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Interview with Ben Spraker, January 6, 2019

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:15 - Early playing experience / Ancient Odis

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Partial Transcript: You grew up in Atlanta?

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about how he came to attend the University of Georgia in 1990. Spraker recalls how he spent much of his adolescence playing for bands. Spraker talks about how he eventually convinced his high school friends, Dave Jero, Geraldd Walker, and Paul Mays, to move to Athens, Georgia where they formed a band called Ancient Odis. Spraker explains that, after a while, Walker and Mays moved back and Jero and Spraker were left to form a trio.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Ceiling Fan; Dave Jero; Roanoke, Virginia; University of Georgia

00:07:00 - The Ceiling Fan / Forming The Arcs

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Partial Transcript: I started singing...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about how he, Dave Jero, and Pete Hargerman formed a reincarnation of an older band called Ceiling Fan. Spraker recalls that the band lasted until Pete Hargerman quit. Spraker explains that Hagerman was replaced by Jess Robins, who was the bassist. Spraker talks about his musical experience throughout the 1990's. Spraker explains that one of the band members had to move to Ohio which led to the formation of another band called The Arcs.

Keywords: Ceiling Fan; Dave Jero; Jess Robins; Kevin Layne; Pete Hagerman; The Varsity

00:13:36 - The Arcs (cont.) / Don Condescending

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Partial Transcript: The Arcs have actually never played out of Georgia...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker recalls how touring was often out of consideration for bands he played with due to financial and employment constraints. Spraker explains that his band, the Arcs, was formed in 2008, and continues to play though band progress is slow due to members' commitments. Spraker recalls, how in the early 2000's he joined a band called the Shut Ups which released a few albums. Spraker recalls how the band's writer, Don Condescending, was inspired by the style of Saturday Night Fever and Billy Joel.

Keywords: Dave Jero; Don Condescending; It Hurts to be Seen; Long Playing Album; The Arcs; The Shut Ups

00:21:08 - Writing music in Athens, Georgia

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Partial Transcript: You say you played in cover bands when you...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about how throughout his youth, he realized that he had a natural affinity towards the writing process. Spraker describes his current musical writing process. Spraker outlines his current music-writing commitments to many different bands in Athens, Georgia.

Keywords: Dave Jero; Kevin Layne; NSM; The Shut Ups

00:27:31 - Working with NSM

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Partial Transcript: I'm sort of trying to bridge original music...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about his current attempts to blend original and cover songs in his music writing work for NSM. Spraker explains that having a clear band leader ensures smoother operations of the band. Spraker describes his ambitions for NSM as a unique cover band.

Keywords: NSM; cover band; mash-up; medley

00:33:35 - Bands in the 1980's / NSM continued

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Partial Transcript: A little spin on this is that I always think...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about how cover bands were often a musician's first introduction to playing in a band during the 1980's. Spraker talks about his passion for cover bands. Spraker entails on his specific writing process for the band NSM. Spraker describes some of his future writing ideas for NSM.

Keywords: NSM; ideas; musical composition

00:39:47 - Pedals and playing guitar / Benefits of being in a band

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Partial Transcript: We have a working idea with...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about a potential idea he has for an NSM song. Spraker describes some of his experience working with pedals as a guitarist. Spraker explains his pride in the fact that he does not rely on the pedal during his playing. Spraker shares his love for being in a band and his fascination for the mechanics of band playing.

Keywords: Highballs; NSM; guitar pedal

00:47:11 - Leading a band

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Partial Transcript: I think I made the people in my other band miserable...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker shares how adaptability is crucial in band leadership, due to the unpredictable nature of performance. Spraker explains the importance of constant performance during a show due to the short attention span nature of the audience. Spraker opines his feelings about the reuse of jokes in between songs during a performance. Spraker talks about his love of band practice, particularly his love of playing the guitar along with a drummer.

Keywords: Highball boot camp; Joe Jackson; band rehearsals

00:53:37 - Aging and band rehearsals

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Partial Transcript: Bands that I was in, especially in my 20's...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about how, as he's gotten older, band practice has become more seldom due to the commitments of members. Spraker describes the phases that a band often goes through, and the fact that band members often enjoy the socialization aspects of practice more than the work portion. Spraker shares his occasional tendency to feel frustration during performances as he has gotten older.

Keywords: band practice; commitment

01:00:03 - Importance of tempo / How to end songs

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Partial Transcript: Well I have a similar experience...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker and the interviewer discuss how the slowing of tempo often affects the excitement of both band members and the audience. Spraker talks about the difficulties that come with keeping tempo as a drummer. The interviewer and Spraker discuss alternative methods to ending a song including increasing the tempo until the melody falls apart. Spraker explains the effect of click tracks in musical performances.

Keywords: Becky B; Click Track; Lovely Rita; The Shut-Ups; tempo

01:07:31 - Tempo talk (cont.) / First experiences with music

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Partial Transcript: And then you'll see stuff where it's like...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about how people's perception of tempo is not often as accurate when performances are analyzed through the use of computerized click tracks. Spraker shares the reasons behind his hesitancy to use click tracks. Spraker recalls the influence of music in his early life. Spraker describes his band interests throughout his life and talks about his experience with his first electric guitar.

Keywords: Eddie Van Halen; Hee Haw; K.I.S.S; MTV; click track

01:14:39 - First bands / Picking up the Guitar

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Partial Transcript: And mom had ordered...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker recalls some of his first electric guitar equipment. Spraker describes his early misconceptions about guitar playing. He talks about the first bands he joined including one called Mad Andy and the Crawdads. Spraker talks about the process he initially used to play solos as a beginning guitarist.

Keywords: Wolf Marshall's Lead Guitar Power Builder; chords

01:21:45 - Picking up guitar (cont.)

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Partial Transcript: Were you ever one to follow the chords...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker recalls the process he used to learn to play guitar. Spraker explains the difference in chord composition between jazz and rock. Spraker talks about some of the difficulties he has with playing in a structured style as he is accustomed to a "by ear" method of playing.

Keywords: chords; guitar; jazz

01:28:33 - Playing jazz on guitar

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Partial Transcript: I feel like, another trick...

Segment Synopsis: Spraker talks about some of the tactics he implements in his guitar playing in his effort to mimic the jazz style of playing. Spraker explains the intricacies and repetition techniques involved with playing jazz.

Keywords: jazz; mixolydian scale; scales