any ben forrest davis song is good. he's the former drummer of sugarcult but his music is more tender [?] and sensitive. it's simple and natural but it's really really nice imo. he's indie right now. please try checking him out. his music is really nice.
Are you planning on touring the US anytime soon?
Well, no. That requires money and a lot of organization. I would love to do it though. Do you know anybody who might book a tour for me? Some friends are setting up a show in New York in August for me. I've thought about doing a couch tour. Maybe I'd play in people's living rooms.
Tell us a little about the Positions NYC.
I went to rehab for alcohol addiction and met a guy named Raney. He and I recorded a bunch of songs there in rehab because I had a portable recorder with me. We thought it was pretty cool, so we made the songs into a record, but our schedules don't permit us to do much with the band right now. We have planned to do a few more songs and shows in August.
Hows your solo project coming along?
I've stopped rushing to finish an album. i'm letting it brew. I have twelve songs that I'm considering for an EP instead. They all have drums and bass and guitar on them, but I'm waiting to put the finishing touches on production until I get a clear idea of which songs work best as a six song EP. I'm selling a couple of albums now. One was recorded with just voice and guitar, live in my bedroom. The other is call "Roughs" and is mostly the same songs, but with all the instruments. I'm asking people who buy Roughs to help me pick the six best songs to finish up for a proper release. I think the Roughs album is pretty cool because it always changes. I burn and paint each one by hand, and each one could have different mixes on it. The tracklist includes the date for each mix so you know what version of a song you have. I just put on whatever mix represent the current direction of the song.
Whats bands and artists inspire you?
I'm inspired by artists who make it doing their own thing. I want to make songs and find an audience without tailoring my material to a marketing demographic. I think Nora Jones was able to do that. Beck, Dave Matthews, Red Hot Chili Peppers... those are artists that became huge just doing their thing. For artistic influence on my current batch of songs, I'm inspired by natural sounding recordings. J.J. Cale, Leonard Cohen, Freedy Johnston, Elliott Smith.
What were your high school days like?
It was hard to get out of bed. I hadn't discovered coffee, so I dropped out. I don't like feeling repressed. I hated school. Eventually I went to college and I loved it. I want to go back to school at the nearest practical convenience.
When did you pick up your first drumsticks and guitar?
I started really loving music when I was eight. I didn't learn much about it though. I liked the look of instruments and bands. I didn't become disciplined about music until I was about 18.
Do you ever regret working with Sugarcult?
Never. I might have done something else with those years, but it's impossible to estimate how different paths in life will work out. What we did in Sugarcult was fun and productive, and that's the measure of a quality life. If you are enjoying what you do and enhancing the lives of others at the same time, it's hard to ask for much more.
If you could go back in time, would you work with Sugarcult, be solo or work with another band?
If I could go way back in time, I would try to address my issues with self-confidence, which may have lead to me taking more of a front seat as a performer. As it was though, I needed to team up with someone whose confidence was his primary asset. Sugarcult taught me that you can be whatever you set out to be, or at least get a hell of a lot closer by believing in yourself than by identifying the reasons why you can't.
Do you prefer electric or acoustic guitars?
I don't have a preference.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I think I'll be doing the same thing. I will be writing and recording music. I haven't changed much in the last fifteen years. I've tried to stop making music before. It didn't work out. I wouldn't mind discovering a new calling, but so far, this is what I do.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Well, my influences cover the spectrum of all music. I think the songs we hear on the radio when we’re young are some of our biggest influences. I can narrow down my influences on my album “Roughs” a little better though. Beck, Elliott Smith, Aimee Mann, Azure Ray, The Beatles, Ken Stringfellow, Freedy Johnston, Antonio Jobim, Leonard Cohen, Ben Folds…
You have a bunch of projects going on at the moment, list them here.
The Sweet Hurt. This is a project with Wendy Wang, my ex-girlfriend’s sister. I think she came up with the name. The name probably represents the emotional pain reflected in the songwriting and the sweetness of the actual sound.
