Ben Crouse is currently working on a yet-to-air cartoon show for Disney called Pickle & Peanut. His art can be found at jumpgalaxy.tumblr.com/
Written by Graham Johnson
Interview with Ben Crouse of Cool Boobs
Rare Candy: First off, I'm a big fan of the Cool Boobs project you and Dan and Cooper put together last year. How'd you guys get together and know each other beforehand? What were all your roles in the band creatively, as far as songwriting shares? Can you give any insight into the writing of "Tongue Slips," which is, I think, my personal favorite track on the record and in my opinion flat-out one of the best tracks of 2014.
Ben Crouse: Cooper, Dan, and I met in high school. We each went to different schools in the Iowa City area but met since we all hung out downtown which is where a lot of the vibrant music and culture was going on. Downtown was attractive for a boy who wanted to puffy on a cigga and get wild by jumping on buildings. When I met Cooper he was hitting me with a red teapot he was inexplicably walking around with. Dan, Cooper, and I grew closer in late high school and college and we had talked about playing music for a long while but finally acted on it because of happenstance--our friend was puking at a party and Cooper started singing about it. I played drums to his puke song and Dan joined in too. Then we had practice the next day. The way our songwriting works is Cooper has a old beat up brown book he's written many, many words into that we're not allowed to see. He'll hold this close to himself and then Dan and I will make dinky funny keyboard sounds plus wiener rhythms that crack us up. The more we crack the better. Then Cooper decides which words of his will match. Cooper's personality and poetry is so beloved to me and Dan--we like to think of the band as me and Dan holding up Cooper to the world (us being the tight musical base and Cooper being the wild sun that unleashes raw creative energy).
RC: What was your role like in the Iowa City scene musically vs as an illustrator? Predominantly one or the other or an even mix of both? I know you've done some stuff for Curt, anything else like album covers, promo art, etc?
BC: Iowa City raised me predominantly as a musician. I sung and played instruments in bands all through high school and sweated in small beery venues and met strange men. It was basically in college (the past five years) where I shifted to primarily making goofy toons. I self-produced animations, did illustrative odd jobs for different publications and businesses around town like Little Village and FilmScene. Iowa City is small enough where most people can see your work and big enough where it actually feels like that means something.
Cool Boob’s “White Rice,” a musical project consisting of Daniel English, Cooper Whitesley, and Ben Crouse, is animated in the above video by Grossbus, a collaborative project between Crouse and Huge Lewis guitarist Jacob Sluka.
RC: Lastly for now, what're you up to now creatively? Curt tells me you've moved to Los Angeles if I remember correctly to work as an illustrator. How's the scene like now that it's mostly fragmented and splintered, with Dana T as the last big member still in IC?
BC: I have to be honest that I don't follow the "Iowa City scene" too closely because I'm mostly just interested in following my friends. So if a friend releases a new album I'll listen to it, but the "scene" of Iowa City is pretty eclectic. You'll go to a house show and it's one act metal, one act droney electronic music, one act folk. What I think is most exciting is that a lot of the creators I know from Iowa City are moving to different areas that cater more to fulfilling their voices. A lot of friends of mine have moved north to Minneapolis to play in a larger music scene. Cooper of Cool Boobs has moved to Vermont to attend The Center for Cartoon Studies. It's like the unabashedly original voice of Iowa City is spreading in spores across the country and will no doubt seep into the larger national culture. Right now I'm in Los Angeles, storyboarding on a yet-to-air cartoon show on Disney called Pickle & Peanut as well as working on my own animated short and artwork. And I don't feel like Iowa City is splintered or fragmented as much as I'm part of the expanding reach of Iowa City's mojo. It's not like I think Iowa City is some sports team but I sure as shoot love to see what my fellow frickers of youth are doing across the globe. And I recently went back to Iowa for break and was reminded of how fucking funny all those guys are. Such an astoundingly unique crowd.