Ben Clark of The Lashes
Seattle bred band The Lashes formed in 2000 and had been tearing up the West Coast hoping someone would notice when Lookout! Records signed them and released The Stupid Stupid EP. Soon after, Columbia flew them into NYC for a showcase and signed them. In February The Lashes released their first full length album GET IT. The Seattle based sextuplet and self proclaimed best friends (Ben Clark on lead vocals, guitarists Scotty Rickard and Eric Howk, bassist Nate Mooter, drummer Mike Loggins, and keyboard player Jacob Hoffman) have been touring ever since with the likes of OK Go, Damone, and most recently Morningwood. Rediscovering the lost element of FUN in music, The Lashes seem to bring something new to the stage every night in an ongoing attempt to please the masses, something that remains of the utmost important to the band. It is this attitude that is helping to build their rabid fanbase. Whether playing to 1 fan or 10,000, they put it all out there without any pretense.
On the first night of their Morningwood tour, we met up with their alluring lead singer, Ben Clark. We walked through the quaint town of Northampton, MA with Ben looking for a place to talk. Along the way Ben managed to befriend two small children, offend a bar full of elitists, and ask a couple if they had seen Sarah Jessica Parker around. (It’s okay Ben, you’re not the first person to confuse Northhampton, MA with THE Hamptons, NY). Within seconds there was a welcoming aura about Ben and it was easy to see why fans latch on to this band with such unrelenting force, they’re contagious.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette, Julie Zidel & Laura DiBetta | July 2006
It’s no secret that The Lashes promise “The Best Interview Ever”. Do we have to wait until the end or can you prove it to us right now?
Ah…TADAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fuck, you need more than that?
Well, you did take us on a tour of the town…
I did! So far we’ve talked to children and scared their parents, I brought my own drink, we scared people at the bar who thought we were actually going to drink WITH them. Did you see those looks? Sometimes I feel like I’m a cocky dick for noticing when people are giving me really weird looks and I think “Oh I’m not that important, nobody cares about me” but it’s not that I’m important, it’s that they think I look like a freak. I get really weird looks. I almost got beat up in Walmart last week. I was trying to buy some DVDs and these hip hop poseur guys were like “Hey Faggity Pants, What’s Up? You wear faggot pants..” I was on the phone with my friend and I was like, you’ll never believe what’s going on here. It was like midnight at Walmart, I’m just trying to buy some DVDs and these guys are like “Where do you buy your clothes the kids store…ooooh shit. You’ve got like flies around your shoes.” I wanted them to know that I knew way tougher hip hop people than them. I was wearing my L.A. cap and they were like “Where’d you get your L.A. cap? Why are you wearing that, I bet you’ve never even BEEN to L.A. before!” I was like “I live in L.A!!!!” and I lied to them and told them I was a Rock Star and that I went on tour..Okay I didn’t say Rock Star but I kind of wanted to. I wanted to go down the aisle and get the one copy of our CD that WalMart orders every two months when people buy it and be like, LOOK! SEE! Where’s your record BITCH!
See..there you go, best interview ever and we’ve barely even talked.
What’s the bands name all about?
Do you want the real story or the fake story that I make up?
How about both?
Alright..the real story is that I stole it from an ex-girlfriend. See..this story is way worse than my made up story that involves pancakes. I stole it from an ex-girlfriend because I really wanted to start my favorite band and I didn’t have any names for it. She had a tattoo that was like an L with an eye and all this stuff. It looked very Greek. Finally she was like, oh it’s The Lashes, I always wanted to start a band called The Lashes. I looked at her and said..”ME TOO! Wow..we really do belong together….for another six months.”
She didn’t sue you?
Not yet but that’s why I always hate telling it in interviews because, well first of all, I don’t like talking about ex-girlfriends because then that gives THEM the power and also I stole it. She wouldn’t sue me. She broke my heart and got married. She deserved to have her name stolen.
How could she really prove it anyway..
By me talking about it in an interview? That was my made up story by the way!
