The Benthams – Interview

By • Apr 25th, 2008 • Category: Indie, Interview, Music, Rock

A few weeks back Chris Roy of the Benthams wrote:
We are a four piece band, originally from Perthshire but now based in Glasgow called The Benthams. Personally, we would define our sound as energetic yet melodic indie/rock, with influences such as James, The Stone Roses, Snow Patrol, Cream, The Rolling Stones and Oasis. Having established a strong fan-base after successful gigs around the Dundee and Glasgow area, we have recently recorded a four track EP which is going to be released online on itunes and e-music on 28th April, promoted by gigs in the major cities in Scotland to begin with.

So having a soft spot for Scottish bands, I went and had a listen and found all the things that I really like about Scottish Bands. “False Hope” with it’s Big Countryish guitars was the song that immediately caught my attention.

The band  has supplied a copy of “False Hope” for you to listen to while you read on

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So after a bit of chat with Chris, I sent him a list of questions and they become the interview that follows.

The Benthams B&W1

The Benthams Interview

Q: Lets start with how did you first meet up and decide “lets form a band”?

Chris: We all knew each other from high school – Chris, Ali and Tom started playing acoustic sets of their own material at band nights in obscure local towns, before bassist ‘Tuesday’ joined the band to complete the line-up and then we started to get serious…

Q: So where does the inspiration come from? What other producers, songwriters and/or artists fire you up?

Chris: If we allowed Ali to write this by himself it would consist solely of Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher and all things Oasis related, however, luckily, the rest of the band have a more diverse passion for music, with Rage Against The Machine, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Snow Patrol and James being some of our favourite artists and musical heroes

Q: I have been listening to your recent EP. Could you tell us a little bit about it? Tell us how the songs developed, how long did it all take from starting writing and then recording the material?

Chris: The songs we write try and capture some of the frustrations frequently experienced in life, but from an optimistic perspective, and the EP tracks definitely portray an element of this. 2007 was a year where we focused on being creative and refining our own sound, and over a period of 6-8 months of writing new material we felt the songs we chose to be put on the EP were the songs we were most proud of and best represented the sound the band is trying to create.

Q: How did you approach creating the material?

Chris: It varies really. For the second song on the EP (Send The Poet) we used lyrics Chris wrote randomly during a night of insomnia and they fitted well with a chord progression we had in mind, whereas songs like Sunset Fire and Calling Out Your Name started with a basic chord progression and we developed lyrics and the structure of the songs as we rehearsed together. We feel that if you try and impose a set method and structure to the writing process it gets a bit difficult, and that the best work is created with a bit of added spontaneity and rawness which gives it its own unique feel

Q: Now that the songs are recorded do you get any surprises when you hear it?

Chris: The songs sometimes have to be changed slightly from the versions we were used to playing live. Working in the studio and hearing the mixes over and over gives you the perfect opportunity to assess every single part of the song and it makes it easier to identify parts that would benefit from trying something slightly different. Hearing a recording of your own material does give you a few surprises as you get a better appreciation of the other band member’s contributions, as it’s more difficult to hear the all round sound when you’re playing live and focusing on the sound coming from your own amp or monitor!

Q: What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?

Chris: The internet and MySpace in particular, despite its drawbacks, still gives musicians and artists the opportunity to have their music heard by a much bigger potential audience. We have recently signed a publishing contract and we’re excited about the possibility of our music being distributed all over the world, throughout the music industry and the opportunities this might bring us. Listening back to the music we first wrote, compared to now, shows we have come a long way in a relatively short time and we feel confident that we will continue to develop and progress to the next level.

One of the things we have been really touched by is the support we’ve received from friends and family. They have been behind us from the very beginning and given us as much support as possible which has really helped spur us on and encourage us during times when we felt we weren’t getting any luck. Our hometown, in Perthshire, is on the opposite side of the country from where we are based now, but a large of number of friends will always make the long trip through to see our gigs and support us and we’re very grateful for that. It makes playing all the more worthwhile

Q: What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?

Chris: There are many aspects of the music industry that can get quite discouraging. It’s very frustrating when you realise how “cliquey” some areas of the industry are; some people won’t give your music the time of day because you’re not represented by a well known company or manager, which is a pity. If there were less politics in the business there would be many more bands getting a break because they deserve it on merit, due to their talent and work ethic

Q: As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people…and why do you think that is?

Chris: We are constantly coming across new music from our gigging experiences and contact with management and promotions companies, and it makes you realise just how many good bands there are out there. We’ve met a lot of talented new bands creating exciting music and a lot of nice people too! It’s also often interesting to compare our own music to other bands around us in similar positions

Q: How did you produce and finance your musical productions?

