After speaking with ‘King’ Jules Rozenbergs a couple of weeks after the epic NYE performance, there was no chance this interviewer was going to pass up the chance to speak to both Anty Horgan and Craig Selak over a few beers as we discussed the recent performance, as well as the upcoming album ‘Natural Born Chillers’, available via Pool House Records from February 2nd.
The first topic of conversation was about that NYE performance; Horgan started off by pointing out how “it was really special and really cool, as it was one of those moments that just felt really great!” before going into greater depth:
“A lot on the time when we’re on stage, things seem pretty hectic and you can’t really see what’s going on as it all feels like a blur; however you’ll look back at some footage or photos from the night and realize it wasn’t as chaotic as it felt! There was about 30 seconds of the countdown that have been captured and when you see it, it looks exactly how it felt in my head. It was just beautiful, special and really fun! I think I said it on stage when we walked out, but no exaggeration there was just a room full of smiling people! It was infectious and just created a really nice vibe.”
Selak agreed with Horgan as he pointed out that “it was a good vibe and the whole night was really fun; it was one of those New Years where nothing happened and it was best case scenario! Usually when you talk about New Years, it ends up being about how this or that happened but with this, everyone got wasted, had a great time and went home…or didn’t; it was just non eventful in the best way!”
Giving further insight into the NYE performance, Selak touched on getting to hear the crowd reaction when they heard first single Get High Like An Angel live:
“We were really excited. When you’re inside the machine you tend to forget that people read about it; we’re usually thinking about how we have to get out there and tell people about it. You get so caught up working, so it’s nice to come up for air occasionally and realize that people are digging it! I’m stoked people were as excited to hear it as we were to play it.”
When this interviewer spoke to Rozenburgs the week before, he pointed out that Getting High Like An Angel was an unanimous decision as the first single; when asked how long it took to pencil it in, Selak quipped that “it took about 400 emails” which resulted in Horgan letting out a massive laugh of acknowledgement. Selak then went into further detail as he pointed out how “everyone had said they wanted it, but no-one had really told anyone; we all just assumed it was happening so when people kept asking us, we would respond with ‘I am pretty sure it’s this’. But once we realized, we had to get a video and do this and that; you feel like the hard part is done choosing it, but that’s when the work begins! It felt good knowing that it summed up us at this moment in time; it felt like a really good encapsulation of all the different styles we cover as a band, so it seemed like a good one to lead with.”
Horgan added a little more as he expressed how “it felt like a good representation of the rest of the album. I was pretty keen to put one of the other songs as the single; when we spoke about it I realized that it only covered one aspect of the album, whereas Get High Like An Angel had it all. Plus being the first track on the album, it seemed like a pretty cool way to kick things off!”
Knowing that the album release was fast approaching, this interviewer was curious if there had been any discussion about a second single from the album. Horgan excitedly proclaimed how “the second one is about to get premiered in a matter of moments actually”, before added that “It came down to the decision out of two for the next one; we were pretty on the fence about which of the two songs to pick and to be honest, I would have been happy with either of them. From memory, we went to a few outsider opinions as it was coming down to Destination Unknown or Dreamkillers and we didn’t really care which one it was.”
This started a small amount of bouncing off each other, as Selak added how “we decided on Dreamkillers and we’re really excited about it, as it has more of a Detroit Rock Ciggies vibe to it. It’s nice to show that side of the band, as it is very energetic and reflects a lot more of the live show energy.” Horgan threw in his two cents on the topic, pointing out how “the first single is quite spacey at times and very chilled in the tempo at times, which isn’t an entirely accurate representation of a live show; the single that we’re releasing now is closer to that. We took a gamble with the first single and rolled the dice, as we wanted to release one that was more chilled and see how it went.” Selak then closed this chapter of conversation by adding “there’s always going to be a compromise in the studio, unless you can get 500 people into the studio with you, you can’t feed off the energy or recreate the energy when you see people enjoying it” before letting out yet another chuckle.
During the creation of ‘Natural Born Chillers’, the band got to work with well-known Australian producer Sam Johnson; Selak first touched on how the recording process went from start to finish as he commented how “I think the process this time was very smooth, because we only gave ourselves a very small window to make it happen; we had to be super organized and I think that’s part of why the album is so snappy. There was a fair bit of (for lack of a better word) anxiety that creeps into the songs that give them a sweet pace!” Selak then focused his answer on what it was like getting to work with Sam, as he pointed out how “working with Sam is just great and he’s most definitely the fifth member of the band for sure. We’ve done almost everything we’ve recorded with Sam; he’s so intuitive, he has great ideas, is so creative and just super friendly to have around. Plus he knows how to get the best performances out of us!”
Offering an insight into the wisdom gained during the recording of ‘Natural Born Chillers’, Selak first commented on the topic at hand as he pointed out “we learnt not to get beer sponsors for the recording! We did that during Wisdom Machine and we didn’t realize how much that derailed the recording process. This time around I realized that ‘fuck, we got so much done’”, which resulted in all of us laughing yet again. Horgan elaborated further as he pointed out “I went nuts on that; I hit up so many different booze handlers saying that we need booze. We ended up with like 12 bottles of Sailor Jerry, all this great vodka and just unlimited alcohol! It just ended up being a disaster, but it was a fun time.” Selak then added how “we got through it, but it didn’t need to take that long. We figured out why, which is something that we’ve definitely improved; but you’ve still got to have some beers.
After taking a much exciting break to listen to the first radio play of Dreamkillers, Selak threw in one last statement as he pointed out that “it’s important to get into the zone, as you’ve got to loosen up and feel what you’re doing; you just don’t necessary drink a slab a day to get there.”
The Bennies are jetting off overseas to perform for fans during the months of April/May and this interviewer wanted to know if overseas fans were getting to experience the upcoming album at the same time as Australian fans; Selak was proud to stat that “it is definitely going out in Europe on the same day through Uncle M Records, which is very exciting! We don’t necessary have a UK or a US release, but it will be on Spotify and things like that. We’re pretty much going as worldwide as you can get from a Bennies perspective; from Melbourne to Amsterdam they will be able to get it, so that’s perfect for us!”