was released first solo album was released on 9/11. And. That. Was pretty much it anyone who put out a record that day there was nothing. You didn't hear more from that record and the record was called rocking the suburbs and. It. Pretty, much died, commercially. And. So I went out and played solo, for a while and. The. Idea was that I probably couldn't play anymore to. Like 250. People that was it for my career that's what was discussed in my in, my service it was pretty but this is over your, albums not doing well you're, gonna play for a couple, hundred people and if you're cool with that then keep doing it I was like that's fine I'll just do that so we, got in a van and I. Just went, solo. Piano and. Over. The course of the year we, went from our 250, to. Selling. Out places like the state so it all came back and it was fine, the, state with the theater was one of those I was really excited about having sold. Out it was in a row. Of ones like that problem, is is I came. Down with pneumonia and. Played. The state theater with 105, fever. And. I did the whole thing like that and then just because, I'm stubborn I decided I'm gonna walk out on the sidewalk, it's two degrees outside and. Sign. Jit for. 45. Minutes and. And. Then I did the same thing in Chicago, the, next night still, it just ran it like I would, break down to like a hundred to go back at 105, I was about to have, kind of fit it, was terrible, in your brain and I. Played, that Chicago. Enough I fell over total, vh1, behind the music I walked I walked off, the stage and all of a sudden all I just kind of remember like I'm it's gonna be really embarrassing if I pass, out in front of people and, I made to the sound board and there was a really, nice good-looking, guy with. You. Know shaved, bald head soup, there was a security, guy and he's like I got you. I. Think. He carried me downstairs and. I, woke up back home did. You stop your tour yeah yeah, awesome but. I made it to that point like, I made it right my career was.
Back. I'm. Sorry I'm glad you're feeling better now we're glad you're here and healthy tonight better. Alright. So I don't. Try to think of a Detroit story I remembered, I like that. John King bookstore I love that. Book, the. City is alive, right now it's man no it really has this really neat our office, is making, a move down to, Detroit next year so when, you're back in any. Other. Yeah. I do, like to watch that that, sports. Sports, illustrator so there's a special I think it's called thirty thirty on the bad boys on the Pistons I've seen it like five times. It's. So fun and Dennis Rodman is of course your favorite oh I think, he's amazing. No I do. What do a character yeah yes. Yeah okay, so I mean of music any other advance you're into right now anything. No that's, just me. Yeah. I may as well be honest, no. You. Know I just listened do a lot of. Stuff. That stuff I mean I don't know I. The. Way I feel about right, now at this moment is, if something really, really catches, my ear for, a really, profound. Reason. I'll. Go back and revisit otherwise. At this very moment I'm so. Much. More caught, up with to. 200. Years of music, that I missed because I wasn't born yet and that's, a lot of great stuff to catch up on my. Job, was to know. About it all the time and now I just kind, of feel like it's it's a relief not to have to know every little crappy. Thing that comes out because there's some really interesting and good stuff too but, I don't find it any more inspiring, to hear someone's, indie-rock. Mating, call which is essentially, what it is. Next. To say the. Housekeeping, person, singing on the hall it might sound amazing to me it's like well that's great that's, great music, and I, don't. Have to hear everything but. When something really great comes out you, know like I think the last few things that that really struck me were one, Caroline, Shaw then. Caroline, Shaw's is a it's, just a damn genius. And. I. Like. Dirty. Projectors but, I think maybe they're gone now are they still. Yeah. Okay good, I like, Dirty Projectors, you. Know and every once while I hear something on the radio I think it's kind of cool I like that one Justin, Bieber song buy you love yourself that's pretty good. Right. So music, today sucks but no I don't. I. Think I don't see the need at the moment to package, it and, I, just I my head's, not in that space I'm not excited about the the the it almost feels like like a Vogue. Magazine covers. To me even the good stuff I just can't get my head around it at the moment that's just honestly where my head's at, well how are you consuming, that other 200, years of music are you listening to it on vinyl cassette. Digital, whatever I