The Get Out the Vote Tour appears in New York October 7 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3.
The Get Out the Vote Fall Tour, a politically motivated tour designed to encourage people to go to the polls on November 8, masterminded by frontman Ben Musser of Benyaro, is something a bit out of the box for rock ‘n’ roll.
Ben Musser is particularly interested in the candidates, since he actually attended school with Donald Trump, Jr. This soulful, acoustic artist will be debuting his new song, “Too Many Men,” and although written long before the election, it is certainly a tribute to Hillary Clinton.
Aside from being civically responsible, Ben is a magical and talented artist. He was captivating to speak to and musically mesmerizing. He will be appearing at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 on October 7 at 10 p.m.
I am fascinated by the fact that you are doing a politically inspired tour. I feel compelled to ask you why.
The reason why we are doing this tour [is] I think this is a very critical election. I think that with the Supreme Court vacancy there seems to be a lot riding on this particular election. What was originally going to be an album release tour, I decided to turn it into a Get Out and Vote Tour.
You attended school with Donald Trump, Jr. What was he like?
It was an all-boys school. We played hockey together. That’s basically where my relationship with him happened. He seemed like a nice guy back then. He was a little bit of a joker, and was the subject of locker room jokes. He seemed to take it well, but that was back then.
But you’re not going to vote for his father?
My personal feeling is yes, I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton. However, out there on the stage, my #1 message is for people to vote. I don’t get out there and really say a lot to the microphone about anti-Trump. It’s more just about pro-voting. I am happy to talk to people off the stage and give them my personal opinion a little bit.
Do you ask the audience if they are a Democrat or Republican?
No, I just ask if everybody is registered to vote. Not every show are we able to register voters. Some states don’t even allow voter registration drives. Each state has their own registration drive and guidelines, but we are trying to force the dialogue to make people comfortable to talk about politics and be respectful, and to not be so cynical. I think that leaves us nowhere.
You are very talented. Tell me a little about your music. Is it political?
No. The music that I write I wouldn’t say is political. On our new album there are some songs that show my more frustrated side, but it doesn’t really come across as being pro-Democratic or Republican. It’s about how I can be frustrated with people. Usually I am talking about Americans, whether it’s being too self-indulgent or not educating themselves. Those types of things.
When did you decide to make music your career?
I started drums at a very early age. I was raised in a household where my father sang and played guitar, my older sister played piano and sang, so it was always around me. I got into it on my own and really enjoyed it. Throughout my life I just kept making decisions that kept it close. I guess when I went to college I did not feel comfortable putting all my eggs in one basket, so I did not go to music school. I went to arts and science school. I did then decide to do a second major in the music school, then I graduated from Vanderbilt. My good buddy said, “Let’s move to Austin, Texas, to really try and focus on music.” This was a buddy I met in college, but we could never really pursue it, because Vanderbilt was rigorous, and we always had school work to do. So I moved to Austin to give music a little bit of a chance. Then I had done some internships in New York at Columbia Records. I wanted to go to New York and swim with the big fish. When it really solidified was when I met my wife, who basically fell in love with me because I was doing what I was doing. I was passionate about trying to make a career in music. My wife was behind me, so here I am, and things are going well.
Is there anything else that you wish to promote for yourself?
We have a new album coming out this winter. We recorded 15 songs with a really cool producer named Danny Kadar. We were going to release the whole album this tour, but just because of the election and everything, I thought let’s postpone it. “Too Many Men” was just perfect for the situation. I didn’t write it for this. I wrote it two years ago, before Hillary declared her candidacy. I looked back to see what was happening and why I was so frustrated. In the summer of 2014, Israel and Hamas were firing rockets back and forth at each other, and killing civilians every day. I thought to myself that it seems like it happens every five or 10 years, and just nothing gets done. The United States in my opinion is a bunch of old white men whose #1 task was to stop the first African-American president from getting anything done. I giggled to myself that if Hillary runs this would be perfect. The turn of events unfolded and such, and it was like this song and current events merged.