The Bennies by Sarah Jarrett

The Bennies – A Thirst That Can’t Be Quenched

Definition: Bennies – A slang term for recreational drugs in the early 1920’s.  Example: ‘I haven’t slept for three days man, them Bennies got me going.’

Throughout history, few bands have been able to comfortably sustain their careers by singing purely about doing drugs and partying. The Bloodhound Gang, Cypress Hill and Andrew W. K, are among the luckiest of the exceptions. However, if you’re not a straight edge kid, a churchie and you’re not into any of those
crappy genres that end in ”core”, then congratulations! You’re probably already aware that Melbourne lads, The Bennies, are totally killing it in the smarty-party, bong-song department.

To try and generalize about The Bennies overall sound, would basically be futile. They’re songs go from disco, to ska, to punk rock, to reggae, to completely random noises made on a Korg Synthesizer. It’s rarely a smooth transition, kind of akin to letting a drunken eight year old drive a manual car (Please don’t test this comparison). Sound a little abrasive? Well it is. It’s perfectly abrasive. Fans of The Bennies have learned quickly, not to expect what the band might do next and it seems as though The Bennies don’t think for too long on it either. And that’s how we like it.

One thing about them that is not hard to define, is their love of partying, Mario-Kart and getting wasted. In fact their first album was titled, ‘Party! Party! Party!’. Luckily, this goes hand in hand with their music, and lyrics are matched perfectly to various song styling. Reggae-chill tracks such as ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ cleverly incorporate smooth brass with lyrics about kicking back with some good old herb (and Mario-Kart). Dancier, disco-punk tracks, such as ‘Highrider’, ‘Mushroom Tea’ and ‘Heavy Disco’ are simply synthy and burst with a thirst.

I would love to tell you that The Bennies latest track, ‘Party Machine’, is no exception. Only, that it is an exception. The latest single sees the band taking their punk-party-anthems, to a whole new level indeed. In fact one might call this level, ”The Rainbow Road” of The Bennies tracks.

I stopped in for a quick chat with vocalist/Korg-lord, Anty Horgon, to talk about ‘Filthy Party Bangers’, stern moustaches, partying and ‘Filthy Party Bangers’.

Did I say ‘Filthy Party Bangers’ twice? Oh well….

Wil: Party Machine is a great track. Can you tell me about it?

Anty: Yeah man, it was weird, we’d been recording for our new album that’s coming out next year. We didn’t have Party Machine, we had everything else. But we all kind of felt like we still needed a ‘banger’. You know what I mean? Like a ‘filthy banger’… Some of the other songs got close, but not quite as filthy as we wanted. We played this psychedelic-trance festival a few days before recording. When we came back, we had a jam, it was supposed to be just a quick one before we went to record, and Craig (bass) came to us and said that he had this idea for a song, inspired by the psy-trance festival, with a big techno breakdown. We had most of the basic parts down, we came up most of the vocals there on the day, so yeah. It was a direct result of going to a ‘doof-doof’ festival.

Wil: Cool, that’s a rad story. I was kind of expecting you to say it was inspired by like, a conglomerate of parties and partying.

Anty: Well there’s that as well of course. I mean, none of us in the band really like techno too much, but the techno vibe is strong. It’s party vibe is strong.

Wil: The Bennies have a uniquely definitive sound. You’re constantly breaking the rules. Party Machine for example, is a filthy, banging, rock track,  with a complete techno breakdown in the middle of it. You guys usually use incredibly synthesized sounds, in a genre that would typically incorporate acoustic instruments, such as a horn section. Do you ever feel like you’re kind of pioneering something?

Anty: That’s a very flattering way to think about it. I dunno. Maybe. We sometimes joke that we’re a ”fourth-wave” ska band. Then sometimes we go on to joke that we’re actually a ”fifth wave” ska band because we’ve gone even further. That’s just us joking, but I’d like to think that we’re kind of pioneering something in a way maybe.

Wil: You don’t think there’s a chance you could be like Fall Out Boy were in the late nineties, where a whole bunch of bands came out after them, that just sounded like exact copies?

Anty: [Laughs] I dunno… I’d like to see someone try and do what we do. I don’t reckon people could do it. [Laughs again]

Wil: Now I don’t want to blow you’re image, but do The Bennies actually party as hard as one might imagine?

Anty: Well, it’s hard to know what people imagine… But I think so. We hold our own pretty well. We’re just four dudes who… well, we refer to it as a ”Party Whilwind”. When the four of us get together we kind of just get whipped up in excitement and sometimes parties can a bit mental. But yeah, I think we’re pretty good. Our songs are pretty accurate.