So what’s the pancakes story?
I don’t know, I just like pancakes.
Describe each of your bandmates in one word (We should note that Ben took quite the dramatic pause for this one.)
We didn’t think this would be so hard…
There’s a lot of words to describe my best friends..
That was totally cheesy on purpose..
Okay..Scotty..kooky..I got one…
Jacob is snarky..
Who else do we have? Mike. Mike is smiley..
We promise, you’re not being graded…
I know but what if I say the WRONG thing..which I’ve NEVER done before. I stay up late at night “Oh man, I sound like such a douchebag”…um…what do we have…Snarky and Smiley and Nate is Calamity….that’s everyone but myself.
What about you?
But that doesn’t rhyme..
The sixth dwarf “Obnoxiousy”
In March you held a MySpace contest for your fans to show their love for the band. The results were extremely impressive, did you expect results like that?
No. We didn’t even expect anyone to enter. We were expecting to get emails asking who we were. The winners got tattoos. One of them got the logo on her foot and the other one got GET IT on her crotch. Like right above her crotch. Not her crotch crotch but in a sexy position part of the crotch..or something. That was crazy. It’s really cool because we’re not like a huge band where we have lots of money and everyone cares about but what is really cool is that kids that like us or kids that get it, are all about it. They are passionate about it and they care. We would rather have a few kids that care than tons of kids that are into it because they saw a video or its been written about a thousand times or they’re suppose to like it. So kids devoting that much time to promoting it, where they were going out and hounding people at stores and hanging posters and changing their Myspace profiles and names, and associating themselves with us all the way, it was totally cool. We’re like a total gang band and we’re so open to people that like it and get it, that they can be part of our gang. We’re friends with everybody until you fuck us over and then we hate your fucking guts. There’s a loyalty code to The Lashes. It amazes us every time that anyone is very into it and does something crazy to come to see us. That contest stroked our egos bigtime..no no..it was very humbling. The kids really care about us, and that’s rad. Actually on nights when I’m totally bummed and not everything is going right…oh man, now I’m going to sound like Im in Dashboard Confessional or something, but our band loves being in our band. We are all best friends. But if we’re tired, or the show didn’t have that many people, sometimes going to our myspace page and seeing the response and the kids makes all the difference.
Also on MySpace you asked fans to choose between Pretty Girl and Please Please Please as the next single. At last check, Pretty Girl was taking the lead…do you have the final results?
I think Pretty Girl won by a landslide. Which is kind of weird, we didn’t really expect it to be like that. We didn’t even play Pretty Girl at a lot of shows right after the record came out because we had a lot of songs to choose from and we sort of forgot about it. We started getting all these kids who got bummed out because we didn’t play it, we had no idea it was popular. BEST.INTERVIEW.EVER.
Your album cover is strikingly similar to Motley Crue’s Too Fast For Love, was this intentional or did you just want to show off your belts?
Who’s Motley Crue? That’s my joke I made. I said, Who’s Motley Crue? No, it was totally on purpose, like a ripoff..
You’re going to get sued left and right after this.
Yeah I know, we have to get promotion some way…McDonalds SUCKS! The Gap raped me! I was listening to Kanye West last night and he talks about The Gap a lot, so that’s why The Gap was on my mind, in case anyone was wondering. Now it makes complete sense right? So, oh yeah, the album cover. Well, there’s The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers which is a crotch shot…and then theres Motley Crue Too Fast For Love crotch shot and….
You should have turned around so it would be more Loverboyish…or Bruce Springsteen..
Yeah that would have been Bruce and now Eagles of Death Metal, they’ve got a butt cover. But nobody had gone further with it. They only have one belt on on Motley Crue. I mean, if he had been wearing two belts, then maybe we wouldn’t even be talking right now. It was kind of like a play on those covers and the banner is a play on Cheap Trick and pop art. There are a lot of smart reasons for all of the dumb things that we do. We think we’re smart and then we read some blog that compares us to 14 year old girls. I swear we’re not, we’re smart! We’re not ripping off The Smiths, we did it on purpose.
