Did Forcefield start pretty quickly after you moved into Fort Thunder?  
Forcefield was Mat Brinkman and Ara Peterson—I don’t know when they started, but at some point I started playing music with them. I guess when I talk to them about it they sort of saw it less about music and more about drawing together, which is kind of funny. Mat and I have such fertile imaginations—that was sort of the idea behind putting on a mask and becoming a different person, as though you were entering this other world created by Mat, it was pretty fascinating. 
I do associate Fort Thunder and Forcefield with a pretty high level of craft. You guys were really good at silkscreen, and the costumes were really well constructed, they weren't just found and slapped together.
I think we all kind of competed to out-do each other. For me, making the costumes was sort of this avenue where I could explore what no one else was doing. Mat had already been making costumes out of Afghans from the Salvation Army, but then I pitched this idea of knitting the costumes and make them really custom. I didn’t feel like I could compete with Mat or Brian, so I needed to find something new.
How did Forcefield change over the years?
Well, I left Providence after school in 1999 and moved to L.A. But after being in L.A. for a year, I realized how much I missed being part of that and how special it was. And the work I was making in L.A. just kept going back to this Forcefield kind of mind space; so I was like, “Mat and Brian, we really need to do this some more,” and I set up a show in L.A. and gave us a deadline to work on new stuff.
What was the general attitude about “Art”with a capital “A”for you guys?
Well, I think “Art” with a capital “A” was kind of limited, “Art” seemed like there was so much compromise involved, because we were dealing with people we didn’t know, you weren’t really sure of their motivations and it seemed more adult and limited. But at the same time, it was something that really interested me and something I really got a lot out of. 
How did the Whitney Biennual in 2002 come about? And how did you end up feeling about it?
So Lawrence Rinder took the Whitney Biennual as a chance to really explore what it means to have an American Art show, instead of just Art coming from New York.  And fortunately just in time, we had a show at this apartment in Brooklyn and he was able to take people to see it. All the pieces were there; there was a magazine article that came out. So Forcefield was an easy thing to pluck out of Fort Thunder because it had all these different elements that you could imagine being put together. He had this room in the Biennual where we could do whatever we wanted; he took a huge risk with us because we never really did an installation before.  I mean, thinking about it now I can’t believe he took that risk. 
Whenever I look at the Forcefield costumes, I find it funny that they don’t look like your drawings at all. They look like Mat Brinkman drawings
They are—I was entering Mat Brinkman’s head space. I don’t consider them mine really. 
You also did a clothing line separate to Forcefield right?
Yeah, Happy Banana. 
When did you start that?
I was asked to create a knit outfit for this Japanese store that my friend ran. Then it just turned into a line. Plus RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design) always has this Christmas sale; so Elyse Allen—who I learned knitting from—she and I started Happy Banana together. We did a couple projects, she’s such a good knitter. I would show up at the sale with one or two things to sell and she would have twenty. She was really good and much more focused than I was at the time.
What was the vibe of the stuff you were making then?
Mostly using really good wools, making it really colorful. Embellishing it, making patterns that were as crazy as possible.
Recently you did the Opening Ceremony sweaters, are you going to continue doing that? Would you ever do a fashion line again?
Yeah, I would really love to. I'm really interested in things that don't exist; that are definitely art derived but not art, they exist maybe far away. I love the fact that someone could walk into Opening Ceremony and not know who I was and appreciate the sweater for what it was. And so I’ve been making furniture, which comes from a sculptural practice, but I’m showing it as furniture. I kind of like that space where it’s not really defined—it could be many different things.
I was looking at the benches and ceramic sunbathers, I thought the juxtaposition was really cool.
Yeah, I’ve been having so much fun with Cumulus. They’ve been really supportive, I just throw ideas at them and they’re like “Yeah, let’s do that.” It’s really fun!
It’s cool, the very figurative and literal mixed with this very abstract and colorful, industrial and functional object. Its a weird polarity.
