Interviewed by Corine Rosenberg Ben Schneider began writing music and play instruments at a very young age, inspired by his father who was not a musician but owned an acoustic guitar and had learned to play some in his down time in the Navy. Schneider grew up in Okemos, Michigan and studied at the Penny Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. He studied in France and later moved to California where he formed Lord Huron in 2010. Originally a solo project, Lord Huron now includes four collaborators, two from Schneider’s hometown, one from Grand Rapids Michigan and one from Indianapolis. Collaborators now include Mark Barry (percussion, vocals), Miguel Briseno (bass, percussion), Brett Farkas (guitar, vocals) and Tom Renaud (guitar, vocals). Since 2010 Lord Huron has released three EPs and one album, Lonesome Sounds, which the band is currently touring for.
Lord Huron will be playing at The Majestic Theater on January 31, 2014.
Shei: You’re currently touring for Lonesome Dreams, an album that was released just over a year ago. Can you tell me about that album and the tour so far?
BS: “The album came out in October of 2012, we’ve pretty much been on the road since then, just supporting it and pushing it! This will probably be our last big tour around that record and then when we get back from these six weeks we will go back and record a new record. It’s been really fun you know, its been a great run. It goes by so fast, you really don’t have much time to step back and look at how much you’ve done, so I’m really looking forward to some time off and time to reflect on the past couple of years.
Shei: You and most of your group hail from Michigan originally- three of you are childhood friends from Okemos Michigan- and you are playing a show here in Detroit on Jan 31 at The Majestic. Does it feel strange to be returning as a touring artist or does the show have special meaning to you?
Ben Schneider: “We always love playing there, we’ve come through a few times. We’ve played Detroit three times, we got to play Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Ann Arbor once as well. Its always nice to come back because you get to see a lot of friends and family, and you know, it’s nice- every time we come back too hopefully there are more people there, so our parents can feel a little better about it each time!”
Shei: You studied at the University of Michigan yourself, can you take to that experience for you, or give any advice to other young artists?
BS: I had a good experience there, first of all. I was enrolled in the school of art in design but what I really valued about my time there was you could study just about anything, and to me that’s really important- to follow what you are interested in. It’s such a great school for so many different things- I could study really whatever I was interested in. I took a lot of time taking classics and literature classes and French and kind of random subjects that I was interested in that I would let seep into my art. I guess my advice would be take advantage of all the great things that are offered. It’s pretty exceptional- at least to me, just having access to all those things is something I really haven’t been able to experience again. Just follow what you’re interested in and take advantage of it while you can.
Shei: In your artist bio on the I AM SOUNDS RECORDS page it explains that you draw a lot of inspiration from places, and that they heavily influence your work. In the making of Into The Sun, which you wrote while sitting on the shore of Lake Huron, your trips to Mexico and Indonesia inspired you. Since you’ve continue to travel, grow, and create, how have places continued to inspire you, and what else brings you inspiration?
BS: Places and travel and just the wide world out there definitely continue to be one of the primary triggers pushing me to create stuff. And you know touring has been a really interesting way to collect. I feel like I’ve been constantly trying to collect little snippets of ideas and inspiration and trying to keep them. Keep them together and when I get home really go through them all and see if I can make anything from that. But other than that its really just comes from a lot of different places, what’s nice about being on the road with all of these guys is that we can swap movies and thing. Media continues to be a really big inspiration to me and its really just being able to do new things in the world and take inspiration from that has really been my primary.
Shei: Beyond being a musician and songwriter, you are also a visual artist. Do you continue to create art in other ways, and has your experience as a musician changed your voice as an artist of different media?
BS: My thing has always just been that I like to work in lots of different media- whatever medium will really do the most service to what I’m trying to communicate. And that’s not really been the best for my technical development in a particular field. You can kind of be a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. But I just have learned to accept it over the years because it’s really the way I like to work. Right now music is the best way for me to communicate the ideas I’m really interested in communicating.
Shei: Your recorded sound is very layered, something you have worked to recreate with your live shows. What have the challenges been in getting the live experience to read the way you want, and what has been the best part of this new way of sharing your art?
BS: The best part of it has been that challenge and just learning to let it go. Its not possible for us to have twelve people on stage with us when we tour, so we try not to be sticklers and try to recreate too much and just let the live show be its own thing. It’s a different experience. Which is something I’ve always liked, going to see a band play or music live- I couldn’t just get the same experience sitting at home and listening to the record. I want it too be something more visceral, and we just kind of let it be that thing, that other thing. And I think people have responded to that well. It may be a bit unexpected what you get at a live show as opposed to what you get on a record, but I think that’s one of the beauties of live music.
Shei: Rolling Stone ranked you one of the top ten shoes to see at Coachella last year, you played many other large festivals including Lollapalooza and will be playing many more this year. How has the experience of playing festivals been different that your own shows and does it impact how you play?
BS: I try not to let it impact the way we perform too much. It’s been really interesting though having that variety of types of shows. We play everything from 250 capacity clubs- tiny bars- to these festivals where we are playing for crowds of 10,000 people. So I really love having that type of variety on our tour schedule. What’s great about festivals is that there is so much structure and professionalism and it’s a very well oiled machine generally. Also people who come to music festivals are really really excited to come see live music, it’s a really rowdy crowd. And it’s fun for us and fun for everyone else. I mean, you do lose some of that intimacy and closeness that you get at the club show. So it’s really hard to choose a favorite, they are such different experiences and I’m happy to be in a position where I can still experience both.
Shei: You have expressed in prior interviews the desires to go back home, take a break from touring, and hopefully release another album within the next year or two. In a more long term way, what do you see for the future of Lord Huron and also for you personally as an artist?
BS: Good question! It’s really hard to predict- there are so many factors that are come into it- the hopeful continued success of the band. Our own personal interests, not only artistically, but also personally. Our personal lives and what we’re all doing. But I think everyone has a pretty good attitude to keep doing it as long as it feels good and right and rewarding. If it ever doesn’t, so be it, and we’ll go our separate ways. I think for now we’re all just having a good time and trying to not think about the future.