The Positions NYC is the band I formed and recorded in rehab. We’ve been on hiatus for most of the year, but we’re gearing up again to record and play shows now. Raney, the other half of the songwriting team came up with the name “The Positions”. We added the NYC because we discovered that there was already a band called “The Positions”. I thought the NYC would evoke imagery of the CBGB heyday era sound that inspires our band.
Ben Forrest Davis is my solo thing. I added the middle name because there’s already a Ben Davis with at least one album in stores. Evidentally, his bio reads something like mine would too. He’s the ex-drummer of a punk band showing a softer side in his solo album. Now there’s a recipe for confusion!
There’s a project I’m trying to get off the ground with Lee from Madcap. It’s his vision, really, but I love it and I’m hoping we can get going on it. soon.
If everything were to stop right now, what one thing would you, as a band like to be remembered for?
Hmm, I really want people to mean it when they say I brought hip hop to the next level. Oh, last night I watched a rapper perform who had a funny song about how he “heals with his steel”. It was all about how he would have sex with someone and suddenly they could walk or see again. I’d like to be remembered for that. Maybe I’d be the guy who could cure cancer with his, uh, tenderness.
Out of all the venues you've played which is your favorite?
Anywhere with people who are happy to see me is great
If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
I would make radio independent so that program directors and DJs could actually choos what to play.
What do you want people to get from your music?
I just want people to enjoy listening to it. I know music works on different levels for different people. I’m listening to Elliott Smith as I type this right now. I don’t know what he’s even talking about. I just like the way it makes me feel.
If you could be a member of one 80s band who would it be?
U2. I’m not really even a huge fan. That just feels like the right answer.
If you weren't involved in music, what other careers would you pursue?
Maybe I would write or act, if I had the balls. I don’t know, but I’m sure I’d do something creative. I get really uncomfortable if I can’t participate in a creative process. I would do anything that allowed me to solve problems.
What is your favorite song off of one of your CD?
I like the song “Half” because It’s simple; it conveys a basic, universal idea. I also like it because people have reacted more strongly to it than most others.
How did you prepare for recording?
I did tons of preparation, seemingly for no reason. I listened to lots of my CDs and decided which ones I would consider “my vibe”. By that, I meant that they represented a sound or feeling that I’d like to be able to put forth in my CD. I made compilations and listened a lot. I made lists wrote down ideas, compiled sounds to edit and cut into my songs. I really can’t even explain how much thought I put into it at first. There were so many things I liked, and so many possibilities. I became overwhelmed. I finally just decided to go to someone else’s studio and record the instruments instinctively. So rather than planning out all the parts, I just sang and played acoustic, then laid drums over the top of that. Next I did bass. I did two passes for each song and kept the better of two takes. I added a little electric guitar and a shaker. There are some harmonies. The album wound up being a really natural, underproduced thing. I like it, but I still see myself adding little things here and there. I don’t think these are final mixes or anything, but I don’t mind putting it out because it represents something in a natural state.
What was the writing process used for this album?
These are old songs that were written a little while before we formed my old band, Sugarcult. They weren’t written for the sake of being recorded for an album or anything. There was just a year when I wrote a bunch of songs. I included the songs that fit a certain tone for my album.
What was the hardest part of recording?
Getting started. I have a psychological block against plugging in and hooking up a mic. I don’t like working alone. When I hired someone else to push the red button, things got a lot easier. I can’t afford to experiment with new ideas on someone else’s time though. The hardest thing about putting finishing touches on this record is finding the motivation to lock myself up in a room, alone. I lost the taste for solitude that I once had. I also don’t like having all the control. I would rather have additional musicians, a producer, or a proper band. I don’t think that controlling exactly what goes down to tape is as important as some artists do. I song can work in a number of ways. Choosing exactly what is played becomes more of a burden than a luxury, in my experience.
Who would you like to tour with?
