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Interview by Gaby Eichberger/Christine Schmidt
|Rob Benedict. Actor. Musician. Wordsmith... How does one begin to ask someone with such diverse talents questions? Let's talk music, first and then turn to acting, okay? Sounds good to me.|
How did Louden Swain start out? How did you guys meet?
|Mike and I had mutual friends from college and met out in LA in the mid 90s. We used to get together once a week and play cover songs ,with both of us on guitar. Slowly we started writing our own stuff and although the early stuff was pretty simple, we thought it was catchy enough to play for our friends, so we started doing these small "gigs", where basically we'd throw a party and play for our friends. Norton, who was a childhood friend of a friend of mine, was at one of these parties. He heard us and asked if we wanted a drummer. We were like, "um....yes!". We got together and played with him-- and I'll never forget looking at each other and nodding and smiling, we were all thinking the same thing-- "now we're a band".|
What's the creative process when you're writing the lyrics to a song? Where do you find your inspiration?
|It's hard to say where it comes from. A lot of times, it's just the mood I'm in, a feeling I have. Usually the tone of a song is born out of an emotion I'm feeling-- loneliness, silliness, sadness, joy....and then it manifests itself in some sort of story. A lot of times, I'm writing about a made up character, but sometimes I'm writing about me. Usually I'll start writing and then I begin to have a vision of what the rest of the song will be, and it flows from there.|
Louden Swain's music is credited to the entire band. I'd be extremely interested in how you guys do that. Do you sit down and brainstorm together from scratch, or is it more that somebody brings along a piece of something and you build on that?
|More like the latter. Usually I bring in a song I've written on an acoustic guitar, I have lyrics, I present it to the band and then everyone chimes in, and we kind of pick it apart and put it back together again, with everyone contributing on the music arrangement. Sometimes, the final product sounds exactly like my original demo, and sometimes, it sounds like a completely different song. And then there's the occasional song-- like Poptart Heart, or CA Nation on our new album, which was written by everyone-- it started as a jam in rehearsal that we all wrote organically, and I added lyrics later.|
When you bring your labor of love from the studio on the stage for the first time, how does that feel? How important is the audience feedback for you?
|SO important. It's very intense. There's a vulnerability there that I don't experience in acting, because you are up there playing your song, with your words. I used to be very shy about it, but not as much anymore. I just love these songs a lot, and I love this band, and I'm excited about sharing it. But yeah, you obviously want the audience to be into it too! That is kind of the missing piece of the puzzle -- bringing it out to the people!|
When you go on tour, is there a difference, in your experience, between audiences stateside or in Europe?
|A little bit. I think because we had never been in Europe, the experience was more intense, and people were so excited, dancing and singing, it was awesome. And then obviously, playing to in a country where English isn't their first language, that adds a level of excitement and intensity. Kind of awesome that the music has this bonding quality no matter where you are.|
If for some bizarre reason you had to choose between acting and making music, how would that decision go?
|That would be a tough one. I honestly can't think of my life without one of those. In my mind, acting has always been more of my vocation, and music was always more of a personal passion. But lately the two have kind of melded a bit. The lines are getting blurry. If I had to make that decision, I would be very troubled about it...|
If you could work on your dream project, musical or in acting, what would that be?
|I would eventually love to write and direct my own movie. I'm working on that. And I think the dream version would be something where I could act in it and play in the soundtrack. That would really bring it all together. Now that I mention it though, it sounds EXHAUSTING!|
What are your favorite moments as an actor and as a musician?
|Playing for 400 people in Birmingham was pretty awesome. Really, every show of this last European tour were pretty special for us. Each one had a really special vibe. I'll never forget it. As an actor, getting to work with other actors that I have a lot of respect for, people like Russell Crowe, Paul Rudd, Peter Dinklage.....those experiences are the tops.|
Do you have any ambition to combine your acting and your musical skills, for example in a musical or something similar?
|See #7! Yeah, I think if I could act in a movie and do the soundtrack, that would be fun. I was in a movie called A Little Help that came out last summer, and Louden Swain wrote a song that we recorded for the soundtrack and it played over the closing credits. And I get goosebumps every time I see that part of it. Its a cool feeling to have contributed to the movie in both aspects.|
Going back in time a bit, what was it like for you as an aspiring young actor starting out in the business?
|It's daunting. Arriving in LA with a theater degree, but realizing no one tells you what you're supposed to DO to get started. Its not like as an actor you can start in the mail room and work your way up. I was overwhelmed at first. But I got a job waiting tables, like we all do, I slowly started to audition, and things started to happen. Looking back, I wouldn't take that first 5 years away for anything. They were the toughest of all my time here-- but they were also the most fun. There's something wild and kind of carefree about throwing yourself blindly into pursuing a dream.|
You've played a wide variety of roles. Is there any type of role/character you especially love to work on?
|Actually one of my favorite roles of recent years is in that movie A Little Help because it was one of the first times I was able to play someone who was so close to what I'm really like. Playing characters is so fun-- I mean, there's a real catharsis in playing a goofball, or an asshole, or whatever. But it was so nice and relaxing to play someone where I didn't really have to imagine I was anyone other than me.|
When you start a new acting project, how do you find the right voice and gestures for a character?
|For me, a lot of it is in the walk. I walk around as the guy, and everything else starts to fall into place. Every one of the characters I've played, I could show you their walk...for that reason, I'm always particular about what shoes I wear when I'm playing the guy too. You walk a lot different if you're a guy who wears boots, as opposed to a guy who wears Converse.|
Chuck Shurley.... Hmmmm...? Comments?
|He's also one of my favorites. So much in that guy. A recluse, a self conscious, possibly alcohol writer. And yet filled with so much love for these characters he's created....and then come to find out he's this unlikely prophet, and then god. So much fun to play.|
The Supernatural fandom is very dedicated, sometimes bordering on scary. What is your impression and how do you manage to stay so exceptionally polite and friendly in the face of the madness? How does Supernatural compare to other fandoms you might have encountered over the years?
|It's definitely been the most intense, but I love it. I mean, as a TV/movie actor, we never get to experience audience reactions like you do when you're on stage. I'm very appreciative of the fans and of their love of Chuck.|
Is there anything you could share with us regarding your next projects? Any exciting roles? Any writings in the pipeline? More music?
|Acting wise, I have a couple of things coming out soon-- I did an episode of Psych and an episode of the (American version of) the show Shameless on Showtime. Both will be airing soon. I'm also in a movie/mockumentary about the making of the Hangover2 in which I play the documentarian, which will be on the blu-ray for that movie. Music wise, we will be touring and doing press for our new album, Eskimo, which will release everywhere January 15.|
Hollywood - curse or blessing?
|Both. It's all fluff, but its damned enjoyable fluff.|
|Thank you ever so kindly for taking the time to answer our questions and also for the music and inspiration you share with us. It's been a great pleasure meeting you in Rome and Vienna respectively and we definitely hope to see, hear and read much, much more from you in the future.|
|My pleasure. Let everyone know how much we enjoyed coming over. We will be back. And it always helps to tell the Convention Producers that you want to see us. Much love and see you soon.....|
|Louden Swain Hompage|
|Rob Benedict on IMDB|
|Rob on Twitter|
|Jason Manns and Louden Swain – LIVE GIG in Vienna 11/03/2011|
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