At the age of seventeen I was introduced to
the music of Screeching Weasel. Their snotty Ramones
influenced punk soon became a favorite, and remains
steady listening some fourteen years later. Band
leader Ben Weasel has become something of a punk
icon. Aside from Screeching Weasel he has released
two solo albums, and authored two books, several
magazine articles, and a very amusing blog. I
had the opportunity to speak with Ben concerning
his new album "These Ones Are Bitter", the stellar
backing band he put together for this release,
digital music and religion.
Jim McDonald: How are you today?
Ben Weasel: I'm good, how are
JM: Quite well, thanks. I got
the audio stream of "These Ones Are Bitter" and
wow, that's a good album.
Ben Weasel: Well thank you!
JM: How did you put together
the backing band for the new album?
Ben Weasel: When we came out
with the Screeching Weasel best of album in 2005
I was doing cuts for that and AP did an interview
where Mike Kennerty of All American Rejects interviewed
me. I guess they do a feature where somebody in
a band goes and interviews an old guy in a used
to be band. One of the questions he asked me was
what are you doing musically, so I said give me
your phone number, I'll call you and talk about
it. At the time my intention was to put together
the new album and I had gotten frustrated with
trying to perform and sing and put together a
new band. The band I had been playing in before
that had been an abject failure in every which
way so I thought what if I wrote a new album and
basically form a collaboration where I had fourteen
songs and I got fourteen different bands to do
the songs, but it's a new album of new material.
I thought that would be kind of neat, cause it's
so hard for me to put together a band. It's so
My intention had been to ask Mike if the Rejects
would like to do a cut. He said they'd do that
but he wanted to hear some of the songs. So I
sent him a bedroom demo and he picked a tune and
said he liked it and that he felt I should do
it on my own and that he'd like to produce it.
It kind of snowballed from there. The short story
is that he demoed one of the tunes and he did
such an amazing job that it became apparent that
if he was on board as guitarist and producer and
was helping out with arrangements that worse case
scenario we'd have a very, very good album and
possibly a great one. He recommended his friend
Chris from the Rejects as drummer, and from there
I some how ended up with Dan (Andriano of Alkaline
Trio) on bass. Again, that was threw Mike as well.
I'm originally from Chicago, but I'd never met
Dan. To this day I've never met Dan. He tracked
his parts himself. I've corresponded with him
by email and he seems like a very nice guy and
of course he's incredibly talented.
I ended up with a situation where by far, with
no disrespect to anyone else I've worked with,
but in my opinion I had by far the most talented
group of musicians I've worked with to date. Not
just talented in being good at their instruments,
but talented in a creative sense. That's a big
thing. I worked with some talent people in Screeching
Weasel but they didn't have a lot going on creatively,
as in here's a good idea for this part. It was
always pretty straight forward. So I had these
guys interpreting my songs from a really different
perspective and I think it really worked out for
the best. I mean, there's kind of a new take on
my songs, and yet they're still my songs. They're
definitely mine, but it doesn't really sound like
anything that's come before. I think that's a
pretty amazing achievement because I've been doing
this for twenty-one years.
JM: The first thing I thought
when I heard the first track on "These Ones Are
Bitter" was wow, this doesn't sound like a Screeching
Ben Weasel: And yet it does
in a weird way. I agree with you, but I don't
think it's such a big difference that it's like
night and day. It's not so radically different
there's not a sense of familiarity because it's
still me and it's still my songs. Ninety-nine
percent of the Screeching Weasel songs were written
entirely by me. I think it's impossible to not
have that element there and I had no intention
of sitting down and saying I want to write something
that doesn't sound like Screeching Weasel. I just
said I'm going to take my best songs and put them
on a record. In many ways it doesn't sound anything
like it, but it's not so far removed from it,
JM: The melodies are familiar,
as are some of the guitar lines, but what really
struck me as different was the production. There
are so many layers of instruments. It sounded
a lot more finished than any release I've heard
from you in the past.
Ben Weasel: There's a really,
really simple reason for that. We had the time.
It's as simple as that. That's not the only reason.
