February 18, 2010
John Brown’s Body Interview
This week we’re introducing you to the band, John Brown’s Body. We sat down with drummer Tommy Benedetti to get the scoop on their creative sound, how the current band emerged from tragedy, and more.
Check ‘em out.
1. You guys seem to have reinvented John Brown’s Body at a very dark time in the band’s history. How did that come about and how are you a different band today because of those decisions?
Well, it came to a point where it was sink or swim for us. We had already brought in Nate Edgar on bass and Mike Keenan on guitar, who were both key players to get on board. Elliot and I both knew that we still had the foundation to continue on and really explore this “future roots” sound that we were coming into. So out of these personnel changes and tragedy, we started to see the potential to take JBB to the next musical level. JBB still exists because of the decisions that we made and bringing crucial people into the family at a crucial time.
2. You describe your style as “future roots” music. What would you like to come to mind for people when they hear that term?
I guess that JBB is a band that has incredible love and respect for roots reggae and dub music, but we are much more than that. We want to push ourselves creatively and sonically, and i think that has been a huge factor in the longevity of the band and us developing our own sound.
3. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I was raised on mostly rock music… Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, as well as heavier stuff like Slayer and Testament. When I moved to Boston is when I got turned on to Funkadelic, Muddy Waters, Charles Mingus, etc… soul music. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Deftones, Mute Math, Wilco. For reggae specifically Burning Spear, Sly and Robbie, Alpha Blondy, Aswad… the list goes on.
4. “Amplify” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Reggae Chart in late 2008. How did that change things for you as a band?
Honestly, not too much. I mean, it certainly looks good and is a great accomplishment for the band. It’s something we can be proud of and it feels good to say it. To me it meant that after all that we went through, people were still interested in hearing what JBB was up to. I do remember that we were on tour the night we found out. We were in Santa Fe, NM… I know we partied extra hard after that show.
5. The concept behind “Re-Amplify” was pretty courageous. For those who don’t know, you allowed people outside the band to remix the songs on “Amplify”. Any “oh, I wish I had thought of that” moments?
Absolutely. With the Dubmatix remix of The Gold in particular. We started performing his version of the song live and still do to this day. That’s one of the great things about stepping back from your tunes, and letting other people get creative. There is that chance that new ideas and possibilities will come of it. I think all of the remixes on “Re-Amplify” are really cool.
6. Would you recommend the “Re-Amplify” process to other bands? What do you think you learned from the process?
Well for an established band like JBB it was a great opportunity. There’s no chance that we are gonna turn into a house band. So I think it’s a nice treat for us and our fans to hear JBB tunes filtered through an entirely different creative process. And it’s good to get a little distance from your music, for a different perspective… especially after 12 years of touring and making records. I am really glad that we got the chance to do it and hope we do it again.
7. Can you share anything about the followup to “Amplify”? Where are you in the creative process?
We’ve been incredibly busy on the road supporting “Amplify”/”Re-Amplify”. A bunch of US tours, Europe, New Zealand, Jam Cruise… touring has been our main focus. We definitely have some new ideas surfacing, but no solid recording plans as of right now.
8. I know you guys have been playing east coast dates with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, who we interviewed awhile back. They seem like pretty cool guys and together you make a big crew. What is it like touring in such a large group? Any funny stories you can share?
It’s a blast, really. They are a really solid support act and good friends of ours. Every night brings mayhem. As far as funny stories, you’ll have to wait for my tell-all auto biography… [Oh we will! -Amol]
9. Any upcoming tour dates you are particularly excited about?
Yes… all of them!
10. Where can people go for more information about where to see you live?
Check out our website at www.johnbrownsbody.com or our Myspace for all upcoming tour dates.
Thanks, Tommy! This sounds like such a solid group of guys. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for news of any upcoming recordings, but in the meantime, be sure to catch these guys live sometime!
Posted by A. Sogal at 7:08 am