Cris Cohen: You posted a video clip called “A Buffet of Ballads.” At one point, as you're playing the concert, you're in the middle of “She's Everything” and it gets into this kind of instrumental expanse. What I thought was cool is with your right hand you went on this little faster pattern with the ride cymbal. And it was much faster than what you were playing on the rest of the kit, but it still fit the ballad. And I'm curious, because I don't think that was on the original recording, how often do you go into experiments like that? And is it spontaneous? Is it planned?
Ben Sesar, drummer for Brad Paisley: It depends on the circumstance. Something will evolve in a live show. Because remember, we play these songs over and over. One night I'm in a creative place (play something different) and I'll be like, “Okay, that was cool.” And then it will become the thing I do all the time. I'll allow that to happen. I don't fight that.
And yes, it deviates from the record. Brad loves it when we're not like the record. The minute we start rehearsing a song, we know that it's not going to be like the record. And I like that. Because it gives it room to be spontaneous. Ift gives it that place where we can have fun with it live. So we're not just miming every night. We all want to play and be spontaneous… within the framework. We don't want to make the song unrecognizable. But it's not that hard to balance that.
There's really no limit. You find your place where you can loosen up and deviate from the script and you take those opportunities… if you feel like it. Some nights, I don't feel like it. Some nights maybe I feel a little tired or I'm not feeling so connected. And then I don't take as many of those opportunities. It all depends how you feel. Other nights I'm alert, I'm ready to have a good time, and it's just flowing.
I pay a lot of attention to how I feel before I play. I give a lot of weight to that. Because you can't force yourself to be in a great place, if you're in just a sort of average place. I try to honor that and not fight it by telling myself, “I have to be awesome tonight. My energy has to be great.” No, it doesn't, because I'm at a level where I can play with a lower internal energy and you still wouldn't know. The timing is going to be good. The feel is going to be good.
There's a base level that I can always count on, even if I'm not feeling great. And then there's that extra, heightened or elevated state, which I pay attention to.
And it's weird. I can have a great day, an awesome day -- beautiful weather, food’s perfect, plenty of sleep -- and then sit down to play and just feel blocked. I can't tell you why. So, what I try to do is just honor that and play. And then you never know. Sometimes in the middle of the show, because I'm not fighting it and telling myself I have to be awesome, then maybe I drift into feeling elevated. So I always pay attention to how I feel at the beginning and just play to that place.
But I'm always happy to be there. There are no bad shows.