Enjoy this great conversation with Ben Cohen and make sure to get on my VIP list at the bottom of the page!
Ben Cohen and I were introduced by his girlfriend Stephanie Goyer, guitarist of Protean Collective, whom my band Infinite Spectrum played with a few years back at DROM in NYC. Being a repressed gamer myself, I wanted to chat with Ben on things like that, along with the frequent topics. We ended up even getting into a wide conversation including driving for Uber and more!
Ben Cohen plays guitar for Video Game Metal band Powerglove, as well as modern progressive metal band Lattermath. Powerglove tours the US and Canada regularly with bands such as Dragonforce, MC Chris, Symphony X, and Sonata Arctica. They played on the Summer Slaughter Tour, and have appeared at video game, anime and comic conventions such as PAX East, MAGFest, Youmacon, A&G Ohio and New York Comic Con. Recently, they’ve appeared on the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, and at the SXSW Gaming Festival. Ben is a Berklee College of Music alumnus and is currently based in Los Angeles, where he also does session work and gigs. As an educator, Ben has taught lessons, clinics, and rock band classes for over 17 years.
Ben just moved out to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, an established guitarist in her own right, Stephanie Goyer of Protean Collective. A long time dream of theirs, they are doing what they can to establish themselves there.
On being in two bands, Ben acknowledges that it eats up a lot of time but he does it because he loves it.
Ben was taught by Joe Stump, a Berklee College of Music professor. Starting back in high school, Joe helped Ben with the whole audition process and helped Ben receive a scholarship to Berklee.
At this point, Ben has been teaching guitar for about half of his life. He was established back in New England and is now growing his student base in California. Ben sells his guitar lessons directly on Powerglove’s website. People can purchase a lesson just as they would a piece of merch! Acknowledging that many fans or progressive metal are musicians, he figured this would be a viable service to offer.
While he build’s his student base, Ben also does session work and uses a website called metalforhire.com as one of his sources.
Ben has been mindful of what he has been eating and has adopted an approach where he keeps lean protein higher, and keeps carbs low unless he will be engaging in cardio. He usually has a salad for lunch and eggs most days for breakfast.
For exercise, Ben currently has a gym in his building and has been doing cardio and resistance training there. He lifts weights about 3x a week.
Outside of exercise, Ben engages in some sports including basketball and snowboarding.
Ben supplements with protein powder sometimes and takes a daily multivitamin.
Recognizing his lack of conscientiousness, Ben uses tools such as reminders and calendar events synced up to the cloud to keep him on point in doing what he needs to do. He doesn’t always get to all that he plans to and says you can’t beat yourself up too much for not getting to it all, otherwise you won’t follow it at all.
For most of the time that Ben is practicing guitar currently, he is working on material from the two bands that he is in.
Ben outlined the facets to building his following on social media. He basically pointed out that you have to use plenty of hashtags, post often, and post quality content that people really want to see, and not just memes.
Ben has been with Steph Goyer, a fellow Berklee grad, for about 10 years. They have been long dreaming of moving to LA and finally did so when their lease was up. A bold move, leaving an established base of students behind, the couple are doing what it takes to make ends meet. Ben has even taken up driving for Uber & Lyft part time.
When he’s on the road, Ben keeps up with his girlfriend over text, video and other means. He says its important that you feel like you’re close even though you are far apart. Steph comes to many of the shows when she can. He says that although it is tough, he tries to keep in touch with his loved ones when on the road.
Video games played a major role in Ben’s life. One his earliest memories is getting an original Nintendo NES for Chanukah when he was about three. When guitar entered the picture, he disciplined himself to spend more time with that, but his life-long gaming had a major influence on the way that he plays and writes.
On composition and improvisation, Ben teaches his students about setting limitations such as only using a few notes. This forces them to get very creative and explore different territory they may otherwise have neglected by noodling all over the fretboard.
Going forward, Ben wants to make the majority of his income from music-related work, relying less on things like Uber & Lyft driving. Apps like Uber do give him flexibility though, Ben continues, it allows musicians to come back from touring and have a guaranteed source of income waiting back home.
Ben’s message to all musicians, which he shared to me after the interview is the following: “Be true to yourself and your vision, but also be open-minded, especially when it comes to gigs. Don’t be afraid to try things that are outside your comfort zone. Worst case, you fail and learn something important about yourself in the process.”