can get it I don't like I'll look at it you know like YouTube is great for a guy I, went. Down a Bernstein. YouTube. Wormhole, a couple, years ago that now has become sort of like my favorite, thing to do if I can't sleep is. To, go on that I mean I I did go on YouTube recently and, see. People's you know videos about their pet pigs I. Could. Have been listening to do music but I was there's, there's, a site called squeals on wheels I, want. I want. About, the. One that I really, was in love with she's. Gone she's, someone someone picked her up. That's. Alright, so been, there I want to be clear though I think there's a lot of great music I really. Do I'm not cynical about it that way I think people, are having amazing ideas, and it's evolving, and a lot of its evolving, because how, incredibly, fast ideas, are being, exchanged. But, the packaging, of it and the, the, ambition, of of. Succeeding, with it and essentially, it's mating, music for about 15. Years of your life and and, now that's all I can really hear in it like I. See. The the mirror and the hairbrush and, stuff and it makes me want to listen to Ravel, string quartets, that's. All are, you a Spotify. Or Pandora, digital. When, you're on the road and you don't have access to some of those other outlets, are you listening, to online or web-based, music. Um. Yeah. I mean, I'll grab it wherever, I can to, show somebody I liked, the idea of Pandora, when it came out I listen to comedians, that way I think it's kind of fun to put in one comedian, and see who else pops up, it's. Kind of interesting, I thought their sort. Of their. Idea. I thought, was was really, interesting I sort, of agree with it I don't keep up with. The. Sort of intellectual property. Rights. Issues. On anything I never had it out for Spotify. Or Pandora or. Any. Of those no. No I wrote letters on behalf, of Napster. When. They were held, up in some Court California. And, I think I might have been the only one besides I, think, maybe Chuck D was doing that as well I was. Asked, to you. Know do all these appearances, about how they were stealing music and I couldn't.
Couldn't, Get on with that I'd never agreed with that I don't even agree with it when someone Sue's someone, over. A song. That sounds like their old. Song there's. Just not enough chords, and and and melodies for me to, to. Get on with that I don't understand, it at all I know that people have to make money at it and I can see, that, technology, sent. Musicians. Back, from hey I could make millions of dollars -, I might, be standing out on the street with the monkey and piano Scrolls again, but, that was a really short period of time where. Musicians, became, millionaires. And so. The fact that we got sent down from. From, from, that by technology. At least for a little while you. Know oh, well. I mean, I'm, not sure that that's I think there's well I would rather I would, rather be concerned, about you. Know the cutting of the National Endowment for the Arts or paying schoolteachers, or something that I would at making. Musicians. Like myself Mainers I mean look, I'm cool with it I'm happy to be one any, time but. But. I think the technology's, made people excited about music it's, created, some some, legal problems which are the legal people's. Problems. That's that's. For us to all deal with seriously, when, you do these right than when you when you make up a thing and you're like I mean guys watching, the the Ken, Burns thing on the civil war about how many people killed now because technology, had outpaced. Tactics. Well, it was time for tactics, to catch up so people didn't get killed at it because that's just the way it is and so I feel, like we're catching up and that the. Music industry. Seems from, what I hear to be more. Robust, again and everyone cannot worry that technology. Is the end of the world anymore but we might find ourselves as, musicians. Questioning. The value of a, note. Or a song and it, used to be pretty clear, like a song, is 1/10, of an album and an album is worth $12.99. Or something like that you, know then that changed, to you know technology, redefined, said no actually a song that's worth, nothing. You. Know it's like oh okay is it worth nothing well but, people started becoming music, therapists, and and. Doing, other things with their, lives and, music. Then is, found to sell other things when, it's packaged, with it and music has always needed contact, so to me it's, all just always going to be a mess you, know which is part of the reason I think I sort of divorced, myself from it all except for being, someone that goes I want, to find that song and I just put in a search and whatever it comes up I play it that's.
