INTERVIEW: THE BENNIES

The Bennies_Med

Described as “Psychedelic Reggae Ska Doom Metal Punk Rock From Hell” and having just released their anticipated second album, Rainbows In Space – the Bennies are set to finish 2013 with a massive bang. Currently on tour around the country, we caught up with vocalist Anty to chat about house parties, running into urinal walls and touring Japan.

By Emma Dean

You’ve just started your Rainbows in Space tour – how’s it going so far?
Its been an absolute blast so far. We’ve played at bars, house parties and reggae festivals in paradise. It’s been great fun.

What’s the story of The Bennies?
We started in ’09 as a band called, ‘Madonna’. We initially started as a ‘love is science fiction’ cover band. Other than that, we are basically best friends wanting to play fun music.

Rainbows in Space is your second album – how has it progressed from your debut?
It really has progressed in every single sense. Lineup is different, recording venue, producer, mastering… everything had more time and effort put into it. In terms of the music – the style is similar, just a lot more refined. The album has more of a rock ‘n’ roll ethos than it did previously.

How was working with producer Sam Johnson? What did he bring to the album that you wouldn’t have come up with otherwise?
It was a pleasure and I hope we get to do it again soon. Sam knew how to get the best out of everyone. He is nice and supportive, but is also able to cut out the bullshit and push you as well. We can really lack focus at times. Sam had a heavy part in deciding on sounds/tones. He even played a keyboard line on ‘Knights Forever’.

You have some amazing cover art for the new record – who came up with it?
Steve Baker from, ‘Death by Chandelier’ has done a lot of artwork for us over the years. He is an amazingly talented artist (a sick drummer too!) and has some sick ideas. We generally give him a few key words and let his mind run with it. I think he really smashed it this time! I think the words we gave him this time were, ‘outerspace, trippy and skeleton’ [laughs]

You’re heading to China & Japan straight after your Aussie album launch shows – what’s the best thing about the Asian audiences? Where is your favourite place to tour?
We actually haven’t been to China before, so that’s going to be an absolute riot of a time. I love going to new places. Japan is an incredible place to tour, the people and shows are a lot of fun and extremely high energy. The calibre of bands we have played with there is amazing. It’s pretty rad going to a place where everyone seems like to Operation Ivy as much as I do.

Do you have any amusing tour stories? What band has been the most fun to tour with?
Touring with the Smith Street band is/was fantastic. Great mates and an even better band. We toured with Phat Meegz (from Tasmania) once as well – that was hilarious. They are very cheeky dudes. Tour stories always seem to translate pretty badly. They are either long running in jokes or just a night when someone/everyone cooks it. The last time we were in Adelaide I tried to make a joke in the dudes’ toilet, but in doing so I stacked it and ended up headfirst in the urinal wall with my pants at my ankles, that was kind of funny – for everyone else.

You must be super psyched to be playing Soundwave next year – who are you looking forward to meeting/watching backstage?
I have a sneaky suspicion that we won’t get a chance to meet many of the bands. Being the most under-established band on the lineup, I reckon our access backstage may be pretty limited. But that’s cool – because as you say, we are super psyched to be playing – a really hard thing to even comprehend. I love Alkaline Trio and The Story So Far,  so I’m pumped up as to see them. The other dudes come from a more metal background, so we may be watching different bands throughout the day. Such a fun day!

What can we expect at a live Bennies show? What are your favourite venues to play at?
You can expect to have a good time! We try to make the show as fun and exciting as possible. Heaps of crew are starting to not only mosh and sing a long at our shows, but we are actually getting people dancing. So bring dancin’ shoes and a good attitude. Our favourite venues are the ones where the staff say ‘hello’ and make us feel welcome. The Reverence in Footscray, Ding Dong Lounge, Crowbar in Brisbane, Enigma in Adelaide, The Brisbane Hotel in Hobart. It seems like a small thing, but we have played so many gigs where the venue actually seem pissed that we’re there. That sucks.

What bands do you find influence you the most? Both lyrically & performance-wise?
Grab inspiration from everywhere. I think we take a lot of inspiration from Sublime, The Clash and Rancid. I think in terms of performance-wise, just any high energy show really. It could be the Bronx, the Darkness or Fishbone.

What’s a typical writing session like?
We jam everything together. Normally someone comes with an idea – either a riff, lyric or melody. We then all add our own flavour on top of that and slowly build a song that way. Usually we get the chorus and verses down straight away – it’s the other bits and pieces that can take us a little longer. A lot of our music is reggae influenced (even the punk stuff), and there is something organic and chilled about jamming out an idea and just seeing what naturally presents itself. With that said though, sometimes when we get stuck on an idea for ages, it’s hard not to get jealous of those bands that have one person write everything.

If you could play one song for someone who didn’t know your music, what would you play and why?
I would play them our new single, ‘Highrider’, mainly because I couldn’t be more proud of it. Also, if you are going to like our band – you’ll know from listening to that tune. Certified.

What CD is on repeat in the tour van at the moment?
LP2 – Restorations and Flicker Noise – Grim Fandango

Are there any awesome up and coming bands you want to give a shout out to?
There are a lot of good bands kicking around at the moment. Clowns, Foxtrot, Grim Fandango, Phat Meegz. Apart from those, Luca Brasi and Bodyjar are back!

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Many thanks to Anty for taking the time to chat to us. You can check out the upcoming tour dates for the Bennies at:
http://www.facebook.com/thebenniesband

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