With a father as a producer and mother as a songwriter, guitarist Ben Flanders was destined for musical success. The Nashville-based musician started playing drums at the young age of six before making the transition to guitar. At just 15 years old, Flanders was contributing his talent to some of Nashville’s finest musicians, and by 21, he had already played on over 50 records.
Currently, Flanders is on tour with former Creed frontman Scott Stapp. We caught up with the guitarist to discuss his musical inspirations, what it was like being a teen in the industry, and why the Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III is his go-to instrument.
Q & A with Ben Flanders
EB: You’re currently on tour with Scott Stapp. How is it going?
BF: The tour has been great so far. The first leg is almost over then we have two weeks off and then go back at it for another six weeks. This one has been awesome because Scott just released his new album, The Space Between The Shadows, right in the middle of the tour which means our setlist is completely new and fresh.
EB: How did you first get involved with Stapp?
BF: I had toured with our bassist Sammy Hudson before when I was a kid, around 17 years old. He called me a few years later and told me Scott was holding auditions, and asked me if I was interested. I sent them two videos: one of me just soloing over a backing track and another of me playing Creed’s hit, “What If.” A few days later I got a call asking me if I would like the gig and the rest is history.
EB: Your love of music originally began on the drums. What made you make the transition to playing guitar?
BF: I’m one of those lucky guys who grew up in a musical family, so there was instruments all over my house growing up. My father is an incredible producer/guitarist who mainly plays a lot of slide instruments, and my mother is an amazing songwriter/pianist/guitarist. With that said, my parents threw me on a drum kit and I played for years. Playing drums and being surrounded by parents who could play anything inspired me to expand my abilities in playing other instruments as well. Then one thing led to another and I was playing guitar hero and wanted to pick up one of my dads electrics. Funny thing is I would sneak them in my room and learned how to play under the radar and played for months before he even knew.
EB: Do you remember the first time you played a Music Man guitar?
BF: Yeah! One of my buddies, who’s dad is now the drummer of Toto, was lent one of the Luke model electrics. We were both messing around on it and as soon as that guitar was in my hands I fell in love. I ordered my first Music Man Silhouette two months later, which I think I was around 16 years old at that time, and didn’t look back since.
EB: Can you run us through your full roster of MM guitars?
BF: On the road I’m currently using three Luke III’s. Two Ball Family Reserve models: one in Boysenberry and one in Blueberry. The other is a custom model in White. And more to come!
EB: The Luke has become your staple on tour. What features on this guitar make it your go-to?
BF: First of all I’m a huge Steve Lukather fan. I immediately loved the shape and overall look for the LIII’s and obsessed over the roasted necks. The way Ernie Ball Music Man finishes the necks is unreal with how they smooth and round them. I also have always been a DiMarzio fan. The transition pickups are my favorite pickups that DiMarzio has to offer because they’re articulate and responsive but also have a warm and soft tone when needed. In addition to all that, the LIII’s have the dB boost that I use every time I solo. It’s incredibly convenient and sounds killer! All around it’s the perfect guitar for me.
EB: What bands/artists do you draw inspiration from?
BF: I’m a little bit all over the place. I draw some inspiration as a guitarist, and others I draw from as a producer/songwriter. As a guitar player I draw from John Mayer, Mateus Asato, Polyphia, Steve Lukather, and Eric Johnson, to name a few.
EB: What was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue music for a living?
BF: Well considering I spent all my time in class drawing guitars and Marshall double stacks instead of doing homework… I think there’s something to say about that moment. A few years after that I had a good ole sit down with my dad discussing how invested I was in the music world and how it was music or nothing. It was right then and there I decided for myself I was all in.
EB: You’ve played on a multitude of records. What has been the most influential project you’ve been apart of so far?
BF: It’s hard to narrow it down because I’ve been playing on records since I was 15 years old. I can remember one record as an influential moment which was one of the first records I ever played on. It’s called Moonbaby, by an artist named Siobhan Magnus. Musically it was cool and I learned so much about being a professional musician. It was a huge realization that I had, an epiphany if you wanna call it, because I learned that it was all about creating parts and tone which was huge in helping me see what being a real professional was about.
EB: Any upcoming projects we can look forward to?
BF: I released an EP late last year called Hourglass. It’s one of my own projects that I completely wrote and produced myself and is a mix of modern pop and hip-hop production with instrumental guitar. It sounds weird but I promise you’ll like it! I’m currently working on a full-length, self-titled album which I’m planning on releasing at some point later this year. All the guitars on both projects are strictly LIII’s as well.
EB: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to break into the music industry?
BF: Put all your eggs in one basket. Simple as that. Put everything you got into it and don’t let up. There’s 24 hours in a day… use them wisely.