Part of the reason is what I said before. Mike
threw himself into this body and soul and just
poured everything into this. He was very meticulous
and spent a great deal of time coming up with
these parts and layering them. You're exactly
right. What you're hearing when you listen to
it, well you'd probably have to listen to it in
a professional studio with a well trained ear
to hear all the parts and all the stuff that's
going on on it. There are layers upon layers of
stuff going on there, and it was actually a really
tricky record to mix
I don't even know how many albums I've recorded,
but it all that time, even at my best when I really
prepared I never, ever, ever had the time to do
all the things I wanted to do and to do them the
way I wanted to do them because the money wasn't
there. Studio time costs money. Also, I was working
with people most of the time who I could barely
drag to the practice room once a week. I know
there are bands who work like this, but I have
never in my life been in a band where I could
sit down with all the members in a room and be
like here's the tune, let's figure out the arrangement.
Let's talk about the riff. Let's figure out what
you guy who is really proficient on drums or guitar
or whatever can do here.
I couldn't do that because for a lot of the time
we weren't talented enough, and I absolutely include
myself in that. But what I don't include myself
in is that we had people who just weren't willing
to work It got worse and worse, especially in
Screeching Weasel, as time went on. Toward the
end of Screeching Weasel members came in who really
wanted to work, but they weren't very creative
minded. It was no fault of their own. They would
bust their ass, and that was great, but for many
many years I worked with people who either weren't
creatively inclined and couldn't do the creative
work, or they just didn't want to. So the combination
of working with people who weren't interested
in making the greatest record ever, and even if
they were the money wasn't there to do things.
This time we started with a budge of zero. It
was by far the worse situation I've been in, but
we lucked into a bunch of free studio time. Like
somewhere in the neighborhood of five weeks of
free studio time, and every second of that was
used. And as I said, Dan tracked his bass parts
in his practice room, which cost nothing, obviously.
So the only thing we paid for was the mix, which
we did up here and we took a week to mix it. I've
never spent that much time on a mix before. I
did the vocals up here in Madison (WI) and that
cost some money as well. If we had been charged
for the amount of studio time we used I never,
ever could have gotten anyone to give me that
amount of money. It would have cost a phenomenal
amount of money. The whole record ended up costing
a few thousand dollars, and yet we spent way more
time on it than anything I've done before.
JM: What can you tell me about
the title of the new album? When I first heard
"These Ones Are Bitter" I thought the title fit
the lyrics perfectly. After a few more listens
I wasn't as sure. Some of the lyrics seem to be
bitter, but tempered with patience.
Ben Weasel: I think they really
are bitter songs, and if it's tempered with anything
that's probably less intentional on my part. That's
probably just a function of me getting older or
something. The title first of all came from an
idea I had for the art. The first thing was the
idea for the art, and I was trying to teach myself
how to draw and paint and I kind of lost patience
with it because it takes a lot of patience to
learn how to do that. I had an idea that was basically
very similar to the image that ended up being
the cover. The original idea was going to do probably
between thirty or thirty-three songs. It was going
to be a double album. It's a concept album about
primarily, not every single song, but primarily
about the break up of this relationship. Even
with all the time we had we couldn't record twenty-eight
songs. That became evident early on. Hopefully
some day part two will be done, and if it is done
it will be called "Those Ones Are Sweet".
JM: Oh, that's nice.
Ben Weasel: Yeah, that was a
phrase I like "these ones are bitter, those ones
are sweet". It's sort of a bittersweet thing,
and I think that the concept of, and I don't like
talking like this because it's pretentious and
arty, but I think it's true. When you're talking
about anything creative or artistic, if I can
use that term, there's you're intention to sit
down and say here's this thing I'm going to do
and all these various things that are going into
it, and this subtext connects to this other part.
Throughout the album there's repeating phrases,
words and lyrical phrases that repeat intentionally,
and musical phrases and chord progressions that
repeat and it's really deliberate and intentional.
I've been listening to the album and I'm finding
other patterns as well and I'm going oh, I didn't
intend to do that, and that's part of the process
as well. When you're doing things like this things
will come up that are unintentional, but will
support your thesis, for lack of a better word.
The concept of bitter/sweet I thought was a really
good one to discuss the breakup of this relationship.
The songs are sung so that the narrator switches
from male to female in the relationship, so you're
getting both points of view. I've already read
some kind of negative comments from people on
the internet saying things like oh it's a whiny
pop punk song about a girl. No, it's not because
if you're referring to such and such a song it's
actually a whiny pop punk song about a boy, strangely
enough. There are two narrators, and they basically
switch voices. A lot of that has to do with the
last band I was in having a woman sing half the
songs. A lot of these songs started out in that
band, as short-lived as it was.
