The Smile Case have just released Murder Weather (Blacktop Records) a release that includes members of Wheatus, The Killjoys, Single Mothers, Kill Surf City, Elias The Band and more.
Ben Andress (guitarist, vocalist and songwriter) from the group and Manager of the label their record they come out on had a wide ranging chat that can be heard here.
To listen, click the green ‘play’ triangle… [note: may take few seconds to load]
(Transcript of The Smile Case chat below, check to delivery in audio)
IMAGE CREDIT: Stephen Verhoeve (supplied from record company)
SHOW NOTES: The Smile Case episode
Where to find the show to subscribe/follow:
- PlayPodcast – this link directs you, to the Podcast app on your device 9subscribe to not miss an episode)
….or you may prefer to Search “radionotes Podcast” in your favourite podcatcher.
FEATURE GUEST: Ben Andress of The Smile Case & Blacktop Records
- Official ‘The Smile Case’ Site
- Murder Weather – album (Bandcamp)
- Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
- TV Blackbox on Spoilers (TV Blackbox)
- Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (Wiki)
- Michael Hutchence Funeral (YouTube – RtC Extra)
- INXS – Devil Inside (Official Music Video)
- Alexisonfire cover of Midnight Oil (YouTube – LIVE in Melbourne, Australia) – Recorded Version (Spotify)
- Blacktop Records (Official Site)
- Wheatus (Official Site)
- Lisa Loeb (Official Site) and Blacktop Records release
- Lisa Loeb’s version of Rainbow Connection (Official Music Clip) off Lullaby Girl (Amazon)
- Raffi (Official Site)
- The Wiggles – Dial E for Emma (Official Video Clip)
- Meghann Wright (Bandcamp – Blacktop Records)
- The Killjoys (Official Site) and Twitter
- The Copper Mug (Facebook) no juice boxes!
- MC Lars, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Wheatus – True Player for Real (Official Music Clip)
- “Weird Al” Yankovic Grammys Win – 2019 for Boxed Set (YouTube)
- Green Jello (Blacktop Record) and their Three Little Pigs (Official Music Clip)
- Pale Drone – EP + Demo (Blacktop Records) released December 2018
- WHOOP-Szo (Bandcamp)
- The Smile Case – Angel Beach (Blacktop Records)
- The Smile Case – Dissonant (Official Music Clip) from the album Murder Weather
In The Box:
- Lisa Caruso – A Holiday (Facebook)
- Death Cab For Cutie – Northern Lights Japanese Wallpaper remix (Youtube)
- Brandford Marsalis Quartet – The Secret Between the Shadow and The Soul – Album (official site)
- Merpire – Lately (Offical Music Clip) and their Official Website
- Batts – The Grand Tour (Pre-Order) and Shame (Official Music Video)….. just released – please take moment to watch – Folding Chairs (Official Music Clip) off their debut album
Next episode guest: Coby Grant (from the Archives)
- Winter Bear (Original from Grant) – Glory Box (Portishead Cover)
More details on playpodcast here, thanks to Matt from them.
Theatre – worth seeing from where I sit:
[Radio Production – notes: The Smile Case is the feature chat for the full episode, there is a few minutes either end if you wish to get a long track on]
Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio
Web-design/tech: Steve Davis
Voice: Tammy Weller
You can make direct contact with the podcast – on the Contact Page
For direct quotes check to audio, first version of transcript by Cara S at REV
Tammy Weller [Introduction]:
The Smile Case first album Lamp, opens with cut called Cargo Pants and Plastic People released back in 2003. Sixteen years later, their latest Murder Weather has just come out.
Last year, they released a three-disc collection called A is for Apple. Looking back over the past releases, rarities and live numbers.
To, Murder Weather it was recorded at 460 Studios in Hemlock in their home town of Ontario, Canada.
Guests on the record include Wheatus’ Brendan B. Brown, The Killjoy’s Mike Trebilcock and Single Mother’s Justis Krar to name just three.
Ben Andress of the group, here shooting the breeze with John…
John Murch: Ben Andress, welcome to radionotes.
Ben Andress: I appreciate you having me, it’s fun, we’ve chatted a lot through email before and it’s finally nice to see you and chat, hear a voice, see a face, this is awesome.
John Murch: Well speaking about visuals, could you firstly introduce us to someone the listeners will not get a chance to meet, who is the cat?
Ben Andress: Special Agent Albert Rosenfield, he’s named after obviously FBI Agent from Twin Peaks. There’s a couple other cats kicking around here that look very similar, there’s Copper, Special Agent Del Cooper and then there’s Denise who’s Special Agent Denise Bryson, so they’re all named after FBI Agents.
John Murch: You mentioned Twin Peaks so I want to refer to something critical of the spoilers a number of years ago on the inter webs, talk to us about people who spoil things like Twin Peaks.
