The Ben Grim Interview
TIS: I love the YouTube video of you freestyle with Converge. Was that planned or unexpected?
BG: Driven at the moment, but it was half freestyle and half old verse that I never put on a track. It was years ago and I was most likely out of my mind. He is noticeable by his long hair and the t-shirt that said “stop snitching” that he was wearing. I love those guys and no one will ever do that to them again!
TIS: So we were in a band together for a while, and we were both really into our drugs and everything…now we’re both not into drugs anymore, and we still do the music thing. I’d like you to talk a little bit about the difference between writing/acting sober vs. writing/performing anything but sober.
BG: Don’t get me wrong, if it weren’t for hard drugs, my parents’ record collection wouldn’t be half as big as it is. Although in my case, you can say, “I smoked the best weed and wrote this great song,” but for me, having a clear and level head helps me be more creative than any drug could.
TIS: Can you tell me about one of your craziest experiences from your drinking days? Not to glorify it, but to show people how far you’ve come.
BG: I used to buy drugs mostly in Madison or Jefferson, just off Park Street in the south end of Hartford, I used to always go with the same guy for at least 2 years, his name was cupcake, or cake for short. He had the best shit. I got on pretty well with this guy and I used to pick him up at his house and drive him to the stable and all that. He ALWAYS had a gun on him, he had a friend on the block near him, he was referred to as “retarded holmes”. One day someone was shot and the police were everywhere. No one was answering phone calls and they were too scared to leave their houses. I went straight to the other cupcake house and he was mad that I just showed up, but for some weird reason he let me in. They looked me up and down and said, “Ben, you want to do us a favor, we’ll get along if you do.” So I complied, they gave me a double stop and shop bag and told me to walk straight to the retarded Holmes house and give her the bag, don’t look at anyone, don’t talk to anyone. I started to walk out the door and one of them said, “Ben, put this under your hoodie,” it was a bulletproof vest. OK guys, what’s in the bag, I thought to myself, but I knew exactly what it was. I walked trembling to the house of retarded Holmes and he was waiting at the door, I go in, take off my vest and hand him the bag, countless packages of heroin. I got half a one for transporting a package that could have landed me 20 years in jail. Hahahaha, but I was a junkie and willing to do anything to get high.
TIS: What are you currently working on?
BG: I just finished a compilation CD I call Benn Grim’s Blah Sides, it’s a collection of mostly old tracks that I’ve never used for anything, mixed and mastered by my music life coach F.Sean Martin. It should be pressed in a couple of weeks. I’m also working on my long-awaited “Novocaine Mixtape” which is progressing steadily and will have many special guests. I’m working on an EP with my friend ADAM BOMB from New Orleans, it’ll probably be 6 songs or so, and I’m also working on an EP with producer Sammy Marion from Philly, which will also be 5 or 6 songs. . The Mizery Crew (Timmy Wiggins, Metalheart and myself) are currently in the studio working on our first year release as a group, and Timmy Wiggins and Metalheart are working on their solo prospect, which will really change things up!
TIS: What influences the lyrical content of most of your songs?
BG: Life, love, regret? Hahahaha, no, I’m the type that takes past experiences and makes them real. I’m talking about shitting on unworthy rappers mostly. I’ve been told that I can also tell a pretty good story. You give me the rhythm, and you will always get something different.
TIS: Who would you like to collaborate with on future projects? Are you going to make it come true?
BG: I’d love to do a track with Aesop Rock, he’s my friend so that’s not much, but guy-wise, I don’t know? I want to do a song where Brandon Flowers from The Killers sings the hook or follows a beat that The XX did. That would be epic!
TIS: Who’s taking the underground by storm right now (hip hop, hardcore, whoever)?
BG: HMMMM as for underground cats? Shit! I’m going with my man! The one and only, YAK BALLZ! Nothing cooler than a group of kids chanting your name before you walk out on stage. His fans love him (and so do I) and it shows. As for the new and up-and-coming hardcore? Hate Your Guts, cruel hand, black breath, backtrack and bad seed, all the HC bands are doing their thing now.
TIS: Who specifically isn’t killing it in hiding right now (let’s start a fight)?
BG: Hahahaha, it’s not even underground anymore, but I’d say WALE. He’s a homophobe with a shitty name, calm down WHALE!!! LOL.
TIS: What’s new in Carboard City?
BG: Everyone is working on their respective shit, but all I have to say is keep an eye out for the new Glassjaw album. I’ve already listened to some unreleased tracks and I’m impressed.
TIS: I’m a little out of the loop, but I was wondering if the Vast Aire/Cage/El-P beef was squashed already.
BG: Hmmm, you didn’t even know there was meat? LOL.
TIS: How was Shia LaBeouf related to Carboard City?
BG: Shia met Cage a couple of years ago, the rest is history.
TIS: Any news about the movie about Cage that Shia wants to do?
BG: They are looking for a director is the last news I heard. I can’t wait for that shit.
TIS: Last question from Shia, was it epic for you guys to see him drop the Cardboard City sign at the end of Saturday Night Live a couple of years ago?
BG: It gave me chills and it still gives me chills. It makes me feel good to be a part of something so amazing. EVERYONE go see the new Wall Street movie my man kills it with Michael Douglas! LOL.
TIS: Ok, time for some mandatory handshakes…go ahead.
BG: My family from Cardboard City, Daryl Palumbo, Fsean Martin, my Mizery crew, all my friends in New York, Miami, San Francisco, you know who they are, my brother, Chauncey, the Hartford Party Starters Union , Corey Scoolidge and everyone at Brass City Tattoo.
TIS: Anything to close?
BG: Surround yourself with good and exciting people, and only good and exciting things will happen to you.