The other thing I like about the concept of bitter/sweet
as it applies to this record is that I think it's
a really good way to describe the style of music
that I play. It's very melodic, and it's designed
to be catchy and full of hooks, yet there's an
edge to it that fans of punk don't really get
from mainstream pop music. That's not to knock
mainstream pop music, a lot of which I like quite
a lot, rather to say when you get that kind of
treatment of it, the punk rock version, you're
getting something that's a little different and
a little more offbeat. So you can't just say it's
sweet. It's bittersweet, or sweet and sour or
however you would want to put it.
So that's kind of it. There were a lot of different
ideas going through my head about the concept
and I discovered again, because I had learned
it before on a couple previous records, that when
you go into a record with a concept about the
title and about the art and how that applies to
that particular group of songs, you're so far
ahead of the game already. You give yourself a
leg up that you really don't have if you just
say here's this group of songs. You put yourself
in a situation where you force yourself to think
about the songs and what it means and how it all
fits together. Everything just falls together
so much more quickly, and I much prefer to work
JM: Interesting. Tell me about
Ben Weasel: That's my company,
and it's named after one of the lakes up here
in Madison. There are three, well four, lakes
in Madison. One of them is actually outside of
Madison and I've got other companies that are
named after some of the other lakes. It's digital
only. I kind of wanted to own my own stuff, which
I like doing. I probably own about seventy percent
of my catalog. It's just licensed out to various
companies. I like owning my own stuff because
frankly if someone starts ripping you off it's
a lot easier to yank it back if they never had
any ownership rights to it in the first place.
I also wanted to see if I could do this. If I
could do a totally digital release. I haven't
bought a CD in a long time. Probably in the last
three years I've bought one because it wasn't
available on iTunes, it was an old Dolly Parton
CD. Other than that it perplexed me and still
perplexes me why young punk DIY bands aren't embracing
the digital format. It shouldn't really perplex
me. Most people in that group are in their early
to mid twenties, and people of that age really
embrace tradition heavily and I was the same way.
They really don't like change. I was in my early
twenties when CDs started really becoming big
and I said to myself and my friends if it's a
CD only release then it's not a real album. If
it's not on vinyl it's not real and I'll never
own a CD player. The sound quality's terrible
and all the arguments, and a year later we all
owned CD players.
Now I hear the same arguments for digital, and
it's just as lame as it was back then. I think
it's a great way for the little guy to if not
level the playing field, at least give themselves
an advantage. You don't have to fight for a distributor
to get your album into stores, and you don't have
to fight for that shelf space. The thing that
makes it so difficult now in punk rock is, well
there was a time when it was difficult to get
your album into stores for a different set of
reasons. Now the reason for it being difficult
to get into stores is that there's too much punk
rock and there's too much competition. Back then
it was punk rock wasn't popular enough so only
the very, very most popular bands could get it
because the punk rock section, or often what they
called the import section, of a store would be
like one tiny section of one little shelf in a
bin. Like half a section or maybe a full section
in a bin and the rest was more mainstream records.
Now there's not enough space on shelves for records.
No record store can possibly carry everything
that's released. They can't handle half or even
twenty percent of what's released, even if you're
only stocking one or two copies of each thing.
Along with that, there's a lot more marketing
being done and people are a lot more savvy about
promoting themselves. It's a lot different than
it was before. So it's a lot more competitive
is my point. If you go the digital route you're
not really battling all that. The only thing you're
really competing for is space in people's consciousness,
which is no small battle. There's so much stuff
out there that no one person could possibly take
it all in. I think it's easier if that's all you're
fighting for because then it really comes down
to can you make a good record. In this day and
age if you make a really great record, keeping
in mind that's subjective, but if you make a really
great record there's no way it's going to be ignored.
If you make a great record it's going to be heard,
and it's going to enter people's consciousness
and people are going to talk about it and be aware
So I can go and do that and avoid all the bullshit.
You don't have to hire a manager and you don't
have to hire a lawyer to negotiate a twelve page
contract. You don't have to compete to be one
of the handful of bands that are going to be signed
to the handful of punk labels out there that are
worth signing to. To me it's the epitome of DIY.
I thought I want to own my own stuff, let's see
if I can do this. When the album is officially
released we'll see if it works. I'm really excited
about it. A lot of people are complaining about
it, but from what I've heard I think this is the
way things are going. The people I've talked to
at some of the bigger indie labels are telling
me that thirty to thirty-five percent of their
sales, and this is as of last October, are digital
now. In some cases up to forty percent of their
sales are digital so it's probably more now.
