A Dynamic Duo: Klein and Schlinkert ’12

Charlie Schlinkert '13, left, and Ben Klein '13, right.

Charlie Schlinkert ’12, left, and Ben Klein ’12, right.

Those of you who attended St. Luke’s during the 2011-2012 school year will undoubtedly remember the brilliance that is the pairing of Ben Klein ’12 and Charlie Schlinkert ’12. The two did just about everything: Klein made his mark as Editor-in-Chief of the Sentinel and emcee of Condeffeehouse (it will be very difficult to forget his classic song about a visit to the zoo with his partner in crime Christian Langalis ’12). Schlinkert, for his part, graced us with his insane drumming skills and general cool guy attitude, as well as serving as Arts Editor.

But what is the infamous duo up to now? Well, as always, they’re being cooler than the rest of us. Undergraduates at New York University, Schlinkert and Klein are doing anything but slacking off. Charlie Schlinkert is now the drummer for an alternative band by the name of Del Water Gap, and Ben Klein is running around finishing up his first film, providing Del Water Gap and other bands with music videos, and DJing on the side. I had the privilege of speaking to these two artists on what they’re doing and what’s coming up next for them.


The Man Behind the Scenes: Ben Klein

 Sentinel: So what’s Ben Klein been up to?

 Ben Klein: I’ve been pretty busy lately. School is wrapping up soon so I’ve got a ton of work to do that I haven’t started yet. I wrote and directed a short film this year called Crown Heights that I’m really proud of. I had a really amazing crew on the project and now we’re just trying to edit it down. I’m also shooting two music videos this month, one for Del Water Gap and one for The Roofers Union [another band Klein works closely with]. Once I finish shooting those I’m headed to the Czech Republic for the summer to study film at the FAMU program in Prauge.

S: Far out, that’s awesome. So is making films the goal for you after college?

BK: That’s the goal, yeah! It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. When I was little I used to make dumb movies with friends, and then in middle school I kind of grew out of it because I was busy being a horrible 14 year old boy (all 14 year old boys are horrible). Then, in high school I started working on little movies again (still stupid, but this time mostly starring the immaculate Christian Yardley Langalis)

S: A legendary man, of course. Do you know what kinds of films you want to make?

 BK: I’m not sure what kinda stuff I want to make, but I just saw Under the Skin and that was awesome – I wanna make movies like that! As far as photography, I’ve been taking a photo class in school that I think has taught me a lot.


The Man with the Sticks: Charlie Schlinkert

Sentinel: When and how was Del Water Gap formed?

Charlie Schlinkert: Del Water Gap started with Holden Jaffe, the front man and primary song writer of the group. He came up with the name in high school and released an EP of original music in his senior year. That’s the EP that you can find on Soundcloud right now. When Holden got to the recorded music program at NYU, one of his classmates booked him a show at a place called Sullivan Hall. He contacted me to be the drummer for the show and I’ve been in the band since then. That was December of last year. We’ve played with a lot of different musicians over the past year, but the core of the group consists of Holden, bass player Will Evans, and me. We often play with a horn section that features players from a band called the Rad Trads and we’ve just started playing with a new guitar player.

S: What has been the best part about being a part of the band?

CS: I’ve been in bands for almost my entire life and this particular group has a lot of chemistry. Musically and socially, we all really get along. Touring with the group has been super easy and low stress which is isn’t always the case. Holden is an extremely strong writer and singer who is also very good at leading a band, and I think that has contributed most to the success of the band. The horn players we perform with are exceptionally talented musicians and it’s been an honor to work with them on stage and in the studio. Playing shows at NYC venues can be really stressful with bitter sound engineers and uninterested audiences, but we’ve been able to stay above it all and have fun with it and learn as much as we can. As we go into this next year, we’re starting to see returns from our hard work. We’re starting to see some familiar faces and good turnouts at shows and we’re about to release material that we’ve been working on for over a year.

S: How long have you been drumming for? Why drums?

CS: I’ve been playing drums since I started taking lessons in Norwalk with John Cutrone about 11 years ago. At the time my brothers played guitar and bass, so it was perfectly natural for me to pick up the drums so we could all play as a band. Within a year or so I was completely enthralled in it. At that point I had been playing alto sax in my elementary school band and I took piano lessons, but the drums were what really inspired me to be a legitimate and dedicated musician. Over the years I’ve branched out into other instruments, as well as composing and music theory, but I’ve always come back to the drums and/or percussion. As cheesy as it sounds, I think all humans have an instinct for rhythm, which is why we all tap our feet or clap along with songs that we like, and I tapped into that phenomenon at such an early age that it completely took over. It’s funny, but now I find it hard not to walk in even rhythms. When I look around the room that I’m in right now I can see people tapping out rhythms with their feet or with their pencil and it’s become second nature for me to notice these things. Over all, music is just an extremely beautiful, powerful force that I was introduced to through the drums, and it’s become my primary lens through which I view the world. I’m not sure if that makes total sense, but it’s sort of just my way of briefly explaining a feeling that all life-long musicians share. And there have been moments of carrying heavy drum gear when I think to myself ‘Why drums?’ but it’s those kind of unexplainable and instinctual feelings that make the commitment worth it.

S: What has been the most difficult part about being in a band?

CS: Being in a profitable and sustainable band is almost impossible in New York City. Rehearsal space and transportation is expensive and the overall scene can be very cut-throat. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with individual venues and developing those relationships. One time we were cut off after 2 songs because the venue couldn’t handle the amount of people at the show, and the entire thing was mis managed. We’ve played at-capacity shows where we only get paid in tips which is frustrating. We’ve been able to stay productive and positive throughout most of the challenges we’ve faced so far, though.

S: What is your favorite experience thus far with Del Water Gap?

CS: I’ve had some amazing experiences playing in this particular band. I’m constantly learning new things and meeting great people along the way. There were a couple of shows last summer that stand out as being particularly exciting. In early July we packed up all our gear in two cars to play shows outside of the city. The first was a house show in North Adams, MA. At that point, we had a substitute bass player and we featured on of our friends, Chamillia Hartman to do background vocals and some other things like ukelele and violin. The horn players in the video are the same ones I was talking about. After that show we went up to play a 4th of July festival in North Bennington, Vt. It was at a place called the Vermont Arts Exchange which is this beautiful old paper mill that’s been turned into a community center. There was some great food and music and a beautiful lake and they capped off the night with some store bought fireworks. All in all it was an amazing 4th of July experience in an amazing town. Ben came with us for the trip and was so inspired by the scene that he took some footage, that was later featured in our video for ‘Cut the Rope’.

S: How would you explain the music you play to someone?

CS: I think Holden’s songwriting is definitely influenced by the folk singer-songwriter style. But when he brings his songs into rehearsal they can often develop into something very different. The horns have added an interesting factor that you’ll hear on the new music or if you come see us live.

S: Fill in the blank: fans of _____________ would like Del Water Gap.

 CS: Anyone who likes modern indie rock groups like Vampire Weekend, Delta Spirit or The Walkmen. We’re similar to those groups and others in ways, but also very different. The main aesthetic is just like any other young rock group. Holden’s writing is also very introspective, so anyone who likes to dig in to lyrics will definitely enjoy his songs. Also, anyone who likes hearing real instruments being recorded by real musicians will appreciate this music. We put a lot of effort into the musicality and authenticity of the songs.


Del Water Gap’s new album will be released May 2nd. Their website may be found here.


— Riley Vaske, Managing Editor

Posted by on April 30, 2014. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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