Dead Letter Circus

Dead Letter Circus

Kris Peters has a chat with Dead Letter Circus frontman Kim Benzie ahead of their gig at the Jack next Wednesday the 26th March.

‘The Catalyst Fire’ is an intriguing title for an album, particularly when the name does not match up to any of the songs on it. Kim Benzie, vocalist for Brisbane’s Dead Letter Circus, is aware of this and has an equally compelling reason behind it.

“It’s like a fire of change,” he explains, “so basically, one that spreads consciousness within everyone, with everyone kind of waking up and having a chat. You don’t really have human evolution points concerning that in the media at the moment – it’s more from person to person and it’s like when you are talking to someone and you have that moment where you say ‘I was thinking that as well’. Contrary to what you see on T.V, our consciousnesses are actually growing and people are getting smarter and waking up to the fact that the control is becoming obvious even to the average person who wouldn’t normally see that kind of stuff. They just say it’s a conspiracy theory or whatever – that stupid term that was created to disenchant people that actually did question authority but it’s about that REAL first person connection where you have someone come and confirm something to you and then you pass it on, like spreading the word through change.”

Regardless, Dead Letter Circus have become the musical outlet for many disenchanted voices, with ‘The Catalyst Fire’ cementing their growing reputation, reaching number 2 on the Australian charts shortly after its release.

Dead Letter Circus, rounded out by Luke Williams (drums), Stewart Hill (bass), Tom Skerlj (guitar, keyboards, percussion) and Clint Vincent (guitar), have been honing their craft since their self titled E.P in 2007 and are a band who learned early on in their career how to use their best assets and talents to refine and further their sound.

Since their E.P they have successfully tried and adapted to the changing landscape and have grown as a musical entity because of it.

“Our first album, ‘This is the Warning’, was really experimental, Benzie said. “We were pretty green and had the one style that we could do which was a super fast, frenetic style and our producer said to us that if we did the whole album like that we would fatigue the listener so we had to re-invent and do some lower dynamic stuff. Normally, when a rock band does that it starts to sound like a ballad and I just wanna get a gun and stick it in my mouth so we sort of incorporated that live electronic edge to the songs in such a way that would be fresh so in that respect ‘This is the Warning’ was very experimental. We put a song up every day before the release and every day we were waiting for people to slag it and say it sucked but people liked every song so when it came time to discover the musical boundaries we could work within we didn’t stretch it too far from what we would normally do, it just became a more confident version of what we did in the past.”

With the universally dreaded second album out and receiving deserved accolades, Benzie says that when preparing for their sophomore release Dead Letter Circus tried to keep things relatively simple.

“We wanted it to have a kind of ‘no skip’ feel to it, where every song stood up in its own right,” he said. “We set out with a general goal that every song could be someone’s favourite and from the feedback we have been getting we have achieved that. We wanted it so that the more you got into it, the more revealing it becomes. It was important to us that it didn’t repeat itself musically, so there is a lot of complex stuff going on.”

“Our quality control is pretty high so the carcasses of the songs that didn’t make it are three times as high as the ones that did so we are pretty brutal when it comes to the selection process. Of course, everyone’s got their little babies when you start and you do get attached to certain parts of songs but you need to have that ability to step back and say ‘does that work or do I like it just because I wrote it?’”

It is no secret that to find success in a band there are seemingly endless years of touring and hard work that makes the sum of all parts, and although Dead Letter Circus have done more than their fair share of that over the years, Benzie is able to simplify things a little when it comes down to taking the first small steps on the journey.

“I think one of the most important things is to really focus on your songs and work on the ability to step back and unemotionally listen to what you are creating,” he offered, “ and to try to separate yourself from that Mother/Father part of your mind where when you create something you think it’s the greatest thing in the world – much like when you’ve got an ugly kid with big ears, freckles, and Ranga hair and you think it’s the cutest kid in the world when in all honesty it’s not. You need to have that ability to step back and unemotionally dissect a song and then use that ability to recognise what shapes your music.”

Far from resting on their laurels at this point, Benzie Says the band is already at work on album number three.

“Yeah, we’re in the studio already doing a bit of writing,” he laughed.

But when pressed for more details he was a little more vague.

“The next one is gonna be different,” he mused. “It’s a bold step into the unknown……..”

Kris Peters

Dead letter Circus play the Jack in Cairns next Wednesday night 26th March, you can get ticket info here. Supported by local band Salacious.