Airpark is a Nashville based band comprising of brothers Ben and Michael Ford Jr. With their soulful vocals and work on the guitar that bring you jam as you listen to it. With a effortless flow the brothers create music that will freeze time for a moment as you listen. GIGsoups Thomas Darro had the chance to sit down and interview them before their show at Bowery Electric in New York City. Read them talk about their decision as siblings to make music together, their new single ‘Devotion, and their new EP coming in February with a song to be released that is their favorite thing they have ever recorded.
TD: Could I have you guys say your names for when I listen to it back I can tell you apart.
Michael Ford: Sure! My name is Michael Ford Jr.
Ben Ford: And this is Ben Ford.
TD: So you two are brothers?
MF: Yeah we are.
TD: So you guys made the choice to work together, how did that happen?
BF: Umm I think we just always gravitated towards creating and working together because we are really close in age. We’ve always had a lot of the same interests, like as early as I can remember. Our parents kind of threw everything at us when we were younger, which I feel fortunate about. Sports and all that but I personally wasn’t any good at so it became “I don’t know lets try guitar lessons or something.” So I was like 11 or 12 and got hooked on it and then Michael followed shortly.
MF: Yeah I wanted to be like my older brother and play music. But also just really loved and it was so interesting like playing guitar I was so fascinated by it, it seemed like this intriguing thing. But we also saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers in like 1999 on the Californication tour really young…
BF: We were like 12 or 13 at the time.
MF: And that was a really impactful experience because we had just started playing guitar at that time and then we saw this big rock band at a huge point in their career and it was mesmerizing. As soon as I saw it I was like “man I have to do this!” and it’s cool its grown obviously since then, we’re writers.
TD: Yeah, what has it been like writing together?
BF: It evolves. The really nice thing about writing with your brother is that we don’t really have to tiptoe around anything. Like if I write something and Michael isn’t wild about it he’ll just tell me and not in a rude way but like tell me I think it could be a stronger verse.
MF: Or vice versa too.
BF: Yeah and so we do a lot of like editing with eachother. We tend to write separately well I don’t want to say separately because we do write stuff together. But more often than not we will kind of write separately and then bring it to each other and talk through it. Then help each other finish songs, Michael is really good about helping me finish songs.
MF: And sometimes we will just jam like for like of better word jam on songs. Ben will pick up a guitar and I will get up behind the drum set, he’ll come up with like a riff or an idea and I’ll play drums behind it. Somehow having a kit involved a drum set can somehow unlock unconscious stuff and lets ideas flow. Sometimes we will write like that or sometimes we will be on guitars and write and it can be the kind of thing where things can happen spontaneously.
TD: You just released a new single ‘Devotion’ how did that song come to be? and what has the reaction been like?
BF: So Michael and I over the summer went out to Denver and recorded an EP with Pat and Alaina from Tennis. They produced it and mixed it. We had a blast it was such a rad experience and we cant say enough good things about that. And so ‘Devotion’ was the first song we tracked and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the EP in a really cool way. We co wrote that song it was me and Michael and our good friend John Grau and it was on a whim just like a jam in a basement that came together and we finished it out recording wise with Tennis and it’s just kind of set the tone for the EP.
TD: When will we be able to hear the rest of that EP?
BF: It will be out in February. February 22nd.
MF: Songs of Airpark. Songs of Airpark. Thats the EP coming out February 22nd.
But that song ‘Devotion’ is the perfect example of the spontaneous jam thing you know we just like get together with a friend or something and just be playing guitar or get on the drums or whatever and that song came about extremely naturally and I wrote most of the lyrics from that session and then I finished the rest of the lyrics in the weeks after in between tours.
BF: And the reaction has been really good, we have been really happy with it. It keeps getting added to a bunch of playlists and we just put out a music video for it that we are really happy with as well.
MF: It premiered via PopMatters which was really cool for us.
TD: So I read a past interview of you guys where Ben had given you Michael a song title and suggested writing a song based off of the title and that song was ‘Plenty to Pine For’?
MF: Yeah yeah that was really cool. Ben actually had that title and told me that he thought it was a cool title and that I should try to write a song around this title and it had never occurred to me to do that. I thought it was a great idea because a lot of times my favorite songs they have amazing song titles as well. So I thought it was really cool to have the song title first and let that frame the lyrical content as well. It was really nice and I have been doing it since. I don’t do it every time but there are certain times where I have done it and Ben really opened my eyes to that form of song writing.
TD: I love that, a lot of my favorite songs are the same. So I wanted to ask that if you were voting on a first ballot Hall of Fame song title where you instantly were interested in the song because of the title what would it be?
BF: Ooooh that is a great question.
MF: Well you know ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ that is pretty amazing.
BF: Oh yeah that might be it…
MF: That is what hit me immediately without having to think about it.
BF: I think Alex Turner from the Artic Monkeys has a knack for coming up with really grabbing song titles like on their new record which we are both massive fans of there’s that one title ‘The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip’ and I thought that was so great.
MF: Yes absurd and amazing!
BF: And I was just like “I cant wait to hear this.”
TD: That is amazing. (laughs) My next question I have made a habit of asking, I like to ask touring musicians that are performing daily is what songs they sing in a intimate karaoke setting. What would your go-to song be?
MF: It’s so funny we have played on some huge stages in our life and I am absolutely terrified of karaoke! I feel like it is such a different thing and I am like worried about like am I singing in key? and so much else. I get so in my head about karaoke but I recently was part of like this like Halloween show in Nashville and there was this Devo cover band and they asked me to sing ‘Whip It’ so now I have that song down. So that is what song I do now and I think I do alright. But I try to do some songs that are pretty ambitious and it just like wasn’t good.
BF: So here is my approach. I feel like you are expected to be great at it as a musician even though I feel like it is a different thing all together and it is more about imitation or something. But I have found that I try to go after songs that have more of a limited vocal range like a ‘Sex and Candy’ or ‘I’m Too Sexy’. Or any Cake song. So I would say these might be my go-tos.
TD: So in anticipation of your February EP release what are you guys most excited for as that approaches?
BF: We have a new single that we are going to release its called ‘Dissipate’ that we are both pretty excited about. It’s the first track on the EP and we are planning to release that with the EP and it might be my favorite thing we have ever recorded.