Date of Interview: July 9, 2016
Name: Ben Schurr
Location: Washington, DC
What are you passionate about?
Music. I guess music, primarily. I guess a general appreciation of life. And I know that sounds really vague, but like, seeing value in the experience of being alive. Like really appreciating every experience you have, and trying to see value in it, in an overall valueless world. And just, human rights. A lot. Just because, I don’t know, I feel like people… there’s so much pressure. Like people are just being pressed up against one another now. And ignoring each other, and I find that to be overwhelmingly upsetting.
Do you think where you grew up or the way you were raised has an impact on these passions?
Yeah, I grew up in Philly which is, I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s like cold and aggressive. And there’s just generally a climate of like, I feel like everyone who comes out of Philadelphia has PTSD. You’re really having to deal with a lot of different stuff and really extreme personalities, in EVERY capacity. Whether it’s people you know, people you don’t, there’s just this level of intensity there. But there’s also a sense that you can really disconnect yourself from other people very easily. Because you kind of have to, to not be overwhelmed by the amount of intensity and inequality that exists. The way all of that manifests there is really interesting.
What are you most afraid of for yourself?
I am most afraid of… I was in the hospital for a little while and they found a mass in my chest. And hopefully thats just mold related or something, which it’s seeming like it is. So that’s… once that became a real thing, there were a couple weeks where I was thinking “Oh my god”. I’ve never been confronted with anything as scary as that. Definitely re-calibrated my brain and my perception of everything. Stopped drinking, started eating better, and started valuing a lot of things more. I think that’s where my first answer came from, is from this experience.
What do you think of death?
That switches… I mean, it’s inevitable. It’s a shared experience. We’re all gonna go there. We’re all going to spend more time there than we did alive, from my understanding of it and my beliefs in it. So most of the time, I feel fine about it. But that’s probably because I’m not acutely thinking about me… leaving. Like my consciousness leaving my body. But I think it’s really funny a lot of the time… most of my jokes are about death. And whenever people piss me off I say, “Well, it’s not like you aren’t gonna die. We’re all gonna die, so you might as well just take it easy.” I’m a pretty hardcore atheist, but I’ve had a lot of… more spiritual experiences the older that I’ve gotten. I was barely raised Jewish, hardly raised Jewish. I don’t have any indoctrination really, with it. I don’t know. I guess I’m going to find out at some point. As time goes on and the more time I spend alive, I’m sure I’ll have different understandings of death. I just feel like it’s evolved into this thing where there are times that you think about the fact that nothing can be created or destroyed, you’re just going to drift… And you think about the parts of yourself, like your skin and your hair… Your nail clippings that have already drifted from your body and the thought of, “Well, I’m not going to do that at all.” What’s it like if you’re totally not connected? But I don’t know. Maybe I need to go on a iowaska trip. Maybe that’s what is in order… ::laughs::
What do you think of relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?
I have a lot of thoughts on that. I think that relationships are… obviously they are crucial. And I feel like I’ve had a very unique sensation being- I’ve been a touring musician for about eight or nine years, so it’s a different level of relationship when you’re in a band. ‘Cause it’s potentially a two to how ever many people are in the band, mainly sexless marriage. I’ve been in bands where that wasn’t necessarily the case. Um, for myself or other people in it, but you develop this relationship that is gonna be a better understanding of how my friendships should be. And how my romantic relationships should be and how blurred that is. Because it’s all about the way you connect with people. And certain people will bring out certain elements of yourself and themselves and when you’re really gelling together you are autonomously disappear for a bit and become this, uhh… I guess this transmission of energy. And I think that we’ve unfortunately been sold an idea of what is supposed to be valuable. Like, a romantic relationship is number one, friendships are after that, then your co-workers are below… Kind of like different levels of love. That this is a thing… the first thing you need to do is realize how ridiculous this is. Your relationships with your housemates for example. I live in a group house and it’s like a family. A traditional family unit is probably the closest to that. When I’m on tour, it’s kind of the same case. I feel like a very maternal figure role in that, or somewhere between that, it doesn’t have to be binary, but I feel a parental role. I think that’s the best way to put it. Then, other times, when I’ve been in bands, or just playing in someone else’s band, I take on a different role. I’m kind of like the bratty little kid. And relationships can all be that way and the key is to know that every relationship is unique and you can bring that out in every person. It’s important to deconstruct your perceptions and just see things for how they are, and see that person and allow it to be that way.