When I went over to Lumberjack Mordam with this
thing to see if they'd get behind it they were
like you're doing the right thing, this is where
everything's heading. It's great for them because
they do the work that I don't want to do, I give
them their cut it costs them nothing in warehouse
space. It costs them nothing in shipping. All
around it's a really cost efficient way to do
things, and then I can take the money, a fraction
of the money I would have spent printing physical
media, and I can hire a publicist and get out
there and promote this thing.
Occasionally I hear people say I don't like this,
I want something I can hold in my hand, and it
boggles my mind. Then go get a blank CD and burn
the CD and print out the color art that will be
downloadable from my website. Now you've got something
you can hold in your hand. I think what they really
mean, even if they're not aware of it, is I want
a professionally produced CD with professionally
produced art. They're saying I want this done
at a professional printer. I had never known until
I started Mendota how good color printers have
become. I went out and bought one since I knew
I was going to do this project and I knew I would
have to print some out and I'm just amazed at
the quality. I was totally unaware of how good
these things are. Like I said, you burn the CD,
print the art, and there it is. For spending the
four and a half minutes that took you I'm going
to charge you four dollars less, and I think it's
a good trade off. It's not just the four dollars
that's the issue for me, it's all these other
things. Where are these things going to be stored
and who's going to distribute them, and how am
I going to fight for shelf space against people
I honestly can't compete against.
I would think that the smaller bands would be
embracing that, but really they're not. They're
all like no we're waiting for a label to put out
our album, and if you're going to wait for a label
to put out your album you'd better be an incredibly
amazing band. Not only that, but you'd better
be independently wealthy in order to be able to
tour the amount of months out of the year that
any label is going to want in order to sign you.
It's a very different thing than it was when I
started. In some ways it's a good thing that it's
different. You can't do things the way you did
in the mid nineties. It's not like that anymore.
You've got to build a better mousetrap or you'll
be left using a thousand CDs that you printed
up, or that your friends printed up, as coasters.
JM: I can see what you mean.
I put out a CD through an indie label a few years
ago, and I have hundreds of copies left in my
basement. I can totally see the advantage of going
without a physical product. Even when I buy a
CD I only use it once. I throw it in my computer,
rip it to my MP3 player and tuck the disc away
Ben Weasel: Yup. That's exactly
what I do. I sold the vast bulk of my record collection.
I now literally only have like three quarters
of a shelf of records, just stuff I have sentimental
attachment to. Rare copies of my own records or
stuff that people gave me. I sold the vast majority
of them, and I was so happy when I moved last
summer because I didn't have to move all these
records. Now I'm discovering that I'm getting
really hostile toward my CDs, which really don't
take up that much space. But I do the same thing.
I do a little online radio show now so I get promo
in all the time and I pop it in and import it
to iTunes. After that it either gets sold to the
used record store, or if it's something I really
like it goes down to the basement.
There's been no need for me thus far to ever
pull the CD out again. As technology improves
and you're able to convert these files, I found
a great program for when my old hard drive crashed.
I thought oh my god, I'm going to have to reimport
all these CDs. I found this great program called
Senuti, iTunes spelled backwards, that allowed
me to take everything from my old hard drive,
put it on my iPod and move it to my new hard drive.
Normally you can't do that with iTunes. What could
have taken days and days ended up being forty
minutes, or however long it took to transfer it.
Now I finally wised up and bought an external
hard drive my entire home music library is backed
It's funny, some of the objections that come
up like I want something to hold in my hand, are
like what if I lose a file. Don't you back up
your files? What if your hard drive crashes? What
if you leave a record too close to the heater?
Basically, don't be an idiot and then you won't
lose it. Take care of it the same way you would
take care of a record or a CD. There's a lot of
people out there, and I don't think that they're
jerks or anything, I think it's a perfectly natural
thing, who are suspicious of a new thing. People
are saying look, I don't want to give up the physical
media, but my idea is that whole concept lost
me with the idea of CDs.
When CDs came around art became irrelevant. Not
totally irrelevant, but when CDs came around cool
album art just didn't f*ckin' matter anymore because
it was squashed down to this little square. The
insert didn't really matter. I've never in my
life been impressed by a CD booklet and I've seen
literally thousands of them. Whatever you want
to say about vinyl, the packaging of that was
the coolest thing ever in integrating a piece
of art and music in concept. To cling to the last
vestiges of that concept as it exists in CD form
is not something I'm interested in. I've never
thought much of CDs. They're fine, they were more
convenient than records, but a great record always
sounded better than the best CD if it was the
same album. There was no contest when it came
to presenting the art, photography, drawing or
whatever it might have been.
