Leslava: Hi, how are you? How did you spend time in self-isolation in connection with COVID-19? What is going behind the scene of Extreme Noise Terror? Ben: I’m very well thanks! I’ve been one of the lucky ones. Both my wife and I are key workers, I am usually an NHS physiotherapist but have been redeployed to a discharge team trying to get people home safely from hospital or preventing admission, and my wife has a vegan wholefoods health store so we have been working throughout. Of course we’ve had restrictions on our freedom same as everyone else but we have a garden, we have the dogs and we have been able to keep ourselves busy. To be honest there’s very little going on with ENT, we’ve had some shows cancelled but most have been re-booked for next year. Our last show was in October 2019 long before the lockdown. There were plans to record a new album at some point but that could take years judging by the speed things move with this band!
Leslava: For decades, the band has not lost its relevance. Tell me what is going on in your head, soul? There is always place for rage. What were you angry in your youth and what now?
Ben: I was a very angry youth yes, I was not a bad kid but I got into quite a bit of trouble and I would be lying if I said I had no regrets in life. These days different things make me angry and to save my sanity I just take myself away from certain situations - I don’t really go out to bars or clubs anymore, I stay away from people as a whole, I’ve come off Facebook, I just want my own space with a very select few who I consider family. I try to limit my time looking at the news too. With the recent murder of George Floyd and all the shit from Trump and extreme right wing scumbags its too easy to get enraged by the fucked up shit that happens in the crazy world we live in.
Leslava: How many guitars, microphones were broken in a fit of punk ecstasy?
Ben: Haha I’ve gone through a few myself, Dean is the worst though, he’s always breaking microphone stands. We tell sound engineers now to either give him their very best stand so its strong enough or their very worst so its cheap to replace
Leslava: What has the same effect as music in your life?
Ben: The last few years music has been less of a priority for me, I still enjoy it but not to the extent that I did 10 years ago. I spend time with my wife, take the dogs for nice country walks and ride my motorcycles. The two main things I can’t do at the moment due to Covid is training for my black belt in ju-jitsu, I was supposed to be graded for that in September, and I’m also in the process of having a full bodysuit tattooed (but no hands, feet, head or face). The top half is finished, I just got gaps on one buttock, my hips, parts of my upper right leg and various areas on my left leg. As soon as I can get back to training ju-jitsu and getting my body filled in I’ll be very happy!
Leslava: How has your audience changed over the years? Does the current generation perceive such music differently or is a rebellious teenager and a person about social problems with their rage - timeless?
Ben: I wasn’t with the band in the early days but from old photos I’d say not much! Some shows is mostly metalheads, some is mostly crusties and punks depending on where we play or who with. There’s usually regular looking people who I guess like me are into a huge range of music and don’t really identify with one sub-culture. The main difference would be the age, in the old days it was a young crowd, nowadays we still have many new youngsters but also older middle aged people who’ve been there since the start, guys with walking sticks even and grandkids
Leslava: Music provokes changes in each of us. How do you think you changed people?
Ben: Personally? I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, I’ve had some really nice comments from people telling me the bands I am or have been in have meant so much to them or got them into the scene and led to them meeting close friends and partners. The great thing in music that’s underground like this is the sense of community and how involved everyone feels, there’s a camaraderie and its more than just music to everyone, it's a way of life. The band has of course changed a lot of people’s lives, ENT was one of the first of the pre-Grindcore bands playing very extreme Punk/Hardcore with a strong political message so whether its inspired people to think about the way they live or to form a band they’re passionate about I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who’s lives have been changed by ENT
Leslava: Where are the boundaries of your creativity and expression? What won't you show in music and on a stage?
Ben: There doesn’t need to be any boundaries, why limit yourself? That being said we’re quite conscious of what ENT does well musically and as a fan of the band since I was a teenager I know what I’d like to hear us do. On the stage, I guess you get lost in the music and just that side of you comes out, we play very aggressive music and some of what we sing about is verbally violent or comes from a dark place but we’re actually pretty laid back people most the time, I think most people we meet at shows see both extremes in us
Leslava: Do you like horror movies? Can you tell a horror story in a few sentences?
Ben: Yeah of course! I used to be in a Death Metal band called Gorerotted, we based our lyrics on horror movies and serial killers mainly. The other vocalist had the biggest horror collection you’ve ever seen and even owns paintings by John Wayne Gacy and Otis Toole but he had a lot of shit in there, some of the most badly acted boring piles of crap you could ever watch with no story and bad directing. Over the last year I’ve seen some really good ones though such as The Kill List, The Ghoul, Evidence, The Pact, Housebound, The VVitch etc. A few sentences? I like this one I read a while back…
As I tuck my son into bed one night, he looks up at me and says, "Daddy, check for monsters under the bed." Amused, I look underneath for him and see him, another him, shaking under the bed, and he whispers: "Daddy, there's someone on my bed….”
Leslava: Can you name 3-5 bands that could become the embodiment of various phobias and fears and which ones.
Ben: How about Phobia, the grinding punk band from Arizona and Fear the old school punk band from LA!? I’m not really sure what you mean by this question though…
Leslava: How do you feel about time and chronophobia? The moment of self-isolation became the period when time dragged on very slowly in anticipation of an even greater catastrophe.
Ben: There was moments of anxiety at the start, I wondered if we were heading into Mad Max, Walking Dead or 28 Days Later territory but like I said I can always keep myself busy and I feel proud that I’m working in a team that is helping patients. The main thing I wished I could have done with my time the last few months was move house to the secluded countryside which we’re now in the process of doing, get my tattoos worked on and get back to ju-jitsu. But when there are people losing their jobs and losing their loved ones I can’t complain about my situation at all
Leslava: Thanks for your time. The last words are yours.
Ben: Thanks for your support and to anyone who reads this. We had a lot of fun in The Ukraine last year so hello to anyone we met and hung out with