TWRY original “crotch shot”
In your song A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody, the lyric says that you never get use to calling girls on the phone, has that changed at all since the record?
No! Not at all. Not one bit. I currently have a number that I totally want to call..at least like five of them. I hate calling girls on the phone. It’s really scary. I never got use to it. I think I called my first girl on the phone on Halloween, or maybe a day after Halloween, I know she was eating candy. It was around that time. It was really scary..and it still is. I don’t know if I want to tell…well of course I do..well..maybe…so I have a phone number that I totally want to call, but it’s still really scary. Not because I’m a pussy or because I’m afraid of girls all the way, but..girls are scary. Okay, here it is, I got Paris Hilton’s phone number two weeks ago. It was really cool, I got to meet Paris Hilton, and she came up to me, and gave me her phone number and was like let’s hang out sometime. The thing about phone calls is, you don’t know what the other person is doing. I don’t know if you guys realize that. You have to pick the right timing. I can be the coolest motherfucker on the phone but it’s gotta be like the right time. The scarier part is picking the right time to call. I’m not really afraid to call Paris Hilton, I’m just afraid about picking the right time. I want to be able to charm her completely and not when she’s in line at Burger King or something. Everyone goes to Burger King sometimes, right?
I don’t know, does she know it exists?
Oh, come on! That’s my girl there..
Well she didn’t know about your beloved Wal-Mart, she thought it was a store that sold walls. You could call her and ask her to go to Wal-Mart with you.
I already texted her and told her I’d buy her a slurpee. She didn’t write back.
You’ve got some serious touring under your belt (pun maybe intended)…
Totally. We try to give people their jokes as easy as possible. We named our EP The Stupid Stupid, we named our record GET IT. We always want to be the ones to give you the first chance to say something bad about us because you aren’t going to surprise us with anything. All these people who thought they were so clever when they didn’t like our record and were like “It’s called GET IT, but you know what, I DON’T GET IT and I don’t think anyone SHOULD GET IT. Don’t GET IT” And we’re like yeah, that’s why we named it GET IT, so motherfuckers like you would say that.
So I totally fell into your trap..I feel like such a tool..
That’s okay…belts, GET ITs..whatever..
..well so back to the original question, you’ve been touring with some pretty cool bands lately. (Damone, Morningwood, OKGo) What have been some of the hightlights and lowlights? Name bands if necessary..hint hint.
Let’s see, who have we toured with lately..everyone that we’ve toured with has been really cool, we’ve been really lucky to have been on tour with She Wants Revenge and OKGo and Damone and The New Amsterdams and we get to start today with Morningwood..
So today is your first show with Morningwood?
Yes, today is our first show..but I’ve been friends with Chantal for awhile, since like last winter.
She stole your look..
Is she wearing more belts now? It’s okay, we’re friends.
Craziest tour stories..so here’s one, it’s the first day of summer, the last day of the Damone tour. We’ve loved Damone since their first record came out like three years ago, that band is the best, we got along with them so well and hung out with them every single night. We get to the last show at the Jersey Shore, which if you’ve never been to the Jersey shore, it’s like a carnival on the Atlantic Ocean that goes forever. We pull up and it was exactly what we needed. We had been in some lame town..Not YOUR town..towns that we had a lot of fun in but towns that didn’t have a carnival on the FUCKING ocean, that’s what I mean by that. I think I need a cigarette (this is funny because he hasn’t NOT had a cigarette in his hand for the entire interview). So we showed up, we get there super early, they’re staying at our hotel, we’re staying at their hotel, it’s perfect. They had some extra money on them, so rides were on them. Jacob, Eric, Noelle and Blake went up on the slingshot. It shoots you up into the stratosphere and you feel like you’re going to die. We had an all band go-cart race where our band and their band went on this huge track and had the best race ever. They were selling videos of the slingshot thing. Like you could buy a video of yourself looking scared as fuck. Which is a weird idea. You pop it in when your friends are around, hey check me out. I had the balls to do the slingshot. Then they pop it in and you see them like “AHGHHGHGHGHHHHHHHH. That was me man. I paid twenty dollars for that shit and another twenty for the tape.” But I would have paid for the go-cart tape because it was the best. There were crashes. I started out way behind and I made it all the way up and was cutting people off Days of Thunder style. Vasquez and I were neck and neck. He was in first place. He’s very competitive too, I can tell. Finally I made it by him and got like forty feet ahead at the end of the race, and motherfucker Nate Mooter…Calamity Nate…this is why, is because he looks over and sees me and gets this devilish grin and just turns his car into mine. He had given up, we were lapping him..he turns his car towards me and smashes me and makes me spin. Everybody that I’d spent the last 20 minutes beating, which was really more like five minutes but it felt like 20, they all passed me. I came in like second to last place, back with Calamity Nate.
