L-R: Ryan, Ben, Alan, Lyla
I should begin this by telling you that Ben and I have been friends for many years now. We've played music together and between the two of us, have probably drank more alcohol than a tour bus full of Billy Joels. I know this because I have absolutely no memory regarding any adventure we've been on. Well... there was that one time where he passed out and we buried him beneath: Two bicycles, a tree, assorted books, a few guitars, a frying pan, some rock n' roll record albums, a statue of a labrador, and a human girl who later would attempt a wheelie across his lifeless body. All in all, the man knows how to party. That's not to say that he isn't a hard worker. Des Roar, the NYC band with whom he sings and plays guitar for, have just completed their debut long player, Mad Things. Besides working on that, they've been playing gigs nonstop and breaking hearts across the map. It's a wonder how we actually had the time to get this interview done at all.
Oh Robot: Hey man, it's good to finally talk to you. Let's be fake professionals here and try to remain sober while we do this. Okay? Introduce yourself to the people and describe your sound.
Ben Wolcott: Hello there. My name is Benjamin Charles Wolcott. I play guitar and sing in a band called Des Roar. We play Rock N' Roll music. I enjoy Powers whiskey by the bottleful. How's that so far?
Oh Robot: We're off to a grand start here, but I don't think I want to be sober.
Ben Wolcott: I've already taken a swig. Fi-yah!
Oh Robot: See? We're already getting off track. Tell me about the record.
Ben Wolcott: Well, it's called Mad Things and the eleven songs on it will take you about thirty five minutes to hear them out. The whole process took us a while to finish, but we're all pretty happy with the end result. I think that when the time comes for the next record to be recorded, we'll have less of a headache because we now know what not to do.
Oh Robot: Who writes the songs?
Ben Wolcott: I do the majority of the writing, but at some point or another we all give our two cents. It's just trying to figure out what works and what doesn't fit. I just try to play as much as possible. When I'm playing a lot, the songs just seem to come together easier. After I get one finished off I'll usually record it with a friend and listen to it a bunch. From there I'll make revisions. Maybe add a part here or take out a part there. Then, practicing the shit out of it kind of finalizes the song in terms of arrangement and instrumentation.
Oh Robot: How long have you been playing music? What inspired you to do it versus becoming let's say... a tennis champ?
Ben Wolcott: I was a really young kid and my parents were in a bluegrass band called Heaven's Mountain Band. I used to watch them practice all of the time and I'd get to tag along during the festivals they'd play. Also, when I was nine I played the Alto sax in my elementary school school band. I'm not sure how good it was though. As far as inspiration goes, I don't think you can be a drunken tennis pro. Music has just always been my thing. Without it I'd have a lot of free time on my hands.
Oh Robot: You guys are spending a bunch of your own cash to release the album. Are you worried about it leaking and getting served up all over the blogosphere?
Ben Wolcott: Something like that is totally out of our control so I don't think about it much. It's bound to happen though. It's a double edged sword, you know? You want people to be excited and hear the music, but at the same time you want to be able to not have to work a day job and just focus on making more music. We hope people will want to buy the record.
Initial wheelie perseverance test.
Oh Robot: What are some of your favorite albums?
Oh Robot: What are some of your favorite albums?
Ben Wolcott: I really adore the first three Ramones records and Transformer by Lou Reed. Besides that, a lot of Chuck Berry and a great deal of the Beach Boys.
Oh Robot: Yeah, Transformer is an awesome record. I've got to see if I can dig up the cover of Perfect Day that we did. You know what though? We were pretty tanked that day and I'm not certain we actually pressed the record button. What are your favorite songs to play live these days?
Ben Wolcott: King of Kuffs is probably my favorite song to play right now. Also, there's a new song we did called Watch your step love. That one's about a bar doorman. It's easily one of my faves.
Oh Robot: If you could hand pick a line up of bands to tour with who would it be?
Ben Wolcott: Oh man, I'd love to hit the road with our good friends Gringo Star. Those guys are incredible. The Reigning Sound would be awesome. Detroit Cobras... Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and last, but not least The Warlocks. I have a lot of admiration for them.
Oh Robot: Have you guys had that "moment" where you knew that people were starting to take notice to what you guys were doing musically?
Ben Wolcott: We've got friends all over. Just the other day I was walking to work through the Lower East Side and from out of a patrol car I can hear Baby you're too young blaring from inside of it. Fuckin' mad things, these cops man.
Oh Robot: Who's in the band?
Ben Wolcott: We've got the lovely Lyla Vander on drum and vox, my longtime friend Mr. Ryan Spoto on the bass and vox, and the wild man Alan O' Keeffe on guitar and vox as well.
Oh Robot: Do all of you sing on this record?
Ben Wolcott: Lyla and I are the two main mouths, but yeah, we all open our traps at some point or another.
Oh Robot: I'm starting to feel tipsy so in honor of that I'm going de-professionalize this interview. Answer quick... New York or Los Angeles?
Ben Wolcott: Definitely New York! I fucking love this city!
Oh Robot: Beatles or The Stones?
Ben Wolcott: I've got to go with John, Paul, Ringo, and George. Although, I do love both bands.
Oh Robot: Sausage or bacon?
Ben Wolcott: Again, another tough call, but I've got to say bacon. I could eat it all day long. I actually have a wallet that's made to look like strips of bacon. I wish they actually made bacon scented candles or bath soap. I would buy it in a heartbeat. In terms of my favorite style of food? I'm going to say Italian and Mexican.
Oh robot: Are you currently in any other bands besides Des Roar?
Ben Wolcott: Nothing formal. Although I do play music with people outside of the bands. I'm constantly trying to get my friends to let me sit in on their practices. Not necessarily because I want to be in their bands or anything, but because I just love playing their songs.
Oh Robot: What's in store for the future? Are you guys going to do some heavy touring to promote the record?
Ben Wolcott: We just want to travel and play more. Play all day and all night. We also have loads of new songs. Maybe we'll put out a forty five or just start thinking about our second album. As far as touring goes, we've been playing NYC pretty much non stop. We'll be hitting the West Coast soon. Also, we've got some shows coming up in DC, Philly, and Connecticut. We're basically going to plug in wherever someone will have us. Maybe a few spots where they won't have us as well. Challenges are good.
Oh Robot: I noticed that you didn't mention Charlotte, North Carolina. Are you still weirded out by that guy that pulled a shotgun on you?
Ben Wolcott: Shit, I forgot about that guy. Yeah, he pulled out a gun and aimed it at us because we had finished our set and it was time to leave. We played that show with a band called Elevator Action. Coincidentally, none of us were hurt during our visit. That guy was kind of dodgy.
Oh Robot: Alright man...I think I've accurately captured what I needed to here. Although, my female readers might want to know who the ladykiller of the group is?
Ben Wolcott: That would be Mr. Ryan Spoto. He is an actual lady killer.
Wheelie test successful. Ben still sleeping.
Clicking the above link will get you
"It's not over for me" by Des Roar.