Ben Andress: I feel like there should be at least a 10 year gap before you can post spoilers, I don’t know like, I still haven’t watched Lord of the Rings, I’ve dabbled through the books a bit, I’m very familiar with what it’s all about but you know different people have different paces, or different things going on, there’s stuff I wanna watch still, especially when it’s publications like news blogs and magazines, they’re supposed to be making you intrigued to watch the show, and obviously I think it’s their job to advertise even if it’s negative press or positive press, to draw you in to watch the show, but when they ruin it and spoil it, makes you like well there’s no point in watching it now.
Ben Andress: I think South Park had a thing, not exactly about that, but about how long you could wait for jokes to be funny, I can’t remember how many it was something point years, maybe even more than a decade.
John Murch: I thought it would be a fair question, TV Blackbox has a bit of that at the moment where people one side of course if for the spoilers, don’t know why obvious they explain why, those are against as well, you join us on the back, the brand new album which was launched less than 24 hours ago. Firstly how was the launch?
Ben Andress: There were spoilers, I strategically tried to make people intrigued and interested so instead of just getting it all out there, one song got put out, there wasn’t a premiere week before, we made a big deal about it, make it I guess what bands should do, if you make a record you should be proud and excited about it so that’s kind of what we did and most people heard the record 24 hours before it came out, at midnight Spotify most people heard it, or wherever Apple or Google or Deezer, I think that’s a real one.
Ben Andress: My grandmother, she’s still alive God bless her could, great woman, I think she’s pretty sweet, she was like the cool grandma where you go over there and she had the Nintendo NES and was playing Air fortress, and taught you how to play Nintendo.
Ben Andress: I remember one day, maybe being in grade 8, her and grandpa has a subscription to McQueens Magazine, which I guess you don’t get over, you’re in Australia right, it’s our Canadian version of Time Magazine, it’s pretty sweet but it was one of those things where you get a subscription, and then after your subscription ends there just like we’ll just give you two more years free.
Ben Andress: So it was just always around, and my grandmother, she was like, there was a little blurb, and she’s like ‘check this out’, and it was about Napster and I ended up downloading Napster in grade 8, this would have been ’98, ’99, and I posted a bunch of songs that I wrote on there and started messaging people, it was a cool platform as an Independent artist share music back then. It was mind blowing, but for me I was really into to B sides for bands, so I scoured Napster and got every B side available, I could find bootlegs and stuff that wasn’t really, I’d bought CD’s non-stop so I just thought it was a neat tool.
John Murch: Ben, when did that music bug start for you?
Ben Andress: I was born in ’86 and it was definitely, probably around ’89, ’90 I remember seeing my father play, he’d pull out Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever and I though the only song on that CD was You’re so bad, he played it over and over again, trying to learn it on guitar.
Ben Andress: And then one day I remember being 4 or 5 years old, I mimic his actions, too the CD out of the case, put it in the CD player, I got it to play and Free Falling just came on and it blew my mind, I was just like ‘this isn’t that song that he was playing, this isn’t You’re So Bad, this is something different’ I just remember sitting there listening to the whole thing and being mind blown that there was something else out there and then, you know I know there was other music around, and I think my father was a big influence in that,
Ben Andress: I remember he wired up a tape deck to this sketchy van that ran on propane, Black Sabbath, America, Midnight Oil being a big band, INXS, Kick definitely an alum that I could probably recite the lyrics off the top of my head.
John Murch: How closely did you follow the career and there demise of Michael Hutchence?
Ben Andress: It’s funny that you ask that, I don’t talk to a lot of people about that, it’s a thing that upsets me a lot, I remember the exact spot, I don’t remember the time of date obviously but I was in a back seat of a car driving with my mum or grandma or relative, and I remember hearing it on the radio, and being devastated that man’s not gonna make music. I have a lot of INXS memories, I remember my mum giving me money to go buy candy at a convenience store, and I went in there and it was spindle of cassette tapes, and instead of buying candy I bought INXS, yeah INXS was just always there, I remember my Uncle Phil giving me INXS VHS tapes, one was live, maybe live, for Kick it was the Kick concert on VHS.
John Murch: Hutchence passed away in 1997.
Ben Andress: I was obviously you, and I didn’t really understand his process was a little bit different, like my father passed away from a heart attack when I was 7, so death was introduced at a very young age, so I not attract that, I didn’t find it romantic, I got really upset about death and always thought about it a lot, and when that happened with Michael I was aware he’s gone and he will never make music again and it really upset me a bunch, big influence growing up, Kick was definitely a big album.
John Murch: What song though from INXS grabbed you, we mentioned a bit about the albums there but what were the songs from.
Ben Andress: Devil Inside, definitely, this is like a weird memory too, but being like 4 years old, really young, I remember being, I don’t know where it was, my parents were probably somewhere hanging out in a different room maybe, smoking mariajuana or something, us kids were left in another room and I remember INXS being on blaring Devil Inside came on and I remember putting it on repeat every time the song ended juts hitting that start button again and being on this plastic pedal bicycle, and going around in circles, being a wild little kid, and I remember there was just something about that song, it was just pure, even as a child and even still to this day it resinates the same, it has this pure instinct, even especially now I think I more, I get the song more, that was definitely a big song.
