The Bennies: “We’re Approaching This Band Like It Won’t Last Forever”

Life’s pretty sweet if you’re in The Bennies. With a solid 18 months of touring, recording and straight-up partying now under their belts, the Melbourne four-piece have their sights set on new horizons, new adventures and some even bigger opportunities, not the least of which is the 2015 Soundwave Festival.

The band are also set to hit the road on a massive headline tour, as well as joining New York outfit Morning Glory and punk legends Dead Kennedys on their forthcoming Australian tours. And all of this is happening in the midst of recording sessions for the band’s hotly anticipated new studio album.

To find out how the band manages to maintain a shred of sanity in the face of non-stop gigging and constant recording pressure, Music Feeds caught up with guitarist Jules Rozenbergs to discuss the band’s hectic schedule, Soundwave, and where the band’s productive drive comes from.

Music Feeds: Seems as though you’ve been maintaining pretty hectic lives since last year. The crazy touring schedule alone must be killer. How have you guys been keeping up with everything?

Jules Rozenbergs: Basically, it’s hectic, but it’s it’s broken up into smaller missions. It’s pretty enjoyable. I know people make it sound like it’s such a task, and maybe the joke’s on us, but we’re having a ball! It’s a pretty exciting time for the band, we’re only a few years old, and everyone’s worked really hard.

There’s been such a great momentum through touring and recording, and we’ve been able to look back and see that we’ve really achieved so much in our short time together. As crazy as things get, we like to give ourselves some downtime and regroup.

MF: You’ve gotta be able to step back and appreciate what wonderful things are happening for you guys at the moment.

JR: Exactly. I can’t speak for the band, only myself, but I like to think this is what you dream of when you start a band. We’re really feeling chuffed. We’re humbled by the fans and people who give us the time of day. It’s all so fucking lovely [laughs]

Watch: The Bennies – Hold On

MF: You’re evidently very hard workers, so you’ve earned everything that’s happening for you. Revel in it!

JR: Thanks, man. We take a lot of pride in what we do. It’s our art, it’s how we express ourselves. When you aspire to do something and you feel like you’re getting there, you don’t wanna do a shit job, because that’s what you choose to do. I mean, you’re selling yourself short otherwise, you’ve gotta nurture your passions.

MF: You’re old hands at touring now, it seems. What’s the best part about being on the road?

JR: For me, the best part is sharing the unusual experiences. For example, on the weekend, we were playing at the Poison City Weekender at the Corner Hotel, which was rad. All our mates were there, it was great to be a part of it.

The next day, we flew to Sydney and played a psych-trance party. We’re in this canyon, meeting people, wonderful people in social circles and locations that you’d never dream of being in. Then there’s also having the opportunity to better ourselves, which comes from time on the road. We’ve come from humble beginnings and now we’re on the road all the time. We’re getting such great feedback from audiences.

MF: Is there a downside to constantly touring?

JR: Like everything, there’s a downside. One of the main things is that you are constantly away from home. We miss our partners, our friends and family – they’re all so supportive of what we’re doing, but it doesn’t change the fact that, on occasion, you’ll miss a wedding or a birthday or Father’s Day. And when you’re feeling tired and over it, that’s when you most want to be home, to be there for special occasions.

But that’s life. Timetables clash. When you do get that valuable time to catch up, it’s all the more worthwhile. As for being in your bandmates’ pockets, we really don’t grate on each other. The question is always then how much can you really party? [laughs] You pick each other up, dust them off. You’ve got each other’s backs.

MF: All the more reason to make the most of your time away as a band.

JR: Exactly. We never take anything for granted.

MF: So… Soundwave!

JR: Yes!

Watch: The Bennies – Knights Forever

MF: You guys were recently named on the bill for 2015 – awesome!

JR: It’s a fucking dream come true. I’m a music fan. Like, a real big fan. So let me just take my musician hat off for a second. If someone were to say to me in my teenaged years, “Hey, Jules. One day, you know Soundgarden and Faith No More, who you’re listening to constantly? In 15 years’ time, you’re going to be at a festival, not attending, playing in a band that plays fucking ska music”, no way would I have believed it.

We’re giddy. We’re so thankful. We feel like school kids again. So stoked. What an opportunity.

MF: Amazing! How did it all play out?

JR: Like a lot of things in our band, it wasn’t textbook. Rewind back to last year’s Soundwave. The Porkers were tweeting AJ [Maddah] about being axed from the lineup. Craig, our bass player, then got in on the conversation and was simply like, “Give US a go, man!” And he was like, “Sure!” It was over Twitter.

So, that happened – we played the Melbourne leg of Soundwave last year. We took the opportunity, we played our hearts out, and it would seem the positive feedback got back to AJ, who was like, “Yeah, boys, let’s put you on the lineup!” That time it was an email. Pretty mundane for such a massive moment for us.

We’ve been so fortunate – the timing was perfect, we’re ready, and we’re doing what we love. Not to sound cheesy, [but] it’s all about the timing with that one.

MF: So as if you hadn’t had enough touring, you’ve got some pretty massive tours coming up. Are we also going to be hearing some new tunes?

JR: Yeah, man! So we’re doing the national tour and we’re travelling around with Morning Glory for about a month – like, ASAP. And then we’re touring with The Dead Kennedys and then we go to America for a month!

We’re actually doing some recording this weekend, the demos are sounding crash hot. By the time Soundwave rolls around we’re aiming to have a 7-inch good to go and, all thing’s willing and without jinxing anything, we’re hoping to have an album done for April 2015. We’ll take a bit of time off around then, which, knowing us, will be as psychotic as our touring schedule [laughs]

Now, I don’t mean to sound as though I think the band will break up any time soon – not the case. But we’re approaching this band thing like it won’t last forever and we just wanna write as many songs and record them and put out as much material and tour as much as we possibly can. We wanna have something to show for our efforts, the memories of us to be… you know, good!

The Bennies will be touring nationally throughout September – details via the official Bennies website. The band will also appear as part of the Soundwave 2015 lineup – full details here.

Watch: The Bennies – Bankrobber

Soundwave Festival 2015

Saturday, 21st February & Sunday, 22nd February 2015
Bonython Park, Adelaide, South Australia
Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 21st February & Sunday, 22nd February 2015
Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, Victoria
Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 28th February & Sunday, 1st March 2015
Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 28th February & Sunday, 1st March 2015
RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane, Queensland
Tickets: Soundwave

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