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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Band Rock Punk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Smoke & Mirrors review"

Benchwarmer’s new single Smoke & Mirrors is an elegantly-packaged two-song trip that illustrates the maturity of the group. On their 2003 self-titled debut the trio wore their influences proudly on their sleeves as stimulus from the Clash and Fugazi were in abundance. Genre jumping would be an understatement for that initial release -- beneath the obvious there was much more as the trio could visit melodic hardcore vocals in the vein of BoySetsFire, but still deliver rhythmic basslines that would give the Descendents a run for their money, giving the album soul while still pertaining a fascinating and original pop character á la the Pixies.

“Smoke & Mirrors” once again shows the immense diversity Benchwarmer is capable of. The song opens tenderly with the ambitions of modern garage rock, yet endures to take on much more than the battered sound -- pooled with mild-mannered jingles before transforming the three minute track into a rock‘n'roll explosion shouting into your ears.

The additional cut “Among The Living” continues to emphasize the talents of the three individuals. A rapidly pulsating drumbeat builds up as keys cue Ashton’s airy vocals. The song lives in the same mucky rock vibe as the previous but its distinguishable drums and gritty keyboard elevate the thumper which again erupts to highlight the solidity of Benchwarmer.

With the recent supplement of a second guitarist, Benchwarmer look and sound excited to start 2005 off with a blast. Smoke & Mirrors justifies their anticipation to share their aptitude with everyone in search of interesting and unique music.
- K.P. -

"Pittsburgh Calling"

The sound: From the artier side of blues-punk explosion, a head-on collision of hard-rocking power chords and -- of all things -- a vibraphone solo.

The lineup: K Ashton Read (guitar, lead vocals), Mark Briercheck (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, vibraphone), Mike Lawton (guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), Jay Henry (drums, backing vocals).

Formed: "We were playing around in 2001," says Henry, "but at that point I was in the No Goods, so I didn't really focus on it. It didn't really start to pick up until early 2002."

New Release: A two-song CD-single, "Smoke & Mirrors," blessed with a really cool cover design by Houston McIntyre and edgy in-your-face production by the Modey Lemon's Jason Kirker. Henry says: "We recorded a demo with Kirker just to get some stuff down. And it was like, 'Well, why don't we just get it out to get some feedback on what the new stuff sounds like and keep the momentum going so people don't forget about us?' " In May, they're recording a new EP with Kirker.

On the record: Henry sees this single as a major step up from their previous effort.

"It kind of took us a while to figure out where we wanted to go. Now, I think we kind of have a general direction. It took two years to get there, but we're finally moving as one. And we know where we're going. Hopefully, we get there."

They hooked up with Kirker because their frontman loved the way those Modey Lemon records sound. "And he completely blew us away," says Henry. "It was a really cool experience and he gave us a better idea of what we want to sound like."

Part of what they want to sound like is less danceable than fans of their earlier record might expect. "I think the dance thing," Henry says, "is kind of trite at this point. I like it, but's almost getting overplayed, with so many bands, even around here, trying to go in that direction. It's always good to try and stay ahead of the curve."

For fans of: Pittsburgh's Modey Lemon, early Blues Explosion, Pixies.
-Ed Masely - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Self-Titled CD review"

Calling Pittsburgh their home base, Benchwarmer sets about to conquer the indie rock scene. Their efforts are led by old school punk attitude and drumwork and a style of fast-paced frenzy hard rock. They have art-rock and punk down and have somehow merged them together like a Fugazi or The Pixies have in the past but while we’re making comparisons you’d be deaf if you didn’t drop a name like The Clash whose influence can be heard on practically every song. Hey and anyone that thanks my friend Leslie Horne (whose screams can be heard on “Blue Collar Fight Song”) has to be good! I guess what I found amazing was that there’s only three people responsible for this album. The energy alone would have you thinking at least six not to mention the crisp production quality that leaves you surprised that this is a debut. I’ll be the first to admit I’m excited to see what else they have up their sleeves.
-J Sin -

"Beef's Beets - Benchwarmer Live"

Man, good rock and a good amount of beer amount to a good time.

So here's how it goes: this band Benchwarmer, a local Pittsburgh band that kicks serious ass, is making some progress in the music world. Last year, they were playin in Huffman's basement, which was always chill times with me and a few peeps, Taylor, Herb, Drew and even good ol' Lisa Warwick. This year, they've got their first full length cd and recently had a cd release party. But I hadn't caught up with them till last night, when me and Taylor ventured out to the Quiet Storm café.

So I drink a few pounders, and we leave around 7, thinking the show would start then like advertised on Benchwarmer's site (, and we'd be there in time to not have to hear an opening band. Well, we are dumb and should have remembered that the shows never started till like 2 hours after advertised. So we show up and are the only ones there. No problem, cause that means we can head back to campus and drink a few more budweisers.

