I was supposed to interview and photograph Jenni Thomas, formerly? (..maybe still in?) The Hissy Fits. I wanted to interview her about her exploits as a musician over the years and leading up to her new band the Lou Breeders. Ben Briggs had other ideas.
Article and photography by Fitz | Lead photo of Ben Briggs and the Lou Breeders
Ben Briggs tells me, “you’re interviewing me Fitz! You ain’t just focusing on Jenni like you did Rocky. I know that’s what you want to do but you ain’t doing that shit.” Ben Briggs follows his order by thumping his chest and spouting off mock wrestling jargon while Jenni sits and fidgets on the edge of the bed next to a half asleep busty girl. The sleepy girl has modeled for me in the past. A few of my friends have expressed a desire to fuck her. She is pretty in an early Courtney Love kinda way. I wonder if this is Ben Briggs room.
Despite Ben Briggs’s demand, I do attempt to achieve my goal and interview Jenni. Ben Briggs is having none of me asking Jenni questions though. He plops down next to Jenni on the bed and goes on for an eternity about how “he doesn’t give a fuck about nothin” and how, “This interview shit is dumb”. I think about asking him why, if he thinks interviews are dumb,is he insisting on being part of the interview.” I quickly realize this question involves reason. PBR and reason are not friends. Ben Briggs likes PBR. I don’t ask the question.
I’m informed by Ben Briggs and Jenni that they would like to be photographed in the Wolves Den bath tub. Ben Briggs is excited about filling the tub with PBR cans and posing in the tub. He informs me that they ordered Chinese food. Ben Briggs will be eating Chinese food in the tub.
I decide climbing the sink is the best angle to shoot Ben Briggs, Jenni and Sam Vanagas. Sam has been there the whole time. Sam is in the Lou Breeders. Sam did not say a single word to me while I was there.Ben Briggs talked to me a lot while I was there. He told me all about wrestlemania. He told me how, “real” he is. He told me more about how, “he doesn’t give a fuck.” Ben Briggs doesn’t give a fuck. Ben Briggs wants me to photograph him in the tub, but Ben Briggs doesn’t give a fuck. Ben Brigg’s wants to be interviewed, but Ben Briggs doesn’t give a fuck. I question my life choices as the three Lou Breeders pose in the tub.
Ben Briggs tells me, “This must be blowing your mind… This must be fucking crazy to you”. I wonder for a second if Ben Briggs thinks because of the Ralph Lauren blazer I’m wearing that this staged photo of his would be mind blowing to me. I think about telling him about my bands tour in 2013 and staying in Long Island New York at a pimp/ promoters house while my bandmates did blow with the lead singer of Bile and a few groupies. Ben Briggs tells me that photo shoots are stupid. I do not tell Ben Briggs my tour story.
Jenni and Sam are fitting nicely into the framing of the photo. Ben Briggs won’t sit down and is not fitting in the frame. Ben Briggs puts a tray of Chinese food in his mouth, finally sits down and shakes like a dog. Ben Briggs tells Sam to put his arms around him. Ben Briggs tells Jenni to put more PBR cans over his legs. Ben Briggs thinks photo shoots are dumb. I snap some photos. Ben Briggs puts his hand over Jenny’s face. I snap some more photos. A sleepy voice from the other room yells, “where is my Chinese food” Ben Briggs crawls out of the PBR tub pushing off Jenni’s legs for leverage and leaves the room. I step down off the tub and chimp my cameras view finder. The photos are not good. My mind is not blown.
While Ben Briggs is out of the bathroom I try to convince Jenni to come with me to Stella’s coffee house. I still want to interview Jenni about her work over the years as a musician. I want to ask if it’s fair to say she was essential in holding the strong personalities of Mary Jane Malice and Logan Laurent together and how she did it so long. I want to ask her what, if anything she felt when she recently won a Veer Award. I want to inquire into why Rex Bonney left The Hissy Fits so abruptly right as they released their EP last year. I can hear Ben Briggs in the other room yelling nonsense. More wrestling jargon I assume. Sam tells Jenni goodbye as Ben Briggs reappears to hug and tap his fist on Sam’s back as he leaves. Ben Briggs tells me he is coming to Stella. Ben Briggs is wearing an unbuttoned plaid shirt and chopped jeans for shorts. Ben Briggs smells of body odor, PBR and Booze. Ben Briggs’s hair is slept in. Ben Briggs doesn’t give a shit. Ben Briggs comes with us to Stella’s.
Ben Briggs loudly walks into Stella’s. Jenny and I order coffee. Ben Briggs orders a beer. I pay for it. Ben Brigg’s shirt is unbuttoned low enough to expose his nipples. People are staring at Ben Briggs. Ben Briggs doesn’t give a shit. Ben Briggs laughs at the counter while we wait for our drinks. He force spits a little as his laugh grows louder and louder and carries across the room. No one knows what Ben Briggs is laughing about. Ben Briggs aggressively puts his arm around Jenni’s neck. I can smell him as the air is displaced. Ben Briggs laughs in Jenni’s ear and then talks shit about the couple behind us. Ben Briggs doesn’t like the couple behind us. Stella is too quiet for Ben Briggs. Ben Briggs wants to sit outside.
I start to try and begin the interview with Jenni as we find our seats and Ben Briggs falls into his. As I pull out my recorder Ben Briggs facetiously goes, “Oooooooooohhhhhh” Ben Briggs thinks interviews are stupid. I begin to ask why Jenni chose the bass as an instrument. Before I can finish the question Ben Briggs laughs and once again forces out some spit for dramatic effect. Ben Briggs then asks me if this is what I do. I assume he means for money. I think about telling him that I’ve managed to finally with the last edition of the magazine turn a profit of a few hundred dollars but that a music and arts publication is a hard sell. I am upset that I think of it that way, as a hard sell. I think Ben Briggs’s laugh might be legitimate if he heard me refer to it as a hard sell. I just tell Ben Briggs yes.
Ben Briggs laughs and puts his arm around Jenni’s neck again. We are outside now. I can’t smell Ben Briggs’s B.O. and I wonder if Jenni can. Ben Briggs loudly screams, “We are important” in Jenni’s ear. I attempt to ask Jenni about working and holding together Mary Jane and Logan. Ben Briggs loudly proclaims, “I’m the realist motherfucker you are ever going to meet.” I try to humor him and compliment Scoughs. He tells me about all the bad ideas he shot down by other members when writing songs. That a lot of it was “shit” that he said no to. Ben Briggs keeps it real. Ben Briggs is “The realist mother fucker (I’m) ever going to meet.”
A glutton for punishment, I ask Jenni about former Hissy Fits guitarist Rex’s odd departure from the band. Ben Briggs starts screaming “Tell him… TELL HIM!” Jenny attempts to put her hands over Ben Briggs’s wet mouth. Ben Briggs pushes away and yells why Rex left the band. Jenni is mortified. Jenni tells me not to write what Ben Briggs told me. Ben Briggs sits there and smiles.
I sit conflicted if I should write what Ben Briggs said. It may be exploitative of two musicians I admire. I choose not to write it. I believe it is a mistake not write it. I cop-out none the less. I’ll regret this decision. Ben Briggs will not regret his decisions. Ben Briggs doesn’t give a fuck.
For more on Ben Briggs visit www.facebook.com/loubreeders
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