But anyway, then we play the show. You can look out over the ocean and see the ferris wheel. We were like this is gonna be the best show ever, it’s the first day of summer, the last day of the tour, it was meant to be. The first band goes on they’ve got this huge crowd up front so we were like yeah alright, everyone is here. Then the huge crowd up front starts singing along to every one of their songs. They were kind of like Click Five if Click Five were all guys that worked at the local mall at the kiosk part of the mall, not like at the real mall. They sell cell phones or something or like water massages. I hope they don’t read this. I’m not going to say their name. The first band gets done and everyone starts chanting “ONE MORE SONG” and we’re like oh shit this is taking a turn for the worse. So they say no no no The Lashes are up next, all the way from Seattle..not a fucking peep, you can hear crickets from half a mile away. There was one girl who drove like five hours just to see us so that was all that made the difference. We played the show just for her and all the fans of the opening band were in the back of the bar drinking and telling stories. Every once in awhile we’d hear a HEEEEY from the back. Either they liked the song or they were doing shots or something.
We were like good times, who cares, this is funny..so we go back to the hotel, play guitar, have drinks and hang out on the balcony. Then we went to the beach and went swimming in the ocean and played guitar on the ocean and did all that kind of stuff and then went back to the hotel. At 730 in the morning I wake up to this like six foot five bald head goatee-moustache configuration thing..I don’t know what they call those things..
No no..like a moustache that goes all the way down but he also has a goatee..
I think that IS a goatee?
No because he has the moustache part…so he’s got the moustache and the goatee..the…Mou-tee..
But we woke up with him in our room screaming and yelling and turning on lights and yelling at us to get out. I had no idea who this guy was, we weren’t acquainted yet so I thought that he was robbing us or killing us or taking over our room and hijacking it. We get up and we’re like..whatt?? And he says “The Cops called me and said that there were people drinking here last night.” So I was like “Really, is that what they’re doing now, they just call? Don’t the cops do their own job, why do they have to call you to kick us out.” He didn’t find that funny at all. He went in everyones rooms and woke everybody up, said that it was posted on the wall that if you drink outside of your room that you get kicked out. Calamity Nate was like, that’s bullshit, I don’t see any rules anywhere and the guy comes inside and theres a computer printout with forty rules about this mom and pop hotel on the jersey shore and in the middle it says any drinking outside of the room and you will be thrown out. It should say “aggressively thrown out” after that or..”in a bad way”. We’ve been thrown out of hotels before, that’s nothing. But that big apeman from Jersey is a little bit scarier. So finally we get out, everyone is in the van, and as usual, I’m carrying my 80 lb suitcase across the parking lot and being the last one. Four cop cars pull up. I figure I can run the next forty feet to get in the car but they’re just going to stop us. So they ask us what the issue is and I’m like “I don’t know, this guy wants us gone so we’re gone, I don’t even know why you’re here.” Then the guy starts freaking out about hotel keys, “They’ve got my keys!” I think he just wanted to put on a show or something because everyone was in the van, nothing was messed up, nobody did anything except for spit on the walls a few times, it was really childs play. The guy made a half hour ordeal over the keys. We had to go back into the rooms, get the keys out of the rooms and give them to him. Then we all went out to breakfast together and talked about how much we love each other. Then I found five bucks. It was the best day ever.
