Ben Jaques was in 9th grade when I met him. I was in 11th grade and getting ready to graduate from Santa Barbara High School a year early. We were in a physics class together, and for a long time, we didn't talk to each other. There was a silent understanding that we were both cool, but it was not clear if we were a compatible sort of cool. So, one day, trying to break the ice, I commented on his binder decoration, “So, you like Nirvana, huh? They're pretty cool.”
I don't honestly know how it got from there to being great friends, but before you knew it, we were making up acapella songs, playing air-guitar, and being way too cool for anyone else during lunch.
Ben was going to be leaving soon, and there were plans in the air to work with Cody and some others to get some songs together before he left. Somehow, I edged Cody out of the bass player position, and Ben and I started jamming together. We then found a potential drummer and tried it out a little, but it never materialized.
Summer came, and the time was near that he should be on his way to North Carolina with his mom. Ben and I worked out a plan whereby he could stay at my house, thus giving us more time to rock, prolong his stay in Santa Barbara, and essentially let himself be adopted into my family. Ultimately, we completed the summer by recruiting Brian to drum for our mini-project, HUSK. We practiced four times with Brian (once each week for a month), played a terrible show with Los Crudos, then went in to record an amazing demo with John.
Ben's playing is truly unique and cool. I can say that, at times, it can be harsh and hard to listen to, but I'm sure that many people accurately say the same thing about my music. One thing that sets our music apart, however, is that the intricacies in Ben's songs are usually “written” into the music. Those intricacies in my songs usually come from the improvisational (and sloppy) nature of my playing. It's one of the reasons that it took a while before Ben made his way onto a DWAB song. I wasn't sure if he was really ready for the dis-organization it needed to work right.
But, he has grown up now, and he can handle the lack of structure fine. Also, playing music with him has helped my music grow up too. And now, it's not even about the music anymore. As is the usual case with people I've played music seriously with, it has transpired beyond the music and instead, now encompasses the great friendship we have created. With Ben, it's probably not stretching it to say, like I said before, that he's really almost fully adopted himself into my family. If only he'd start back eating meat....
Aside from his contributions on 2657 Productions (DWAB, HUSK/HUSK (Old School), Ananda & Ben: A Concert at 2657 Foothill Road) Ben has done a lot of really cool solo acoustic guitar stuff and a few side projects and random performance work.