Ben Harper chat transcript
Singer Ben Harper chatted with JAM! Music on Friday March 23, 2001 to talk about his new two-CD concert album, 'Live From Mars.' Read the transcript:
Katina from Toronto:
What is the one most important thing should a performer
keep in mind for performing (bearing in mind I have to go
on stage at 7 p.m.)? :)
Ben Harper: Um, you know, don't over-think it, and just perform from your soul.
I've got a question about gear used on "Burn to Shine" ...
are you a bong man or a joint man?
Ben Harper: Well ... it just depends on the setting.
Oh boy, if I could remember that far back man, I'd be an educator.
What do you think about right as you finish a song during a
performance, in the silence between your last note and the
Ben Harper: That's one of the best questions I've ever been asked!
It's not a matter of what I'm thinking about as much as just coming down from the song.
I love your music very much. I was wondering, what has
influenced you in developing your original sound?
Ben Harper: A lot of old Delta Blues music like Blind Willie Johnson and Mississippi Hurt, as well as more modern blues players such as the Allman brothers and Lowell George from Little Feat.
You're a closet Limp Bizkit fan, aren't you? I know you have a
rap-rock album on the back burner!
Ben Harper: Laughs - that's news to me!
No man, I don't know their music, man.
What inspired you to get Maori tattoos ?
Ben Harper: Well, they're Malori Body Art called Moko, and their symbolism of thousands of years, it reflects where you've been, where you are and where you're going. Their philosophy is that it's already underneath your skin, and they're bringing it out from underneath you.
What I love about Moko is they incorporate the skin as part of the design, as much as the ink itself. I've got some that are just healing up as we speak!
How did you first hear about Jeff Buckley? Did you know
his music before you met him in France 1995?
You and Jeff are the two artists whose music I cannot live without! Thanks!
Ben Harper: Jeff is one of my favourite musicians and singers of all time.
I heard his music before I met him. His record "Grace" came out around the same time as our record "Fight For Your Mind".
I heard it and went out and bought it.
I met him for the first time ... Europe is known for its summer festivals, and the summer of '95, it was an important musical summer. There were a whole bunch of us on these festivals. Us, Jeff, Dave Matthews, Spearhead, The Cranberries, REM, it was just an exciting time to be in music. That was the first time I met Jeff.
We would have collaborated, but we didn't only because we would criss-cross Jeff and his band all over the world. Jeff toured behind Grace for nearly three years, I think.
We were on the road a lot.
We developed a friendship, but it was a road-based friendship.
I think music hasn't suffered a loss like that for a very long time (after Jeff's death). I think it's important to know, it's not only sad, what he left us will never be enough for us Jeff fans. But what's sadder still is what he would have done. Never have I seen such infinite musical potential in anyone. It's just gone. It's chilling how much it hurts.
Do you read the message board on benharper.net to see what
your nutty fans are saying? :o)
Ben Harper: Since I tour so much -- and when I'm on tour, that's the time I read and write a lot -- I don't get a chance to get on the computer.
So I'm embarrassed to say I don't go on as much as I should probably. But the answer is yes, I do check in on there sometimes.
Hey man: I find your music is great to shag to. My
question to you is,
what does your soundtrack to sex consist of?
Ben Harper: Oh man!
You know what, it just depends on the mood of the sex.
There's one record ... and I can't remember what the F it is!!!!
(Asks his friend). I don't know man, I need to update my sex library anyway.
Have you met many of the artists whose work you've
covered. Obviously not Hendrix or Marvin Gaye, but maybe
The Verve or Page/Plant? And if so, do they give any
feedback or comments on your interpretations of their
songs? (P.S. Hope you play a long acoustic set in Durham,
Ben Harper: I haven't gotten any feedback. I've never met Richard (Ashcroft). I'm a big fan of his.
I actually saw Page and Plant in Europe with Jeff Buckley, but they wouldn't let us backstage.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew
Ben Harper: My dad.
Just like my dad. I wanted to be my dad.
First ... thank You! You give me soooo much through your
lyrics & music!!! Next ... my question!! When do you
anticipate releasing your next album (besides "Mars")? ... I
can't wait for new Ben tunes!! YOU ROCK!!
