The Bennies have rocketed themselves sky high into 2018, off the back of the tour for their new album, Natural Born Chillers. The album itself is due out next week (2nd February 2018) and we can assure you, you need to hear it. We chatted all things green, tours, and politics with Jules Rozenbergs (guitar) ahead of the album release.
Your new album has been described as being the “most focused and mature” of The Bennies’ career, but there’s still fun and playfulness about it. Do you feel as though you guys are maturing overall?
I turned 36 two months ago, I’d definitely agree we’re maturing and growing. It’s nice to hear that opinion. There’s still some degree of immaturity, and we haven’t stopped playing, but we’re definitely not conscious of that maturity anyway.
Can you tell about the writing process? How do you guys go about it? I’m guessing the room ends up pretty hazy!
To be honest, we tour a shitload, we get really tired, we take those experiences and distil them into something. There’s a few bags of weed, a few beers, it’s very collaborative. We knock out a few riffs, a few beats, we all flesh it out and it translates into that maturity.
Do you have a favourite song off the new album?
Yeah I do! Destination Unknown and Dreamkillers, I’d say. Destination has a slightly different track, I love the vibe. Dreamkillers has a guitar riff that’s been around for ages, and it finally made it out into the world. It’s exciting when we dabble into unfamiliar territory. I get excited by people pushing themselves, and trying for their heart. It fills me with joy.
What inspires you? I know some of your songs have had a bit of a political influence (Legalise, But Don’t Tax) – are there always meaning behind them?
Look, some of them are deeply personal. There’s a lot behind them, from things that have deeply affected us. They’re like icebergs of songs. There are great and horrible things in life, but we’re pretty amazingly happy considering. We have fun gigs, and I love the electricity that music provides. It really made an impression on how I make music. When people listen, that’s a huge compliment.
'Get High Like An Angel'
Did you feel that you had any expectations or pressure on you guys, given your fans and career to date?
We owe it to anyone who listens to us to do the best we can with our music, not to be complacent and dump shit on people and expect them to like it. So there’s a little bit of that respect for our fans, but also our own judgement. We’re harsh critics on ourselves. Before anyone hears anything, our music goes through a massive filter.
We couldn’t absolutely give a fuck what others think though, that wouldn’t get us anywhere. Expectation has fucked me in the past – so I’ve chucked it in the bin and set it on fire. It’s a fucking waste of time, I’m too old and beautiful for it now!
The law of attraction means that people come together with positivity or negativity. Our attitude of not giving a fuck means we’ve met some of the best people. Our influences and our circle has grown into a sizeable, positive thing. We never would have done the things we’ve done if we listened to people.
“Ska isn’t cool, why don’t you play this style?” – we copped that a lot. We’re careful of people who think they have the answer. There’s no right or wrong.
You get better, you might be shit for ages and then you might get good, or you might not. It’s up to the artist, how much of an impact critics will have. If you let them, you’ve lost something deeply fundamental within yourself. That’s sort of what Dreamkillers is about – people who are unhappy about life, who fuck with your own sense of happiness. I can’t stand that sort of shit.
You guys toured the album late last year. How did it go? How were the songs received?
Super positive. We were stoked with the shows. It was nice to have a little bit of time off, and then head out together again. We had a ball, there’s no doubt about it. I can’t wait for the album to come out, then that’s when we’ll truly know what people think. At the moment though, we’re quite chuffed. Everyone’s being so nice! But then, even if they were saying bad things, I wouldn’t fucking listen.
You guys toured with The Living End last year. There were lots of antics from that tour, according to Chris Cheney (singer). What’s your favourite part of touring?
It’s always about the music, that’s what brings us there and helps us do what we do. Music takes us to extraordinary places to meet extraordinary people.
But oh my god, before and after the show is so much fucking fun. It’s tiring fun, but I really enjoy a gig day. You get there, do sound check, change strings, have a few beers, get something to eat, play your fucking show and everyone fucking rules. Then afterwards you get a chance to mingle with the other bands, and meet those people who have something to say. I really enjoy the social aspect of it all. I reckon I could speak for my colleagues as well on that.
Do you see legalisation of weed changing any time soon? Pretend Malcolm Turnbull is reading this – what would you say to him?
Malcolm, it’s already happening. It’s going to take some time, that’s a given, but realistically
why not help people? Why don’t you want to help people? There’s good science behind it, the world is understanding how it’s helping people with a variety of conditions, it’s not going to fuck you up so … just hurry up! We’ve got booze, that’s shit enough.
Have you guys ever considered stage names? You could be Bennie 1, Bennie 2 … B1, B2 …
I kinda like stage names, they let you have a moniker, you can come out and be bigger htan you think you are. It’s like a tool to empower you. It’s like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man … wrestlers do it, it’s so much more exciting compared to Graham Smith! Look, I love it … but Jules is okay too.
The Bennies - Natural Born Chillers is out Friday 2nd February
Pre-Order your copy of Natural Born Chillers below;