Cairo Superfriend Ben Friars Funkhouser is home on Winter Break!
Ben is a Seattle native, currently studying at Reed College in Oregon. He has long been involved in the Seattle music scene (just ask Ari Spool) and is now making waves with his band Hausu down in Portland.
Ben and I hung out at Cairo/Top Pot for about 5 hours, dug into just about every subject possible (Seattle urban hiking, African hip-hop, men dressing femme, color combinations with "mustard" yellow, all things Japanese, etc), played some serious dress up, and talked to a lot of strangers.
Please note: Ben is down to get his ear pierced...anyone up for it?
Thanks for the words Ben, you'll always be the coolest kid in town.
Here are some photos from our afternoon:
"More, you ask?"
Aaaand our interview:
What are you studying in school?
Art history, I declare at the end of this year.
Tell me about your veganism.
It's over! Its still the right thing to do, but I’m currently not vegan.
What's been most inspiring for you as a musician?
I've been really into trap music—like Gucci Mane and Wacka Flocka and Lex Luger. I’ve read a ton of Japanese books and prose, which is reflected in a lot of Hausu’s lyrics. Also, like, early 2000’s lame alt-rock bands like Interpol and Oasis, and Felt and The Chameleons. Yeah, a lot of reading. And spending time alone in college. My friends are all working and have boyfriends and girlfriends, so I do a lot of stuff alone.
How many in the band are actually from Portland? What is Hausu bringing to Portland?
Zero. We come from Seattle, Austin, Albequerque, and Scottsdale. I think we are in a pretty respected position with musicians and avid showgoers in Portland, because we are a Reed [College] band, not a Portland band. I think Portlanders have an expectation of Reed kids—you know, we are all privileged and on drugs all the time. We but came out with a good attitude and are proficient with our instruments; or at least, more so than a lot of people in the underground scene. So, yeah.
Tell me about the band name "Hausu".
Yeah, well, we are all big Japan nerds. We thought the name was cool and then we watched them movie—it’s really cold and heavy, but really beautiful. It’s a weird movie—but still has really great points of incredible beauty, in a sappy way. Plus violence. It was totally to our taste. We felt very boyish watching it. We are really boys--we boy out together.
What are the themes of the music?
Heat and cold. That sounds pretentious. Optimism and reflection. Also, figuring out why it is that we feel lonely and sad.
What is better or worse about the Portland music scene?
It exists! That’s really nice. It’s mostly in bars and clubs, which is really weird. Bands like us in Seattle would only play DIY spaces, but Hausu plays big clubs. You don’t have to be established in the hierarchy of bands to get big venues, because it’s so much smaller. Seattle has phenomenal bands and still have the right ideas on how to play, whereas Portland is supportive and nice, and you don’t need to know “the right people”. But there are NO all ages venues.
I’ve been to one of Hausu's shows at Reed, and you had some serious groupies.
Yeah, they are our friends mostly, and they are just proud of us. But also, Reed is a hard place to go to school. People that aren’t our friends come because its something to do, and they need some sort of catharsis from school.
What is the best part about Christmas break so far?
I have walked a ton, just alone, thinking and looking and seeing people. People can really relate to that Smiths song (There is a Light That Never Goes Out)—want to see people and lights and stuff, just like those Morrissey lyrics, you know? Walking alone is something I can actively do without being idle, but its also really refreshing.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading a book of Naoya Shiga short stories, Michel Foucault, and Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. That’s it for now.
What fictional character most describes you to others?
Hm. I’m not inside my own head as that, but maybe a slightly matured Holden Caulfield?
There was an article written about you a long time ago that described you as a Superfan. Are you still?
(Groan) No. Not at all. I like a lot of bands. Intensely even. I loved The Pharmacy, mostly because they were my friends. But I’m not a superfan.
Also? Ben blogs A LOT. Stay posted for future shows!
Happy 2012. The End.