So we come back later to catch the last few songs of some guy with an acoustic. Not soo bad, and he did play like one of the few Johnny Cash songs I actually knew, so that was cool.

Then Sixty-Four came on, and it was weird to see Huffman not playing with Counter Action, his old band that broke up for whatever reason. They still gave it a good rocking, but I wasn't keen on their whole sound and the lead singer just tickled me the wrong way. You know, you think you've seen someone before and already wanna stab um. But other than that, they could've used some more volume on the mic and a lil' less on the instruments. But that was the case for all the bands. Ahh well, small places, shitty sound systems.

Awesome as always up next was Crimson Sweet, who we'd seen at Huffman's with Benchwarmer before. They hail from NYC and classically their van broke down on the way to the burgh and had to have it towed. But they made it in time to rock my ass. Their lead singer is a chick, but isn't the ordinary chick rocker. She has a bangin, luscious voice that can be rapsy and rough and the band's rhythm switches back and forth multiple times throughout a single song. I don't know what else to say other than I want to marry the lead singer. She had a look and a flava that is hard to beat. And the band rocked, can't wait to see um again.

Benchwarmer was of course rockin. It was good to hear some new songs and no doubt the oldies, and you could tell some were reworked. I can't say how I'm feelin them yet, it'll take a lil while for them to sink in. But they jammed despite string problems and it was good to talk to Jay, the drummer. He's everywhere. Their energy was intense as hell and even though Jay said it was a bad show, I had a good time. I picked up a cd afterwards and rocked it today, it's got a good vibe and if anyone wants a copy, lemme know.

Another interesting part of the evening was waiting for the bus home from wherever the hell we were. This jovial fellow sippin on a 40 in a brown bag was hilarious. He was informing me and Taylor of the benefits of his workplace: those fine damn white chicks that would perform "variety" shows in the upstairs of his restaurant. He said he didn't care when his wife told him to be home that night, he'd been workin all day and needed to get drunk and high and wouldn't come back till 6am if he wanted. We agreed. The best part was after we got on the bus and rode it for a block, he got off. And we had been waiting at the bus stop for a solid 20 minutes. Man, good times in Pittsburgh.
-Beef - Club Awesome

"Self-Titled CD review"

Benchwarmer's self-titled debut identified many items that I continue to enjoy from 1980-90's punk-influenced "indie rock". The singing is technically mediocre, but charismatic and fitting for its support. Their guitar riffs are simple, but mesmerizing and electric. Even the use of lackluster recording
quality created old school credibility, swagger and a hazy mystique.

Great songwriting guided this effort. Although the lyrics are largely
indecipherable, their inflections and attitude play cocky and 'drunken'
instrumentation relayed its vitality and intensity. Great elementary riffs and hooks cascaded "Cataonic" and "8-Bit Apocalypse"--actually they do throughout the recording. Hell, I would be lying if I did not indicate that listening to Benchwarmer was not akin to popping in the Pixies' Surfer Rosa for the 1st time. Together, Jay, Mark, and Ash use their mojo that trigger these cuts into your long term memory.

With that written, it certainly has a retro appeal. It's so 'no nonsense' and unapologetic that it may feel almost too familiar. My argument is that this form of rock is timeless--Benchwarmer actually romped as if they are mused by
their inspirations, rather than sound hijackers.

With a little luck, enhanced production and decent marketing, Benchwarmer has a legitimate shot at being lauded as the next rock saviors.

Grade: B+
-Adam Levine - Spunout Central

"Self-Titled CD review"

Benchwarmer - S/T, CD
This really good band plays music reminiscent of the Clash, Fugazi,
and Television. What sets them apart is that this three-piece has
really good dynamics between the musicians, and they sound really tight.
I would say this is in the top five of the 15 CDs i reviewed this
week. (JJG) - Punk Planet

"Smoke & Mirrors review"

Synopsize the musical tastes of every moderately respectable, God-ignoring socialite – everyone under 30 opposed, on ethical levels, to wallowing in the late-night hump-hump of dance clubs; everyone who drinks at dive bars on regular intervals; everyone who appreciates the Misfits; everyone who likes their music loud, their weekends unpredictable and their sex dirty – and you’ve got Benchwarmer.

And while their new two-fucking-song EP rocks pretty hard, it only rocks for about seven minutes. Seven minutes and thirty one seconds, actually. Seven and a half minutes of a high-water-mark boiled down, evaporated into a moment. And when the CD ends, you’re left in silence, struck by the briefness of the manic, dirty, post-punk thing you’ve just experienced. And you’re wondering, after it ends, how you’ll remember the music tomorrow…Will you remember it as a peak? Will you remember it at all? What does it mean, man? Why’s it so short? And then you sink into pathos. You think about Pittsburgh and this band and the incredible impact concise art can embody. And then you smoke a joint and wonder how you’ll be remembered when you die. What if it happens now? Have you done anything? Have you made an impact? Have you left this world with a taste of you, and not a mouthful?