It's Interesting you say that because I was gonna ask you about this quote of yours but, another, quote of yours that I love so much you were doing an interview where you said write, the bad songs like. Writing the bad songs could be one of the best things that you do so if you took a little bit more about, what. You think may be bad songs are why. You think, that theory, yeah, well I mean I think you have to be and I think almost this is almost cliche I mean any any artist I. Think. Worth, anything. Will. Probably. Admit. That, that, you need, to be. Okay with failing I mean, I have to be okay with failing right you know the, chips are gonna fall, to. An extent, they're say you you're always collaborating, kind of like what I'm saying about technology. It it is like a song collaborating. With it circumstances. You can't be responsible for, the rest of the circumstances. You're. Collaborating you're half if, someone's religious, things say the other half is God if they want to say it's the universities, it's universal things say some mistakes or chance, but, you're collaborating with, something if I'm writing a song right now it's gonna be a different song that I would write if you put me in another situation, you. Know so you, have to be okay, with the dynamics, of life without. The downs you don't have the ups well you don't have the downs and, you. Know it's it's kind of like people worry about I. Don't. Know you know the music, business is going, out of out of, business. I'm sure they worry about you, know news, for, instance but people. Will consume, news people need it so it's. Gonna happen yeah, someone. We're all gonna figure this out because you're not gonna unsee, the technology, that you have and I think the same thing is true when. When you think of a note or, you think of a part of a song it's, like well that was bad pull that's part of your life you. Know so now, maybe that's first you. To think of something better but, there's got to be a trajectory run and I think that one of the things about improvising. A song in front of an audience always. Reminds. Me that, about, those moments it reminds me that things have to shift in order to save something's, going down and then it goes up and it's never what you think it's gonna be if you knew what it was gonna be you would have written the song before. It would have always been, there it's a point where you're writing and it's just it's. Ahead of you and it's coming out and if what you've done is just gone down the roller coaster to the bottom then, you get to head up and if you apply your ego to writing songs too much you, assume, that every, note has to be taken as the best thing every. Every, phrase I hate when people say like that's a good line. Like. I want to I want to I want to trip's. Not like a list of quotes from John Bartlett's, book of quotes it's, like life. Which. Does that, it's story it's, a story like, that's actually what it is yeah it's a story and you don't know what the story is that's. Part of the story you haven't gotten there yet so when you're when you're improvising on stage, or. You're making a song embracing. The moments that seem to you judgmentally. To, be bad is you. Have to get through it to. Get to the next point. You can't decide. To just dismiss. It so it's like you know like yes scientifically, proven when you sneeze, and you repress. It it blows up all your brain cells. If. You see these yes, I believe if you sneeze. Cough. Burp. At the same time you'll stop.
To. Do that right no one's ever done it no one's ever done it. Well. Wow. I just, cut these little bits out. And. Just, put, those on lines so people learn yeah. Well. Yeah we'll do that it'll take we'll, just put more quotes from you up on yeah even. In college when I'm talking. Whatever. That said I don't know I'm just gonna. Know. It's very consistent yeah very, well, okay, so at this point I want to make sure I don't hug all of you because there's a ton of questions out there so. Does, anyone have any questions for Ben someone, want to be brave and kick us off here. Come. At me bro oh. We. Got one right here. All. I think entrepreneur. Is a great eye I think it should be acknowledged, more often, that that, musicians. Recording. Artist actually most of us are and have that gene mostly. Because I found when I started to do. Well. I started, to do arts advocacy, you. Know on, Capitol, Hill I'm talking to a lot of senators and congressmen, I could, see a. Real discrimination, against. The, artists as being someone who'd obviously, doesn't understand numbers and I'm. Wanting to say, look. Bitch I can balance checkbook. Because. I started for like five. Years in, a van on fumes, like, a rock. Band knows. That. They have a business that they're running looks. For the opportunities. Is creative, about it and at the same time has to balance the checkbook has, to get from A to B knows, how to do, it I didn't, inherit. You. Know a lot, of money like claudi's guys I go in and talk to a. Half, and so I consider, myself with, quite a chip on my shoulder probably, a lot better businessman. And. I think as far as the entrepreneurship. Yeah. I mean if you. Know I think most most creative, it's, a matter of of. Culture. That we would, prefer, to see our artists as, you. Know the. Guy who rolled, out of bed smoked, a joint saw, the future and and and and and wrote, about it I. Think that sells. Human. Beings short and I enjoy. Seeing. An opportunity a, thing. That hasn't, been covered that's totally, capitalistic, like, all this is awesome I could make a shit ton of money doing that you know I think that's fun like I recognized. When we started that there were no, you. You did not go to a. A rock show and see a piano, a real, piano onstage so I thought well I could, probably bypass. A whole lot of competition, if I, just bothered, to. Move a baby grand piano onto a stage that's so audacious so. We played punk, rock clubs where, we weren't, welcome. It. Was I think. It was probably. Threatening. The establishment. Of punk, rock community which. I