Tag Archives: Jobstopper

The Bennies – Smokin’ All Over The World

The Bennies are back to get the party started on Show Day, July 22nd at Garageland @ The Grand Hotel!
Get toasted, get keen and get your tickets to one of the parties of the year!

When I realised I’d be interviewing Craig Selak from Australia’s premier party stoner Ska Punk band at 4:30 in the afternoon, I knew what had to be done at 4:20.. lets just call it interview preparation.
The interview that ensued often strayed from music and their brilliant new release Wisdom Machine, that’s not to say there was no wisdom imparted.

The Bennies touring schedule has been relentless this year on the back of the release, touring Australia, Europe, the UK, and now another mammoth run of Aussie dates, taking in places many bands go nowhere near.. but these guys will play anywhere. It’s what, in the long run – I think will be their enduring legacy… In all my time around music, they are the most approachable and affable blokes you’d ever want to meet.

Wisdom Machine is an album that sees The Bennies maturing. Not in a boring old fart way, more like a cheese really. This is a band now very comfortable in their own rind and with where they are at, and are now starting to push the boundaries of their sound and flavour.. I know it’s a cliche but There REALLY is something for everyone on this one.

So, with red bleary eyes the interview began in comical fashion and at times degenerated from there. Also, I’m not gonna lie – Craig is quite possibly the nicest bloke I’ve ever met and I have a total man crush on him.

“Hello! Craig’s phone! Craig speaking!”

Craig, mate it’s Dozer!

“Hey Doze, how are you man? I’m just about to do an interview…”

Yeah I know mate, it’s with me – whats been going on?

“(laughs) Aw shit, I didn’t realise it was you that was calling!”

I don’t really have many notes here for you, so this should be interesting…

“Mate we can chat this one out no sweat, no probs, we are pro’s!
how have you been dude?”

Mate, pretty good – I just pumped a few so I’m feeling pretty relaxed, and yourself? Must be nice to be back home…

“Not a lot mate, just got back off tour last week and today I’ve just spent writing some new tunes actually, making up some riffs and shit – it’s been a good day for it..”

So, Europe and the UK bro, where do we start? how was it?

“Yep, so we did 2 weeks in Europe and then 2 weeks in the UK. So the first 2 weeks was like Germany, France, Belgium, and Holland – which was friggin’ awesome! We got to play at Groezrock which was bloody unreal – I finally got to see Rancid! Our set went down really well too, we were super surprised and really grateful..”

I was just watching a few videos on Youtube of your set, and at one point there is a dude crowd surfing that looks like Jamie from Mythbusters…

“(Laughs.. like, for quite a bit.) Oh man I wish I had of seen that guy! I love a bit of Mythbusters, it definitely had a glory period – but sadly that passed fairly quickly.. but it was good, nah a great show!”

So when you guys were in the UK, you got to visit Stonehenge.. Now there’s a cheap joke in there, but I won’t… Were there any sketchy conspiracy dudes scratching about?

“Dude, finally! It’s always been a goal of mine to get there. It was almost like a religious experience.. but for conspiracy nuts… Im pretty sure WE were THOSE guys, but it was very inspiring. We’ve always wanted go there and it was way better than we could’ve hoped. We got to smoke a joint there, so now thats the 2nd wonder of the world we’ve had a smoke at – the first being The Great Wall of China…”

Wait, What? You had a toke on The Great Wall, holy shit dude!

“Yeah man, big time! It was gold! I’m not sure it was totally legally but yeah man it was great, we are trying to knock off all the wonders of the world – so we’re getting there.. If we could roll one up at all of them, that would be a Bennies dream i’d say…”

Were you impressed with the herb in the UK?

“Strong, it was very strong… but more so in Germany, their stuff really got a good buzz going for sure – it took a few days to adjust to, but we powered on…”

Well they are known for being efficient, the Germans…

“Dude, so efficient! All their beers were super efficient too, the weed was super efficient – everything did a number on us…”

For a band so entrenched in weed culture, is that one of the cool things about touring overseas? Trying different strains, rating them, stuff like that? C’mon man tell us where the good stuff is…

“It’s definitely a big part of it for us, in terms of favourites – I think everyone agrees that in New Zealand it’s pretty fucking awesome. Whatever they are producing over there is insane, it absolutely smashed us – we went from being loud chatty dudes to bed in the space of like half a joint.. it was wild, we were not ready and we were not worthy! But I mean just sharing a joint or a beer and just chatting to people from all over the world, thats what we really love.”

How was the new material received in Europe? Do you guys sell much over there?

“Yeah dude it went really well, I mean i don’t have figures and stuff thats not really my department – but I do know that we sold every record we took on tour over there. Obviously in Europe we are kind of a new band, but it exceeded our expectations definitely. In Europe they really do have a deep appreciation for Ska Punk, so it was great to play the songs live to people – we definitely turned a couple of cold rooms nice and hot!”