Chris: We came across a really good producer at a local studio who was great to work with so we decided to record our EP there because we trusted he would do our songs justice in the recording/producing process. We spent a lot more time in the studio with the EP compared to previous recordings and we were very proud of the results, and it was also something we thoroughly enjoyed. But record production is a very costly process which meant we had to stretch our student loans and overdrafts to their limits, resulting in a fair few weeks of living on beans on toast and tins of soup afterwards!

The Benthams Live 1

Q: How hard is it for you to find gigs?

Chris: We do find it relatively easy to play local gigs around Glasgow and are quite lucky that the Glasgow music scene is vibrant and lively. There are lots of promoters to put on gigs, but its very easy for bands to fall into the trap of playing gigs arranged by promotion companies where the band don’t get the best deal, so we have to be careful with any gig we play that we know how well organised and advertised the event is going to be in order for us to be exposed to new audiences and potential fans. As our reputation is growing we are hoping to start getting on the bills with bigger bands in the near future to help our music be exposed to a wider target audience and we definitely want to start branching out and playing more gigs in areas of the country where we aren’t really known.

Q: What do think of “giving your music away”? Any thoughts on Radiohead’s decision to release an album on its own? What do you think of the music industry today?

Chris: It is definitely a good thing in some respects. There’s a lot of huge bands making millions and maybe they should be giving something back to the fans who’ve loyally supported them from the start and helped get them where they are.

The music industry has been and always will be a very difficult and unfair business to work in but it has been completely changed by the emergence of the internet and MySpace etc, making anyone and everyone’s music readily available at your fingertips. In a sense it gives anyone who wants to make music the chance to get their stuff “out there”, but because there’s so many people doing just that it is still just as difficult to get noticed, and it seems being successful in the music industry will always require a great deal of luck and being in the right place at the right time – which unfortunately means many good bands who deserve a break go unnoticed – but we remain hopeful that by working hard enough we can create our own luck and we will strive to get our music heard by as many people as we can.


Chris: How about: Which celebrity would you most like to punch?

The list is endless, but some candidates who we think deserve a good smack are: Ian Wright, Sharon Osbourne, Jonny Borrell, Bianca from Eastenders and Ashley Cole

Q: What are you currently up to? And what can we expect from you next? What are your future plans or dreams as a musicians?

Chris: Our EP is coming out soon so we are very busy in preparation for its release: promoting it with lots of gigs, primarily in the major cities in Scotland to begin with but we are also hoping to venture down south at some point in the summer and play a few gigs. We’re working hard to try and get ourselves the opportunity to support a few bigger bands and get on the bill at a few of the many festivals in the summer.

We are also always writing new material for the next recording, we’re constantly getting more confident in our writing and we’ve got one or two brand new songs which we are really excited about and have had a good reaction from live audiences, so we’re looking forward to getting back into the studio when we can.

A couple of our dreams as musicians would be to open for some of our musical heroes, to play on the same bill as a band like Oasis would be fantastic. Another dream would be to play on the main stage at T in the Park. Our hometown’s not far from Balado, where the event is held, which would make it really special to play, but also because its an event we’ve grown up going to and seen so many great bands play there, the atmosphere at the festival is like nothing else we’ve ever experienced, and that’s just from being in the crowd, so we can’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like to play at it.

Q: Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?

Chris: There’s always a few new bands that we listen to quite a lot, and its always interesting to keep an eye on the new music scene for stuff that catches our attention, but we go through phases of different styles, depending on our moods. Tom is really into Blues, stuff like Clapton and John Lee Hooker, Chris and Ali like a bit of Britpop, in particular the Stone Roses and Oasis, while Tuesday is into a bit more heavy music like Taking Back Sunday and The Used. But in general, the stuff we’ve all been listening to recently is probably older music that’s been around a while, with the Rolling Stones and James being listened to quite a lot.

And the last question: What’s on high rotation on your MP3 player at the moment that we should know about?

Chris: We’re all really excited about Rage Against The Machine playing at T in the Park so we’ve listening to quite a lot of their albums recently.

One band Chris and Tom are quite passionate about is a Glasgow outfit called Union of Knives, who have an electro/indie sound but with a dark and moody tone. Their debut album is intensely powerful and magnetising, and they have received nowhere near as much recognition as their talent’s deserve. Other bands we’re really into at the minute are The Cribs, Kings of Leon, Air Traffic and we’re looking forward to the new albums from The Delays and Coldplay which are both coming out soon

Thanks to Chris of The Benthams for his time and if you are in Glasgow next Tuesday the 29th April, head down Saucihall Street to BOX and help the lads launch their EP. I wish I could go but the commute is a killer

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is fascinated by guitars, music, guitars, production, silly noises, guitars and used to be a musician. Did I mention the thing about the guitars?
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One Response »

  1. check these boys out. seriously the guitarist is pretty hot!

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