People seem to describe bands by listing off names of other bands they sound like. It's akin to when you meet someone, develop a crush, and try to explain to your friend who lives across the country what this person looks like. You list off a mixture of famous people to create an image that becomes a muddied version of reality. In fact when we first heard this band we had to stop what we were doing and compose ourselves and an email to our friend in Colorado. And, well, if you want the muddied descriptive here we go. Imagine some alternate universe in which Massive Attack and Jeff Buckley had just listened to Kid A, then performed a show together of all original trip hop/rock songs...this is Benzos. They are complex, textured rocktronica and NYC has developed a huge crush.
Benzos are Christian (vox/guitar/synth), Steve (drums/programming), Eiko (bass), Brian (guitar/vox/programming), Mike (vox/guitar/programming/synth), Matt (synth/programming/vox). This week Christian took some time out to answer our questions...
Let's get this out of the way, where did you band name originate?
When we first got together to write songs we weren't really thinking about naming the band. Somewhere in the process we were hanging out and the word "benzos" was mentioned in a conversation and we were immediately hit by the sound of it. It had a ring to it.
What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?
Well when I was 15 and first took a trip from the suburbs right outside of New York City into the Port Authority. My mom said "make sure you don't make eye contact with anyone on the street because you'll attract attention and get abducted", so i just remember being nervous and looking down at the pavement as i walked.
What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
My least favorite memory or memories are all the parking tickets i've received. My favorite would have to be playing right before Blonde Redhead at Irving Plaza to a full house.
What is your favorite place to drink in NYC? What's the best night of the week to go out in the city?
Any place I can get drink tickets. Whats the best night of the week to go out in the city? Probably Tues. or Wed. because anywhere you go you'll be around the locals and it's never too crowded.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York? Is there a difference between shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn?
It's always great to play in the city because you're sharing the bill with some very cool, innovative bands and artists. The worst part is having to deal with the grumpy, jaded soundguys. Is there a difference between shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn? oh yeah, it's very hard to get people out to see you in Brooklyn, haha. It's like going to a different country.
Do you think your New York connection shows in your music? If so, how?
I don't really think so. We all live just outside of the city so we're not really around the "scene" too much to let it rub off on us. We try to reach out to everyone and every type of musical style which I feel prevents us from being pigeon-holed into the "new york sound", although the new york sound has been diversifying in the last year, so maybe we are. The electronic influences we have are all european and that is a big factor as well.
Now it's time for some fill-in-the-blank action:
You know youve made it when...
you can quit your shitty job and live off the music.
It'll be time to pack up the gear for good when...
you're playing to no one at rye playland (in Westchester, NY) like Cheap Trick was this past summer.
I'll never forget the first time I...
I'll never forget the first time [insert another band members name here]...
Brian (guitarist) reminisced about his club days.
And finally, let's have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if you've got no discernable feelings, make something up that wont embarrass you in the morning):
Whenever she says 'fo real y'allz
Bridge & Tunnel
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
Questions inspired by movies...
What came first, the music or the misery? ( High Fidelity )
A few quickies on the music tip:
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
There already is one, Pink Floyd
If you released a 7" what would you put on the cover?
The image we're using on our album right now
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
First: Nirvana "Nevermind", Last: U2 "How to Dismantle..."
Benzos will be co-headlining with the Dears on Saturday January 15th at 10pm at the Mercury Lounge. Win tickets to the sold out show here.
Their debut record,Morning Stanzas will be released in April on Stinky Records.