enjoyed. Turned. Him into the Ole Miss. And. And. Yeah and ever since then still do the same thing and you know as far as like kind of the running the business part of it goes and to tie it back into technology, if I, were a CEO, I would be the kind that would be fairly hands-off, about the technology, but said I recognize. That you three people your kids seem to be very interested, in this, so go. Nuts throw. It all against the wall see what happens how are your people absolutely, that's, I mean that's always been I mean we as a result, like I think, I played the first myspace. Broadcast. And have all these things they're sort of first like I think I put the first. ITunes. EPS, out had three number-one records on my iTunes, because there wasn't that much competition yeah. Tried, to do it with no CDs, this is a. 2003. Maybe try to do with no CDs, and and, vinyl. And digital, just because I thought that would be cool and you, guys just take it and make. It do something you know and I enjoy that that that. That. That way of doing it but I notice that entrepreneurs. You know yeah but, I like that word and I think it's I think it's cool I think more more. Artists I mean look Charles Charles, Ives. One. Of our great. Composers, of the turn turn the century 20th century, he. Did two things he, he. Made some of our most. Really. Distinct creative, original. Avant-garde, American. Music and he also revamped. The. Insurance business, life insurance, business that's. You, know that wouldn't be cool in the 90s if Kurt Cobain had said yeah. I mean I was just thinking about life. You know like that that. Doesn't that doesn't work, and my generation, is a bunch of I think is cool how, did you get out and convince these, bars and punk-rock Club is slight you play there and. Win in your career did you realize that you were finally or.
What What did you do to. Get yeah that next level I need, have been such a long time you. Know this is your athlete talking about when I was like 27 years old when the. Band started. 28. Yeah. One. Other thing to add to that did, you know when you started, that, that's where you wanted to get or was it just for fun with the beginning, a. Little, bit of both I mean I came, from you. Know working-class. South and that's. Being. A musician it's not that's, not even cool to say I mean I think like in the equivalent in the UK, might, actually be kind of cool to, be. A musician if you were that were about I think it's like singing and that that's, that's off that see or sissy, playing. Music is only something that you know some, sort of elite. Fruitcakes, with like tight leather pants do and you could teach but who wants to do that so, I kind of kept it to myself I kept, my whole life but I knew I was a musician I think I knew I was gonna do it I was stubborn about it and, you. Know I spent, you know from when, I was maybe 18 to. Last. Year when I was 27. You. Know I wrote. Songs and, sent. Them in as tapes and tried to do tried to get the approval that one, would need to make a record and it wasn't getting it so. I just started. Doing. What I wanted. To do which is to play, shows I had, if. I remember, it was a little bit of a rocky long, ride on this piano business, putting pianos in because I thought. To do that I borrowed some money, somehow. I got some kind of little loan to. Get a piano, and then I, snuck. Back. To the sound board at a really kind of small Elton, John gig to talk to a sound man about how he made his piano loud because, I was at the show I was like well I can. Which I happen to know was really difficult to do because we'd stuck mics in it one time and you couldn't hear it it didn't work so we found out some technical, things. And it, was just a long trip so that was maybe when I was like 22 it's. Between 22, and 27 it was just a matter of me being stubborn on trying to figure out how to amplify, the piano, should, I ever find myself in a rock band to put it on stage. And, it's just a real long, road I think but it's good because I would, say in that time I sort of found. My voice, I. Became. Increasingly stubborn. Because. I started to realize. The. Folly and trying to get trying, to get approval, and. I. Started. To realize the, advantage. Of placing, yourself in positions, that seemed, insane. Like. The idea of rolling yourself, between some, band called fucking death grip and Santa's cock and. Playing. Sorry. Just whatever comes to my head and, and, and playing and, playing a piano, rock show between that and then going back to wait tables, the. Next day. And. I. Saw. That working. But slowly so you. Know we, would try to book gigs I had a couple friends and we were just trying to you know had some help but I was mostly, doing myself trying, to book a gig and of course they'd say yeah we can put you on folk night over. This place and there's a upright. Piano when they're drinking tea, it's like no I kind of want to play in the and I. Think we should play like opening. Up on a Monday night for for for. A grunge band I think that would be better it just took a while I had to turn down a lot of stuff also, we had to turn down anything that the piano wouldn't fit into for like three to five years of touring even with an indie record label, behind. Us they, would want us to play a place like called Eddie's attic well you can't move a piano up to that we were moving it ourselves I mean I can't move a grand piano myself out of here onto a truck and and, and all she goes, dad. Learned how to do it I figured, it out and. You, know that's, kind of true but. I'm. Sorry but enable me to see something that I've always well. Sometimes. You just want to see a thing like if I made a movie ago I like, to make a you know Victorian. Love story and at the very end of spaceship, lands, and you, know some horns guy gets out of and starts saying crazy shit you know like you, can you can do anything you want to if, you put your mind to seeing something even if it's a little odd that you want to see then, you're the only one doing it and I think that's worked, luckily.
