Have you ever wondered what a songwriter
was thinking when they wrote a certain song? With the “inside track” it
will no longer be a mystery as we speak with the musicians themselves and
they give us the inside story on songs, their inspirations, the stories
behind the songs and more.
Inside Track interview by Keavin Wiggins
For this go around of Inside Track we speak
with Ben Lauren from No Address. As this goes to press, the band is just
about to release their major label debut "Time Doesn't Notice" through
Atlantic Records. Reviews thus far have heralded the album on many fronts
but it is the lyrical content of the songs that has been especially singled
out by critics. With that in mind, this seemed the perfect album for an
inside track interview. Read on as Ben gives us the Inside Track
on No Address and the songs from "Time Doesn't Notice".
Inside Track: What first inspired you
to pursue music?
Ben Lauren: I was a writer who was
also interested in performance. I wanted to act out what I wrote
and I just always found music inspirational. It is sort of hard to
answer that question because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t thinking
about being a singer. I sung along to everything when I was a kid.
In the end, I probably chose music so that I could act out my feelings
vocally. It is very therapeutic to sing emotion out of you…
Inside Track:Can you tell us a little
about how the band formed?
Ben Lauren:The band formed because
we were all hoping for something to inspire us and we wanted something
we could believe in. That opportunity came when I asked Justin to
hang out and play music with me one day on the FSU campus after about 2
weeks of running into him repeatedly. It was this odd occurrence
that I could even call fate, though I don’t really believe in fate.
Inside Track:An obvious question but
I have to ask it. Where did your name come from?
Ben Lauren:The name has to do with
the freedom of not having to be anything. The idea is that by being
nothing you can truly discover the self. I am interested in being
nothing other than me and I tire quickly with people who have expectations
for me to be something easily defined or put in a box. I’ll quote Walt
Whitman: “I am large. I contain multitudes.”
Inside Track:I understand from your
bio that the band has quite an eclectic mix of influences, how does that
come into play when writing and would you say you have one or two predominant
influences or draw from a wealth of inspiration?
Ben Lauren: We never bothered thinking
about what we were doing and just did what seemed natural and felt right.
Later, song by song, the influences became more apparent once we had some
distance from them. I would say the dominant influence is emotion.
I rely on emotion to move a song by reflecting it in the lyrics, tonality,
rhythm, etc. I never try to do anything intentionally except give
up control of my emotions. That is when the best stuff comes.
Surrender to the bigger entity…
Inside Track:What inspired you to move
to New Mexico from Florida? And how did the deal with Atlantic come
Ben Lauren:We only did the record
in New Mexico—we always lived in FL. We went to New Mexico because our
producer lived there. We were sort of bitter about leaving the South
at first, but we ended up having a good time when we were all together.
We were signed because of a song we wrote
called “Lasting Words”. Really.
Inside Track: What do you think of the
current state of popular music?
Ben Lauren:There is always good
music. There is always bad music.
Inside Track: Ok, let's jump into
the Inside Track. I'll give you the song title and if you can give
us a little insight into the song. It can be the inspiration behind it,
or a story associated with it. (I'm going by the track list from an early
advance of the album)
I was tired of being told who and what
I was by people who had “figured” it all out. I wrote “Perfect” as
a result of all of their attention. It is very sarcastic and highly
Love At Your Momentum
This song is one of those “oh, just another
love song” types but a closer look would reveal that it is really about
rebellion against all types of things when they are being pushed on you.
One of my favorite songs to sing on the record…
When I'm Gone(Sadie)
“Sadie,” as I call it, was the fourth
song we ever wrote as a band and when we were writing it, I kept singing
“Sexy Sadie” for the chorus since I didn’t have one yet. Now I sing,
“It’s still the same” in that spot, but the name Sadie stuck with
Sadie was that girl that you had a crush
on and who had a crush on you but you never knew or told each other and
you found out years later. Well, years later, I had moved to Florida
and I found out about Sadie and her crush. Now it’s a song.
The song is also about freedom—my favorite
topic. The freedom of leaving everything one day for an unknown destination
is both scary and exciting. I have always been addicted to the feeling
that although something is terribly wrong, it is all going to be okay,
one way or another. I see a lot of that idea in this song.
The most important song we wrote because
we were signed for it. I remember Justin was in another band during
the time we wrote the song and he was explaining to them (the other band)
at practice one night that he was going to also be in No Address.
They started walking over to No Address’ practice space after the conversation
not knowing who we were and their drummer said, “Dude, if you were going
to be in another band it should be that band.” Justin said, “Yeah,
that’s No Address.” They were listening to us practicing “Lasting
Words” when he said that. I only recently found this out. To
me, that song is magic.
