Interview with From Autumn To Ashes vocalist Ben Perri
S&S: Fah-tuh or Fay-tuh?
Ben: Fay-tuh. Either way is fine, but when I think of it, I think of Fay-tuh.
S&S: What convinced you to leave Ferret Records, a hardcore label, for Vagrant Records, known for bands such as Hot Rod, Dashboard, and Saves The Day?
Ben: We needed to move on a little bit. We needed to get better distribution. Ferret was great, and we did really well with them. We had a good relationship with them, but it was just time to move on and try to reach a broader base of fans. Vagrant is kind of worldwide, so it’s kind of an obvious choice for us.
S&S: Do you believe that your sound has changed on your new album?
Ben: I don’t think it’s changed. I just think it’s gotten more focused. Our songs are structured better, and instead of concentrating on part after part, it’s just a more straight forward song.
S&S: What was it like to record with the lead singer of One True Thing?
Ben: It was great. She’s a good friend of ours, and we love her old band. Her old band is called Scarab, and her new band is called One True Thing. It was just great. She gets in there and does her thing. One take, and she’s done. She’s a professional, and it’s really fun to record with her.
S&S: What other collaborations do you think you’d like to do in the future?
Ben: I’d love to something with Jonah from Onelinedrawing. I would die to do something with him.
S&S: With the mix up of genres lately, such as “screamo” and “emocore,” it’s hard to place a band. Are you often labeled ,and if so, do the labels offend or surprise you?
Ben: I don’t know. I’ve seen so many different ways to describe the kind of music that we play. Some people say punk metal, some people say screamo, emocore, whatever. It doesn’t surprise me. That’s just the way that the world works. They have to categorize something. I think that we incorporate a lot of different styles of music, so it’s hard to put us in one certain category, which I think is kind of cool. It’s easier for us to tour, too, because we can tour with different bands. We can tour with a hardcore band, we can tour with a pop-punk band, [and] we can tour with a metal band if we wanted to.
S&S: I’ve noticed that you guys often wear long-sleeved shirts on stage! How do you do it?
Ben: There’s a thing called “fashion before function.” (laughter) No, I’m just kidding. I don’t know. It’s just something I got used to, I guess. It gets hot, but even in your t-shirt, you’re still going to get hot. We just like to look good, I guess. (laughter) I don’t know. If I could do anything besides go on tour, it would be shopping.
S&S: How have you personally changed since the band started?
Ben: I’m able to see people for who they really are. I’ve been able to experience a lot of different kinds of people and different attitudes and different mindsets. I think I’m able to see things a lot more clearly because I’ve seen so much of the world. I just think I’ve grown that way. I think I’m actually growing up now, instead of still [being] in the teenage mind set. I’m 26 now, so it’s time to start growing up, and I think that this in some way has helped me. I’m totally, one hundred percent independent in everything I do [and] every choice I make. It’s just helped me evolve as a person.
S&S: Were you ever depressed when you were a teenager, and if so, how did you deal?
Ben: I was depressed constantly when I was younger. I still am. Not as much, but it hits every now and then. I never found a way to deal with it. I guess that’s why I do what I do, because this is kind of my release. When I was home when I was younger [and] going to school, I didn’t deal with it. I stored it inside, and it all kind of built up and never found a way to get out. It was tough. Each person is different; each person will get through it differently. You’ve just got to work on it. Don’t keep it inside. Let someone know, [and] talk to people. Make it known that you’re not happy, and try to point out what you’re not happy with and try to work on that. I guess it all boils down to self-confidence. You have to be confident with yourself before you can turn to other people. It’s hard to describe and hard to talk about, but I think you have to be ok with yourself first, and then you can try to help yourself.
S&S: I like to listen to certain songs in my car or in my room. Are there any songs you like to listen to in a specific place?
Ben: Not really. It’s just whatever I’m in the mood for; whatever I think will help me get through what I’m doing at that point. There’s never a certain time or place that I want to listen to a certain song. But there’s definitely certain moods that I’ll get in and want to put something on that will coincide with the mood.
S&S: What kind of music do you listen to besides the music that you play? Do you listen to a lot of different stuff?
Ben: Yeah, I really don’t listen to the kind of music we play too much, which is kind of weird.
S&S: That makes sense, because you’re playing it all the time.
Ben: I guess I’ve evolved my musical tastes. I’m listening lately to a lot of classic rock, guitar based music, [and] blues. Stuff like that.
S&S: What is something not commonly known about tour life?
Ben: It’s not a constant party like most people think. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. There’s a lot of down time. There’s a lot of just sitting around doing nothing, waiting to play. At night, at times, we go out and have a good time, but most of the time, it’s business as usual.
S&S: What color underwear do you prefer to wear?
Ben: (laughter) Black.
S&S: Any specific reason or that’s just what you get?
Ben: No, that’s just what happens. That’s what I end up picking up.
S&S: Ok, because some people I’ve talked to like to “be free” on stage.
Ben: Sometimes that happens, too, because you don’t always do laundry when you’re on the road. So, sometimes you run out of underwear. Sometimes you have to not wear any.
S&S: Do you prefer candy apples, candy corn, or neither?
Ben: Neither. I like Tootsie Roll Pops. Those are good.
S&S: If you were going to write a letter to Santa right now, what would you ask for?
Ben: Santa’s not real. I found this out when I was 12 or 13 years old. So, I wouldn’t write a letter to a figment of my imagination because that might be a little creepy.
S&S: You ruined my whole question!
Ben: I didn’t ruin your question! I made it original. It was ruined for me when I was younger.
S&S: I hated that. For me, it was like a double whammy, because it was Santa and the Easter Bunny at the same time. Then, there was the Tooth Fairy, too.
Ben: The Tooth Fairy’s real. I never caught the Tooth Fairy putting money under my pillow.
S&S: Actually, I thought it was interesting. One of my teeth went down the drain once, and I got five cents the next morning.
Ben: Did you tell anyone that you lost your tooth down the drain?
S&S: Just my mom. So, if she’s the Tooth Fairy…
Ben: Your mom’s not the Tooth Fairy. She doesn’t run around in a little pink tutu, does she?
S&S: Not that I know of, and I certainly hope not.
Ben: Then, you’re fine. The Tooth Fairy is real.
S&S: How much longer are you going to be on tour?
Ben: We’re out with Every Time I Die right now. That goes until the 24th. Then, we’re home for two days. Then, we’re on the Vagrant Tour for the rest of the year.
S&S: Wow. I respect bands in general, but to be touring all the time – that’s insane.
Ben: I don’t know how I do it. I’m ready to shoot myself.
S&S: Do any of your family members come out to see you on the road?
Ben: My parents always come out when we’re down in Florida. A couple of my friends from high school come when I’m in New York City. Other than that, no, my other family members don’t really make it out. They live in strange places in the world anyway. So, they probably wouldn’t go to the shows.
S&S: If you had a week off right now, what would you want to do?
Ben: I’d want to sleep in my apartment and go to the bar. That’s all I do. I just sleep, wake up, and go to the bar. That’s about it. (laughter) I’d probably go into the city for a couple of days, too. I’m trying to move into the city soon.
S&S: Well, I am very happy that you took out the time to do this. All of my friends at school hate me right now. It’s pretty funny. You’ve definitely got some fans here.
Ben: Well, thank you very much. Tell all your friends that we had a deep, intimate conversation and that we’re best friends now, and they’ll be real jealous.