After spending New Years Eve playing alongside Frenzal Rhomb (see the review and photos here), The Bennies are sitting back and awaiting the hard work of 2017 to bear fruit; they are releasing their newest album ‘Natural Born Chillers’ through Pool House Records on February 2nd! ‘King’ Jules Rozenbergs pointed out that he “had a sh*t night; I spent half the night crying and went home early because it f*cking sucked” before letting a massive laugh out and stated how “it was sh*tloads of f*cking fun; I was f*cked for a week after that! It really did a number on me, but we sent 2017 off and welcomed 2018 in; it’s an extraordinary time to be alive.”
With The Bennies ending their set just after midnight, Rozenbergs decided to smash his first guitar of 2018; when asked if he thinks he holds the title of “First Guitar Smashed 2018”, Rozenbergs had a good laugh before mentioning how “you know what, I hadn’t thought about that! As it stands, I probably was; I haven’t seen the stats on smashed guitars but once I consult the numbers, I could be in the mix for first smashed guitar of 2018. F*ck yeah; and I smashed the f*ck out of it!” before letting out another chuckle that showed how proud he was of the destruction of that guitar. When asked where the guitar came from, Rozenbergs gave a small history lesson:
“It’s actually a Hamer; Rick Neilsen from Cheap Trick uses a Hamer guitar. It was passed on to me by our roadie/stage-tech Olly Wright on the one condition that I shred on it and perhaps break it! Ordinarily I’m not much of a guitar smasher as I can’t afford to smash them; but in this case, when someone has asked me as a friend to play it and smash it, I’m going to f*cking smash the shit out of it!”
Steering the conversation onto ‘Natural Born Chillers’, this interviewer wanted to know how much The Bennies want February 2nd to roll around, so that they can release the new album to the masses; Rozenbergs couldn’t contain his excitement when talking about the upcoming release date:
“It can’t come f*cking quick enough; we’ve been sitting on these tunes for ages and we want people to f*cking hear them. Some people have heard some of them, plus I’m an impatient f*cking person. The band is stoked to get it out, as we just want to tour, get this sh*t in people’s ears and get them listening to it. If they like it, f*cking sweet! We’re just chomping at the bit for people to listen to it and for us to get out there and play some tunes.”
The Bennies released Get High Like An Angel as the first single off the album; Rozenbergs gave a really great insight into the thought process that takes place during the single selection process:
“I think we live in a democracy in The Bennies; everyone had a suggestion and whatever overlapped was what we went with. We all picked two songs each that we wanted to put forward and even though there were a range of second songs picked, everyone voted for Angel. It’s a pretty simple process but at the same time, it’s f*cking hard as everyone has their sentimental favourites; if I’ve learnt anything about this f*cking game, it’s that my favourite song is rarely the crowd’s favourite song. That’s the process though; we get together and chuck a vote, see how it goes and see which sh*t floats to the top, we pump that out to the world.”
After hearing that the band brainstorm singles by proposing multiple suggestions each, this interviewer was curious as to whether there had been any talk of a second single; Rozenbergs confirmed that “we are in the throws of organizing a second single; there’s a couple to choose from. I’m really hoping that Dreamkillers makes the cut; that f*cking riff, I’ve been sitting on it for f*cking ages and couldn’t work it into a song! The fact that it is in there, f*ck the masses; I want that to be the next single…but that’s probably why I don’t pick the singles” before ending with a very hearty laugh.
With the creation of “Natural Born Chillers”, a label change took place; The Bennies left Poison City Records and moved across to Pool House Records. Rozenbergs was kind enough to give a very deep insight into the mindset of the band and what lead to the move; the first thing that Rozenbergs had to point out is that “Poison City are the best f*cking label and I can’t sing their praises enough!” before continuing further:
“It was pretty much moving from an established label, to a fledgling label that’s run by your mates. We had everything in house with booking so it streamlined a lot of stuff for us; it had nothing to do with anything else apart from that, as it made more sense on a practical level. If you’ve ever had a friend open up or start a business, you want to support it as it feels natural to want to support it. There is no bad blood with Poison City; people like to think that maybe something went down, but sometimes it’s kind of boring in how things ended” before letting out another warm chuckle.
When this interviewer pointed out how Overdrive came about because of a friend, so he understands supporting a friend’s business Rozenbergs pointed out how “Poison City started really organically in a similar way; I remember that they had their first handful of releases! They’ve grown into the Poison City that we know today, but this is how things start; it’s a cool world where Melbourne gets another record label and another option in the scene. How sick is it gaining another independent label that is going to give the artists a leg up? It’s f*cking cool as it’s going to take the pressure off Poison City, it creates a good environment and I think it’s a f*cking positive thing! We need more people starting sh*t and not relying on the established labels, otherwise we won’t enrich and progress the art community; it’s a passion-based industry and we don’t want these f*cking big business people who have a sh*t taste in music. What you want to see is those who take the initiative and go ‘f*ck it, I’m going to do it myself’; the roots lay with the music fans who want to do something and that is what makes it what it is. Those people are the ones who always get my vote and support.”
Sam Johnson was along for the ride during the creation of ‘Natural Born Chillers’; when asked if there were any hassles that arose during the recording or whilst working with Sam, Rozenbergs happily expressed “ah f*ck no; Sam is the best and there were no dramas! Every so often, you’d get a computer glitch but that’s beyond our control; we had a lot of fun and that can get away from us sometimes” before letting out another warm laugh and going into further detail:
“Sam down at Holes and Corners is f*cking pro; he can read us like a book and is a sick producer. He’s so talented that he gets the best out of us and fortunately we had fewer dramas than we did in our first couple of albums! There’s going to be a level of drama when you’re trying to place something and can’t nail it, but in general we just had four mates working together and they all f*cking killed it. A lot of the time, one of the hardest things is when you’ve got something in your head and you can’t get out and explain to others what you’re trying to hear, but that’s more of a personal battle.”
Touching further on the recording process, this interviewer was curious whether The Bennies learnt anything during the recording of ‘Wisdom Machine’ that were carried across into the recording of ‘Natural Born Chillers’. Rozenbergs explained how “I don’t think there are a lot of new things, as we’ve learnt a lot on previous records. Mind you, on this record, things have proved that they work really well; I can’t stress enough how important pre-production is! Just that concept of the more you invest in your demo and pre-production phase, the more you are working on making the record sound better when you’re paying the recording studio. You’re not wasting your time and cash troubleshooting issues that you could have dealt with in pre-production and demos; we’ve been building that over the years, but on this particular release it was good to know that we were able to be more productive from the get go! Even though most of the creases will be ironed out, there will still be unavoidable issues that will come up; being more prepared means you can deal with those easier than being stuck dealing with avoidable issues.“
With his last words, Rozenbergs gave some very important advice for any upcoming musicians or bands wanting to record an album:
“There is a lot of temptation to rush; I completely get that as it can offer its own sort of sound. We’re artists and not accountants or millionaires, so I think it’s really important that when you put your own hard earned cash down to record something that you want to make it good. When we first started, no one really told us that we should demo harder or do pre-production; yes, it is kinda obvious but no one told us! I wish someone had mentioned to invest more time, as I used to have this thing where I would rock up, get smashed and just lay down some guitars” before letting out the last laugh of the interview.