John Murch: There’s one other Australian band I wanna mention before we go any further because it’s so indicative of your vocal style I think, that of Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil.
Ben Andress: Midnight Oil, is a weird band cause I never really listened to a lot of them growing up. There was a cassette tape in my mums car growing up there was memories going back, like Supertramp, Breakfast in America, Midnight Oil, Blue Sky Mining.
John Murch: Yeah that’s the one.
Ben Andress: Is that a record by them?
Ben Andress: Yeah so I remember that being kicking around in the glove box, so Blue Sky Mine was a big album that did it for me with them, but coming back as an adult I never really listened to a lot of them. A Canadian band called Alexisonfire did a Midnight Oil cover a few years back, and made me dive back into their catalog a bit. They’ve never been an influence but it’s interesting that comparison.
John Murch: Vocally is there an influence of note Ben?
Ben Andress: I don’t know what the vocal thing is cause I don’t find myself a good singer so I try to emphasise different words in the lyrics more so to do that, so I find maybe artists that do that, like there was a Canadian guy called Matthew Good, from Vancouver, who a lot of people compare me to, I get weird comparisons once in a while, I get Tom Wades, but I don’t think that at all cause Tom Wades is really really really really good, but there’s a band called the Hold Steady, a couple of people have compared it too.
John Murch: What about yourself, what do you believe that vocal style comes from, from your listening of music over the years, what have you tapped into to get the vocal style right?
Ben Andress: Kurt Cobain, you listen to Nirvana and they’re just really good songs and to be honest, Kurt Cobain isn’t that good of a singer, I don’t think anyways, some of the stuff sounded on point key, but I lot of it was noise and it was awesome, stuff like that. I listened to a lot of Mike Patton, in my High School days, he’s obviously a phenomenal singer, phenomenal and I ended up kinda mimicking some of the stuff.
John Murch: We’re currently having a conversation with Ben Andress from The Smile Case, the latest album is called Murder Weather, you started off as a solo project back in 2003, Lamp was the release I saw back in 2003, what was the decision to go from solo to band for you?
Ben Andress: Louder. Sometime you get discouraged a bit, I’d take odd shows without doing the proper research sometimes, so I’d get there and if you’re playing acoustic in a loud bar, there’s 3 people in the front watching and then everyone else is watching the game on TV and just being loud or obnoxious and it just wasn’t cool vibes. Or there were certain bands that I’d wanna play with or certain shows that I’d wanna get on and I thought it was the next logically step to get friends of mine to play on the record, and that solved a couple of issues, it helped evolve the songs into what I heard as I wrote them, and it also allowed me to play other shows and play shows and feel better about just rocking out, you can just rock out with the acoustic guitar but like I said there’s some shows where it made more sense.
Ben Andress: But I switch back and forth, my drummer is in another band, my base player is kinda on hiatus sometimes, so a lot of the shows I still play acoustic, so we switch back and forth. So I play the songs stripped down, play them electric, you kinda never know what you’re gonna get if you go to a Smile Case show.
John Murch: Apart from the established band now that you do have, a number of feature guests make their way onto Murder Weather.
Ben Andress: Yeah, a lot of them are bands I grew up loving as a kid, or just met throughout the years. I run a record label too called Block Top Records, release CD’s, tapes, vinyl and all that fun stuff. There’s some of the bands that we’ve put stuff out for, artists from Fort Wayne Indiana, named Grey Gordon, did some synth and sang on a song, singer from a band called Boys Night Out did some screams on a song, Single Mothers which you’re kinda blowing up right now, they’re guitar player was on a song, he did our music video too for a some called Dissonant on the record, which is fun. Brendan Brown from Wheatus, which is kind of a popular band I’m sure you’re aware of them.
John Murch: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Ben Andress: They’re popular, Teenage Dirtbag was a good song back in the day, still is, the songs called The Going is Good that he’s on that’s one of the most beautiful songs I feel like I’ve ever written.
John Murch: Why do you think it is so beautiful?
Ben Andress: It feels like a dream, the lyrics, I guess the lyrics are about a dream but I feel like it’s beautiful for me in a few different ways. Like Teenage Dirtbag obviously is a huge song, and it just feels pretty sweet that a person who could never have to work a day job again because of a song he wrote, thinks that a song that I wrote is cool enough for him to sing on, feels special to me, that’s really cool.
Ben Andress: A lot of different people take it a lot of different ways, I’ve showed it to a few people beforehand and then the album once it came out I got a lot of people coming up about that song at the CD release show last night. Some people were like ‘is that about your dad?’ ‘is that about this person?’ ‘ is that about this?’ And someone else is like ‘oh this song reminds me of this and that’ so it’s just neat, it’s special to me because I really don’t remember what the song was about, I don’t think it was really about anyone in particular, it just sounded like you know, even my brother was like ‘was that about dad?’ And I’m like ‘ah maybe it is’ I think it’s about everyone like it’s not about anyone in particular.
