grandson riot fest 2019
[Photo by: Ryan Bakerink]

grandson is a rock ‘n’ roll rebel who is strident, crystal-clear and a lot of fun, actually. His life is an open book, and part of his appeal is the fearlessness he constantly maintains either onstage or in interviews.

Jason Pettigrew chatted up the dude formerly known to the outside world as Jordan Edward Benjamin for the 10 Topics interview in AltPress 371. He was everything you’d want in a regular dude, but in the body of a rock lifer. grandson may very well have been born to do this. You’ll see why below.

Read more: 10 modern musicians keeping the political conversation alive


THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GREAT GRANDSON GIG AND AN OK ONE.

My own neuroses most of the time. If I have some sort of technical difficulties or any expectations that aren’t met from the audience or from the city, that negatively impacts my ability to maintain gratitude and perspective onstage. When I can maintain that gratitude, it’s a pretty good time. 

THE TIME YOU GOT WHAT YOU PAID FOR.

[Laughs.] One time when I first got into producing, I refused to pay for any of my equipment; I would illegally download everything. Then one day I opened my Ableton software backup to start producing, and all of the stuff that I was making music on for a year was no longer recognized by the system. As a result, not only could I not use any of it moving forward, all of the work I had been making was unable to played back through Ableton. Within one day, hundreds of ideas had been relegated to my memory. I definitely got what I paid for: I didn’t pay shit, and I got my ass handed to me.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE EXISTENCE OF HEAVEN AND HELL?

No. 

HOW YOU WISH TO BE REINCARNATED.

A big-ass redwood. Like a 400-foot tall [tree] in the forest next to a waterfall. Or to be one of those massive 100-meter long jellyfish flowing in a coral reef with long-ass tentacles. I just wanna float. I’d probably suffocate on a plastic bag or something.

THE PIECE OF ART THAT AFFECTED YOUR LIFE THE MOST.

There are a couple, and a lot of them have to do with children’s literature. I would point to The Phantom Tollbooth, which is an Alice In Wonderland-esque fantasy tale of a kid who’s constantly dissatisfied, and he stumbles into this universe that makes him appreciate words and numbers and makes him understand the beauty that’s around him. I was having to be self-reliant with my own imagination in a way that I would lay down the framework for what would become my life’s work. I have a tattoo from that very book. The only other book I’d probably point to would be Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

THE TIME GRANDSON WENT TOO FAR.

I’ve done that a couple of times in my life, and it can manifest as deliquency, being a fuck-up at school, the way I’ve treated other people…I was onstage one time, influenced by the Tyler Josephs and Eddie Vedders of the world. I began climbing the scaffolding on the stage to try and push myself to get a reaction from the crowd. I had this moment where I nearly missed a step, and I got that vertigo I’ve experienced in other parts of my life where it might not be worth it. It’s something I’m trying to get better at.

DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT EVENING IN.

Walking to a magic fridge, opening it and having all the ingredients for this particular kind of pesto my family makes already sitting there. Fresh pasta, good company, couple [of] bottles of red wine. There’s nothing like getting drunk, being able to sit around, noodle on a guitar with friends and loved ones and then going to a fire. I’d like to go to bed half-drunk and smelling like a campfire. 

THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE NEED TO WAKE UP AND FACE.

People sometimes long for old ways of doing things or going backwards because of the fear or discomfort that comes with change. One of the things we need to wake up to is that we have eight million people on the planet; we’re decimating the environment and our mental health in comparison to one another. We’re still talking about things like LGBTQ rights, trans rights, abortion. These are themes that have been integrated into human history as [long as] humans have been alive. There are things we need to collectively accept in order to reasonably anticipate what’s to come…let’s wake up to the severity to which the old ways of doing things led us to this clusterfuck.

THE THING WORTH DYING FOR.

Life. So much of creation is a response to mortality. I think for me, the concept of legacy, the idea of leaving an impact and enabling other people to experience their own freedom in their own lives and trying to be a catalyst for positive change in somebody else’s life, those things are what I’ve dedicated my life to.

WHAT WE SHOULD DO.

Rock the fuck out! What? The grandkids are comin’! Change is here! Optimism is here! Rock ’n’ roll is here! Let’s dance.