When we first met Ben Rispin some twenty years ago, he was the affable maybe snickering jokester that liked to scream for bands and always have sarcastic comment at the ready on stage and off. Over the last twenty years, he’d sing or scream for Cutoff, the Video Dead, Saint Alvia and more but the music industry wasn’t as exciting for Rispin anymore.
Taking his experiences in event production, marketing, management, brand integration, new media and film production and transitioned those talents to cannabis culture. Rispin is the creative director at Puff Digital, a media conglomerate that publishes massive amounts of cannabis content whether recreational, educational, or financial that works with Higher Mentality, High Times, Skunk Magazine, Puff Puff Post, Into The Weeds and more.
We might not have reason to discuss his own music with Rispin until a recent find of some previous recordings. Back in 2014, Rispin bassist Chuck Coles, guitarist Adam Michael and Rispin were hanging out at drummer Alex Standen’s place and decided to just jam. There was no plan but the impromptu sessions where they mined ’80s hardcore punk fused with ’90s stoner rock seemed fun, exciting and good enough to take to the stage.
Fans were excited to see Rispin return to the stage but prime shows opening up for Teenage Head and Billy Talent some two years ago were few and far between. The other band members have other musical projects like the Penske File, the Creepshow and Walk Off The Earth to tour with and Rispin was busier than ever.
I wasn’t feeling music for a while because the business side of things brought me down but then we started doing Rules and that was so much fun,” says Rispin. “We started making a record but then everyone went on tour and my work with cannabis culture really started to pick up with Puff Digital in Toronto. With the work I do there I’ve been able to incorporate a lot of the music culture I’ve experienced into what we’re doing with cannabis culture.
With LA–based punk frontman Efrem Martinez Shulz (Death By Stereo, Voodoo Glow Skulls) have launched a new season of their Into The Weeds podcast with co–host and cannabis market expert Bubba Nicholson. The interview show features guests from the music, arts, and sports worlds to shed a new light on what a cannabis user looks like in an increasingly destigmatized and legalized world. The 18 episodes recorded in southern California will be made available every Monday through getintotheweeds.com with guests ranging from Tommy Chong to Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks / Bad Religion).
“I had kind of walked away from music already, but we had started recording an album with Marcone at Halo Studios and I heard some of it recently and I thought, ‘this is probably the best record we’ve ever done’,” says Rispin. “I was kind of at a crossroads where I thought, ‘maybe I have to do music again for a bit’ but we’ll have to see how this weekend goes.”
In order to finish up the recordings, Rules comes together to play a couple of shows to raise funds to get the album together. This Sunday, Rules plays the Casbah with some bands and some special guests from Rispin’s cannabis culture exploits coming together for a special after party. While we could or should have waited for an album release, it was excited to confirm a show and that, in itself, is noteworthy.
“We were the band that cancelled shows and cancelled recording projects, but we don’t want to be that band anymore and Stomp will definitely be releasing this album,” says Rispin on the tentatively titled The Bummer Circus Comes to Truth City album. “I thought this record was going to be permanently shelved but last week Marcone gave me some of the mixes and I was floored. I thought, ‘I really want to be in this band again’. The record sounds great and I hope people like it. We released a lyric video for the first song “Bridges” and we’re working hard to see if we can get this done before the end of the year. It’s going to be tight but that’s why we’re doing these two shows to get things started and make sure it happens this time. We really haven’t played shows for the last two years so…
“We’re playing this show and we’ll have an opening act but we’re also doing an after party that’ll be special,” adds Rispin. “It’ll be a Bong Mansion, Punk Rock Yoga and apparel party. We’re going to have a wrap party for a shoot that’s happening at Bong Mansion with a whole bunch of skaters and other interesting people. Rules just smokes a ton of weed and plays but this show will have a lot more. We’re really excited and we’re going to be playing a bunch of new stuff. I think it’s going to be cool and heavy and loud and I think you’re going to hear a lot of cool riffs with a lot of screaming and feedback. What makes this special is the friendship we have and the creativity that comes from that. I’m excited to be making music again… at least for the next little while.”
Rules plays this Sunday August 11 at the Casbah. Click on getintotheweeds.com or facebook.com/rulesareaband