Cloudkicker was one of the most refreshing bands I have heard in a long time. After reading the website I found out it wasn’t a band, but in fact one insanely creative talented guy, Ben Sharp. Combing the heaviness of Meshuggah, and the sense of melody of Jimmy Eat World, he has really hit something special. I am certainly not the only person to take notice either. Guitar Forums, music review websites, and facebook status’ all seem to agree that this is something special. I don’t need to sell you though, he posts all of his records for free download, so you can decide for yourself.
Why did you get into music?
Kind of an odd question huh? I got into music because it’s awesome! I can say things now like “music is the only way I feel I’m truly able to communicate what I’m feeling” but I doubt I would have been able to articulate that when I was five years old, nodding my head quietly to some Bobby McFerrin.
What was your first instrument?
What other instruments can you play?
I can play drums, but I’m not that good… yet.
Do you have an education on that instrument?
Not really. I was a music major for about two weeks in college until I realized that it was going to ruin music for me and quit.
Did you take any type of lessons growing up?
I took group lessons when I was 10, then solo lessons for a few months after that. In high school I took lessons for the better part of a year and learned all my pentatonic and diatonic scales and what not–which actually helped a lot.
What impact did that have you on you?
After that second set of lessons I definitely got a lot more “proper” in that I had a clue what I was doing from then on. From that point forth it was a lot easier for me to see patterns emerge and build on them, so I progressed exponentially afterword.
Do you know / use music theory when writing songs?
Not really, I basically just write what sounds good to me, I gave up trying to be all music theory tech a while ago.
Do you still practice things, other than the music your write?
Don’t really practice other things. Every once and a while if I hear a really bad ass riff or chord progression or something I’ll sit down and learn it but those times are few and far between.
Do you still attempt to push forward musically, by learning new instruments, songs, or applications?
The main way that I progress now is by forcing myself to learn crazy riffs that I write. Learning the little bit of drums that I know now has definitely helped me understand how to make drum parts, so I would also label that as progressing musically.
Do you have a method for songwriting? How does it usually happen?
80% of the time I come up with a guitar part first and create an atmosphere around it, but every once and a while I’ll come up with a cool sounding drum part at first. There are also the times where I make a guitar part that ends up sounding lame but then use the drum parts I made and make something cool. Those are cool and surprising.
How much focus do you have on gear? Do you feel that gear has an impact on your songwriting or performing?
Gear not so much, I mean, everyone should have a pretty good guitar if they can–no Mexican Strat knockoff is ever going to sound as good as a nice higher-end guitar. But beyond that it’s mostly just how you use it. A lot of people focus a whole hell of a lot of energy on their gear–and that’s cool I suppose–but does it really help their tone or whatever as much as they think it does? Look at Stevie Ray Vaughan–dude played with an old beat up Strat through a Fender amp and just DESTROYED… because he felt the crap out of it and played balls-to-the-wall every time.
How do you feel technology has impacted music over the last few years?
Well I mean without the advances in technology you wouldn’t give a shit about me or any of these guys who are some level of “internet famous”. I think technology is going to be the great equalizer when it comes to music. The lines are being blurred as to what can be done in a studio and what can be done in someone’s bedroom. Not to mention the whole p2p thing. Kinda sucks if you’re a record label but who gives a shit.
What applications do you use when writing?
Logic Express with mostly stock plugins like EQ, reverb, and various delays.
What kind of gear do you have in your studio?
Vox Tonelab, that green Line 6 delay box, Boss loop station, Boss Super Octave pedal. I use other stuff occasionally but I use the things I mentioned every day.
You’ve had great viral success so far. I feel like I see one new Facebook status each month telling to check out ‘Cloudkicker’. What’s the next step for the project?
Next step: New full length!
What have you been listening to?