Isolation Station: Ben Kadow

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Ben Kadow transmission from NYC. Photo: Johnny Wilson

 

Our Isolation Station feature continues, aiming to replace some aimless searches with some more refined recommendations from people we want to speak to. Each one of these has given me something to think about, put some different sounds on the airwaves and even made me consider rock climbing for the first time. Hopefully they have aimed you down some unexplored avenues too.

Ben Kadow is one of Hockey’s finest, an enigmatic pillar of the New York scene we are always stoked to see any output from. His powerful skateboarding approach and unique style quickly made him a firm favourite. Ben has been gifting us interesting video parts for a good while now and his character shines through every time. This made him top of the list of people to speak to when I first started reaching out to do these things, I felt he would have a wealth of recommendations. He quickly came back to say he wanted to speak to us and I got on the phone. Here are Ben’s picks which involve a dive into a fascinating and rich part of New York history.
 
Words and questions by Jacob Sawyer
 

 
140KAUZE
 
Explain to us your first choice, the 140Kauze video.

This was made by my friend Eddy who is one of the funniest people I know. He put this together over the winter. They probably filmed for like a month or so and I didn’t even know they were going to make this video. Then they put it out and I watched it not really expecting to love it as much as I did. For some reason it just blew my mind.

There are some really funny parts and some pretty standard lines with shaky camera footage. But I think what really fucked it up for me was the soundtrack which is really good. My head exploded when the Dixie Chicks song came on in the skate park, that was so funny to me. It elevated the whole video to another level.

 

My head exploded when the Dixie Chicks song came on in the skate park, that was so funny to me. It elevated the whole video to another level

 

So these guys are all friends of yours, skate crew?

Yeah they are all really like the best dudes.

This just went up on Cooper Winterson’s Youtube channel.

Yeah Eddy made it and then Cooper put it up on his channel.

Cooper made Heady Mental.

Yeah Cooper made that one which is also amazing and people should check that out.

What’s the first skate video you ever saw?

That was probably The DC Video which was the runner up to what I was going to mention for this interview.

And that would be your most watched video?

Yeah I would say so, my earliest memories and I still hold it dearly. I think it’s the best skate video ever.
 

 
NEW BREED TAPE COMPILATION
 
So this comp came out in 1989 to shine a light on the NY hardcore scene, the second wave or generation…

Yeah so I wasn’t alive but it blew my mind when I first heard it 8 years ago. I was kind of like a teenage early 80s hardcore purist. Then I heard this and it completely blew my scope wide open and everything else just kind of made sense, the next evolution of a style of music

So this wasn’t your introduction to hardcore?

No not at all, I was kind of opposed to this style for a while. I didn’t think it was true, I couldn’t hear any of the roots. But then for some reason one day I heard this and it just clicked and I thought it was the best thing ever. It just sounds like what you would think late 80s New York City music should sound like.

 

But then for some reason one day I heard this and it just clicked and I thought it was the best thing ever. It just sounds like what you would think late 80s New York City music should sound like

 

I watched the documentary about this tape and took away from it just what a melting pot the whole scene was.

Yeah graffiti, hip hop dudes and it all blends into this sound

And CBGB’s was integral to this time with the hardcore matinee shows.

Yeah there was CB’s and A7 was also a huge place for lesser known bands.

Do you go to hardcore shows in the city still?

Yeah probably at least once a month. There aren’t too many new bands that I follow but I make it out every now and then.

Is there a notable central hub for that?

There was a place which just closed down in Brooklyn called Brooklyn Bazaar. There are a few places, some people just do basement shows which are cool, I haven’t been to one of those for a while. Saint Vitus and Market Hotel put on good shows. There are still shows at Tompkins like they did it in the 80s.

When they would play on that bandstand?

Yeah now they set it up in that same area, they set up a stage. But once a year there will be like a ton of good older bands. I saw Breakdown play there, Killing Time, Shutdown, Sheer Terror played there. Usually once a year there is a big show at Tompkins with a bunch of the best New York hardcore bands.

And Breakdown appear on this tape compilation.

Yeah Breakdown are on there, that’s the first time I heard them.
 


 

PHENOMENA BY DARIO ARGENTO
 
Tell us about this film, it’s one of your favourites?

This is probably not the best Dario Argento film but I love it, I think because I love the story. It’s almost cute until the gore starts. It could almost be a children’s science fiction fantasy story until it turns into horror. It’s about a girl who has an extrasensory perception with insects and she eventually uses it to try and solve a murder case. I don’t want to give away too much but it’s really awesome. There are some disgusting scenes but also some really nice scenes.