We heard you’ve already started working on some songs for the next album. Do you have any finished yet and can we expect to hear any of them before the new record is released?
Four of them we play live, three of them you’ve heard, maybe all four. We’ve been playing them at shows.
Really? We’re usually very drunk.
Or NOT listening! No..that’s totally fine. The way that we run our band is to treat it the way that we would want our favorite band to be. We don’t like being stupid. We don’t like sucking. We don’t like putting out a record three years later and making people wait. Who knows when the next record will come out. We really love writing together and it comes pretty easy for us when we’re all together. There’s like eight songs finished for the new record. Five of those are pretty much all the way…we play them out..a few of those are close to it. We put them in our sets because we don’t like holding on to that shit and playing the same stuff..we want people to hear something they haven’t heard before. We always liked going to shows where each show was different every night. We followed bands in high school for days. When I was sixteen I went to four Weezer shows and they played different shows and songs every night. Sometimes they’d play B-Sides and sometimes they’d play new songs. It was something that always stuck with me. If you want to hear the record you can buy it, if you want to go to a show and have a real experience, as cheeseball as that sounds, we live in a world where things are experienced and we share them together and we want every night to be a different fun party that everyone can be into.
Most of the songs on GET IT deal with relationships and girls. Are there any themes emerging with the new songs.
Yeah, I’m still neurotic and Im still obsessed with girls. Actually, on the record, there are a couple of songs that sound like girl songs that aren’t. The two things that were really going on when all the songs were written were girls driving me crazy and the world of being in a band and trying to put out a record and be taken seriously. We never got the “ooh you’re hip, or you’re in” card handed to us, we had to tour the west coast thirteen times in a year just to get a show where someone would show up. We always expect to work very hard for everything. So a couple of the songs on GET IT sound like girl songs but they’re really about record labels. The girl is just a metaphor because I only have ever been in love with girls and rock and roll, so they’re both my obsessions. The new record, maybe songs that are about girls and record labels at the SAME TIME. You know, that’s a concept. We went through a lot with the people at our label and our record..
Well it was delayed..
It got delayed, we had an October of last year release date and a month before that SONY got hit with a lawsuit for payola, which sucks for us because now we have to get on the radio on our own merits. No one is going to give the station a thousand bucks to play us. It was way easier to become rich and famous when someone was paying. Now we have to actually try to be good. But yeah, over the winter time we didn’t know if our record was going to come out and it put a lot of things in perspective. We wrote a lot of songs when we were at home getting ready. It was really a crazy time full of feelings and emotions and universal truths and themes.
When the band was just starting, you went to some pretty interesting extremes to get publicity. Is it true that you dressed up like Pee-Wee Herman and handed out candy?
Okay so this is like a weird thing. Some interviews have said I dressed up like Pee-Wee Herman to get The Lashes noticed, which is totally a lie. That’s not the truth. In high school, my old band, The Stoics, dressed up like Pee-Wee Herman and we were like 17 and we had more props onstage than gear. We decorated the stage with Christmas Lights and jack-ol-anterns and mannequins and television sets. Anything we could dumpster dive we would use. No one thinks Im punk, but I’m SUPER punk man. I smell bad too. No not really.
The interview wont be smellable…we don’t broadcast in smellivision..
I think early in my career I was like people want to have fun and they want to love a show and a lot of times people are afraid with being cool or being professional. I don’t give a fuck, I want people to have a good time. If some people think that I’m an idiot for throwing out candy, that’s okay, the rest of the people actually believe in candy, unlike you fucking Nazis who don’t, are gonna have a good time. So yeah, in high school I dressed up like Pee Wee Herman and threw out candy, but it was a whole band of kids.
I was at a show last week where a band threw out candy..