John Murch: B.B.B. is still an outstanding singer songwriter, apart from of court the hit that we mentioned, how did you feel about the collaboration when you were working through the process of that song, getting someone of B.B.B’s standard to join you on that song?
Ben Andress: Our connection goes crazy, I honestly feel like we’re, he’s like a brother from another mother somehow.
John Murch: I do feel that somehow yeah.
Ben Andress: Years ago I had a friend who was trolling me on the internet maybe, I don’t know I felt that way but maybe not, I was into a lot of 90’s bands, like The Killjoys for example, Mike Trebilcock is on a record I forgot about him, can’t forget about Mike.
Ben Andress: A lot of 90’s bands and early 2000 bands and I started signing a few of them on the label and putting stuff out for stuff I was really into, it was 3am and my friend sent me this message, and he’s like ‘you should sign Wheatus’ and I’m like, what’s Wheatus been up to. And he was probably just at a bar and heard Teenage Dirtbag, and so I went to their website and I downloaded the Lightening EP the Pop, Songs Death Volume 1 and 2, and my head exploded, I’ve never heard song writing like that, it was so progressive, the vocals are so spot on, the lyrics were so special, so I sent him and email and ended up going down to Brooklyn.
Ben Andress: Coincidentally enough the same weekend we planned to meet up, an artist on my label Jonah Matranga was playing a show at the Mercury Lounge.
Ben Andress: So I met up with Brendan and we hung out ended up putting out records, I mentioned that Jonah was playing at The Mercury Lounge and he was like The Mercury Lounge, that’s where we got signed by Sony a decade ago, we played a showcase and a rep from Sony brought us out to The Mercury Lounge and signed us. So it was like this weird full circle thing for him and for me it was pretty awesome. Brendan went out to The Mercury Lounge, we watched Jonah, we just had a great night, had a couple drinks and then I ended up signing them to my record label in Canada and put out couple records together, their last Valentine EP, or LP, we did a cassette tape for and I’ve now since signing them have been able to respect and understand his songwriting and where it comes from and love what he does, everything’s amazing and so yeah aside from Teenage Dirtbag, having Brendan on the record just as a friend and as knowing what a beautiful song writer he is that’s super special.
John Murch: Ben joins us to talk about The Smile Case, the brand new record is Murder Weather, if you don’t mind a couple questions regarding the record label because we are speaking about it there, it’s called Blacktop Records, the importance of the physical release for you Ben, how are you finding that? Has it declined, has it increased?
Ben Andress: It’s always declined, cause I got into it 12 years ago, I remember CD’s being hip, CD stored everywhere, I remember having a big business plan, thinking investing money into artists, being like this is gonna be awesome, and then it was just right at that decline I remember having a ditro deal and the one of the CD stores, the chain of them shut down, people were buying stuff, ordering online, and it was at that odd time where a lot of people probably still didn’t have credit cards, or a lot of it was a younger crowd that was buying stuff so it was before there was all these visa debits and a lot of people didn’t have PayPal exactly set up. It was like this neat time I think I got into it when it was declining, so for me it’s always been up and down, there’s been bands I’ve signed where we’ve done like 1000 CD’s and I still had 800 sitting in an attic.
Ben Andress: I actually did a little spring cleaning this year, and it was nice cause I got to hang out with some old bands on the label that broke up and I drove out to one of the members house, hung out for a bit, dropped off, I’m like hey I’ll drop off a spindle of CD’s and I drop off like 600 CD’s he’s like ‘oh that’s a lot.’ I’m like ‘ah it happens.’ But some stuff sells out, it’s legalize gambling but I find doing unique stuff is fun, cassette tapes are cool, 100 cassette tapes, 200 make it limited with a download card.
John Murch: As a label manager, as someone who is responsible for other artists apart from yourself when you release, how do you take that responsibility on board.
Ben Andress: I feel like I have to be in the middle. A lot of the stuff I license, it’s already been recorded, but there’s some stuff organic from scratch, where the band’s demo, went to the studio, recorded, I don’t like to be hanging out at the studio, being like ‘do this oh I think that would be good’ kinda getting in that producer role, I kinda like to give distance and space that way and let them create, but I get invested on the music as in I wanna feel like it’s something I’d listen to and love and I want other people to hear. Yeah when we do it I try to not get as overwhelmed, because I know I’m dealing with someone else’s art and it’s special to them more than it is to me and it’s not about selling the records at this point in time it’s about presenting their art in the way they want. I know that sounds like a fantasy but it’s true, I’m a musician myself so when I put out my own stuff or someone else were to put it out for me, I’d want that same respect.