Speaking of the new album, was there a song that you thought “shit, I don’t know how this is gonna go live” that ended up transferring to stage particularly well?

“Yeah man for sure, “O Brother Where Art Thou?” which is the last song on the album… we really wanted to play it but we’re super freaked out about how it was gonna go. We closed our sets with it on the last tour and I have to say it felt triumphant, I think that will one will stick around for a bit. One I’m really excited to play which we haven’t yet is “Burnout City”, it’s more of a laid-back Ska jam that one…Obviously we play a lot of fast bangers, so it’ll be kind of nice to challenge ourselves and sit back on it a bit and get into the groove. I’m a bit tentative of how it might go though.”

Tentative about your falsetto in the chorus?

“(Laughs) Look it’s always a bit embarrassing whenever you’ve got to to get up into that register, but I’ve been working on it and practicing in the car – So I think I’m ready to bust it out.. we’ll see what happens, hopefully i can bluff my way through it!”

Ok, so back to Oz and straight back into an Aussie tour again… I’m looking at the dates here, I think I know what date you guys are looking forward to the most…

“Yep. Hell yeah. Nimbin. I’m a bit nervous about that one and what is gonna go down, Nimbin is obviously great though for us! But seriously mate, we are really looking forward to getting back up to The Grand in Cairns – it’s gonna be a sick time, it was so great last year and we loved it… you guys showed us a really good time”

The Bennies are all pretty keen gamers, when you were here last I dug out the old Super Nintendo for the show. Any requests for the game for this show and what would be your favourite of all-time?

“Well I thought Mario Kart went down a real treat last time, that was a nice touch man so i’d bring that back for sure… maybe like NBA Jam or like Road Rash… Road Rash was pretty sick. I was a pretty hyperactive child so my parents pushed me into sports and generally wanted me to be outside, but when I was at home it was always console gaming – trying to keep my brain out of trouble I guess.
Favourites though… it’s hard to pick them all but when this question comes up there are 3 I refer to…. #1 Road Rash 64 – I just played that so much, what a fucking rad game. #2 is a little controversial but i love the new Mario Kart on Wii U – it might be early days to say it’s one of my favourites of all time.. but fuck i don’t think i’m ever gonna get sick of that game. #3 Goldeneye on 64, I mean it’s a no brainer.. one of the best games ever on any console….. Also the arcade version of Mortal Kombat… that was my first love, I can’t remember peoples phone numbers and shit but I still remember the button combo’s for the fatalities in that game man!”

I spent many an afternoon in arcades with shifty older men teaching me those combinations, you never forget!

Back to Wisdom Machine though, your manager Bosma wrote the lyrics for “West Memphis Three Paper”, has he written on any of your other releases?

“No, not as yet… but we’d really like to add a conspiratorial element to our albums from now on that Bosma is gonna write, so hopefully this is the first of many instalments. But apart from that contribution, he’s pulled a bong on every other recording we’ve ever done.. except for this one.”

You guys had many fine guest performers play on this album, including members of The Kujo Kings, Beacons, Frenzal Rhomb, Wet Pensioner, Morning Glory, and The Interrupters. Who pulled out the best performance in your opinion?

“I was most excited by Jay from Frenzal, but my favourite performance was probably Ezra from Morning Glory. We sent him over a demo to sing on and when it came back, we thought “this is wild, like really crazy” his delivery and style was just so unique. But then when we put it with the finished music it just fit so well, it really inspired us to try a bit harder with our vocals and put a bit more feeling into things and try different approaches. That was a defining moment in the process of this album and I look back at his contribution fondly.”

What are you looking forward to about getting back to Cairns again? Did we leave you with some good memories last time?

“My favourite memory was just how all the regular locals just stayed in the bar.. like the guys that are just there every day. I mean they just didn’t really seem to mind the chaos that was going on around them, you don’t really get that anywhere else in Australia and I thought that was quite funny.. It kind of felt like we were playing in their lounge room which was really cool. Really dude what I’m most looking forward to is just hanging with the crew again, Yourself and Pappi showed us a really good time and that’s why really want to come back, plus the show was mad!”

On a personal note, This is the last show that I’ll be booking for Garageland @ The Grand and I’d just like to thank everyone that has helped make this monster grow into the juggernaut it has become.

Mostly, Pidge.

But including all the MOFO crew, all the bands that have played, the staff and management at The Grand Hotel and Todd and the team at NQ Music Press. There’s many others that make this work, I could go on for pages and pages. (No you couldn’t – Ed)

The Bennies perform LIVE at Garageland @ The Grand, July 22nd (Show Day) with doors opening at 7PM.
Supported by Jobstopper, Crimes, and Tropic Roots.
Tickets are on sale now from http://www.thebennies.com.au

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