Steal the Prize: Locally Known and Getting Grown

By Gabriella Muglia ’13

Pants on Fire, formed in early 2001 by bassist Adam Rodgers and singer/guitartist Ben Delaurentis, has donned the name Steal the Prize and have been steadily producing music and growing as a band for an entire decade.
Recently, I sat down with Delaurentis and keyboardist, Jon Fies, who joined the band in 2007 and is also part leprechaun, to discuss the anticipated late April release of their second album and, more importantly, watch television.

Accompanying Adam, Ben and Jon is drummer Mark Cullen, who joined Adam and Ben some time during high school. Mark, once a pizza shop worker, now lives in Harrisonburg, and his current job is being professionally ‘girl-crazy.’ However, when Mark was still a Lynchburg resident, each member of the band worked at either Rivermont Pizza or Papa Johns. “We were like the ninja turtles,” says Jon. Currently, Mark is the only member of the band to have left the pizza business for bigger and better thing.

The members of Steal the Prize are familiar with Rivermont. Image courtesy of Steal the Prize.

Collectively, the band has produced two full albums, and buried away in their iTunes libraries are two EPs from when they made music they no longer wish to be associated with. Their latest production, “I Think I Am,” is quite possibly something to write home about. The album was recorded in Roanoke by John Thompson, a member of the Young Sinclairs and Magic Twig Community. The album was recorded fully analog, meaning no computers were used in the entire process. “It’s soul-inspired soft rock ‘n roll with a psychedelic undercurrent,” says Ben. “It’s eclectic, but very misunderstood. It’s way better than Radiohead. In fact, there is no comparison.”

Their first album, “I Want to Talk to God,” was primarily about their shared experiences under the influence of hallucinogens, which molded their indestructible union as friends and transformed their music into what it is today. “I realized I was an infinite soul stuck inside my body,” Jon says. “I Think I Am” reflects on the beginning of the psychedelic experience which ultimately transcends to the realization of the ever-present ‘moment.’ “It is paranoia, slowly evolving into philosophical, to the born-again awakening that brings you back to the center. Back to the Moment. It’s all about The Revolution!” adds Ben.

I didn’t ask Ben any personal questions, but he was overzealous enough to impart upon me some crucial components of his inner workings. “I’m part dachshund, part ramblin’ man. The song ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ by Elton John pretty much sums me up. I love that shit.” [Jon chuckles] “Liking Elton John is normal, man. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

When they aren’t drinking, smoking weed, or watching Trailer Park Boys, the guys can probably be found writing music, sleeping, flipping pies, or trying to find weed so they can smoke and watch Trailer Park Boys. Don Baldizon, a local painter, conversationalist and snappy dresser, says, “I think they play a lot better high than drunk.”

When asked what sets them apart from all other bands in Lynchburg, Ben quickly informed me that STP was the only band in which all members had long, beautiful hair. That is until Adam, who apparently works like a dog, started to let his hair turn into a mullet. After an unspecified amount of time, Adam’s mullet turned into dreadlocks–a drullet. “They were gross,” claims Jon.

The band working in their studio. Image courtesy of Steal the Prize.

Though the band typically plays shows in Lynchburg, they have played in other areas such as Greensboro, Richmond and Waynesboro, and they hope to one day perform as far as western West Virginia. “We just want to rock. Rock at life. But isn’t that what everyone wants to do?” says Ben. “We want our fans to take from the album the place in which we were when we wrote it. We want to open some minds, change some lives. Our fans believe in it because we believe in it. That’s the kind of fulfillment we live for.”

After their spiritual-musical-art revolution, the guys hope to have achieved worldwide acceptance and support. For now, they have a solid following of diehard fans who show up to every show, know the lyrics by heart, and sing loudly to every song in hopes of drowning out the slightly off-key slurs coming from Ben. After the superfluous southern hospitality and copious amounts of mind-altering revelations shared by the guys, I must admit–I’m on board the revolution train.

Contact Gabriella Muglia at muglia10@sbc.edu with any questions or comments.

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