Wilkes-Barre drummer Ben Travers works as tech, engineer for renowned acts
In terms of building a viable career in the music industry, Ben Travers is quietly killing it.
The 30-year-old Wilkes-Barre drummer is currently the touring audio engineer for renowned guitarist and songwriter Steve Kimock and the drum tech for the Mike Gordon Band, which was assembled by and named after the bassist and founding member of Phish.
Travers said his duties with Kimock include setting up the stage and engineering the front-of-house audio.
“Basically I’m constructing the sound the crowd hears, and I’m building sound reinforcement,” Travers said. “The band does the real work, and I try to make it sound pretty out there.”
Over his five years of working with Kimock and his various ensembles, Travers said he has been intrigued by a performance element that makes room for live sound adjustment and on-the-fly decision making.
“It’s more appealing to me than studio work, because it’s challenging,” Travers said.
A year and a half ago, Travers got a call from the Gordon camp and, since then, sets up all of the drum and percussion kits for Craig Myers and John Kimock, who is the common variable in both groups that employ Travers.
John Kimock and Travers have been friends for 10 years, and Travers has gone on the road with many of the drummer’s acts.
Travers’ said John Kimock plays a traditional four-piece kit in the Gordon group but Myers plays an elaborate set, which Travers was asked to design last fall.
“It’s nice when they trust you enough to ask for your input,” Travers said. “No one kit is the same, and you can really put your creative touch on that.”
Travers’ journey toward touring professionally began at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Township 12 years ago when he took a bar backing job, eventually graduating to management and sound work.
He began playing drums three years into a five year tenure there and met and learned from a multitude of professional artists and technicians, including John Kimock.
“The drums spoke to me,” Travers said. “I knew I really enjoyed working with drummers. Setting up kits is like Kinex to me. I always liked building things and putting together puzzles as a kid.”
Travers got his first touring gig with Project Object, a Frank Zappa tribute led by Zappa alumni seven years ago and hasn’t looked back.
“It’s been crazy,” Travers said. “Being a freelance tech has given me the experience of sleeping on couches and going to crappy venues. I’ve learned that as much as a band can be great, the crew has to be great.”
Travers has worked hard, building a reputation as a reliable and knowledgeable technician, yet he still finds time to create original music in Suicaudio, a collaboration he has with local professional keyboard player Angelo Miraglia.
“I’m amazingly grateful for all the opportunities that have happened in my career,” Travers said. “A lot of time you just need to put your head down and work. If you do a good job, you’re going to get a call back.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.