THE BEN COTE BAND - Interview
Cutting-edge and guitar driven, The Ben Cote Band, hailing from Boston, MA, are making Rock N' Roll young and cool again. These Berklee-trained rockers are creating spirited original music, fueled by explosive guitar work and euphonic choruses, and bring an intimate feel to their brand of music. This trio brings energy and power to all their performances, and their mission is to fill the gap in the current music industry that is the absence of time-honored, American Rock N’ Roll.
HBH: For those out there who are new to The Ben Cote Band, tell us about the band, your musical style and a brief history of how the band came together?
Ben: The Ben Cote Band is a three-piece hard rock band that I started back in 2014, when I was a freshman at Berklee College of Music. I was constantly forming bands throughout my teenage years, and they’d last about a month or so before breaking up do to members not having the commitment or the same artistic vision, which I’m sure a lot of other musicians can relate to. I decided to just have a band using my name so that any lineup changes wouldn’t affect the brand I was trying to create. This plan worked out, because BCB has already had several member changes over the past few years.
Taka Nakamura is on the drums. He is fellow Berklee alum, and hands down the best drummer I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. Brendan Kelley is on bass. He’s been one of my best friends since high school, and he actually played drums in a band with me years ago. I play guitar and sing lead, but we all share some vocal duties. There’s a lot of sonic space to fill being a trio, so everyone has several jobs to do. I think one of our goals is to make people think that we are a four or five piece band if they can only hear us but not see us!
I grew up on all the arena-filling artists of the 1970s and 1980s. Van Halen has definitely had the biggest impact on me growing up. Eddie is the reason I started playing guitar was I was 14 in the first place. As soon as I found my Dad’s “5150” album, there was no looking back for me. Some other really big inspirations of mine are Aerosmith, Poison, Guns N’ Roses, Dokken, Warrant, Def Leppard, The Runaways, Danger Danger, Motley Crue, and Ozzy Osbourne. I could keep going, but that would take a while!
HBH: The band has a really cool video out called “Get Your Licks In” with a nod to the old school Poison video “Nothin But A Good Time”. Can you talk a little bit about the making of “Get Your Licks In” and the song itself?
Ben: Thank you! We like to incorporate as many local places as we can in our videos. Our fans really love when they recognize places they know. So we were using one of my favorite diners, called “The 50/50,” and I thought it would be cool to pay some homage to Poison. As far as the rooftop shot goes, we just got really lucky! We work with an incredible director and videographer, named Bobby Gendron, and we booked the video shoot with him about a month in advance just hoping we’d get good weather, and we did! The came out looking great, especially by the end of the shoot when the sun was going down. We were just really blessed!
HBH: You also have a video for the song "Nine Seven Six!. Will you be releasing more videos from “Get Your Licks In”?
Ben: “Nine Seven Six,” was our first music video of 2019, and the song was one of the first tunes that I actually produced myself in my home studio. The song is basically about those old numbers you could call to talk to who you really thought was a beautiful woman on the other end, but you never knew who was on the other end! So we had a lot of fun filming it, especially the surprise twist at the end!
We actually just finished filming a video for another tune off of our “Get Your Licks In,” album, which will be released in April! It’s for the song “Clinically Insane,” and we worked with director Bobby Gendron again. I’m really excited about it; there’s some awesome cinematography and the theme is a little darker than anything else we have done in the past.
HBH: Your latest album “Get Your Licks In” came out in 2018, can you talk about some of the other material off the album?
Ben: We recorded the album in early 2018, during my senior year at Berklee. It was produced by David Minehan, who is incredibly talented, and played guitar in Aerosmith back in the ‘90s when Brad Whitford wasn’t available for a tour. He plays guitar for The Replacements now.
The album was originally going to be titled “King of Noise,” after the first tune on the album, plus it was a play on The Runaways’ “Queens of Noise.” But last minute, I had this bluesy guitar riff I came up with, so we quickly made it into a song called “Get Your Licks In,” as filler, but we knew that that was the best song on the album.
I think the other stand-out track is the song “How’s It Feel,” that features singer Alexandria Bianco, and was the first music video we released off the album. It’s a ballad with a really big chorus, and it’s probably my favorite guitar solo I’ve ever written so far.
However, I think my favorite song on the album is a track called “Your Eyes.” It’s definitely a pop-metal tune. It has some big harmonies that were inspired by Def Leppard’s “Photograph.” It’s definitely the catchiest song on the album in my opinion. I’d like to do a music video for that one!
HBH: The Boston area has given us some great rock-roll over the years, two of my favorite bands (Extreme & Aerosmith) both hailing from the Boston area. Besides The Ben Cote Band, who are some of the local bands that people who dig rock n roll should be on the look out for? ( I really dig the band Bad Marriage, they are from your area and I think they have some great tunes)
Ben: Bad Marriage is an awesome band! We’ve played shows with them before. And as Rock N’ Roll as they are, they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in this business. Really cool guys.
Another band I’m really digging is Victim of Circumstance. They rock, and they are still teenagers! They just released a record, that everyone really needs to check out! I’ve been trying to get them on a bill with us for a while, but it’s tough with them being under 21. All of the venues around Boston are really strict.
HBH: You just graduated Berklee College of Music (Congrats). It must be thrilling to be in a place surrounded by incredible musicians. Can you tell us a little bit about what the hard rock / metal scene is like around the school?
Ben: Thank you! Being around the best of the best musicians really made me better. The thing is to just not get too caught up in competing with everyone else, and just focus on being the best you can be.
As far as the Rock scene goes, there really isn’t too much. Everyone there, well the students I should say, is pretty much jazz and R&B, which is cool, but not my thing. But all of my teachers were amazing and really accepting of my style. Most of them were rockers themselves! But as a student, playing rock, specifically hair metal, made me stand out big time, for better or for worse! Like I said, all my teachers were incredibly cool, but there was definitely a lot students there that didn’t have much respect for me because of my genre. But that’s okay - if I cared about being popular I would have played a sport in high school instead of becoming a musician!
HBH: Give us your top 5 albums of all-time?
Ben: That’s really tough! But here it goes, in no particular order: “5150” by Van Halen, “Messin’ With The Boys” by Cherie and Marie Currie, “Appetite for Destruction,” by GNR, “Native Tongue,” by Poison, and “Slippery When Wet”, by Bon Jovi.
HBH: What are the bands plans going forward in 2019?
Ben: Well, we are trying a new release model for this year. Instead of releasing an album, we are releasing a single every month, and some music videos, and then we plan on releasing a compilation of all the tunes on an album at the end of the year. And of course gigging! We are hitting the road again next month, so people can find all of our upcoming dates on our website, bencoteband.com. We are still booking for the summer, so be on the look out!
HBH: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ben: I just want to thank you so much for this interview! I really appreciate it. I’m 24, and I’m trying to bring a modernized version of hair metal to scene, so hopefully we’ll get some new fans from this! We are working on new music that I’m really excited about that we will be releasing this summer. If anyone wants to follow us they can check us out on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. They can just search “Ben Cote Band” on any of them and they will find us. And all of our music is on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, and all other online services, as well as our website!
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/bencoteband/