That would depend on the music I was promoting. I wouldn’t want to play with my favorite, or the biggest band in the world if the audience wasn’t receptive to my music.
Any rumors or misconceptions you want to clear up since your split with Sugarcult?
I haven’t really heard any. Mostly, people just wonder what happened. It’s worth noting that I wasn’t fired. A lot of people ask, so here it is, as copied form an online blog. There are a few reasons I’m not playing with Sugarcult. Luckily, we are all still close and nothing bad happened; there was no personal falling out. First of all, Tim wanted to make the new record with Kenny, the new drummer. This was a preference of his that I had to accept, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Kenny had substituted for me before, once when I had to leave tour for a couple of dates when my mom got married, and another time when I had to go to rehab for alcohol addiction at the end of 2002. This was around the time that Tim was writing for the new record. He worked out a lot of the new music ideas with Kenny. After rehab, I rejoined the guys for a European tour and then it was time to make the new CD. We were in a hurry to make the album, so Tim proposed that Kenny play on it since he knew all the new music, and meanwhile, I was messing around, playing guitar in a new band of mine called The Positions NYC that I formed in rehab. Eventually, Tim proposed that we let Kenny join and replace me. I decided to make the most of it and agreed because it has allowed time to work in other fun ways. I do miss being in the band though! I miss having a team to work on stuff with.
Do you like doing the independent thing or do you miss being on a label? Does that change the pressure and quality of work?
A label would be a handy tool right now, because they bring money and exposure to the picture. I wind up doing the job of at least fifteen people myself, so naturally everything suffers. It would be great to simply make and perform music, but that just a tiny part of where my time goes.
Do you feel having projects like your solo work and your work with The Positions NYC benefit you and push you to experiment with sound since their sounds are very different?
Not exactly. These new projects aren’t beyond the scope of so many other things I’ve done. As a writer/producer, I’ve composed and recorded orchestral music, jazz, metal, hip-hop, choir music, experimental down-tempo, country, world-bear/ethnic music, T.V. music… on and on… But the thing that’s new and unique about what I’m working on now is that I’m doing it without aspiring to really be like anything in particular. Certainly there are influences on my current projects, but they don’t need to fit into any specific mold. I don’t have anyone to answer to, you know. I don’t have any pressure to concoct something commercial.
What advice would you give to younger/new musicians looking to record for the first time.
I would suggest recording one’s self by any means possible. A person could use a cassette boom-box, or buy a 4-track recorder for a couple hundred dollars or less. This would give a someone an idea of how they sound and whether they’re ready to get help. I would also strongly recommend learning about recording technology. There is free demo software for recording available for download online. It’s worth looking into.
When you become famous what would you order to have in your dressing room?
Every dressing room should have a couch and some water. So many clubs overlook such a cheap creature comfort, you know, just somewhere to sit down comfortably.
Most people will recognise you from being the ex-drummer of Sugarcult, what are your feelings towards leaving Sugarcult?
Well, it wasn't my idea, but it was something that I decided immediately to accept. It left me without a job, which is a little scary. I'm 33 years old and I don't really have money, skills, work history or a degree so I just have to go with what I know, which is music. Of course I have time now to find other ways to support myself. I have time that I wouldn't have if I were with Sugarcult, and I'm a big boy, so I don't worry much.
Has your departure from the band affected your relationships with the other members?
Yeah, mostly just insofar as I don't see them every day. I mean, it wasn't something that everybody had a say in, so I can't take it totally personally. Those guys are some of my best friends, and we never had any personal falling out. Regardless of how it may have hurt my feelings, I think things are better for me creatively now. Building Sugarcult with the guys is one of my biggest achievements. I think we're all indebted to one another for the way we've contributed to each others lives. We all respect that. We have a good relationship.
Tim has admitted in other interviews that ‘Champagne’ off ‘Palm Trees and Power lines’ was written about you, what are your thoughts towards the song?
It makes me sad, but I'm sort of flattered, I guess. It's touching. I'm not totally sure how to interpret all the lyrics.
