The Bennies: Ink and Friendship
3 of the 4 The Bennies have been high school friends since they can remember. 2 years ago guitarist Jules Rosenberg 'just fit right in'. Bonding over what keeps us forever young, we catch up with the Melbourne crew getting inked at Brisbane's 198 Tattoo.
“Whiskey bottles and surgery don't mix” guitarist Jules Rosenberg explains as we ask about his favourite tattoo. "It's the one that got adjusted after an incident, glass went straight through where it says 'lucky.' If it had been any deeper, I would have severed nerves and tendons so I count myself very lucky.”
What happened? “It’s a bit of a long story but I was in emergency for 3 days, it took 8 weeks to heal, I had so many stitches, it was ridiculous.”
In true Bennies spirit the conversation finds the lighter side of a bad situation, 6ft 5' tall, Jules found himself knocked out on the surgeons bench, no support for his wayward legs. “I was passed out on the bed with legs flopped over, I just didn’t fit.” As bassist Craig Selak, who was awake at the time, fill us in, “They had to get a wheeled extension so his legs wouldn’t be just hanging there.”
Speaking of injuries. What is the worst any of you have sustained? Vocalist Anty Horgan takes a few minutes out from getting his Mario Piranha ink to throw in a memory of their Sydney show, “Last night, I jumped in the air and landed pretty hard on a shard of glass that went straight into my foot and we had to pull it out - that really sucked.”
Bowie recalls some nights requiring a head of steel, “I’ve done a few things, I’ve hit my head on a concrete wall, low ceilings and shit….I hit lighting, more so after gigs.”
Jules recounts, “We’ve been pretty lucky… I reckon the worst one I’ve seen wasn’t in The Bennies, it was Brad of The Tearaways, he jumped on the stacks and knocked himself out on a lighting bar, he was concussed behind an amp for a while.” How long was he there for? Responding and laughing in unison, “Until we noticed!”
Craig: “We were like ‘Where’s Brad?’ He must have gone to the toilet or something… he’ll be back.”
Grateful for a party trick that is no longer in their arsenal, Craig explains “Anty used to do this thing when he jumped on my shoulders when I’m playing bass but luckily he doesn’t do that anymore [looks at Anty] my lower back thanks you for that!”
“I wanted to pass out so bad but there were too many joints going around, I didn't get a chance.” - Craig Selak
Existing party tricks? Very matter of factly, Jules thinks on his feet, “We can smoke weed at a pretty curious rate.” Cue laughter and Bowie's vague after show memories, “Last night, if someone had been counting, we would have been in the 30s or 40s in the number of joints.”
Jules: “Multiples of double digits”
Craig: “We boxed out the upstairs of the Captain Cook Hotel.”
Bowie: “It was like a thick fog, you wouldn't even need to smoke a joint, you would just have to sit there.”
Craig: “I wanted to pass out so bad but there were too many joints going around I didn't get a chance.”
The Influences and Writing
“Black Sabbath and Bob Marley”, Jules runs of the top of his head. Craig picks it up from there, “Definitely Operation Ivy, The Clash, Rancid, Sublime, mainly because they mix so many genres.”
Jules outlines how their songs come together, “It’s kind of conceptual, you write a song and you say 'fuck that reminds me of Op Ivy, thats sick' and we’ll go down the rabbit hole...sometimes you’ll watch Dimebag jamming out and say that's heavy as fuck - we could do that.” But what it all comes down too is, “How do we bridge that and make people dance as well?… It’s not revolutionary but it’s who we are.”
“We don’t want to copy anyone - fuck that. We’re just true to ourselves. These 3 [rest of the band] were in a Metallica covers band so who knows how that influences what we do.”
"I have just got the best image of a whales blowing smoke through his mouth with the cone in the blowhole and a bucket." - Jules Rosenberg
Are Your Mothers Proud?
"I don't know if my Mum will be proud after I get a tattooed today" Craig puts forward. This afternoon sees the man getting his first tattoo - a ghost and Big Foot travelling in a UFO artistically etched on his arm.
Jules: "My parents were at the show in Melbourne on Friday, I thought about it before, like should we change what we do if our parents are coming? Then I thought, nah - it would be like playing government sanctioned rock n roll."
Craig: "They were loving it!"
Jules: "It's all smiles, I mean they know, love us or lump us we’re not trying to harm people we’re into having a good time... we’re not trying to bring an aggressive attitude, just an aggressive party attitude, they appreciate that."
Craig: "Yeah. You better fucking party or else."
"I would be Jules, I'd would love to know what goes on inside that guy's head." - Anty Horgan
If You Could Be Anyone For A Day?
“Absorbing man out of Thor” declares Jules in a second, “He can touch shit and become it.” But it's not all sunshine for this super hero, "He gets fucked up because they trick him into becoming water he gets all lost." Sparking the imagination he continues, "Touching lightening and becoming lightening, that would be awesome... Becoming a storm would be a great thing, out at sea - so no one gets hurt."
Bowie: "I think it would be pretty cool to be a whale, just swimming along singing whale songs."
Craig: "I’d like to be Kelly Slater, I would just love to have the balls to surf some huge tubes like him, he would have a pretty sweet life. Being in a situation where I know how to 360 this wall instead of bailing... I would love storms I'd go surf 'em." An idea triggers, "Maybe you could be the storm, whales could be pumping out the tunes!..."
Jules: "Just so Craig gets some sweet waves!"
Bowie attempts whale noises and fails: "I just sound like the Water Boy when he gets angry."
Jules: "Bowie would tow you out into the fucking storm man."
[It's getting intense]
Bowie: "And you know how they pump out that air shit."
Jules: "The blowhole."
Bowie: "You can help me smoke a joint through the blowhole and you would have a cone piece and then you get a bucket because it takes heaps of weed to get a whale high."
Jules: "I have just got the best image of a whales blowing smoke through his mouth with the cone in the blowhole and a bucket."
Craig: "New t-shirt right there!"
[Insert laughter here]
Coming in post ink Anty is utterly bewildered by his buddy's imagination, "I would be Jules, I'd would love to know what goes on inside that guy's head."
The Bennies Can’t Tour Without
All together now, “Nintendo DS’” As Bowie explains, “We play multi player Mario Cart on our Ds’ together in the one place.” Craig “It makes the flights go so much faster."
Producer and mix master of The Bennies latest release 'Rainbows in Space', Sam Johnson is here: "They ask me how long the flight is and i'Il say an 1 and a half hours, and they are like: 'Right. That's 6 games of Mario Cart.'
"That’s how they measure distance, how many grad prix circuits of Mario cart they can fit in. "
Another addiction lies in the paranormal as Bowie reveals, "We listen to these conspiracy podcasts called The Higherside Chats. If we do a road trip we will crank a couple of those podcasts out."
Craig: "They are these young dudes from the US that get all these experts on outer body experiences, astro travel conspiracy and alien technology - stuff that makes your head explode."