The Employee Interview Part VII: Ben Tuttle

Posted by Miss Ess, July 6, 2007 12:02pm | Post a Comment
Ben Tuttle
3+ years employment
Sound Man Extraordinaire

Q:  So Ben, what music did you listen to when you were a kid, like before you could pick yourself?  What was playing in your home?

BT:  My dad used to listen to the Beatles, I remember that.  Probably Rubber Soul and I remember listening to Chuck Mangione and Slim Goodbody.  He was an informative performer for kids and he wore a full body unitard that showed the inside of his body.  I saw him perform in Oakland when I was a kid, my mom took me.

What was the first music that really struck you and made you a big music lover?

George Gershwin "An American in Paris" and "Rhapsody in Blue" and Led Zeppelin.  Those were the first tapes that I ever listened to that I remember.  My brother turned me on to Houses of the Holy.

What's the first instrument you picked up?  Whatall do you play now?

Piano.  That was the first thing.  My mom made me take lessons when I was 5.  I didn't learn the music and I just did it by ear cause I figured out how to do it like that.

Now, drums, guitar, keyboards, vibes, saxophone.  Those are pretty much all the instruments I play on a regular basis.

What was the first live show you ever saw?
Slim Goodbody was the first show I remember but he didn't have a band or anything, so I guess the first live show I ever went to was the Dead.  My brother took me to see the Grateful Dead and while I enjoyed the new experience I ended up falling asleep.  I was a kid, I was 12 maybe.

Wow!  Where was it?

Oakland Coliseum.

Did you like the Dead?

I was not, like, a fan; my brother was waaaay into them and him being the older brother, I was definitely intrigued.

How did you get involved in sound engineering?

Originally through 4 tracking my own music in my bedroom and then going to many shows with bad sound and knowing that I had the ability to make it sound good!  Then I got thrown into the fire.


Lawrence, Kansas, the world famous Bottleneck, which is still kickin' it today.

Were you scared the first time you did sound?

It was a little nerve wracking but overall it was successful.

What was the music scene like in Kansas?

Um, it was incredible when I first moved there, tons of new music and live bands bands like Shiner, Boy's Life, Vitreous.  This is like 1993/95, something like that.  But that's how I ended up meeting Kori and Jason of Mates of State and we played in bands together in college.  I got to meet a lot of really great people.

Was there a good sense of community there?

Definitely.  Small town, midwest, nothing to do but drink beer and play music.  But the thing about Lawrence is there's nothing else out there between St Louis and Denver, nothing else cool.  Lawrence has great juke boxes.

  So bringing it back to SF, what is your favorite local band?

Ooooh that's a tough one.  I'd say it's between the Hooks, Kelley Stoltz, also Triclops and RF and Joanna Newsom.  I can't say just one.

What projects are you working on right now?

The Life on Earth, The Sheep Return and what else am I doing? I've got a surf rock band with two Canadians I am playing drums in.  No name yet.

What is your favorite local venue to see a show at?!

Great American and Bottom of the Hill, of course. [Ed's note:  Ben did sound at Bottom for years.]

Best show you saw this year?

Probably Blonde Redhead at Bimbo's-- that was magic--  but I haven't seen Rush yet, that's August 1.

Of course.

Cause that'll probably top the list.

Favorite instore ever?

Rush, in my dreams.  And since we are on the topic of dreams Joanna Newsom also, playing with Rush!

But for real, Lymbyc Systym when I did sound with them cause there was no one else to do the sound and I was in their band too so I mixed em until it was my turn to play and then I walked up on stage and just started playing.  It was so fun!

What's your favorite record right now, first one you think of?

Ooooooh crap. Field Music, Tones of Town.  That's like my new jam.  I did sound for them at Bottom [of the Hill] and we got on real good.

What else have you been listening to lately?

Rush's new album.  Um, Metallica Kill Em AllBjork VoltaJoe Henderson, some jazz sh*ts.

What is your favorite Joni Mitchell song?  Why?

That's tough.  Right off the bat, "Black Crow" from Hejira cause it's got Jaco [Pastorius]on it and it triggers a specific time in my life, a certain very awesome free, ignorant part of my life.  Those were some good times!

That song "This Flight Tonight" does that for me.  All of side 2 of Blue really.  She kills me.  So, who is your favorite record producer? 

Jon Brion.

I love Jon Brion!

He's my favorite of the contemporary producers.

He's so tasteful .

He's got chops for days, but you know,  Nigel Godrich, his production on Paul McCartney's last album was very tasty.

Jon Brion was friends with Elliott Smith.

Yeah totally and my friend Travis is friends with him, so I have a one man claim to fame!

What's your best find here at Amoeba?

All my friends that work here! No seriously, that's a tough question, prolly the dvd for Driver 23.  It's an insane documentary that every musician should watch.  Look for it!

What's your favorite part of working here at Amoeba?

All the mad hugs I get.  That and getting to say that I work sound at Amoeba.  Just being exposed to everything here.

Thank you for  your time.

Relevant Tags

Rf (1), Slim Goodbody (2), The Bottleneck (1), The Life On Earth (1), Mates Of State (3), Field Music (2), Rush (12), Joni Mitchell (26), Jon Brion (4), Grateful Dead (20), Employee Interview (26), Interview (341)