“Damn,” you think. “I’m hungry.”

And then you remember back a minute ago, when Benchwarmer’s lead yeller, K. Ashton Read, screamed: “All I want is everything/I will define my destiny/[I’m] Not dead yet!” And with this, you’re comforted by the idea that many of life’s greatest pleasures come in short bursts. But you wonder what he means by “destiny.”

“Huh,” you think, before giving up. “Pizza maybe. Yeah. Pizza.”

So you order one. And while wolfing down the entire thing – a large pie with lots of meat, no veggies – you rationalize that nothing truly dies; memories live on forever; this album, no matter how short, will subsist until eternity ends, or civilization collapses. Or we forget it existed in the first place…

You pass out with the empty pizza in your lap.

The next morning, when you wake up, Benchwarmer’s “Among the Living” is stuck in your head.

You walk to work in cold.

You’re singing, “Come down and take a hit off the fumes of the living.” Thoughtless as if you’re singing a show tune. You can’t remember why the song’s stuck in your head – you can’t remember where you herd it; last night is lost in a green haze – but it sure beats wallowing in the late-night hump-hump of dance clubs, and blowing fistfuls of cash on unnecessary scenery. It also beats Maroon 5 and Celine Dion. You keep singing, snapping fingers. You feel energized. You feel alive. And as you sing “you see we are moving in strange vibrations,” light seems to perpetuate darkness, and the memories of you past fade in and out, like sudden awareness in a prison cell; like the last moment of a decade-old rush; like a fading pulse in the ears of the dying.

“It’s all simplified in your eyes/you give a reason for a young man to breathe.”

The light fades, and you walk into a cloud. Something triggered you once, but you lost the nerve.

You’ve lost it.
…if only for a moment.
Then again and again.


Benchwarmer's new "two-fucking-song EP" is actually a single. Sorry. - Deek Magazine


Benchwarmer - LP/CD
Radio Singles: Catatonic, Paradigm, Status Quo (U.S.), Holden Caulfield (Spain, Portugal)

Smoke & Mirrors - single
Radio single: Smoke & Mirrors (U.S., Spain, Australia)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"From the artier side of the blues-punk explosion." This is how one music editor described the sound from the quartet known as Benchwarmer. Throw in a unpredictable hyper-kinetic live show that usually ends with bloodshed, you have a band that is sure to leave a impression on any audience that happens to see one of western Pennsylvania's most unique rock bands.

Officially formed in 2002 by Mark Briercheck, K. Ashton Read, and Jason Henry in a Pittsburgh basement, the band's foundation was forged by blending the guitar work of the post hardcore band Quicksand, the punk attitude of the Clash, and the pop quirkiness of the Pixies. 2002 saw the band work on their sound on and off stage, as they started to play locally in and around Pittsburgh.

The following year saw the sound that the band had been working on begin to take shape, as their intense and unpredictable live show would gain enough attention to become a fixture on the Pittsburgh rock circuit, as well as making a name for themselves regionally in Ohio, Maryland, and western New York. The band was so confident with the songs that they had crafted, they decided to venture into the studio to record what would become the act's debut release, simply titled Benchwarmer.

The late 2003 self-titled record would receive critical praise from both local and national outlets, and radio airplay in markets such as Pittsburgh, New York, San Francisco, and overseas makets in Austrailia, Spain, and Portugal. One review would go as far as to proclaim them as, "having a shot to be lauded as the next rock saviors." With that momentum carrying the band into 2004, the band continued to play bigger shows, as they would get the opportunity to share the stage with diverse national acts such as Cave-In, indie rock icons Trans Am, art-rock masters Skeleton Key!, and Rolling Stone magazine darling, Har Mar Superstar. In September, Benchwarmer entered the studio to record the demos to their sophomore release. The guys were so impressed with the recordings, that in February of 2005 they released two of them; now known as the Smoke & Mirrors single.

2005 also saw the addition of Mike Lawton to the band and a full-fledged winter East Coast tour from Dayton, Ohio to Miami, Florida. Meanwhile, the reviews of the singles were again praiseful as well as very optimistic to what the band had in store for the next record. When the band returned to Pennsylvania they again played to large crowds, playing the annual Carnegie Mellon University spring festival with The Shins. However, with all this momentum it became apparent that life's other priorities would need to be addressed as well. So in May 2005, Benchwarmer played their last show for the time being.

Fast forward to January of 2006; after not playing music for months, the band took care of their other interests and started to rehearse with the goal of finishing the long-awaited follow up to the first record, as well as preparing to do what they do best, perform live. While such a break would be the death of a lot of other bands, the time away from music has helped the band regroup and install a new vigor in the band that will carry out the full potential that so many others seen in them. Taking care of unfinished business will be the theme of the upcoming months for Benchwarmer, as they etch their own part of music history.