I think that people just don't want to let go
of the physical media, but if you talk to teenage
kids or people above thirty they embrace the digital
thing. They love it. The younger kids are growing
up with it, and once you get over thirty years
old you've got a wife, maybe you've got kids,
you don't like things that take up a ton of space.
You want less of that. If you can fit your entire
music collection on your computer, especially
if you grew up moving year after year to a new
apartment, if you don't have to drag these things
along it's a total godsend. It's on your computer,
you've got it backed up - it's a no brainer. It's
the people in their twenties that are really hostile
to the idea, and hostile to the point where they
take it really personally.
The main thing about Mendota is that I wanted
to do something for myself. I didn't want to do
anything to like f*ck with the fans. I didn't
want to short people or anything like that. I
wasn't trying to make a statement. I wasn't trying
to short anyone, I wasn't trying to f*ck with
anyone, I just wanted to put out a record myself
DIY cause I want to own my own stuff, and I want
to control how it's presented and how it's marketed.
Even from people who are really into it and want
to buy the record I've gotten an almost universally
hostile reaction. I guess I should have been prepared
for that, but I wasn't trying to upset anyone,
I was just trying to do business in a smart way.
JM: Do you plan on releasing
any other artists through Mendota?
Ben Weasel: You know, it really
depends on what happens. I would say the likelihood
isn't high because so far all I've heard from
the type of bands I'd like to sign is an extremely
hostile reaction to the concept. So you've got
a lot of bands who don't have labels who don't
want anything to do with this concept. I've put
out feelers to a bunch of bands and they've all
pretty much slammed the door in my face. Not all
of them, but I would say if I do anything it's
probably going to be more on an EP level. I don't
want to spend a ton of time working on promoting
a band's album because in this day and age that's
a lot of responsibility.
Expectations, even from the youngest bands, are
really, really high. Much higher than they used
to be as far as what they expect a label to do
for them and this is a one men bedroom operation.
I don't have a staff and I'm never going to have
a staff. I can't do business the way Fat Wreck
Chords does and I love Fat, I've got two records
out on their label, it's a great label. I can't
do things the way they do, and I don't want to.
Nothing against them at all, I think the way they
do business is great, but I don't wanna do that.
I think a lot of young bands have those type of
expectations, they think I need to get on such
a tour or I need to do this and that, and I'm
not the guy who can do that for them.
I think the best thing that could happen for
me is that if this is successfully I could go
to some of the bands I like and say look, I sold
x amount of albums plus x amount of single song
downloads - this is what I think I can do for
you with an EP. Then it's not so much pressure.
Maybe just put a really kick ass EP together.
A really fun thing would be to get them out here
to Madison to record, get in there and produce
or co-produce the thing and have some fun with
it. It's completely dependent on how this record
does. If it goes well and there's money there
that's great, but right now I'm just trying to
get out of the woods.
JM: I've been reading your blog
off and on for a few years and you've mentioned
being a Buddhist.
Ben Weasel: Did I? I was a Buddhist
for a few years.
JM: Is that not the case any
Ben Weasel: No, I'm not. I was
for a few years, but I left around three years
ago. I left there and joined the Catholic Church.
JM: Really? I hadn't heard that.
Ben Weasel: It's probably because
I didn't advertise it. When you tell someone you're
a Buddhist they think it's the greatest thing
in the world and it's cool and it's groovy and
it's not a real religion, which is bullsh*t. They
think it's so cool because it's not all uptight
and pedantic like Christianity, which again is
bullsh*t, it's just as pedantic and uptight if
you want to use those terms. If you tell someone
you're a Catholic you might as well tell them
you're a Nazi. I told a few friends and family
members that I was joining the church and just
got a really, really brutal reaction so I said
you know what, I'm just going to keep that under
wraps for a while.
JM: OK. Would you prefer we
not discuss this?
Ben Weasel: I don't care. I'm
not at all embarrassed. I'm a total defender of
the Catholic Church. I think it's amazing and
I think it's terrific. If somebody else brings
it up and wants to talk about it that's cool,
and I'm happy to talk about it, but I'm just saying
the reason you didn't hear about it is that I
didn't advertise it.
JM: That's surprisingly cool.
I didn't expect that at all.
Ben Weasel: Thanks.