Really? Ive moved on a lot since the years of The Stoics..The Lashes only give out things like Pizza now..
Where’s the pizza?
See, that’s the thing, we always try to do something different. At our record release in Seattle and our record release in L.A. we ordered fifty pizzas from Dominos and had them delivered onstage and gave them out to everybody during the show while we were playing, which was the most fun thing ever. Everyone was like, theyre just going to throw the pizza at you, you’re going to be covered in pizza and you’re going to look like an idiot. I was like, I have a plan. My plan was, people love pizza. You can have a piece of pizza in your hand and be ready to throw it but then you’re like, it’s not worth it. I want the pizza. It ended up being really fun, because the only thing better than watching The Lashes is eating pizza and watching The Lashes.
Mike & Nate
We were hardpressed to find any interviews with any of the other members of the band. Are they interview shy?
No, I’m just interview greedy. No, we have a large band and we do some interviews where we’re all together and most people are scared of that. They’re afraid of having six people talking all at the same time. We’re actually really good at it because we’ve all lived together, we live together still..
Do you really still all live together?
Are you trying to figure out the truth?
Well we were talking about that earlier. You spend all your time together on the road, in the van, and hotels..and then to go home and live together..no matter how close you are..you’ve gotta wanna kill someone sometime..
We have all lived together at times. At the current time, Nate, Jacob and I live together in one apartment and Scotty and Mike live together and Eric has another apartment with some other people. When we go home, its like a vacation, at hotels we get beds. None of us want to have an apartment that we spend a ton of money on while we’re on the road. We’ve had friends who kept apartments while they were on tour, and we just went and lived in their apartments while they were gone, so it wasn’t really the best set up for them. Thank god for some of those friends who went on tour! I lived in some of those apartments for months.
You’ve had upwards of ten drummers. What’s the shittiest thing you’ve made your current drummer, Mike, do to keep his job?
I’ve never made Mike do one shitty thing, and plus, Mike is never the guy who causes a fit. The guys who caused a fit, aren’t around anymore. Mike is the most easy going guy ever but whenever you want a cigarette or a dollar (although Mike usually wants the dollar from you) from Mike it’s just like “Mike, I brought you into this world and ah, I hate to say it drummer boy but I can take you out.” Come on. Pony up a smoke, I’m your frienddd! It’s new horrible things that we make mike do each day that keeps this life interesting.
You can watch the video version of the Quickfire and Word Association portion of the interview here for the full effect:
Okay Quickfire round:
THIS or THAT:
Red or Black?
Lorelai or Rory?
I’m sorry I do not understand what those words mean at ALL. Ohhh ohh…I have to choose ONE? Rory. Lorelai is kind of annoying sometimes. Every once in awhile.
Summer or Winter?
Cowboys or Indians?
Oh man, is this where I sound racist if I say cowboys? Un-American if I say..Cowboys? Indians AND Cowobys because they should always be friends and coexist.
Mr. Furley or Mr. Roper?
Oh Fuck. You have to hit me with the hard questions. Furley or Roper Furley’s the first one? Furley is Don Knotts right? Furley. Don Knotts is my guy since Griffith.
Huey Lewis and the News or Hall and Oates?
You don’t even have to ask me that question. Huey Lewis is the best band that has ever played since The Beatles.
The 60s or The 80s?
Eyelashes – Real or Fake?
Damone or Morningwood?
Are you serious? Da-Morningwood.
The best invention that conservatives have ever bought.
It really rains that much.
RawhhwUghlghahhghgj### !! (See video for real sound effect)
They are my favorite thing in the world..except for girls…(insert same sound effect here)
We played the Mansion! I love the Playboy Mansion..that’s not one word…I’ve been there..FUCK YOU! That’s not one word either, fuck.
Never heard of it.
The Lashes are currently finishing up a tour with Morningwood and will then be joining The Living End on tour followed by a tour with Rooney. Go see them. Tell them we sent you.
You can check out live shots of the band in our gallery.