“My name is Ben Kernion, I’m 22 years old, and I am an addict. I have been writing music since 2004, recording music since 2006, and I can’t stop. I’ve just put out my first full length LP, “Tunnelvision“, which is the culmination of songs written and recorded over about a years time. My goal with this record was simply to create something that honestly represented what I felt and heard internally over those months. On the album there are contributions from previous band mates and collaborators Reggie Brown, who performed drums on “Dig,” Hildur Haraldsdottir, who sang on “Boxes,” and Marko Zyznewsky, who played bass on, “Tunnelvision,” “The Rust,” and “Dig,” as well as co-wrote, “You.” Over the past two years, I was also in a couple of bands, Turbodank, and The Dark Room. I am currently in the process of writing an EP with a new unnamed project. I will be making another release in the coming months, stay tuned.”
Ben is Pittsburgh songwriter and you can find him on his official Website, Bandcamp, Twitter, Facebook, iTunes and Amazon. Check out his debut solo album at his website, where you can sign up at the bottom of the page for his email subscription and receive a free track. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
Embarrassingly, “The Drew Carey Show” soundtrack. I’m gonna chalk this one up to pressure from my siblings, and a Smash Mouth song on there that I may or may not have really dug at the time.
Your last album bought?
John Frusciante, “PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone”. It’s more dissonant than his last few releases, but also extremely deliberate. I’m loving the sound quality and rhythmic value of the work as a whole. He’s truly an absurd composer.
Favorite album of all time?
Elliott Smith, “From a Basement on a Hill”. This album was on repeat for me for a long, long time. I love most everything Smith’s put out, but what puts this album above the rest in my eyes is its more experimental and noisy nature. I can only imagine what the final product would have been had he lived to see the record to its completion.
Least favorite/most disappointing album?
“The Drew Carey Show,” OST. Cleveland doesn’t rock.
First concert attended?
This one’s probably a lie because my parents used to take me to concerts as a kid fairly often, but the first big time concert I can remember going to was Brittney Spears in the fourth grade for a friend’s birthday party at the Post-Gazette Pavilion. This experience can be summed up by one hyphenated nickname: K-FED.
I saw two local bands, Fearless Beasts and The Dressed Frets, play at the Thunderbird Café earlier this week. I really enjoyed their sets, both troops were extremely tight.
Favorite concert ever?
In terms of multi day festivals I’d say Bonnaroo 2010. The most outstanding shows for me that year we’re Neon Indian, LOTUS, Les Claypool, Jay–Z, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood. In terms of individually headlined shows, my favorite was definitely Radiohead at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC in September of 2011. It was amazing to see them do their thing in such an intimate venue.
Least favorite concert?
Honestly, I enjoy almost any environment where I’m surrounded by the warmth of well-balanced, amplified sound. One concert doesn’t really stick out to me as the worst. If I had to pick I’d say myself at South Minster church in 2006 or 2007, while I was still in high school. I had eaten an entire jar of Jiff peanut butter during the day on a bet from my friends. Suffice to say my voice was weighed down a bit. I let down myself and my band mates down that day. Marko, Chimp, I’m sorry guys.
Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I like what I read on your blog yesterday about a women from Hollywood with ties to the entertainment industry moving to Pittsburgh because she felt it was becoming, “The Next Portland.” As a big fan of Elliott Smith and Modest Mouse, I have felt and thought this way for some time now. I hope to be able to contribute to Pittsburgh’s continuing emergence as a harborer of genuinely felt, and conceived music/art. Living in Pittsburgh for the majority of my life I have too many positive experiences here to choose just one. I’m just gonna sum them up by saying that I don’t think I could have been raised in a better, or more caring community. Also, I once I saw Evgeni Malkin eating Dip N’ Dots at Kennywood.
Thanks, Ben. Nice call on the Elliott Smith. I always seem gravitate to a musician’s lesser known works for some reason.