Most Of times sometimes it doesn't sometimes it, doesn't work at all you know I think we only have time for one more question is there anything special. Talk, that much yeah fancy, so. If you were to write, a song for Google what, would this story I guess because we're not saying words what would that be. Well. I wouldn't, write that right now. Because. It'd be really it be vapid, but I it. Would probably be. About. It. Would probably be about being, with a bunch of cigar-smoking. Fat, guys in the front of like. In first class. Of. Airplane. And. Then. The next time I went in it was all guys it looked like me. Like. Something, like that you know something to show because I think that there was a change when I realized, that the, the. The first class went from being, a. Fat. Cigar. Smoke and white guys, to. A. Whole. Variety of people. Many, of them that looked like me and happened within like a year, and I feel like there was Google in there, somewhere and it was almost like, maybe. As some metaphors, it could be some oxygen the oxygen is always good metaphor but I mean like. You. Got your cigars, some. Breathing, or something in there yeah because I used to like if, I would ever get lucky and be like oh we're gonna fly into a TV show so you get to sit in the front of the plane I was, always asked. To go back to my seat in in coach and. Then I would, piss, me off though. Right here. Why. Do you think I'm not here and. And. Then you know all sudden one year it's like Oh mr. folds have a seat and that was like my people had arrived did I feel like people. My age had. Ideas. And the ideas took. Over and I now it might be something that would be something like that in it and it would take me a while, I would work off of note cards for this one and I would probably set myself up, with a little bottle of scotch for, about four, nights in row locked. Myself in my room with with note cards and a toy, bass guitar oh. Good. Question, well, let's see. You. Know when I'm when I'm on tour, and. Not, a pinch I once that's not doesn't sound nice but. It's you can't always get everything you want so lag of one's always out there which is, a real. A real good bet. Let's. See. I like, Ardbeg. But. The twelve and sixteen, ages. Are really nice there's, some really kind of rare whiskies. That are basically scotch they come from Tasmania. Hobart one called lark and one called NAT those are probably the best I've had, and they're kind, of like the Scotch that you are the whiskies that you get in Japan the ones that won all their awards I think. You just got an invite to the next minute, Google Bourbon, night. The. Show. Really. Looks, kind of hard I know a little. Sea. But the thing is is we're heading right for that fat cigar smoking guy. But nearly in about 20 years we'll be that guy and these other people come along with these ideas so are we going back, when it was googling. It was proper. No. You. Know what I thought. I just, just popped into my head. When. I was. And. I went to an experimental, school it. Was called more experimental. School it was kind of a hippie. Completely. As public, it was absolutely, 50/50, a racially. Integrated school in the middle of the 70s, so. I was you know I was bust a long way went, to this school and we sound, the floor we never we, never used. Desks. A lot. Of our class, was, was. Done in dry erase stuff, and.
90 People in a classroom sitting, on the floor so it was a really unusual North. North, Carolina this is West Elm of going and, we. Had a thing called mini, society, where, where. We would make, a business. For. For, an, hour you'd make a business and then that that would be that that class would be a mini Society and we, all got to vote on on. What, we called the currency, when I was in fourth. Grade I was in fourth grade so this is. 1974. Something like that 75. And I won, with the name of the currency that year and so that year the currency was called the Google that's, true no it's true really. Yeah it was the Google that's what that's, what I made. Up the Google so high. You.