I tried to think of jokes in some way. I was like, “Let’s make a garden gnome.” Then, “Let’s make ladies in swimsuits.” That seemed really funny. Doing the benches, it seemed hilarious to use chrome bars because they’re used all over the place, like in bathrooms. They are just so ubiquitous, especially to Miami. It seemed funny to me to make them.
I wanted to ask you a bit about your comic books, because they’ve always really struck me as being in the same vain as Paper Rodeo, but also really incredibly personal. When you are doing your comic books, what side of your practice is that?
I remember showing Mat my comic books when we first met—Mat and Brian really knew so much more about comics than I did. For me, it was like a fun way to approach drawing, to see drawing conceptually. And I think about all the pop culture we grew up with—like Peanuts or whatever—it’s a weird space to explore. What was great about doing comics at Fort Thunder was we were always trying to find ways to break these comic book rules. I just enjoyed drawing so it was fun to zone-out and draw for a long time. All the Paper Rad guys would come to Providence, and Ben was really responding to Garfield—it’d just be this joke, like talking about pop culture was one strain within the garbage of Fort Thunder, you know? These ideas were sort of like garbage material.Pop culture is constantly moving forward and throwing away what it has. So what they were doing was picking up all the garbage of pop culture and using it in their work.
I remember you did a show at Deitch Projects, in the basement, and it was like, hanging mirrors and you had to go down with a flashlight. I was always really curious what the story was with that show.
I think it was a time where I was trying to figure out my own work, because everything I had done thus far was done collaboratively. And so I felt like that show was expressing the lost space I thought I was in. When Forcefield ended, Mat and Ara started collaborating together. But the feeling of really identifying with Fort Thunder and Forcefield was how I identified myself; and to work on my own was such new territory. So I feel like that show was just how I felt at the time. In this really weird netherworld, where you didn't know how to go forward.
What’s it like living in Miami right now?
It’s good, it’s such a weird place. It’s always sort of changing, there’s this new museum being built and there’s this other museum being expanded. There are so many foundations here, so much for artists. It’s also a touristy city, some people come here to be on the beach and have nothing to do with the arts at all. I kind of like the mix where it’s sort of the capital of the Caribbean, but also the gateway of South America to North America. So it means all these different things to all these different people. You exist here, you can just be a free agent in a very different way. Theres this good quote: “ You can be an existentialist in a bikini.” 
Do you still find a lot of inspiration in the materials? And the garbage in Florida?
I mean yeah, it’s different garbage. I love the cars that are here, like the hip hop cars here are out of control amazing, with the humongous rims and the car paint that’s holographic, it’s totally incredible. There’s also a history of Art Deco architecture here, so the mid-century stuff is interesting. I could spend hours on Lincoln Road watching people walk by. You just see the craziest looking people, which I think is always very inspiring.
You said you look at a lot of artwork. I’m really curious, what artists have inspired you over the years? 
Right now for this project that I’m working on, there’s this one Bauhaus weaver that I’m looking at that’s totally amazing. There’s a website on her, but of course she’s not contemporary. Her name is Gunta Stolzl, her stuff is totally incredible. The other person that I identify with, or enjoy seeing their work constantly, is Kay Hardy.
Yeah, she’s fantastic!
Yeah her photos are amazing!
You told me a little bit about transitioning to a solo artist when did that piece in the basement at Deitch; but how has that continued afterwards? You kind of kept on doing solo shows, so how’s it changed? Working as Jim Drain vs. with these collaborative collectives?
I think collaborative work is really helpful for my own practice. My own practice is kind of all over the place right now: the furniture, the sweaters, and the sculptures. I guess I’m just trying to draw back a little bit and really examine the unifying identity, which is really hard because I really love doing all these different things. But I think for the next show, what I want to do is really present a unified space. The thing is I have so many different interests and I feel like they all inform each other. It’s not like I want to shut down any one thing; it’s more like taking pieces from different parts.