It’s shot in the mountains of Switzerland so there is some really nice scenery and some disgusting gore. Oh and the soundtrack! There are these random heavy metal songs, Iron Maiden and Motorhead which make no sense, they are so out of place but it’s so cool.

 

This is probably not the best Dario Argento film but I love it, I think because I love the story. It’s almost cute until the gore starts

 

This is the original which would be purchased and cut and re-edited for US release as Creepers

Oh that makes sense now. That’s a way better name for the film, Phenomena sounds like it could be anything, some boring shit.

And Dario Argento is one of the masters of the Giallo film genre.

Yeah I would want to say he is the number one but then you have Lucio Fulci too and some others. But Dario Argento made so many insane ones bordering on psychedelic.

What other ones are worth taking in?

Definitely Deep Red, I love Opera which has a really good soundtrack. It has these two heavy metal songs in it which are so fucking good. They were never released apart from in the movie and they’re by a band called Steel Grave. That one is also shot in a really beautiful place, at least the end scene is. Opera is really cool but there are so many I can’t even think about.

John Carpenter said that Argento’s early work influenced Halloween.

Yeah definitely Suspiria is an obvious and then I think Deep Red was meant to be a follow up to that which I like more. But I would definitely recommend Phenomena just because I love it so much
 

 

MUTATIONS BY SAM MCPHEETERS
 
Tell us about this book, a deep reach into the world of hardcore punk…

Yeah this just came out, I was so excited when I heard he was making this book. He was the lead singer of my favourite hardcore band from the early 90s [Born Against]. He doesn’t really talk about hardcore punk ever, he’s almost ashamed of it it seems. But then he came out with this really kickass book which is kind of a series of essays on all different parts of the subgenre.
 

He doesn’t really talk about hardcore punk ever, he’s almost ashamed of it it seems. But then he came out with this really kickass book which is kind of a series of essays on all different parts of the subgenre

 
There’s a really good chapter about the lead singer of the Crucifucks who was just the craziest guy and is probably being tracked by the FBI. Essays which are just his opinions on hardcore which kind of align with my own so it was really nice to read. There are really funny parts too. If anyone after is interested in the music then definitely get that book.

It sounds like he is good at looking at something he was so immersed in in a very objective way.

Yeah he is super analytical and he’s still got that snotty kind of perspective, super book wormy and scholarly.

From talking about that tape comp and how it draws people from all over the place to it from different backgrounds and it meaning something personal to each one. There are going to be all these different interpretations of what something is or should be right?

Yeah he covers all of that and he goes into which interpretations are genius and which ones are disgraceful. Without giving too much away Youth Of Today he hates which is awesome because I never liked them. He kind of breaks down why they may be disgraceful to some people.

It also sounds like for someone who did so much amazing stuff there is still a feeling of having missed out on what were perceived as being the glory years.

Yeah that’s definite.

All leading to him analysing his own mentality.

He definitely does that a lot, sometimes too much where you feel bad for him.

Have you ever played in a band?

No I wish I did that instead of skating because I’m so obsessed with music. I feel like I would love to just make an album of the music I would want to hear you know? I had a guitar for a little bit but it never came to anything.

It’s good to have other obsessions.

Yeah I would agree with that.

One feeling I got from that New Breed tape documentary was the agency that it gave the people who were into it. Whether it was making a zine, starting a band, putting on shows or making that tape. They just did it.

Yeah I think it’s so amazing, I’m almost envious of that. I don’t have it so much any more because I have an obligation to skate. But they put out that New Breed tape, something easy that they didn’t think anybody would even hear and here we are in 2020 praising it. It’s so cool, there’s an innocence about it that makes it ever the more special.

But then I suppose you could say that a modern day version of that could be the 140Kauze video for instance.

Yeah that’s so true. I guess that is a common theme with these picks. There’s an innocence and a rawness about it that you can’t really replicate.

Finally how is this lockdown affecting you, are you managing to stay sane?

Selfishly I’m loving the streets being empty and I don’t have to deal with foot traffic if I go skating. Obviously there are people out there who think I shouldn’t be skating and I agree with them but I’m being really careful, I bring a mask out every day and I’m not out to socialise. Just going to spots that are usually mobbed. But it sucks, the whole world is suffering greatly from it and that makes me sad to think about.
 
Thanks to Ben for taking the time out to speak to us. If you enjoyed reading this and haven’t already checked out our previous Isolation Station posts then read what Dom Henry, Rory Milanes and Sam Stayeb picked out for you.