Do you think your time in Sugarcult has helped you launch yourself as a solo artist?
Yes. I thought about doing a harder rock thing to appeal to Sugarcult's rock audience, but I just don't feel like presenting myself that way. But my association with Sugarcult surely made some people curious to see what my music might sound like. Maybe Sugarcult fans hate my shit, because they probably have millions of fans and I've probably sold 75 records. Hmmm, maybe I need a new strategy.
Since leaving Sugarcult you have been part of numerous side projects, care to explain the influence behind them?
The Sweet Hurt is my most functional band. It's based around Wendy Wang's songwriting. She's my ex-girlfriend's little sister. I love her voice and songs. The band has always been a part-time thing for her because of school and stuff. I joined a couple months ago, I think, but I've been helping Wendy with recordings for years. We just started really practicing. We want to put together an EP and some local shows by Summer's end.
The Positions NYC is a band I formed with Raney Shockne in rehab in November of 2002. I had a portable recorder in rehab and we made the majority of our album right as the songs came to us. The influence there is like, Lou Reed, The Cars, Iggy Pop... that kind of stuff.
There's this really cool thing that I want to do with Lee from Madcap right now. We haven’t done any work, but I checked out his ideas and I think it's great.
You’ve said that you’ve wanted to record some acoustic songs for some time now...what made you want to do acoustic material?
I like the way it sounds.
Your solo album shows your unique songwriting and instrumental skills off amazingly but what was your influence behind it?
I just had these songs laying around for years and I wanted to record them. My idea was to record it on the road and have it be no big deal. I couldn't pull it off though. I wanted it to be minimal and sparsely produced. I've had a million ideas for what it could be like. I was thinking myself into a corner. I did all kinds of preparation for some of the sounds I was going to try to get. Finally I said "fuck it" and put a simple performance online. So no I'm just trying to pick six songs for a fully-produced EP. To put it plainly, the influences are Freedy Johnston, Elliott Smith, J.J.Cale Sean Lennon... They have a simplicity I like.
How long have you been working on your solo material?
I don't always work on it. The songs I'm trying to get out now are five to ten years old, so that long, I guess. I'm assuming I'll get inspired to cook up a new batch once I record these satisfactorily.
What are your plans for your solo material?
I want to sell EPs. I'm not a business guy, so I don't really have a plan. I just do what I do. Hopefully I'll make some wise choices that lead me to food and a working car. Don't get me wrong; I have goals, but when I wake up in the morning I just have to do whatever's in front of me. Whatever phone call, online activity, band practice, bills to deal with... that's what I do. I guess the answer is that I'm going to promote my record independently the best way I know how. If only I knew how...
What is your favorite track off “The Audience is Sleeping” and why?
"I Don't Want To Know" because it's so plain. There's no metaphor.
So do you prefer playing guitar or drums more?
Drums are more natural for me, but I need to make music, not just rhythm. I haven't played drums for a year and seven months, except to record. My drums are in storage.
Who inspired you when you were growing up, and who inspires you to this day?
I liked rock stars when I was little. Then it was geniuses. Now I look up to people who are friendly and comfortable dancing. God, I wanna be that guy who likes everyone and everyone likes.
Describe Ben Davis as an artist in five words.
Natural, honest, sensitive fucking genius. Naw, I don't know. I'm a flexible artist. Whatever I'm doing, I like to figure out what I like about it and just do my best.
What do you think is your biggest fault?
No social grace?
What’s the one thing that’s had the biggest impact on your life so far?
Cigarette and alcohol addiction
Do you have any reccurring dreams?
All the normal ones: Naked in public, messing up in school, losing my teeth, my dog coming back to life, fighting with someone...
If you could slap a Ben Davis logo on any object, mass-produce it and sell it, what would it be?
An autobiography. That would be the ultimate ego-gratification, having people want to read about my stupid little life and how I cured cancer just to impress a girl.
5 things about Ben Davis that people don’t know?