John Murch: You’re definitely not a suit, you’re someone who’s actually suited to them because you do it yourself.
Ben Andress: Yeah, like i would sleep in the van with the band.
John Murch: Lisa Loeb, whats the connection, how did that work out?
Ben Andress: Once again, diving into the 90’s, big Lisa Loeb fan. I think I was trying to book her in Canada or I messaged her, I found her online somewhere I don’t know how, she was a mutual friend with someone, I’m like whoa that’s really Lisa Loeb, you know if you ever wanna put something on in Canada or whatever let me know and then maybe 2 years after that she was playing a show in Canada, probably about an hour away from where I live, and I was just like hey you’re gonna be in my neck of the woods, looking forward to the show, and she actually messaged me back saying ‘hey we should talk about getting some Canadian vinyl together for the show’ and I’m like ‘no way.’ And we kinda worked it out. Big crazy fun stuff. The pressing plan that we pressed at ended up going bankrupt and our stock half pressed and stuck in a warehouse, and we had to rescue it halfway across the country, so they didn’t end up at that show but they got ready and we pulled through, and since then I’ve booked Lisa a few times.
Ben Andress: It’s actually really weird too, anytime she’s in Canada, like around Southern Ontario, I’m her merch guy, so they don’t hire a merch guy or anything, I go out, and it’s just funny being at this nice theater and it’s a lot of suited people at at Lisa Loeb concert, and there’s me wearing a Ramones shirt, eating a banana being like ‘hey, you wanna buy I Do?.’
Ben Andress: She’s like hands down, I’ve met a lot of people in the industry, and like one of the sweetest, nicest talent, I could write a 100 plus descriptive words about how positive of a person Lisa Loeb is, I’ve had a lot of good times with Lisa Loeb’s crew.
Ben Andress: Music videos there was a station called The Box, and it was a 1-900 number, and you would call in, vote like a juke box and pay 2 bucks and your video would go on next, and I had VHS tapes and would tape music video after music video, and I remember Lisa Loeb, it’s just so neat that all these artists that I grew up just inspiring me and making me wanna do this are like friends now. It’s awesome, it’s fun, it makes me appreciate music more.
John Murch: What I like, particularly with the Loeb and the B.B.B. connection is they had the hit back then but they’re still producing such great music now as well, and you get a chance to share that through your management skills.
Ben Andress: Yeah, like Lisa, if people check what she’s doing on Amazon, especially if you have kids, she’s put out a couple of kids records, I have a three year old daughter, and my son right now is a year and five months, if he’s being sneaky about something, or like he’s just upset, I’ll say ‘you wanna listen to Raffi?’ And he’s like ‘Oo’ and he’ll just run over to the speaker, we have this little Bluetooth speaker, he’s like anytime you say Raffi, he knows and I don’t know I’ve probably listened to 100 different Raffi songs in the past 2 days, my top artist on Spotify is Raffi.
John Murch: Who is Raffi?
Ben Andress: You’re in Australia I forgot.
John Murch: We’re The Wiggles so.
Ben Andress: Wiggles are good man, I’ll dial E for Emma on Netflix any day for a child. Raffi is a children’s artist, I think I was world wide known, one of the leading lights, Raffi is virtually with a light, playful style of song and story telling, born in Egypt and raised in Canada, Raffi initially launched his music career in Toronto…. so anyway he’s born in in Egypt he’s lives in Canada, kids love him, and parents love him more. He calls his parents that come out to the shows, he calls them Belugagrads beachae they listen to him when they were kids, because he has a song called Baby Beluga, it’s like ‘baby beluga in the deep blue sea, du du du’ and he has a song like ‘down by the bay, where the watermelons grow.’ Or he has a song called Banana Phone ‘du du du du banana phone’ and it’s just about a phone that’s a banana, and then it’s a Gramophone, he entertains.
Ben Andress: Actually it’s fun, my three year old daughter is obsessed with Labyrinth, which is pretty awesome, she thinks she’s gonna marry David Bowie, I don’t know how to break it to her that he’s passed on, not even that, even if he hasn’t it would never happen, I don’t know how as a father don’t know how to discuss death and stuff like that with kids yet, but I’ll let them have their fantasy. So she’s obsessed with Labyrinth, she’s gonna marry Jareth, and she makes me search the house for goblins before bed.
Ben Andress: But the other day I showed her Matilda, now she bought a dolly the other day with her mom, she named her doll Matilda. She’s obsessed with the movie Matilda, it’s funny, I showed her Matilda and she asked questions the whole movie, usually I’d be annoyed, I’d be with a friend and they’d be asking questions during a movie and I’d be so annoyed, but my three year old daughter I love it, at the end of the movie she’s like ‘can you put the show on again’ I’m like oh my God, so I ended up watching Matilda five times in two day.
