Benny And The Clones

Benny and The Clones

Benny and The Clones formed in old Melbourne town many moons ago. They have been performing their varied sound of rock/pop/alternative in North Queensland and Melbourne to anyone who appreciates fresh new music.

Bands used to describe their sound have been as varied as Neil Young playing with Radiohead, to a You Am I/Go-Betweens feel, to even a Wilco/Ween hybrid! A very varied list of bands for a band with a varied list of sounds. They have featured on Triple J’s Unearthed project, recorded 2 limited release albums and won a few song writing awards up north.

Usually playing as a three or four piece, they occasionally rope in a few extra muso friends to add some keys, strings or whatever is needed.

When asked about their influences, guitarist, vocalist and chief songwriter Ben Radford went on to explain “Benny and The Clones has been influenced over the years by whatever bands/artist’s the members have loved. It’s a hard thing for any artist to escape. From the early beginnings it was the classics like The Stones, Led Zep, Beatles, Hoodoo Guru’s and Neil Young. Over the years their sound has evolved to a slightly more complex style of song writing. A little “Radioheadesque”, but that description is too restrictive. Lyrics can range from the simple, yet captivating, Paul Kelly style of storytelling to a little more abstract, draw your own conclusions, style. With social issues like environment, politics and anti-religion featuring heavily in the content but still writing a song or three about the old but tireless emotions of love, hate, rejection, acceptance and relationships. It’s hard to escape those concepts being a human!”

Benny and The Clones like to play loud. Their drummer Ben Kuring, brings a big sound to the band, and well, the rest just have to keep up. This is no excuse for quality though, and due to the draconian sound restrictions in Port Douglas they have mastered their soft side as well. A live show brings a collection of thoughtfully written and played songs with an emphasis on active dynamics breaking up any chance of a monotonous sound. Plenty of catchy alternative pop hooks and melodies but keeping a strong driving rock sound.

Noticing Benny and The Clones had their music available for download on several sites, I asked Ben his thoughts on music downloads and giving music away for free on the net and he offered “The Clones have a few links available to several of their songs for free. Music sharing is a fact of life these days. It’s like the deli at the supermarket offering a few free tasty treats to lure you in. But at the end of the day musicians can’t live on giving away freebie’s (who can?!). There has been a worrying attitude with a new generation of listeners that music grows on trees and need not be paid for. This is concerning for the artist. The old saying “ You get what you pay for” may come true, but then again, I do remember taping songs on cassette off the radio in my youth! Maybe it all comes out in the wash at the end of the day.”

When asked about the various awards that Benny and the Clones have won, ben replied “The Clones achieved third place in “The Street Art Festival” at this year’s Port Douglas Carnivale and won “The People’s Choice Award” for the Douglas Shire song writing competition several years back for their original song “Barry and Helen from Geelong”. This song also received airplay on Triple J’s unearthed program gaining positive reviews from listeners. It was quite humbling and exciting knowing that thousands of people heard your song.”

Given the controversy surrounding JJJ unearthed and it’s “needle in a haystack” nature, I asked Ben his thoughts on this, to which he replied “The Triple J unearthed program has been an overall positive for unsigned original bands. Sure, there is heaps of competition making it hard to get noticed but at the end of the day it’s better to have it than not.”

The Clones are about to embark on a professional recording this year of a new album. Hopefully available later in the year or early 2015.

Benny and The Clones perform at the MOFO show at the Germania club in Cairns on Saturday the 28th of June

Todd Macalpine