Wil: All four of you? I’ve seen Bowie’s (drums) mustache. It looks pretty stern.

Anty: He’s actually, probably the biggest party animal out of all of us.

Wil: Really?

Anty: Yeah, he’s normally the last one up. His nickname is ”Bowie” but we call him”Can’t Say No-wie”. [Laughs]

Wil: So what’s the best party you’ve ever been to?

Anty: Ah, fuck… Ummm… You know what? I got asked this question the other day in a written interview and I still can’t think of an answer. I can’t pick just one single moment or anything.

Wil: Rats, I thought I was being original…

Anty: Naaaaaah… [Laughs]. Fuck man, it’s just so hard to say. Every party is a party for different reasons, so every gig is a party for different reasons. Like, even a shit gig can still kind of be it’s own kind of party, you know what I mean? All ages gigs are a special kind of party in their own right as well. Actually, generally when we play at The Crow Bar in Brisbane it gets pretty wild.

Wil: The Crow Bar is a rad venue.

Anty: Yeah man. The last time we played there, it was actually the venues birthday party. It was the fourth of July, which also happens to be my Thirtieth as well… So it was like, the prefect alignment of fucking parties. It was a REALLY wild night.

Wil: If The Bennies threw a party, and they could invite three people, who would they invite? I’ll even let you choose people that are dead.

Anty: Naaaw, shit, well Hendrix would have to be there. I’d like to say Bob Marley but I don’t think he would really fit in with our party vibe. So we got Hendrix… Maybe Mozart? I might throw him in there, ya reckon he’d cause some fucking chaos?

Wil: Yeah, probably. He was into a bit of gear, wasn’t he?

Anty: [Laughs] Yeah! Plus he’s kind of a curvball.

Wil: Mozart, ‘Can’t say no-zart’….

Anty: [Laughs] Exactly. Yeah, he’ll do. Fuck, OK, third person… I also want to invite somebody who everyone kind of hates. You know, to create a bit of tension. You need a bit of tension in the air. Like, it’s not quite a party unless everybody thinks some kind of shit could go down… I dunno, what do you reckon?

Wil: I heard Tony Abbott knows how to party. He broke a table. Plus heaps of people hate him.

Anty: Yeah! Ok, we’ll throw him in the mix. Why not.

Wil: I heard from a mate who was there, that when The Bennies played a show at ‘Fest’ in America, the venue shut the power off because of something you did. Is that true?

Anty: Well, I dunno if it got quite that far… Well actually… [Laughs] At the end of our set everything just kind of broke. Ok, so a lot of the times at our shows, people feel the need to smoke weed… So we were blazing up before our set and then while we were playing. Actually, everyone was blazing up while we were playing. The people from ‘Fest’ came over and said that they would shut the power off and that we would never be allowed to play again if we kept smoking. Fortunately by that time we had destroyed the evidence, so that part ended OK. By the end of the set everything just kind of collapsed. Things got really, really wild, there was no barrier and everything got broken and came unplugged. Actually, I remember rocking up to that gig, it was just me, Bowie and Craig and we hadn’t seen our guitarist Jules for ages. We found him at the venue asleep and he is a MASSIVE dude. But he was asleep, laying across three bar stools, at the bar. He didn’t know where his guitar was or anything, it really was a chaotic night.

Wil: The Bennies cover of TISM’s ”(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River” for Triple J’s Like A Version is pretty cool. Can you tell me about that?

Anty: Doing that cover was a really, really amazing experience for us. It was really special. We fucking loved it.

Wil: Did you have a back-up song?

Anty: Nope. We didn’t really have one. We talked about it, but we were pretty much always going to do that one. There was talk of doing Dry Your Eyes by The Streets for a bit.

Wil: How hard are you guys going to party in Cairns?

Anty: Naaw, man. I am SO excited for that show. I honestly can’t wait. We’ve never been that far north before. Obviously we’re friends with Clowns and The Smith Street Band guys, they couldn’t have talked more highly about the venue and all the crew. They’ve said how nice it is to play up there, we’ve never been that far north before. We’re gunna party fucking hard man.

Wil: Excellent! Thanks heaps Anty, I can’t wait for the show.

Anty: Mate, I can’t fucking wait.

Wil Carroll

The Bennies play the Grand Hotel in Cairns on Friday the 4th December. Limited tickets available so act fast. Tickets available at OZTIX  There may be a few available at the door but we advise to pre buy tickets to avoid disappointment – The Smith Street Band gig at the Grand sold out. – See more at: 

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