Ben Andress: I like Roald Dahl books, I think a lot of my influence I’d say even with music would have been with children’s books, like Roald Dahl growing up, a lot of film stuff I would say shows up in the lyrical content, especially with Murder weather, it’s a very visual record, so I’m kind of looking forward to writing the follow up, having an honest record about, I don’t even know, I’d say the fears of being a dad, or something but I don’t really have any fears, I’m having a pretty good time with it.
John Murch: Does it make you think back to your own relationship with your father and how that all happened?
Ben Andress: In a way, cause I wanna be here as long as possible for them.
John Murch: Yeah.
Ben Andress: So obviously, there’s that fear and that gets put into the song writing a lot already and definitely will now on the third record will be there, cause I’m getting around that same age he was, as well too I don’t think I participated in some of the same extra curricular activities as he may have, the 80’s, they were a pretty rough time.
Ben Andress: It’s weird, I don’t have this thing in my head or that mental thing where I’m like oh I’m gonna have that same demise, and then my children are going to be fatherless, but at the same time I wanna make sure that the things I do, and they’re are probably some habits I do have, I used to drink a lot, I probably maybe have a half a beer even last night at the show, I hadn’t drank in months, someone bought me a beer and it sat on the speaker, and it vibrated off and the whole beer got spilled, I had a sip of beer last night at the CD release show. So it felt nice to being someone who would go out the back door and vomit, be able to go into a bar and not turn down free drinks and not drink, there are songs on Murder Weather about that.
Ben Andress: I know my growing up woulda probably been more enjoyable with a father around, so I assume that’s there’s would be too.
John Murch: What point, and maybe it was fatherhood that you said yeah time the golden amber and I had a little rest?
Ben Andress: Yeah that was, I don’t know if there was a certain episode or situation that occurred, I think it was just when my girlfriend was pregnant with our son, I didn’t have a car, I’d never had a license, my whole life I lived in cities or towns, I took buses, I had money I would just pay people to do things, I kinda had a fear of driving, not like a fear I was just like I’m a bad driver is was I just always had in my head I don’t know why. When my girlfriend was pregnant, and my daughter lives in the city in Toronto, she lives an hour and a half away from me so I have to go see her and pick her up and that’s a different story.
Ben Andress: I was on tour and I got a call and I found out four months after, someone else thought my daughter was their daughter, did a DNA test and he wasn’t the father and she’s like well it’s yours and that’s a different story which I think might come up in the song writing a bit too for the third record. It’s been like a crazy three years but I feel really fun and confident about it.
Ben Andress: I had to start driving to pick up my daughter, and then having a son and so when I got my car and license obviously alcohol and driving a car, especially a car with kids in it is big no no and does not mix at all, that I think was a big part me quitting drinking.
John Murch: Sounds like there were a few months there where you didn’t know you were a father as well.
Ben Andress: Yeah, so there was a good four months, that was 3 years ago, I was on tour in the states and played some shows and I came home and was waiting at a bus station and got that call and it was a process, even after that call it took maybe two weeks or so for me to go meet my daughter, and then when I did I was just kinda like yeah, that’s my daughter, couldn’t imagine not meeting her, I wish I knew those extra four months and was there kind of thing.
John Murch: Yeah.
Ben Andress: But it is what it is and her mom we’re really good friends with which is cool, so it makes it easier for that whole co parenting thing.
John Murch: Meghann Wright who’s she, cause I played some of her music on the wireless, she’s on the label.
Ben Andress: I played a show with her in New York a bunch of years ago, and just fell in love with her music, put a CD out for her, we had her actually for Murder Weather do the layout, I like to keep it close with the family, and make sure we involve everyone that’s possible so I wanted her to sing on the record cause she has beautiful voice, but that didn’t pan out this time around, next time.
John Murch: Someone else who mentioned in passing and I really wanna talk more about if you don’t mind on the record Murder weather, by The Smile Case our guest is Ben Andrews, is that of the Killjoys, Mike, how did you get him on board?
Ben Andress: They were actually I’d say the first band I ever saw, but the first band I ever saw was Kim Mitchell, which there’s actually a song on here called Kim Mitchell’s patio lanterns, this is funny, which is actually the song that Mike plays on. So the first band I ever saw was Kim Mitchell, he’s this Canadian legend, he was in a band called Max Webster, I saw him play a free show on a park somewhere when I was 5, 6 years old or something, it was the first concert I ever went to.
Ben Andress: First real concert I ever went to of a rock band was The Killjoys, a band called Junkhouse, and it was at a fair somewhere, outdoor show, Killjoys were a bit staple on 90’s radio here in Canada, Juno Award, which is our Canadian version of The Grammy, really big fan of the band so when I found out they were playing a show, I was in grade 8, which I guess would have placed me at 14, 15 years old or something, and I had my mom bring me out to the show and I saw my first rock ‘n’ roll show. I lied to people all the time and told them The Killjoys was the first band I ever saw, however it was Kim Mitchell I’m just embarrassed to tell people it’s Kim Mitchell. Cause everyone’s first concert was Kim Mitchell here in Canada.
