Florida-born multi-instrumentalist RADICAL FACE (a.k.a. Ben Cooper) has his sights set on Australia and New Zealand for the first time ever this coming May and June!
For more than a decade, in a shed behind his mother’s house, Ben Cooper embarked on an unprecedented musical journey. He created the intricate concept album trilogy, ‘The Family Tree’, which revolves around a fictitious otherworldly 19th century family. The trilogy came to a close with the 2016 critically acclaimed, ‘The Family Tree: The Leaves’. The final instalment is the most personal of all the ‘Family Tree’ albums, as Cooper’s personal stories meld into fictitious ones.
Tomatrax caught up with Radical Face to ask a few questions.
What made you decide to use an alias rather than your name?
It’s funny, but I never considered using my actual name. I didn’t even think of it as an option at the time. Radical Face is just a name I got from a torn advert for plastic surgery when I was 18. The full flier actually said “Radical Face Lifts”, but the one I saw just said “Radical Face” over the picture of a smiling woman in her 50s. And I adopted it.
Last year you put out the final part of your concept album trilogy, what inspired you to release a trilogy of albums?
I originally wanted to write the story as a novel. I love books like East of Eden and 100 Years Of Solitude, those multi-generation sagas that show the domino effect of our decisions. But after writing 2 books and losing them in a hard drive crash, I later picked the idea back up as music. It was originally gonna be much smaller, but I got carried away.
Your last album covered a lot of your personal stories, is it hard to have these on show for everyone to hear?
Yeah, it is. It’s part of why I don’t do long tours, or tour terribly often. There’s a catharsis in it, for sure, but it’s not always fun to revisit night after night. Definitely a double-edged sword there.
Are there any plans to release another album series?
Nope! Hahaha. I doubt I will ever take on such a large project again. I’m glad I did it, and proud I made it to the end, but there were lots of times where I felt overwhelmed. I’m interested in simpler ideas these days.
This year you are planning to release a series of EPs, what made you decide to take this approach rather than releasing an album?
It’s totally a reaction to putting out such a lengthy series. I wanted to go back to exploring, and not hemming myself in with lofty concepts. EPs are a great way to try out ideas without living inside of them for so long. They’re the short stories of the music world. I’m really enjoying the freedom.
Your latest EP is titled SunnMoonnEclippse, where did you get the idea to combine the three track titles as the EP title?
It was honestly just a working title that I got used to. I knew what the songs were called, so I labeled all the work that way. When I was done, I had gotten attached to seeing it that way, so I left it.
How will the follow up EPs planned for release this year compare with SunnMoonnEclippse?
Oh, they’re all quite different. One is based on patterns. Another is about Verse/Chorus writing, because I wanted to try writing songs with traditional structure again. They’re almost like little assignments for me.
Do you know what the next EPs will be titled?
Not yet, but I may just stick with this theme and keep all the working titles. So “Patterns” and “Verse/Chorus” might be it.
You’re about to tour Australia, what can fans expect from your show?
Well, we’re not the most serious bunch, despite my music. Or perhaps because of it. I like to laugh a lot at shows, and have them feel casual in between songs. I ramble a lot, too. And most of the live versions of songs are pretty different from the recordings. I don’t try to recreate the way I record. It never works. So I don’t even bother trying to match presentation anymore and rewrite songs all the time.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Only while working on it and making decisions. Once I’m done, I’m done. I’ve never revisited old recordings, except to relearn them for shows. I have certainly never put them on to just listen.
What music do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of classical music, movie soundtracks, and instrumental electronic stuff like Jon hopkins and Amon Tobin when alone. I like lots of music with singers as well, but it’s not usually my go-to.
What do you have planned after your upcoming tour?
I’ve actually planned very little. I like just seeing where I end up, and kinda rolling with the punches. So outside of the songs we’re gonna play, I don’t really have anything particular in mind. Except to hunt down coffee and see some nature. But that’s always the case.
Tour dates below. Check out the SunnMoonnEclippse website to find out more!
Friday 26th May 2017
Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC (18+)
Saturday 27th May 2017
Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW (18+)
Sunday 28th May 2017
The Zoo, Brisbane QLD (18+)
Wednesday 31st May 2017
Jive Bar, Adelaide SA (18+)
Thursday 1st June 2017
Badlands, Perth WA (18+)
Saturday 3rd June 2017
Tuning Fork, Auckland NZ (18+)