I am a big fan of what No Address does
and this song is a huge example of my affinity. I sing it all the
time when I am alone. It is the only song on the record where I didn’t
write the entire melody or all the lyrics by myself. Justin wrote
the chorus and he also helped write parts of the verses. He has some
incredible ideas sometimes and he is also the only person that I have met
that can write melodies that I don’t sound incredibly lame singing.
How Could I?
After I read The Power of Myth by Joseph
Campbell, I wrote this song. I was really annoyed because everyone
I knew was becoming so materialistic and they were all so unhappy.
The song, in general, was about giving up the material world for a more
spiritual world. It was a way for me to reach out to my friends and
give them advice without actually doing it. I say it all the time:
“The wise man never comes down from the mountain to give advice to the
people of the city—he stays where he is and the people go to him when they
need advice.” I think that sometimes we all play the role of the wise man
and sometimes we are the person who needs advice. I guess I just
hate people who preach to you about life or religion, etc…But I still felt
compelled to tell everyone that the material world is just a hoax, an illusion,
a bi-partisan and indiscriminate representative from the empty world where
most people live, unhappily.
I’ll only say this: picture yourself sitting
across from someone else at a table who doesn’t know they are alive or
they are afraid of being alive (in the sense that they can be something
and someone different than everyone else if they want to be). What
would you say?
Never Come Back
I can’t help but think of the first line
in “Serve the Servants”: “Teenage angst has paid off well/Now I’m bored
and old.” And of course the tag line to the chorus: “That legendary
divorce is such a bore.” I think that “Never Coming Back” is my way
of dealing with similar issues.
This song was a letter that I wanted to
write to an ex-girlfriend at some point of my life. I wrote the song
instead and I am happy that I did. That letter would have just caused
me trouble. Here’s the twist: after I wrote the letter I re-wrote
it from her perspective so you are getting a bit of both worlds.
I can’t say anymore except that it is my favorite song on the record in
terms of texture and sound.
A Step Away
Loosely based on the Frank O’Hara poem
“A Step Away From Them.” I have felt this way my whole life…
My way of dealing with God, Love and Money
and all of the confusion and trouble those monsters can bring. I
love the way we play this song live. It gives me the shivers every
One day my sister told me a joke that really
hit home with me even though we laughed about it for days afterward.
She said, “You have no idea how hard it is to be a fat girl in the 90s.”
Out of context, the joke is not nearly as funny, but I find it certainly
true. Then, I started thinking about how hard it is to be taken seriously
when you are overweight (I remember) and it dawned on me that it is just
as hard being taken seriously if you are very attractive and especially
if you are a woman. Pretty Girl was born out of that idea except
that I am trying to convince the pretty girl in the song, who has already
accepted that she is always going to be considered a dumb but pretty girl,
that she is more than that.
I could also say it is written about a
street whore, whichever interpretation appeals to you.
Someone asked me if I was stoned when I
wrote this song and I said, “What do you think?” Writing this song
was really important for me though, because I finally understood a part
of myself that had been hard for me to “get” for a long time. That
is, at a certain point in every romantic relationship that I have, I think
that the girl should walk away from me because the relationship will never
get any better. The romance, the love—it all has peaked and can’t
go anywhere else.
Recently, I found out that I was wrong.
Inside Track:What is the most important
thing that you could tell a new band about how to succeed?
Ben Lauren: You are a commodity
if you can write good songs and play them well. Write a lot and don’t
worry as much about your hair. Rock music is often about letting
all of that go…let the hair stylists worry about hair.
Inside Track:With the album coming out,
do you have any major tour plans in the works yet?
Ben Lauren: We have stuff planned
through the end of June right now. We have a summer tour and then
we follow that with a Crossfade tour. We’ll see after that.
Inside Track:Dream tour; if you could
tour with any artist, who would it be?
Ben Lauren: There’s so many!
Right now I would like to tour with The Black Crowes. That would
be very cool.
Inside Track:Finally, what do you hope
people will take away from your music?
Ben Lauren: Hope, connectedness,
sadness and happiness—you know, I just hope people sing it in the car or
the shower. Or, the ultimate thing you can become is the sound track for
someone’s life. I could stand being that.
A few weeks ago, someone came up to me
after a show and told me that they feel the way that I feel and that the
songs helped them. I hope that the music continues to do that, but
in the end, that is all I ever wanted to hear.
and purchase "Time Doesn't Notice" online!
the official site for No Address