Ben Andress: Over the years, doing the label stuff I ended up playing a show in Hamilton, it’s all this weird spider web stuff how it works out, I played a show in Hamilton, Ontario here in Canada years ago and I ran into this guy called Lee Skinner, who I was at college with and who I paid to design the first ever Blacktop Records website, and so it was random, I ran into this guy and he’s like ‘hey I’m going over to this bar, there’s a Velvet Underground tribute band playing, come hang out’ so I went over to this other random bar and then this band were playing and they were doing a Velvet Underground tribute band, and different singers were coming up and all this and it was fun, and the guitar player, I’m like I recognize that guy, and it ended up being Mike from The Killjoys, and I’m like no way, and I’m like that’s the first band I ever saw.
Ben Andress: So then after the show we ended up chatting for a bit, I told him how I was running a label, we traded contact info and that’s pretty much how we met, I ended up booking him for shows. I signed The Killjoys to actually put out a record for them but then they broke up, play when they can. Mike was in a band called Simply Saucer as well too which was kinda popular back in the day, they still play and he scores film, scores for horror movies, really cool dude.
Ben Andress: Neat spider web thing where the first band I ever saw played on a song I wrote about the first real band I ever saw and that songs about quitting drinking, Kim Mitchells Patio Lanterns, cause Kim Mitchell has a song called Patio Lanterns, so when I play it people think I’m covering Patio Lanterns, but I’m not I’m just being clever.
John Murch: I get the feeling Ben that this next record isn’t too far away for you.
Ben Andress: I don’t wanna wait 4, 5 years, the anticipation killed me, even now that it’s out it feels like it’s not out for some reason it’s weird. Maybe it hasn’t kicked in that people are listening to it and that, it’s funny cause I’ve been starting to listen to Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes which was kin of his third record, this is gonna be our third full band record, so I’ve been kinda like, that was their hit kinda that got them up and I was thinking ‘man I should just make a Damn the Torpedoes’ or if I wanna talk about movies I should make a Return of the Jedi.
John Murch: You’ve got a number of guitars behind you as we chat, what kind of guitars are you proud of having, what have been some of the staple makes of your guitar family during your recording career?
Ben Andress: I’ve always just had acoustics, so I just had this Yamaha that was like, I got a Yamaha, I’d play an acoustic show, I’d play shows and people would always try and talk gear with me and I’d have no clue what they were talking about, still I’m 32 years old I’ve been playing for a decade, still can barely string my guitar. But I used the Angel Beach guitar on the last one which my cousin Delbert got me, it’s painted with the Angel Beach album cover artwork. It is a Squire Fender Stratocaster, which I had to actually look to remember what it was. So this is what I usually use for shows and record on. I had a Epiphone for a bit that I was using that was my friends Justin’s, and I was using at shows, I’d just borrowed.
Ben Andress: This is hilarious I’ll show you this, so last night I played a show.
John Murch: Which was the launch of the album.
Ben Andress: The CD release show for Murder Weather last night, I’ve just been playing acoustic shows the past year and a half or two years, so I went to go get my electric guitar and I noticed my high E string was broken and I’m like, oh I’m gonna have to re-string my guitar, stretch out the strings, 5 hours before the show, this aint good. So I went to go buy a pack of strings and i was like $10, $20 for two packs of strings, and I’m like you know what I’m gonna buy two packs of string, I’m gonna re-string my guitar, you know what screw it, I’m gonna rent guitar fro two days and I rented a guitar for a week, cheaper for me to rent this Fender Statocaster here, I rented a strat to play last night and tonight, so I didn’t have to re-string my guitar, that’s lazy this right here.
John Murch: I so knew there was a good story in asking you about guitars and I’m glad that I did.
Ben Andress: There’s a church across the street that’s filled with antiques and every other Saturday they open up, have antiques and we found this classical guitar there and it’s like, I don’t know what it is there’s no name on it anywhere, but it just has this like… just has a neat sound to it a neat feel, might write some stuff on it I don’t know. I wanna get more guitars and be like a gear head a bit but my girlfriend would be like no.
John Murch: Right.
Ben Andress: You only need one of each cause you’re not gonna play them all at once.
John Murch: What is the music question if you don’t mind me asking between yous two, did you meet at a gig, do you share the same interests or.
Ben Andress: I don’t know it was probably like an internet dating somewhere like Tinder or something, I don’t remember how we met exactly. Remember our first date was at a pub underneath of the apartment I lived at called The Copper Mug. And I was drinking a juice box when she showed up and I brought my juice box in, and then the waitress was like ‘you can’t bring that in here’ and I’m like ‘it’s a juice box’ and then I kinda got in this little, not like a real argument, but I’m like ‘it’s a juice box like come on’ and then I’m just like I’m gonna order dinner I’m just like you know, have a drink, I just had a juice box, she’s like ‘well you could have vodka in there’ and I’m like ‘ yes I put vodka inside the tiny little hole in the juice box with a needle and put straw in it so I could come down here and drink it with my beer’ I’m just a weird guy, just wanna drink my juice box leave me alone, so that was our first date.