Oh shit, This is the question that kept me from doing this interview for two weeks. It's like the Oscar speech. You never expect anyone to want you to talk about yourself. I have horrendous stage fright. That's why I never fronted bands. I'm too scared. I'm listening to Prince right now. 5% genius, 95% lame. I love Boys II Men. I told my roommate that this was going to be hard. She didn't agree so I told her to name one thing. She said "that you're a fart machine". I thought that was hilarious. I don't fart around her, or really ever. In fact, I never ever have farted once, but I'm told it's natural. I wouldn't know.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get started in the music business?
Well, mostly you just need to enjoy staying busy. The jobs in the music business require personal skills that can be applied to jobs that aren't music related. A lot of people think they want to do those things specifically in music because it's a way to stay surrounded by creative people. The downside is that the music business is very unfair to artists and is, moreover, controlled by a couple of near-monopolies. It can be disheartening. It's a little hard to give specific advice right now, but organizing events and working with musicians at a young age is a great way to get started. You'll be developing life skills that will help you in whatever you decide to do. Also, as a pet project, you could try to blow me up! That would give you a taste of the impossible!
Are you signed?
No, I'm not signed. I want to try to do as much independently as I can. Record companies probably wouldn't "hear hits" with my music, but I think that people might like it anyway. I'm testing that theory.
Are You Playing here?
I want to tour and play there, but I don’t have an audience. If enough people spread the word certainly I will be able to play just about everywhere. The most likely scenario is that I would get onto an established act’s tour, but it’ll be a while before I can do that. I’m working as hard as I can on it though.
WHY AREN’T YOU IN SUGARCULT?
A lot of people ask, so here it is. There are a few reasons I’m not playing with Sugarcult. Luckily, we are all still close and nothing bad happened; there was no personal falling out. First of all, Tim wanted to make the new record with Kenny, the new drummer. This was a preference of his that I had to accept, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Kenny had substituted for me before, once when I had to leave tour for a couple of dates when my mom got married, and another time when I had to go to rehab for alcohol addiction at the end of 2002. This was around the time that Tim was writing for the new record. He worked out a lot of the new music ideas with Kenny. After rehab, I rejoined the guys for a European tour and then it was time to make the new CD. We were in a hurry to make the album, so Tim proposed that Kenny play on it since he knew all the new music, and meanwhile, I was messing around, playing guitar in a new band of mine called The Positions NYC that I formed in rehab. We’re still sober, thank God. You should check out The Positions NYC on MySpace too. It’s more like, upbeat music. Oh, but anyway, eventually, Tim proposed that we let Kenny join and replace me. I decided to make the most of it and agreed because it has allowed time to work in other fun ways. I do miss being in the band though! I also miss have a team to work on stuff with too. I still get to make music but I don’t have a record deal or any help getting my music heard. If you’re reading this and there’s any way you can help promote my music, it would be killer. Visit and send others to my solo music profile, I’ll have new music there regularly that you can stream or download including, hopefully with Sugarcult’s blessing, rare Sugarcult tracks. Please recommend my music to anyone who would like this kind of thing, and if you can, buy my CD.It would really help me directly, as in it would equal me getting to buy a sandwich or something, and that’s help I need! So there you have it.
HOW CAN I HELP?
I need people to help get the word out for me. We need to let people know that they can get my CD on my profile, and to get interested in general so that I can tour. You can sign up for my street team on my website BenforrestDavis.com. You can also just do things on your own. You can recommend checking out my profile to anyone who you think might like my music. You could do it with the “Forward” feature. You just go to my profile and then click forward to send it to the friends you choose.
HOW CAN I DOWNLOAD?
You can download right from the player on the profile. Keep checking back too, because I’ll be rotating the fourth song every so often. But will you buy my CD? I’m doing this totally independently and I need help! I just reduced the price by making the packaging cheaper for me to make and ship, so it’s $10 after everything. The product is still cool though. It includes lyrics and each CD is hand painted by me! That would be awesome! If for some reason the MySpace player isn’t working, use www.purevolume.com/bendavis
--may i ask what does "im not dead yet" mean?? cuz i saw you say it in the sugarcult dvd also....
