Benjamin Brian Yurco
January 9th 1981. I share a birthday w/ Jimmy Page.
Got thrown out of Don Bosco Prep School in NJ my freshman year for being a punk, getting bad grades and refusing to cut my hair. I then went to Lakeland Regional public high school where I almost got thrown out but didn’t and luckily graduated.
Never went to college but thought about it. I always wanted to go to music school but you can’t learn how to rock n’ roll in those places so I learned the hard way from gigging in bars and live musical experiences.
Musical background, instruments learned etc:
By the time I was able to walk I was infatuated with the guitar. I played the guitar since the ripe age of 6 years old. My dad had a 1969 martin D35 acoustic laying around the house so he decided to teach me some chords and Bob Dylan tunes. I started off playing “Stuck inside a mobile w/ the Memphis Blues Again”, “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright” and Muddy Waters “Mannish Boy.” I started a band when I was 7 or 8 years old and played in it till I was 17. I had no formal training. I was showed a handful of chords and took it from there. I taught myself but listened to my peers very strongly as they gave me musical tips. Throughout my years I taught myself the bass, drums, lap steel.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small lake community in northern New Jersey called Ringwood and moved to Burlington,Vermont in 2000.
What were some non-musical jobs you had?
I worked for the city of Burlington as a skateboard park attendant. I would skate with the awesome punk rocker kids of Burlington everyday for $7.00 bucks a hour for 2 years until I quit to become more focused on music as a full time thing. I also worked at a great music venue in Burlington called Higher Ground as a bar back/bartender which was rad because I got to see great music for free every night and work with live background music from some of my favorite bands. I actually met Grace and the Nocturnals through this job. Thank you Higher Ground!
When did you pick up the instrument?
I started playing the guitar at 6 years old.
Who are your musical heros? Why?
Otis Redding- my dad loved Otis and the stax house band (Booker T and the M.G.’s.) my father had a 1985 Chevy Surburban that was a rollin juke box in it’s own right but Otis would always be in the tape player cranking. I remember driving with him to and from my hockey games as a child and hearing tracks like ” Pain in my Heart”, “Try a little Tenderness” and “Tramp” featuring Carla Thomas. We would sing the Otis tunes as loud as we could. I also always loved the guitar playing of Steve Cropper as well and have kept the Memphis soul style close to my heart as a guitarist. I was always fond of the Motown sound. I love James Jamerson bass groves. I also loved British blues rock players like Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Keith Richards and Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, The Kinks etc. I also am a big Beatles fan. John Lennon and George Harrison play a major roll in my influences. I love 60′s & 70′s rockbands I love the Chicago blues cats like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Freddy King, Buddy Guy etc. and also the Mississippi blues guys. Today my favorite modern day artists include: Grace Potter , Scott Tournet and all the Nocturnals , Steve Malkmus, guitarist/vocalists Scott Mcmicken and Frank Mcelroy of Philly based band Dr.Dog, Dante Schwebel & Hacienda of San Antonio, TX, Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline of Wilco, Marc Ford, Dan Auerback. There are too many to name I could go on for days.
My top 5 recording artists:
1. The Beatles and any solo efforts.
2. Steve Malkmus
3. Otis Redding
4. Dr. Dog
5. The Rolling Stones
My top 5 favorite records:
1. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass
2. The Band : Music from The Big Pink
3. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks
4. Dr. Dog ; Shame Shame
5. Steve Malkmus : Piglib
What made you want to become a musician?
Seeing my dad finger picking tunes on his Martin acoustic when I was a child then I saw music films like Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same” and wanted to be Jimmy Page. That had played a major role in my quest for rock stardom.
What would you do if you weren’t a musician?
If I wasn’t a musician I would probably be a dog trainer or magician.
Was there a record/movie/concert that changed your life?
The 3 music films that changed my life as a musician was “The Song Remains the Same” by Led Zeppelin filmed at Madison Square Garden in NYC and. “Concert for Bangladesh” which was a benefit for the starving people of Bangladesh put on by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar. That was also filmed at MSG in NYC. The Last Waltz by The Band was also a film that was part of my upbringing as a musician.
What’s your favorite and least favorite things about live performance?
My favorite thing about a live performance is the high I get from playing with the people I get to create music with onstage and the excitement and enjoyment the crowd gets from it. We all get high off each other. It’s infectious.
The least favorite thing about live performance is not having a good monitor mix. I like to hear what’s going on from every instrument so I can work off the music.
What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about studio recording?
My favorite thing about studio recordings is trying to make a record as good as your favorite record from your favorite artist and you get to go back to your takes and fine tune them. If you mess up you get to start over.
My least favorite part about working in the studio is getting too inside the tracks you are working on. Sometimes songs can get to your head and you wont know how to let the song be. I tend to always think I could do a better take.
What’s your worst nightmare?
My worst nightmare was having George Bush as a president. Glad that ended.
What’s your greatest fantasy?
My greatest fantasy I currently am living