Ben Andress: She’s in a band too, they’re called Whoop-SZO, they tour a lot, they’ve just toured Mexico, Canada East to West, they’re a pretty rad band. Obviously with babies and stuff, with her being in a band and me being in a band we juggle it pretty well and it works out pretty great.
Ben Andress: She’s super awesome and, if I brought a guitar home she probably wouldn’t kill me but she probably would just look at me and be like ‘you don’t need that’.
Ben Andress: My favorite one is this Martin though, which there was, MC Lars, he’s a HipHop artist from the states. MC Lars has actually done quite a bit of stuff with Wheatus. And there’s a song with MC Lars, Wheatus and Weird Al Yankovic, super awesome song, it’s called True Player For Real. MC Lars I put a tape out for and he was selling his guitar and it ended up on Ebay and I wanted it obviously to be fair so his fans could get a chance to potentially buy, but at the same time I’m like this is a really nice guitar and I ended up putting in the highest bid for it and getting it, so I ended up buying guitar off Ebay from a rapper on my record label. I’m really happy I did cause it’s a really nice sounding guitar and I have written a few things on it and played on it.
Ben Andress: Other than that I’m thinking about…trying to wite on the piano a little bit, it’s like…ive never played piano until we got this in the house about a year. It came from her parent house so I’ve been fiddling around on that a bit, if you can play guitar you should be able to play piano and vice versa so, it’s the same thing but just instead of six different lines on a guitar it’s just one big line on a piano.
John Murch: What you are saying is one of your artists, you sort of buried the lead, but one of your artists has actually worked with Weirs Al Yankovic.
Ben Andress: Yeah, which is pretty crazy to think.
John Murch: Grammy award winning Weird Al Yankovic, that was one of the most beautiful moments of the Grammys.
Ben Andress: Actually when I think about it, two artists that I have put record out or have worked with Weird Al, cause Green Jello also worked with Weird Al. There’s actually an episode on MTV, where back in the 90’s Bill Manspeaker had the Green Jello studios in Hollywood, and MTV had the Weird Al show or whatever on it, and an episode was filmed at the studio there, in this episode where Weird Al throws the singer of Green Jello off of a balcony or something. I feel like they did a song together, or Weird Al was in their video or there’s some sort of Weird Al, Green Jello connection and I feel like it’s involved recording together but potentially not actually now that I think about it. Either or two artists have that Weird Al connection which is pretty cool.
John Murch: Well let’s get back to The Smile Case, Ben Andrews joins us to speak on that, just minutes left together so let’s round this baby out and bring it on home. What is the plan for this record release, as someone who actually is the brains behind a record company Blacktop Records.
Ben Andress: Trying to do it pretty organically, just getting it out, not really spending a lot of ad money, just hoping that people like you and other [inaudible 00:42:15] wanna listen play a song and then hopefully other people who listen to people like you pick it up are into it, other than that, that’s about it, just doing, hopefully reviews come in, people are into it, playing some shows, dong some stuff in the States coming up in the Spring, kinda juggling that with being a dad, but main goals would be obviously making it over tour place where I haven’t been.I feel that once this new baby pops out and the kids are in that little bit older stage, like I said I have no clue, when and how I will be able to do this stuff so I’m not planning too far ahead I’m kinda taking this release as putting it out there in the world, playing a few shows.
John Murch: Final question to Blacktop Records, cause that’s your other hat, the next release from them will be?
Ben Andress: That’s a good one, I’ve been so wrapped up with Murder Weather that we haven’t really like scheduled, a couple of things in the works, like we just released and EP for a metal band called Pure Drone, so were still kinda riding off of that a little bit, and just promoting that release. But we haven’t really dove in and planned or talked to too many people about what’s what and what’s going on actually, I’ve been kind of like Murder Weather for the last little bit, so a couple of artists that I know, that we’re working with are recording and stuff.
Ben Andress: I know Meghann Wright has a four song EP that she’s been sitting on that hasn’t been pressed physically, I know she’s not touring too much once again with the kid and stuff, but I would love to convince her to put that out, so a lot of it’s just kind of up in the air.
Ben Andress: Blacktop I guess has been put on hold for Murder Weather a little bit. Once this gets out there a little bit, I’m gonna sit there and recuperate and think what the next game plan is and who we should put out a record for.
John Murch: Well it sounds like the forecast is for Murder Weather in the not too distant future for now. Ben from The Smile Case thanks very much for joining Radio Notes.
Ben Andress: Thanks so much for having me it’s been a blast.
Tammy Weller [Outro]:
Ben Andress of The Smile Case. Latest album Murder Weather out on BlackTop Records and more on them can be found at The Smile Case Dot Com