Based out of Boston, Massachusetts, Lurid Purple Flowers formed in 2020 right as the pandemic hit and has been bouncing around the scene since the restrictions eased up. Pulling influences from Hard Rock, Psychedelic, and Funk, this Alt-Rock trio released an EP titled Mania in February and recently released their sophomore EP, No Sympathy, on September 23rd.
Keeping the rhythm on track is bass player Ben Caito. I spent some time with Ben talking about bass playing, songwriting, what music keeps him interested, and life in Boston.
What first got you interested in playing music? That is, what got you interested in the idea of starting or joining a band?
I started playing piano at a young age and I never really enjoyed it haha. It wasn’t until I picked up an acoustic guitar at the age of 12 that I realized I could play the songs I grew up loving rather than being forced to play the same 3 classical songs over and over. From there I picked up bass as well and the rest is history. I played in a few bluegrass bands when I was still in my hometown but playing with my cousins in my first Rock band was the real genesis of it all.
So why bass? Why not guitar or drums or singing?
Well I do a little of everything, but there’s something about the feeling of power when it comes to playing bass live. You can completely change the feel of the song or add that gut-punch feeling that we all love so much. Especially in Rock music, you have the freedom to go absolutely crazy on stage if you want it bad enough.
Who are some of your major influences, both in bass playing and in songwriting or just music in general?
Oh man here we go. I could talk forever about this subject. My favorite bassist of all time is probably Pino Palladino. His son, Rocco, is a phenomenal UK jazz bassist as well, playing with drum legend Yussef Dayes. I’m also a huge Charlie Hunter fan, ever since I heard The Root off of D’angelo’s classic Voodoo album. As far as songwriting bassists goes I’m a huge Geddy Lee fanboy and I will die on the hill that Rush is the greatest of all time. I think Mike Dirnt is a crazy underrated bassist, as well as Krist Novoselic. I try to channel Krist’s crazy energy live as much as possible haha.
What sort of gear are you currently using?
I have a Musicman StingRay that I currently use for LPF stuff. It just sounds phenomenal for anything in the Rock idiom that goes through my pedal board and into a Fender Rumble 500. The pedal board is pretty sparse, mainly Boss pedals, but I have a gem on it that I’m super proud of. I have a Demedash Tape Echo T-120 that I use sparely but to great effect. The tape noise adds a texture to the more low-key elements of the set that I just love. They’re made by this guy in Canada to-order. I think I waiting about 6 months for mine? Definitely worth the wait.
Everything else is pretty stock, classic Fuzz, Octave combo, and a gate/compressor duo to round it off. I use a sock on the head stock of every bass I play, like Mono Neon, another one of my bass heroes. Right now, it’s a Spider-Man sock.
What sort of routine practice agenda do you follow, if any?
Yeah I warm up with some etudes from my classical days, do some improv and then play tunes. It’s pretty free form but I get at least an hour in a day. Definitely not as much as in my college days, haha. My favorite stuff to practice feel with right now is by jamming on Khruangbin tunes. Laura Lee’s bass lines are simple, but her Reggae-influenced playing is super tight, and definitely serves to highlight a goal that I’m striving for.
As a bass player, what do you think the role of a bass player is in any given band?
I think it really changes from band to band. If I have to give a concrete answer, I’d say to pay attention to the drummer and make sure that everything works together. You are the glue. The drummer might be playing insane ride patterns, but if you aren’t locking in with that kick drum it will sound sloppy and unprofessional. The number one difference between a good band and a decent band is their bassist. The untrained ear might not even catch it, or they might say something to the effect of: “it just didn’t feel as good.” The role is to make everything feel good.
What sort of involvement do you have in the songwriting process with Lurid Purple Flowers?