Ben Harper: Thank you very much, and I'm very excited about the next studio record. I'm not sure when we're going to work on it but the pre-production is already well begun in my head.
Ben: Badly Drawn Boy's "Hour Of The Bewilderbeast" is a great
shaggin' CD, if you're in need of something new :)
Ben Harper: Thanks for the tip.
I once heard you say that you would like to record an album
with the Wailers. That would be amazing. Any plans set
on recording this album?
Ben Harper: It's not set, but I'm writing material for that record as we speak. Once the material is complete, we'll be in the studio.
I met one of the members, Al Anderson, and he and I have been talking about getting that together for years now, so it was just a matter of getting the songs together and bringing them to life.
I went to see your concert in Calgary and it was awesome
and inspiring. You seem to be a very religious man. What
religion do you practise?
Ben Harper: It's no specific belief system. It's not any belief system that is man-based.
My belief system is faith in the highest God that is beyond all man-made religions.
Hi Ben! I'm wondering how you all chose the songs on the
"Mars" compilation? Was it a feeling you got during that
certain show, or maybe for quality? Also, it's been
overheard that you have recorded (almost) every show you've
ever played. Did you try and get some earlier recordings
(pre-1996) onto the new album?
Peace my good friend : )
Ben Harper: Thank you for checking the live record.
We have recorded every show we've ever done for the last six years, but we pulled songs from the last two years because we've been multi-track recording for two years now and that's when you get the best sound.
You are living a dream that many would love, including
myself. Do you still have to pinch yourself every morning?
Ben Harper: I'll pinch myself now for you!
Christopher from Iowa:
Ben! I'm so amped that you're coming to Cedar Rapids for
more Iowa shows!
A question I've had for a while is, will we ever see you and
the I.C.s do
your STELLAR cover of The Jam's Modern World? Much love to
you and the rest of the band!
Ben Harper: We're going to throw that song back in the set at some point.
We're going to tour in the States, mid to late April to late May, and all those dates are on benharper.net.
Maybe we'll get to play a jazz fest in Canada. I'm not sure when we'll be back in Canada, but soon I hope.
We'll probably do a West coast tour in May.
Hey Ben. Have you gotten any flak from other musicians for
recording and performing gospel songs?
Ben Harper: No, I've never gotten any flack. You'd have to be a real mook for making fun of somebody for playing gospel.
Any plans to record some more music with Taj Mahal ?
Ben Harper: I hope so, I would love to. I would record with Taj any day of the week.
Homer J. Simpson:
Do you have any favourite venues that you absolutely love
playing? Or cities that just seem to have that certain
Ben Harper: There's a bunch of 'em. The Berkley Greek in Berkley California, then there's the Ryman, the Opry House, the Gorge in Washington, Red Rocks in Colorado, the one club in Toronto ... the Horseshoe?
Which CDs are in your CD player right now??
Ben Harper: A Wonsanto condo from Canada and a group called Ten Pound Brown from San Diego. They're both unsigned but I'm big into them.
Oh, and my friend Pat Brayer and I'm about to release one of his records on benharper.net. It's going to be Internet artists. I'll release other artists, too.
Hey, what up Ben? I've only been able to catch your live
show once in Chicago, but I was amazed at how much emotion
you were able to put into each song. I was wondering
how you get psyched up each night, and how would you
compare performing in the studio to performing live?
Ben Harper: It's very different, very different ways and means of expressing emotions. Similarity is you're playing music, but they're different energies.
I saw that you will be releasing a live performance DVD at
some point. Any estimate on when that might be available
and what may be included on it?
Ben Harper: I'm hoping it'll be in the next three months. It's already shot. It's a bunch of different shows. It's a documentary really on myself and the band. It'll probably also include all of my videos.
How's fatherhood treating you, and how has it changed your
Ben Harper: It's treating me magically.
How has it changed my music?
It's just new life ... new life changes ... brings something to you that you can't put into words as to how it causes musical inspiration.
Ben Harper: I'd like to thank everyone for taking the time out of their day to come unto this chat. I thank everyone for their support of the music we make.
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