Shoot the Shit…
Shoot: The Bennies
The Bennies have quickly established themselves as one of the hardest working and (apparently) hardest partying ska/punk bands in Australia. They are on the road this April/May promoting their new 7″ Better Off Dread. Frontman Anty talks about signing breasts in this interview – twice. Read on.
Your most recent tour was the Young Drunks Tour with The Smith Street Band and Bomb The Music Industry and was probably your most extensive Australian jaunt to date. How did the band hold up? Still friends? Energised by it rather than jaded?
Ha! Great question. It was the most extensive tour we have done for sure. We held up fine! We get along very well. Like everyone though, there will be times when we start to irritate each other. For example, the other guys get really pissed off at all the breasts I get asked to sign. But after I explain to them how it makes sense because I’m the best dude, they all say, “Yeah you are right, you are the best”. Then we just move on.
We were treated really well on that tour. The Smith Street Band are extremely close mates of ours and looked after us so well. It was a great experience for us getting to see how a band like that tour. We learnt heaps about what not to do.
What are you most looking forward to on the upcoming tour?
Every single one of the shows is exciting to me for a different reason. We get to go back to Adelaide which we love like a second home. We get to go to Tassie which is like a second home. Also, Newcastle and Sydney are like second homes as well. (Ed: Wouldn’t that make at least one of them a third home, Anty?)
I am really excited about people hearing our new record the most though. It’s been a while since we put anything out, and we are all really proud of this record.
Would you agree part of your ‘success’ is not taking yourselves too seriously when so many other young bands out there do? I mean, the video for your new single Better Off Dread is just someone playing a retro video game called ‘Duck Hunt’ for three minutes. That’s fucking awesome.
Haha, yeah that was funny. That was a dig at The Smith Street Band. Some dude put up a video on Youtube of himself going duck hunting for a day and used Smith Street music as the soundtrack. They were pretty unhappy about it. The internet went kinda mental for a day talking about it. It was exactly the same time we were announcing our launch and stuff, so it all just came together perfectly. Mind you, we kinda fucked it for ourselves because we didn’t explain that gag to anyone nor had we released that song anywhere else.
We have started being asked about this ‘seriousness’ thing a bit recently actually. Craig said it pretty well the other night, “We couldn’t be more serious about our band, but we don’t take ourselves seriously”. We just wanna have a great time and so we try and make music that spreads that vibe.
Does the carefree attitude sometimes land you with an unwanted tag as a ‘joke’ band? You seem to have worked pretty bloody hard to get the opportunities you are enjoying right now.
This is an awesome question, but hard for me to answer. If we have ever been referred to as a joke band, no one has said it to my face.
Sure we may have jokes and muck around – but I reckon we have credible music to back it. All the dudes can shred and we practice so much at keeping our shit tight. I think people that are put off by joke/silly/less serious bands may be able to look past that in us because we do it well.
In relation to the song Better Of Dread, I read it is about a “lack of local representation” for ska music in Melbourne. What do you think are some of the more specific challenges for a band wanting to go out and play ska music today compared to any other band?
The last few questions are kinda of reflective of the challenges. Ska can be dismissed very quickly for being too cheesy or something like that. The ska scene is healthy, but small. It’s not slow or political enough for the reggae scene and too happy for the punks. In Melbourne one thing that is awesome though is ska bands will always be given a chance. If a new band emails us or another band about a gig – they will be put on a lineup.
When we go on tour we get heaps of people saying to us, “Oh fuck yeah, Ska! I haven’t listened to that in ages! I forgot how much I loved it. YOU GUYS ARE SO GREAT, CAN YOU SIGN MY BREASTS?” Ha!
The ska scene in Australia has been quiet for a while now – but there are some awesome bands starting to smash it, so hopefully everyone is reminded of how great it is.
Where do you think the attraction to playing your style of music came from anyway?
We loosely started the band in 2009. This was easily the biggest party year for all of us. We wanted to make a band that just summed up the wildest and craziest nights. To do that we needed fast beats, synthesizers, filthy guitars and bouncy bass lines. The lyrical content was a no brainer. Once we kinda put them together – it became The Bennies.
Who wins in a Party Band Battle of the Bands – The Bennies or Andrew W.K? Any other contenders?
I think in that scenario we either all win or we all lose!
Finally, I have got to ask – the band used to be called Madonna and is it true you changed the name after a warning from ol’ Madge herself? What happened?
Haha, no! We started our band because we want to play Meredith Music Festival. A friend of ours who rips off bands (oops, sorry, he ‘books’ them) told us that no festival would book a band with the name Madonna. It was a weird and sad thing changing the name. Felt a bit like selling out. But things have been heaps better since we changed the name. Either way, those rumours are sick!