Ben Ely – The Collapse Board Interview
Tell me about your latest project Pow Pow Wow.
It came about because … it’s with me and my girlfriend. I’ve never gone out with a girl before that played music in my whole life. It was really great meeting her. We’ve always played together for fun. I love playing drums so I gravitated towards that and she’s really talented, she’s an amazing violinist. She’s one of the top violinists in Melbourne. She played in orchestras and stuff but doesn’t really like doing it because it’s too formal. She’d rather make less money playing in gypsy bands and tango bands. She’s really great! I really enjoy playing with her because she has this knowledge that she brings that I just can’t … I’ve just had a real punk, real DIY past where I didn’t have formal music training where as she has. Her chord combinations and melodies are very professional. Her whole life she’s always been a real instrumentalist and soloist, she’s never really done her own music. I was like we should do our own band so you can write your own music. That’s why we do the band. She’s enjoying having the empowerment to do her own thing.
I can totally relate to that. It’s nice being able to write your own stuff and perform that and have it not be formal. It’s like whatever happens, happens.
I wish more people would just do it without thinking about it.
That reminds me of when I was talking to Celeste from Ouch My Face recently. She was telling me how she feels lots of pressure to write an album. It’s like why do you have to write a whole full-length album?
Exactly and that’s totally fine. It’s really fine to be like that especially now because you can just release songs every now and then. She lives around the corner from me.
She is so lovely. We were on the same page as far as thoughts on the creative process. She was telling me about where she grew up and how Regurgitator was the first live band she ever really saw.
I remember her from that gig!
That’s funny. See you’ve inspired a whole new generation of Creatives: me, Jhonny, Celeste and I’m sure there’s more.
Aw that’s cute. She’s doing our new video. The clip for ‘One Day’.
Ha! I knew it! When we were talking she told me that she was working on a clip that she said was the funnest thing she’s ever done but said she couldn’t tell me what it was because it was top secret. For some reason I intuitively thought straight away it was a Regurgitator clip. I’m not sure why but that’s what I thought. True story.
That’s crazy! [laughs] You’re psychic!
Sometimes. I wanted to ask you, how do you go about finding new music?
I like going out to shows. I went to the Overground Festival in Melbourne which is an improvised night where they just get different artists together and make music. There was an Indonesian duo, this guy had made a guitar and the other guy was singing and it was just brilliant. Things are pretty amazing with the internet now too. There’s so many different ways to find music these days, Quan is really good at finding new music online. He’s always giving me new stuff.
Cool. I guess we’ll leave it there then. Let’s talk more soon. I’d love to chat with you for my spirituality and punk project.
I’d like that. There’s nothing like music to elevate you out of the confines of your mind and to make you feel like you just ‘disappear’. One of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had playing music was with Boredoms in the drum circle last year for the Melbourne International Arts Festival. They played The Forum with 10 drum-kits in a spiral. About halfway through the show I just disappeared; I just tripped out and I thought I went to sleep for about a minute. I didn’t astral travel or anything ridiculous but it just put me in a trance that I almost just opened my eyes and saw myself playing the drums. It’s like waking up from a sleep but you’re playing the drums. It was so weird. I think that’s why I get such a big kick out of playing music. Regurgitator always does that for me. If I’m feeling sick or down music is really quite nourishing.
Ben Ely sketch by Emmanuel Hernaez (drawn live on the spot at Pow Pow Wow’s Ric’s show).