JM: What prompted your conversion
Ben Weasel: First of all, after
a lot of thought and reading and studying, I dove
into Buddhism really heavily and that just tends
to be the way I am. If I get into something I
get into it like crazy. It's a real good thing
I never got into drugs or drinking because I'd
be a mess right now. I tend to think I have heavier
pursuits. The long and the short of it is I was
studying in one of the four Tibetan schools of
Buddhism and in that school there are particular
prerequisites before you start tantric practice,
tantric practice being sort of the highest level
of the Vajrayana, as opposed to the Mahayana.
What you do is you go and receive what they call
a lung transmission where basically a lama smacks
you on the head with a text. That then gives you
the blessing, or the permission however you want
to put it, to go and do the practices for tantra.
You can go and get tantric empowerment, but you
have to perform these, the practice is called
So I received the lung transmission and I began
the ngondro. We're talking like a hundred and
eleven thousand prostrations, a hundred and eleven
thousand recitations of the mantra which is insanely
long. It's an unbelievably long mantra that would
take like forty-five seconds to say just one.
There's a hundred and eleven thousand offerings
of a mondolo, which, I don't know if you know
any of this, but a mondolo is like this thick
band that you fill up with rice and they get smaller
as they go up and it's supposed to represent the
universe or whatever. And there's a hundred and
eleven thousand of something else. The idea is
that you're supposed to do a hundred thousand,
but you add eleven thousand for ones you might
have missed. To do the whole practice if you're
pretty intense about it is going to take a couple
I started thinking about it and when you get
into tantra you're instructed to view your teacher,
your lama, as a Buddha. This isn't a metaphorical
thing. You're not saying my teacher is like a
Buddha, you're supposed to say he is an enlightened
being, he is perfect. As you can imagine, in such
a scenario the potential for abuse is enormous.
If you ever do a Google search on sexual abuse
involving Buddhism you're going to find a lot
of stuff. Essentially what you're doing is you're
saying this person is a god and I have to do whatever
they tell me what to do. They are perfect, therefore
they cannot possibly tell me to do something that's
wrong. That is one of the major, major flaws with
the Tibetan schools of Buddhism in my opinion.
The long and the short of it is that I decided
if I'm going to take this intense step - there
were things I didn't believe and for three years
that lamas had told me just put that on the shelf,
don't worry about it now, concentrate on meditating.
When it came down to it I had to take these things
down off the shelf and look at them. I had to
decide do I believe in this. Do I believe in karma?
No, I don't. I'm talking specifically about the
Buddhist concept of karma. No, I don't believe
it. The Buddhist view is that the universe is
governed by a law of karma. Buddhism is not remotely
interested in the concept of creation. Buddhism
asserts that there is no creator, but there's
no explanation for it. Everything is beginningless.
My problem was that this law of karma. It's completely
cold and emotionless like a scientific fact. It
says that some actions are morally good and some
actions are morally bad. If you do the morally
good ones you have a positive rebirth, if you
do the bad ones you have a negative rebirth. It
didn't make any sense to me, so basically I decided
it's not true. There was a logical inconsistency
with the main tenets of Buddhism that I just couldn't
reconcile. I would argue or debate someone about
it. I'm not saying Buddhism is bad, I learned
some tremendous things and excellent disciplines.
I'm happy I got the opportunity to learn meditation,
all that stuff but in the end the dogma didn't
fundamentally ring true to me.
I decided to look into Christianity, and originally
I was going to look into the Episcopalian church.
I figured it's the most liberal, and I have some
very conservative views but basically I'm a bleeding
heart liberal at heart. I did a lot of reading
and when I looked into the local Episcopalian
churches, they're like too liberal even for me.
I met with the priest at the local Catholic church
and I just felt at home. The Catholic Church makes
you go through a period of training before you
become a member, so you know what you're getting
into, and I like that.
JM: That's cool that you had
the courage to make a change when you found you
were uncomfortable with Buddhism. A lot of people
seem to stick with a lifestyle, whether they agree
or disagree with it.
Ben Weasel: Spirituality is
a big deal. You can't just go changing flippantly
or whatever. Buddhism and Christianity share some
similar aspects. Both have moral teachings and
teach discipline to improve humanity. The difference
is that in Buddhism I had to make all these changes
myself. In Christianity, all I have to do is allow
this external force to change me. Just to allow
it to happen and this external force will make
JM: OK, final question - will
you be touring in support of "These Ones Are Bitter"?
Ben Weasel: No. I'll do a few
one off shows, but I won't be touring. That part
of my life is over.