September 16, 2011

Interview with Ben Caplan Part 1

One of today's most talented artists from Halifax, Ben Caplan spared some time with us before his show on Thursday, September 14th at the Drake Hotel between his hectic schedule. After the summer tour in Canada and UK, he is already back on the road for the 4 month long tour in Canada, German, UK and Netherlands with his first full album, "In the time of the great remembering." Here is the fun interview with Ben Caplan!

Kanae(K): So you have a new album coming out, which is called, "In the Time of the Great Remembering" on October 18th. What's the title referring to? What made you to decide to name the album?

Caplan (C): The Title is not so much about the music as it is. The title is kind of my personal philosophy and where we are in the history right now.- Where we are learning lots, and  technologies and science that are all advancing in the crazy pace since the Industrial Revolution. But we are also forgetting about more important things, like how to live or be happy, and what the community is good for. I think that in the certain sense, we are at the peak, the most intense moment of the great remembering. People are totally lost and confused and  the society is potentially covering around us. But I think that at the same time, there is kinda bubbling going on like a pot which is about to boil. That's what I think is the great remembering. People are starting  at this moment of the peak of people being totally lost and disconnected, and it's also throwing individualism. They also start remembering what we are missing. At least in the community that I am a part of in Halifax and in a lot of places as well, there are sort of  movements of people getting together, and pickling things, like making jams, learning how to bake their own bread. - These kinds of basic skills that have been forgotten- like how to raise and slaughter a chicken.  

Nicholas- (N):  It's a cultural thing.

C: Exactly, and the record is being made and released in what I consider to be " the time of the great remembering." or it could be the time of the great remembering and I thought it would be a great excuse to talk about that. 

K: It's been about five years since you started touring. What made you decide to release the album at this point? 

C: It was because I was ready. I'd been trying to get resources and musicians and access to a studio and stuff like that. I didn't wanna make a shitty record. I also tried not to rush myself, so I would make up an album that I would be really happy with and an album that  potentially that I could listen to it in 15 years and I would be still happy with. So it was very important to take my time and I was gonna put all this time and energies and resources to get the album out. 

N: Did you write songs specifically for the album?

C: It's kind of "The Best of" album.

N: "The Best of First of"

C: Yeah exactly. These are the best songs that I've written in the last five years. 

K: Did you have to rewrite any of the songs for the album?

C: None of them were specifically for the album. They were evolving since I wrote them and still evolving. I play these songs a little differently now and then in the record since the time has passed. I like to keep things fresh for myself and constantly exploring new ways of interpreting songs so It's interesting for me. Also for these people who come and see me more than once, you know,  they are gonna see something differently every time that they come to a show. 

K:Any interesting stories to share in the recording process? 

C: There is one song in the album, a song that was pretty much rewritten and rearranged in the studio called, "Bang to Break the Drum."and it was a song that I kind of knew that the live version was not gonna work for the album and I needed to find other ways of arranging the song. It was the last song that recorded on the album because I knew that I needed to have sort of the moment of an inspiration but it hadn't come yet. I started becoming a little nervous because it was the last day in the studio, and I still hadn't had any great ideas. And all of a sudden, in the middle of recording another song, and I was like "Stop everything!." and I said  "Someone get a notepad!!!" and I was like start to finish, working through the song, composed on the spot new melody lines for the instrument and told everybody that they had to write them down. It was just one burst of 15 minutes of channeling something that was from the beyond. I finally went in and recorded the whole song and I started drinking whiskeys as we were going, I was shit-face-drunk as we were recording the song and when I finally went in for the vocal track, I totally unintentionally started singing in this very low voice, from the bottom of my register and gradually went up. It was sort of 100% inspiration. 

The songs well-practiced and everyone knows the basic form. But when we decided to change it around, we just did it. I wasn't considered at all like all these check boxes that I had to accomplished. I just had a feeling how this song has to be. If you listen to the track, it ends with this drum solo, which kind of evolves into a drum solo and I start yelling and my tone of the voice changes quite a bit toward the end because I was so lost in whatever was going on and I forgot that I was standing in front of the microphone. So I just walked away and started yelling and picking up drums and throwing them across the room.

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