By Bobby Rein
It’s no doubt that The Bennies are the 420 Ska kings of the Australian music scene. With their third album Wisdom Machine set for release on March 25, and a national tour kicking off a couple days after that, Bear Family’s Bobby Rein had a chat with lead singer/synth player Anty Horgan about the album, photobonging, shoeys, and Nintendo 64.
BF: We’ve had a taste of the new record with Legalise (But Don’t Tax), can we expect any more teasers prior to the release of Wisdom Machine on March 25?
TB: Yeah, I reckon! We’re planning to have the next single out before then but I’m not too sure. We made our first music video the other day for it. Well, we made had a music video for Party Machine but that was just live footage. The upcoming video has a story to it and it was pretty fun. It had a DeLorean and everything.
BF: How would you describe Wisdom Machine in a couple of words?
TB: I think the subtitle does it ‘s justice itself. A Journey Into the Mind of The Bennies.
BF: So you’ll be setting out on a giant national album tour, hitting the capital cities and a couple of lucky extras; Are there any specific tracks you’re particularly looking forward to playing live?
TB: We haven’t really had a chance to sort out a setlist just yet, but I’m seriously looking forward to playing any new songs to the audiences. I am really hoping that we can play the last song off the record O Brother, Where Art Thou?
BF: Also, any particular city or venue you’re looking forward to playing in?
TB: They’re all awesome in their own way really. We’ve got a reason to love every city for its own reason. Adelaide is great, we’ve always been received well there. Melbourne will be awesome of course, it’s nearly sold out. Corner Hotel is such a good venue. Tassie is always silly and a bit cheeky, and Brisbane is always a bit of a wildcard.
BF: And you’re finishing up the tour in the Sunshine Coast, at Solbar?
TB: Yeah, we are. I haven’t been there before but I’ve heard nothing but great things. I’m really hoping we’ll be able to stick around and party that night, as opposed to driving back to Brisbane after the show.
BF: What does the remainder of 2016 look like for The Bennies?
TB: We’ve kind of got it loosely mapped out until mid-year. We’ll head over to Europe and the UK and when we get back, we hope to do an extensive regional AUS tour. Then hopefully head to America after that and probably come back and do another Australian tour.
BF: You’ve toured and supported some huge bands of your genre: Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, and even NOFX. Who have been personal highlights or a dream come true for you to play with? And who else would you love to tour with in the future?
TB: Yeah, it’s pretty fucking funny hey! We’ve played with so many bands that we’ve always wanted to play with. Playing with NOFX was absolutely incredible. Seeing something on such a big scale done so well is awesome. They’re still all very DIY, like they have a pretty small crew and it just runs real smoothly. Less Than Jake was unreal! They were my favourite band when I was in school. Sometimes you worry about playing with your idols, like you just hope they’re not going to be dickheads. They just couldn’t be nicer dudes. Every night we played with Less Than Jake one of them would come out and do a horn section with us and that was just cool as fuck.
As far as bands I would love to play with… I’d love to play with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Or The Slackers.
BF: Alright, we’ve got a stranded on a desert island type situation and you’ve got a Nintendo 64 console and the genie grants you a wish for three games only. What do you choose? Choose wisely.
TB: Oh man! That’s near impossible to choose!
1. Well definitely Mario Kart 64 – that’s a no-brainer.
2. Probably, Mario 64 – that’s a fucking awesome game.
3. Ahhh, fuck this is tough. Well I was actually a huge fan of Bomberman 64. It’s a bit shit, and the 1p mode totally sucked but the multiplayer mode was fun.
If I was able to sweet talk myself an extra two games I reckon I’d grab Goldeneye and some sort of WWF wrestling game.
BF: We understand that The Bennies are the pioneers and at pro level status of Photobonging. What is your view on the almighty Shoey?
TB: Ah, I don’t really like doing it myself and I’m not sure that anybody does actually. Every now and then someone tries to pressure me into doing it, but I just do my best to turn it around on them. It is funny though, it’s weird that it’s a thing. Actually, we played this festival in Tassie once and I managed to craft a bong out of a shoe. So that’s kind of similar.
BF: Well, maybe we’ll witness some onstage shoeys during the March/April tour.
TB: Yeah, probably. It sort of just happens, whether we want it or not really.
BF: Dead or alive, who would be in the foreground of an ultimate, elite, top of the range photobong?
TB: Oh man, probably the queen hey! Wouldn’t get much better than that. Something to aspire to, I guess.
BF: Plot twist… You were saved from the desert island upon completion of Mario 64 and you decide to check out desert island number two. The genie supplies you with a stereo and a wish for three records…
TB: Ohhhh, shit! Alright, well at least I’ve got my 120 stars! That’s so fucking tough! I’d need some reggae for sure.
1. Bob Marley would make the cut. Maybe the album, Kaya.
2. Queen. Probably just the greatest hits album to cover all the bangers.
3. Crowded House. I’ll go with the greatest hits again because it’s too hard otherwise.
TB: Alright, your turn. Desert Island, genie gives you a wish for three VHS tapes. What do you choose?
BF: Oh man, the tables have turned! Alright, the first VHS’s that come to mind are The Lion King 1 & 2. I’ll probably grab Flubber as well, just in case.
BF: Thanks for your time this morning. Can’t wait have a listen of Wisdom Machine when it’s out March 25 and catch you guys on tour soon after.
TB: Fuck yeah! Thanks a lot, man!