Elsa's Doghouse: Ben Koller

Growing up on Cape Cod, MA I found myself heavily involved in the local music scene. I played in a handful of bands and ran weekly showcases at a shithole called the Mill Hill Club amongst other places. During this time I crossed paths with a young Ben Koller when my band Kucka & maybe, Ben's band Where's Ben? played together. This was so long ago that I barely have any memory of it,  but I do remember meeting a kid who was a total beast on drums. A few years later someone said “Did you hear Ben Koller joined Converge?”. At the time I was already a big Converge fan & I remember thinking, how the hell did he even get a chance to meet these guys nevermind join their band? Converge was bigger than life to me back then and I am still a diehard fan to this day. Over the years, Ben & I have started a  friendship over our love of Boston Terriers and our deranged sense of humor. I've done all kinds of custom & mashup designs for him personally, as well as, his band Mutoid Man and it's always tons of fun to take his crazy ideas and run with them. I reached out to Ben recently & asked if we could interview him and here's what transpired:

Ben, Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. I know after 2 years off you must be busy as hell getting back on the road & getting used to touring again in this new world. You’ve pretty much been on the road since we were kids so what was it like for you to stay home for so long & what kept you motivated?

Those 2 years off put a lot of things in perspective for me. I've been on the road steadily since I was 16. When the lockdowns first started it was sort of new and exciting in a way. As time went on though the anxiety built up more and more and I realized that without touring in my life I was missing out on so much. Touring is not only my creative outlet but it's also given me opportunities to travel to places I would never get to go to and to see friends all over the world that I wouldn't get to see. Suddenly taking all those things away ate away at me as the months went on and I realized how truly important music is to me on so many levels. Some things that kept me motivated during those 2 years were cover songs for Two Minutes to Late Night, Electronic drums from my friends at Roland, keeping in touch with friends as much as possible and getting to spend extra time with my family. I was so thankful to be back out on the road last March. Now I'm dying to do anything and everything musically. Not just playing shows with my own bands but also going to see bands I enjoy.
Now that the music world is sort of back to normal, can you talk about any upcoming tours or projects that you’ve been working on?

Hah..."sort of normal" is pretty accurate. There's actually a lot of irons in the fire right now with all of my bands. Converge "classic" is writing some new songs and Converge Blood Moon is working on our 2nd album. I've actually tracked a lot of the drums for it already. Mutoid Man has our new album ready to go and we plan to release it and pound the pavement hard in 2023. APMD actually has a ton of new material thanks to Matt Woods churning out riffs like crazy so we just have to find the time to get together and sort through it all.  Killer Be Killed has been trying to get out on the road for years but unfortunately sorting out everyone's schedule is a total nightmare since we're all pretty busy. I'm confident we will get out there eventually though. As for other random stuff, I just finished a new cover for Two Minutes to Late Night, I started teaching drums in the virtual realm and I'm always open to doing more with Carpenter Brut and The Armed if the opportunity arises. I'm also thinking about starting a new solo project and maybe a new band with some friends in L.A. Who knows! I'm just taking in whatever comes my way. 
Who were your big musical influences when you were younger & when did you know that you wanted to play drums for a living?

When I was really young I was obsessed with pop music like NKOTB, Milli Vanilli, etc. Then MTV and hair metal came around and I was hooked. Motley Crue, G N'R and Def Leppard were all gods to me. When I was in 8th grade my best friend at the time introduced me to The Descendents and Fat Wreckchords and then I was totally hooked on punk and going to local shows. Around that same time another friend of mine would sit around listening to Master of Puppets and Pantera over and over again and we sort of convinced each other in a Beavis and Butthead/Bill and Ted sort of way that he would play guitar and I would play drums in a band. After that I started multiple local bands and just went from there and haven't stopped since! I never really considered playing drums for a living. When I joined Converge there was no expectation about a career or ever making money. I remember after playing the first show with them in 1999 they gave me $100. I thought I was rich! We've been fortunate enough to be able to go out on the road and have people enjoy our music.
The last Killer Be Killed record was so rad but the 2020 lock down made it impossible to tour it. Are you guys gonna keep pushing forward with new material or are there any plans to go back & tour that album? Also, are you ever like “Holy fuck, I’m in a band with Max Cavalera”? I myself am like “Holy fuck, my friend is in a band with Max Cavalera”!

It's actually really frustrating because we've been trying really hard to get something together. Unfortunately everyone's schedules are so packed that it's nearly impossible to figure out a time frame to tour. I'm pretty confident it will happen though because that record is just too good to not tour on it. The response has been above and beyond our expectations and we're always talking about our schedules and comparing calendars. It's funny that you say that about Max because Greg and I actually tell each other "dude we're in a band with Max Cavalera" all the time! On top of that he's one of the best guys in the world and I'm considering having him legally adopt me.
What do you miss most about Cape Cod and can we ever go on an East Coast chowder tour?

I love the Cape but unfortunately I'm not really a seafood guy so it'll have to be corn chowder! I keep trying over the years but I just have a mental block about fish. If anything smells even remotely fishy I'm out. I do miss Cape Cod beaches, the slower pace and the overall safety you feel when you're there. There's a vibe to Cape Cod that's pretty hard to describe unless you've spent considerable amounts of time there. I've actually felt similar vibes in other island places like Iceland, New Zealand, Japan etc. There's something really cool about being surrounded by ocean and being packed into a tighter community cut off from the rest of the world.
Now I have to ask this only because we are an antisocial dog company; I've had many pets in my life but I’ve never had a true friendship with one of my animals until I met my Boston Terrier, Elsa, about 10 years ago. Our bond is so strong that she became my muse for Terrier Cvlt and continues to have an influence on most areas of my life. Can you tell me about an animal that touched your life in a similar way?

My last Boston Terrier Edie was the most incredible dog I've ever had. She was like a little person and a member of the family. I always call her my first-born haha...Luckily we still have some Edie Terrier Cvlt merch to allow her legacy to live on a little bit longer. 

Ben, thank you so much for supporting Terrier Cvlt all these years & thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing you on the road soon in one of your many bands.
Check out any one of Ben’s current bands; Converge, Mutoid Man, Killer Be Killed or check out his Airbnb Edie’s In Pioneertown or his new clothing line, Koller Cvlt available now at BenKoller.com