Ben Snakepit has a new book out, My Life in a Jugular Vein. It’s three more years of daily DIY punk life, three comic panels for every day of the year. It comes with a CD, too. We didn’t put this book out, (we put out the first) I know Ben really well, and we decided just to talk instead of writing a review that’d make us both feel real uncomfortable and weird.
Todd Taylor: Ever go back over a year of your comics and do self-analysis?
Ben Snakepit: Oh yeah, I do it all the time. I might claim that I’m “checking my work,” but in reality I’m just making sure my life stays balanced.
Todd: What do you base you New Years Resolutions on?
Ben: This year’s was to completely stick to the Gremlin Diet for a year. The Gremlin Diet is when you don’t eat after midnight. I haven’t completely stuck to it, but I’m doing pretty good.
Todd: What ever happened to being featured in GQ?
Ben: It ended up being two sentences about me at the bottom of an editorial. It compared me to Bono of U2, for some reason.
Todd: What are the two largest phone bills you’ve ever wracked up?
Ben: Back in the days before the internet, when you booked a tour you had to do it over the phone. This was also in the days before cell phones and everyone having free long distance. A few people had scams going, like those dialers you could use on payphones that would make the sound of a quarter so you could talk for free. The scam I had was to run up a huge phone bill in my name to book the tour, then just never paying it. Now I can’t get a phone in my name anymore, but it was a good tour.
Todd: Name something you’re no good at when you’re high.
Ben: When I’m high, I become a really bad backseat driver. I’ll always freak out like we’re going to hit everything or tell the driver where to go or how to do it. It’s really annoying.
Todd: Why do you draw so many skeletons when you’re stoned?
Ben: A lot of times I’ll just draw whatever’s around me, and I have a lot of rubber skeletons hanging around my desk.
Todd: Best idea you’ve come up with when you’re high?
Ben: Probably the idea to draw a daily comic strip.
Todd: What’s the pants-crapping count at now?
Ben: It’s been awhile. I’ve actually laid off the sauce for a bit. I still drink a beer every now and then, but not nearly as much as I used to. I’m sure I’ll get all shithammered at The Fest, but that’s just once a year.
Todd: Since you’ve worked video stores for so long, got some film recommendations?
Ben:Der Todesking, directed by Jorg Buttgereit. He’s the guy that did Nekromantik. Also Tribulation 99, directed by Craig Baldwin. There are tons of them. The Corndog Man, The Bride of Frank, Jerkbeast, I could go on and on…
Todd: Now that you’re retired from record reviewing, name a band that broke your back that you had to review.
Ben: Man, this band Deathcycle. I think you featured a quote from that review. It was very heavily influenced by Tragedy, and I wrote that. The dude from the band wrote me an email and said it was a lazy review and that they didn’t sound like Tragedy. But they sure sounded like Tragedy to me.
Todd: Snakepit tubes down rivers and swims in hotel pools at night, why no singing in the shower panels?
Ben: I think I’ve drawn myself in the shower maybe twice. I usually don’t do it ‘cause I wanna spare my readers the nudity.
Todd: Is a fair critique that Snakepit is like Peanuts, except the kids are really arrested-development punks?
Ben: I’d like it to be, but in all honesty, it’s not that much like Peanuts. In Peanuts, there are lots of very well-developed characters, and in my comic it’s just me, with only the occasional bit of dialog from other people.
Todd: What is N.P.C.P.—the letters on a box on the cover illustration of your book?
Ben: That’s actually a great story. I was on tour with J Church. This was when we were a four piece. The lead guitar player was my good friend David. He was a really great guitarist, a great guy, totally cool, but he wasn’t very good at adapting to the touring lifestyle. He wasn’t a big fan of sleeping on floors—he brought a fold-up cot with him—or dirty punk houses. He had to shower every day. You know the type. A really good dude but just not cut out for living that way.
Anyway, we were in Pittsburgh and we were staying with a friend of a friend, and it was a pretty gross punk house in a kinda shitty neighborhood. David opted to sleep in the van that night. At one point I went out to the van to get my backpack or something, and David was awake. We started shooting the shit and David goes: “Dude, we really need to start sleeping in better places. I can’t take much more of this.” He started getting really upset, like on the verge of tears. “We need to stay with NICE PEOPLE! CLEAN PEOPLE!” He kinda lost his shit and it was actually pretty funny. From then on, whenever we got a particularly sweet place to stay, like a place with a bed or some nice carpet, we called it an “N.P.C.P. night.”
Todd: Ever been totally fuckin’ weirded out that people can see what you’ve done for the last six years, every single day? Has anyone’s behavior made you double-think you should do what you do?
Ben: Totally, all the time. I actually have a little reminder sticker on my desk that says “What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say.” I’ll always be totally honest in my comics, but I’m starting to learn what issues I can lightly skirt over and end up avoiding lots of trouble later on down the road.
Todd: Artistically, what’s your next small goal for Snakepit?
Ben: I’ve been experimenting with different angles—it’s hard to describe—and the comics I’m drawing right now probably won’t get published for a long time, so it’s kinda hard to explain what I mean.
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