Marko rapped about me not being dead yet in a freestyle because I used to drink so much. Then he made NDY my nickname.
--Do you wear Lynx/Any other male body spray stuff
No, but my friend, Nicky Fingers has informed me that chicks dig Axe.
--Out of the musicals Les Mis, Joseph and FAME -Which do you prefer?
I haven't seen those. But I'm planning to devote a chapter of my autobiography to the impact that "Grease" had on my life.
Do you like touring? What are the best/worst parts about it?
Yes touring is fun. The best part is getting to play every night. The worst is when you have to drive yourself. Most of the touring experience I have is in a van, so it got pretty tiresome. We'd have to get ready for the show in the parking lot. There wasn't much glory in touring when we were out in a van, but it was fun just the same.
What type of drum-set do you have...tucked away somewhere?
I have a Slingerland Studio King. We recorded (Sugarcult's) Start Static with it and i did all my touring with it, except or at venues that provided a kit for us.
Do you have any advice for people who are trying to start a band? (And any advice for drummers? Since I am one.)
Don't give up. Not giving up is what separates the people who have careers in music from those who don't. It takes a lot of patience to learn an instrument, and just as much patience to do everything else involved with "making it". I haven't made it yet, but I'm not giving up.
How many hours do you spend practicing your guitar playing, and in the past, your drumming?
That could be anything from all day to not at all. These days, I've just been playing, not exactly practicing. Over time though, even just playing helps because it makes performing sort of second nature..
What was your initial reaction when Tim said he was replacing you for Kenny?
I said "I can accept that", and I've spent the all the time since trying to, in fact, accept that.
What makes a good/bad song?
That's up to the listener. I know what makes a commercial song though. I use a lot of the techiques found in commercial songwriting, but I also leave a lot of the bullshit out, I try anyway.
Were there people in your life that doubted you? As in, they didn't think you could succeed in your goals.
Yes, but mostly people have been encouraging, and mostly I haven't met my goals.
Is there something you don't like about being a musician?
Yes. I don't like the pay. I don't like that it consumes everything in me such that i can't have a normal social life. I can't relax because i know I'm broke and totally blowing it,so i feel like I need to go and work. I can't watch a movie because all I can think about is my career. But all that devotion doesn't mean that i make good career moves. It's not like I'm gonna be a success just because I'm freaking out all the time.
What is/was your goal in life?
I need some money. I want all the normal shit. i want a car, I want to go to the dentist. I don't want to always be comparison shopping when I'm trying to select some fucking cheese, or have to skip the frozen burritos because they're not on sale. It's fucking bullshit to be poor, but it's even worse bullshit to hate you job. So this is the life I've chosen, or gotten stuck with or whatever.
What's the hardest thing about being in a band?
Finding guys who can communicate and cooperate intelligently is the hardest thing. So, I guess the fact that you're likely to find those qualities in everybody in your band means that you have to make personal adjustments in order to accomodate everyone's differences. That's hard.
Was playing music a natural talent or did you have to work hard to get where you are now?
I was a natural at first, with the drums, but it seems that I developed some sort of late-onset retardation, so now I have to work my ass off, and the sucking never seems to stop.
What was your label in high school?
What was your least/favorite subject?
Describe your home.
Two people in a one-bedroom apartment. Lots of shitty guitars and even shittier computers. Basically everything like my clothing, diet, apartment, haircut... these things all suggest that I must be a drug addict or a video game junkie or something. It's really quite sad.
Have any guilty pleasures?
Boxers, briefs, or boxer-briefs?
Briefs. I'm totally opposed to boxers. I have wild nuts. I just can't make boxers work for me.
Any pet peeves you got?
Misspelled contractions. Slow-loading web pages.
please try checking out his official site too, it's benforrestdavis.com :)