Well each song typically begins with a demo brought in by either CA or myself or Nick. We have the freedom to create our own parts but depending on who’s demo it was they might have different ideas. Sometimes it takes trying multiple before we settle on the right one. I’d say it’s a very collaborative writing process. The end all be all is always live shows for us. When we first played “On Your Own,” it wasn’t even fully set in stone what each part would be. After the set we reassessed what we liked, what we didn’t like, and made the final call. The pressure of an audience definitely brings clarity to the process.
What has been going on lately with LPF? Can we expect any new music soon?
Absolutely! We’re releasing our sophomore EP, No Sympathy on September 23rd at midnight. The record expands LPF’s sound in both heavier and lighter moments throughout the project and I can’t wait for you all to hear. My personal favs from the project are “Pink Elephants” and “Is It Me.”
What are your favorite venues in Boston? Both as a performer and as a spectator?
Oooo definitely The Jungle in Somerville. That was our first show as a band and one of my favorite memories. The venue is great, the people are great and it’s always a good time. Also, The WMBR studios at Harvard was a phenomenal time. Midway Cafe, Daddy’s Beach Club, and The Middle East Upstairs have also been incredible experiences for us! I would be remiss to not credit the numerous house show gigs we’ve played, however I don’t wish to get anyone in trouble, haha. Suffice it to say that those have been some of my favorite to play as well. As a spectator, I couldn’t recommend Roadrunner enough, they’re a brand new 3500 Cap room in Allston with phenomenal sightlines and wonderful sound. I might be a tad biased though as I work there on the production team during the day though, haha. The Royale in Chinatown is phenomenal as well, including her little sister The Sinclair.
Also on the subject of Boston, do you have any favorite places to eat?
India Quality on Commonwealth street definitely, Santouka Ramen in Cambridge, and Shah’s Halal on Boyalston. The other incredible joint is Beantown Taqueria. There you go! Should cover all your bases.
Also, what sort of places would you recommend to someone new to the area that is visiting?
Definitely Roadrunner, the venue I mentioned above. The record/vintage shop Nuggets, and the Boston Commons. Those are three of my main haunts in the summer and fall. In addition, the docks by the Charles, and the Balance Patch, a gaming Cafe in Allston that’s also a bar. Always a great time! Silhouette is a great bar as well if you down mind cash only.
Back to bass playing, what advice would you give novice bass players that are just starting to learn to play?
Join a band. If there’s no one hiring, start a band. There are too many phenomenal bassists I know that are just starting out that wait and wait to be ‘good enough’ before starting their own band. Don’t wait! You learn so much more out there than you will at home.
Is LPF the first band you’ve played with? If not, what other bands or projects have you been a part of?
Oh boy. So I had a band in high school called Daylight Dedication. We played Blue Oyster Cult covers and other Classic Rock tunes in bars all over Northern New York State. We never released a project, but we got real good at knowing the area and which of our originals would make the most impact. My favorite memory from those days was everyone singing along to The Weight at Hotel Saranac when we played their fest they held in the lobby one winter. Good times. I’ve sat in on many bands on guitar, bass, and vocals through my time at Berklee college of music, my friend Michael Ventura’s solo projects, and backed up Boston Native Joy’s solo performances. Many more such gigs but those are a few.
What are some of your favorite albums that you have performed on?
Hmm well obviously LPF’s Mania, and No Sympathy, haha. Definitely the trio of albums I recorded under the stage name _cato with a few friends: Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, No Fear, and Broken Marble. Most of my favorite records with my friends have yet to be released! Will definitely be busy announcing them in the future so stay tuned.
What are some of your favorite albums to listen to? Any particular ones that have inspired you lately both as a bass player or a songwriter?
What sort of things are in store for you in the future?
New LPF record 9/23! Plus, a music video that will come out 10/1. Super excited for everything that’s coming up. We have a couple shows on 9/16 and 9/17 coming up if any of y’all are in the area! Check out our band page @lpfband_official for more info!! Stay tuned for the full length record as well. That’s in the works as we speak.
Thanks so much for having me!