AQ/QA – Ben Ross of The Belle Comedians

Left to Right: Adam Guidry, Dan Tweedie, Willow Bell, Scott Mallory, Ben Ross (John Pollack/Submitted)
Left to Right: Adam Guidry, Dan Tweedie, Willow Bell, Scott Mallory, Ben Ross (John Pollack/Submitted)

When did you guys get your start and how has the band developed since the beginning?

This thing started out when Dan and I met through mutual friends over four years ago. After chatting about music and what we’d like to be doing with our time, Dan asked me to move to St. Andrews with him to record an album. We really didn’t know what sort of direction we’d be taking, but I had a number of songs I’d been playing acoustically around town for about a year. I guess at first, Dan listened to the songs I had written and sort of re-interpreted the music by adding piano and drums.

Well, the album we had planned to record didn’t flesh out, but we did start the basis for The Belle Comedians that summer. The first “true” Belles show that I can remember was at the Wilser’s Room around Christmas 2009. By then, we had already gone through some member changes. The band really started the long, continuing process of taking shape around that time. Scott joined us then, and quickly established himself as a huge and exciting creative force in the band.

So, a couple of years pass. Yet another line-up change when The Belles and Owen Steel (bass) had decided to part ways. Don’t worry, we’re all still friends! When Owen hung up the bass, Willow Bell joined us. He’s a flavour king.

Changes in band members are always interesting things to deal with. With every shuffle, the sounds change slightly. Although, all in all, chemistry has remained the same. We all feel really confident in each other right now. This is the rock-solid line up that we’ve all wanted for this band.

What are you working on now?

Right now, we’re getting ready to track a third EP. We’re actually heading to the Sonic Temple in Halifax in a couple of days to get started. We’re so excited to make some announcements once we’re finished in the studio. The recording process is an interesting one, I think we all sort of see the studio as a comfortable place for us. It’s home-like, since the band first started out as a studio project in Dan’s basement in St. Andrews.

Last Harvest Jazz & Blues was the first time you were billed on the schedule, how did that give the band momentum?

Getting billed at this past year’s Harvest Jazz & Blues was a really neat thing. Personally, growing up in the area and playing music, I’d always thought about Harvest Jazz and Blues as this big wonderful thing with which I wanted so badly to be involved. I think playing in a tent this past year opens our music up to a slew of people that don’t get to see us at places like the Capital, namely younger folks. Shows like that feel great because it’s a real community-oriented thing. You know, we start to feel like at least some people are happy that The Belle Comedians made a home here in Fredericton!

You were touring this summer? Where did you go and how was the experience?

Last summer we did the local festival circuit, which is always a ton of fun. We headed to Montreal for a Pop Montreal showcase. That was really neat, it was outdoors early in the day, and there were a ton of pedestrians on a closed off street. Forced to listen, muahaha! After Montreal, we spent a few days in Toronto for NXNE and played a really fun show at The Garrison on Dundas. We really love being on the road together. Even though we see each other every day when we’re not touring, we all just get super excited to hop in a van together and drive to far off places. Personally, some of my best memories have been born in the kilometers between one venue and another.

Where do you want to see the band going from here?

Really, as long as we’re allowed to continue to write better and better music, and then play it for people who enjoy it, I’m not too picky about where the band goes. But naturally, we all want to see the world! We’ll see.