Words by Jack Herz
The Bennies are a band who know what it’s like to start from the bottom and work their way up through the ranks of the Australian music scene without sacrificing their roots. I had a chat with lead singer Anty Horgan about sleeping through the Hottest 100, the importance of friendship and singing your fucking guts out.
Party Machine came in at 88 Triple J hottest 100, what was the reaction like for you and the rest of the band when you heard those first few seconds of drunken screams come through the speakers?
This is going to sound horrible but I was fast asleep. I had a very big night a couple days before so I was a bit out of it but it was a really exciting thing to wake up to. Especially because the wider community, like people who aren’t in bands or involved in music could understand how it was quite a cool achievement. That and people who have followed our music since the start were really proud too, so it was just a really fucking sweet thing to happen.
I really like the artwork for Party Machine, it looks like something I’d find on the bottom of a skateboard, who’s responsible for that?
The guy’s name is TROG and he’s a Melbourne-based artist. He’s done artwork for The Offspring, Cyprus Hill and Cheech and Chong and he hit us up about a year ago asking to draw something for us. TROG’s got that sort of 90’s skate style which really resonates with our music.
Are their plans to put the artwork on a skateboard at all?
We would love to put some Bennies artwork on a skateboard, the only thing that would stop us is the costs.
Who is an Australian band you haven’t toured with yet that you would like to in the future?
We’d love to tour with Violent Soho, that’d be awesome, as well as King Parrot. It’s a bit far fetched but I’d also love to play with The Living End because they got me in to music. AC/DC too but I don’t think that’ll ever happen.
I’ve never seen you guys without a smile on your faces, what would you say to others who want to achieve a more positive outlook on life?
I guess one thing that enables us to remain positive and happy is that we as a band put a lot of value on friendship. Our friends are the most important people to us and we’re lucky to be in a situation where we get to play in a band with our best friends. With that being said, everyone’s different and no-one’s fucking invincible. For some people it might be helpful to find solitude, for others it might be doing something creative. It’s different for each person but I do believe that the more positive we are; the more positivity we’ll receive in return.
I love that you guys borrow from lots of different genres in your music and I particularly appreciate the ska influence that comes through. It’s not a genre you would normally associate with the hottest 100 in this current age and I think it’s great that you guys are bringing it back to the airwaves. What are some of the bands or artists that inspired you to incorporate this element in to your own music?
Firstly, I have always loved ska, I’m a massive fan even though it does tend to get a really bad wrap because it’s so cheesy. Some of the bands that play it can be so bad at it and it can sometimes feel like Wiggles music or whatever but there are some really amazing ska bands out there. Bands like Sublime and The Skins from England are some that people have may have heard of before. Growing up we were into ska punk bands like Less Than Jake, who we actually got to tour with alongside Reel Big Fish last year. These days most of us prefer to listen to more traditional Ska bands such as Toots and the Maytales from Jamaica and The Slackers from New York.
You guys definitely don’t shy away from endorsing weed and it’s many positive attributes. What was your reaction upon hearing the recent news of Australia legalizing medicinal weed?
It’s really exciting stuff, I smoked a spliff in celebration. I don’t really understand why it’s taken so long though because it’s not something we should be scared of and it does have healing qualities. I don’t know exactly when the law’s going to come into effect either but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for sure.
You guys are really good at writing music you can sing along to; how do you go about writing songs with an anthemic quality to them?
When we first started playing music our whole thing was that we wanted to be this trashy as fuck, disco-party band. So when we played our first shows we began hearing from people that there was nothing for them to sink their teeth into. That was the feedback we were receiving so we decided to start writing catchy songs with chorus’s that you could sing along to because we’re trying to make party music and there’s nothing more party than fucking singing your guts out with a group of people. In terms of trying to create that, normally what happens is one of us will have a chorus idea whether that be a melody or a lyric or both and then the song gets built around that idea.
Your upcoming album ‘Wisdom Machine’ comes out next month, can you tell me a bit about what the fans can expect from the new record?
It’s stuff that we’ve done before but it’s all a bit more extreme and pushed. It sounds a million times better and everything’s a lot more purposeful. For example, when we try to do Reggae now, we’re better at it and more committed and when we’re trying to do a disco song it’s more over the top. Honestly, I just fucking can’t wait for everyone to hear it. We put a lot of work in and we’re all so proud of it.
You guys have one of the most hectic touring schedules I’ve ever seen, what’s it like adapting back into society when that all slows down?
It fucking sucks hey. It’s really hard to slow down. You get home from doing all this stuff and you think, oh I’ve earned myself some time to relax but it can be hard to adjust to that when you’re used to the non-stop high energy of touring and the gratification of a crowd yelling. You really have to make a conscious effort to allow yourself to stop and I sometimes find that difficult.
That’s interesting, because you normally hear of bands getting sick of touring and missing home but for you it sounds like it’s the opposite. Yeah definitely. Our hearts and souls are in this thing so when we’re not doing it, it can sort of feel like fuck why aren’t we doing it? I mean there’s obviously times when I’d love to sleep in my own bed or have a day to chill but I’d still take touring over that any day.
So you’ve got this upcoming Wisdom Machine Tour and your album release in March then you’re pretty much heading straight to Europe for another tour, do you guys have anything planned for the rest of the year after that or will it be time for a rest?
After we get back from the Europe tour we’ve got the Big Pineapple Festival in Queensland and then we’ll probably do a more extensive Australian tour with a couple Australian bands. That’s all we have planned at the moment but I’m hoping that we get to go to America at some point too but that all depends on a few different things.
Be sure to catch The Bennies when they play Adelaide Unibar with Off With Their Heads (USA) and Hightime on March 31st. Tickets are available through Oztix.