John Browns Body
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John Browns Body

Band EDM Reggae


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"“20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2008�"

#7. John Brown’s Body

Album Title: Amplify (tentative)

Released when: Summer 2008 (rough time frame)

Recorded at: Drummer Tommy Benedetti says, 'We recorded at More Sound Recording Studio in Syracuse NY. The process was broken into four session blocks, each about a week long over the course of 10 months. Usually we would record three or four tracks then break for a festival or short tour. Each song was written as we went, which was great. We would take some of them out on the stage with us, like Push Some Air, but many we are saving for the release. The whole process took us about one year and now we are in the final mixing days. Everything is coming together amazingly and I could not be happier with what I have heard, really, I am super excited.'

Sounds Like: Tommy says, 'This album is a lot of what we have touched on with the last two records (Spirits All Around Us, Pressure Points). It is a culmination of Elliot’s songwriting, changes to the line-up, and taking chances. There are big steps in the progression of JBB’s sound; we really have our fingers on exactly what we want to present on a record. What you get is something melodic and lush, cutting edge with different tempos, feels, and beats. We arrived at a really nice place and have been able to capture that on this record. It’s cohesive, focused, and beautiful.'

Tommy continues, 'This is a huge record for us, it is our first with one lead vocalist, which lends itself to a different vibe. I would say its more streamlined, and makes perfect sense sonically. A lot of players on this record are in the new band we have been touring with for the last year and a half. Everyone did a stellar job on it. The record sounds like a band that really gets along, a group that has fun playing together, with a lot less tension than in the past. The feeling comes out in the music.

What Else to Expect: Tommy reveals, 'Another big difference is that we are using a lot of sounds that we haven’t used in the past….to increase the sonic palette that I mentioned earlier. We have string instruments that include not only the violin, and cello, but also the kora, which is a traditional African string instrument. Our keyboardist Matt plays tablas (an exotic sounding Indian drum) too. Mr Rourke is a good friend of ours and he contributed on turntables on a track called Make Your Move which is a new favorite of ours. There are also guest vocalists that have been part of the recording that we won’t name right now, and then of course there is always the traditional JBB crushing drums and bass.'

Songs Include: Amplify, So Aware, Make Your Move and Push Some Air

Why The Pier is excited: What happens when you lose practically half your line-up? Do as JBB does and show the world what a musical force you can still be.
- The Pier

"First Class Hero"

By Eric Roberts | October, 2007

I was in my first month of touring with Gym Class Heroes, over two years ago. We were minnows then, traveling in a beat-up van with a tiny trailer, a stock CD player, and a TV we had to strap in with bungee cords. You know, the good ol’ days. I was fresh to the hip-hop world; every band I’d been in up until then were basically shredfests of math-rock, punk, or hardcore. I hadn’t used fingerpicking since the jazz-standard days of high school. All I knew was to go up there, jump around like a maniac, and burn frets.

But touring with three other dudes who live hip-hop had quickly changed that. Huddled in the van, we all shared our favorite tunes. I wasn’t ready for what I was about to hear when Matt popped in Pressure Points, a CD by John Brown’s Body. Every song was infectious; it was a perfect blend of roots-reggae and rock held together by their bassman Scott Palmer’s solid grooves. Such simplicity amazed me. Everything I had regularly listened to was complex, brutal, or just plain silly. Scott’s bass lines took my brain and flipped it upside down. I started thinking of bass in a whole new way—a simple, yet crucial, way.

On that tour I got to see JBB for the first time, at a venue called Trees. Scott stood to the left of drummer Tommy. Legs rooted into the stage, his bass tucked into his gut, stoic in the face—he was killing it. His fingers moved across the fretboard like a programmed typewriter. Flawless and systematic, with a style Robbie Shakespeare could admire. He was the heartbeat of the music, taking advantage of the openings in the beat Tommy left him. After their set, we all met up. I knew I was in the presence of a bad man. Eventually we got to talking and the intimidating figure I saw on stage grillin’ the crowd soon dissolved. We had a great talk. He was a humble, funny guy and made sure I was comfortable for the night. He was a bad man—a bad man with a heart of gold.

I only got a chance to meet up with Scott once after that. A couple of friends and I took a trip to their hometown of Ithaca, New York, where they were performing. It was a wild show, as I expected from the college crowd. We didn’t stay long afterward; we just said hi and told ’em what a great show.

Months later, a mutual friend of Gym Class Heroes and JBB gave us news that I found very hard to swallow. Scott was diagnosed with cancer. I looked at this dude like he was fucking He-Man, so I thought, It’ll all be good—he’ll make it through this. I’m sure everyone thought that … and just a few months later, it hit me in the face like a bag of bricks when I heard he had passed away.

They say you live forever in memories. I think about Scott every day, because everything I do on bass I think, Is this what Scott would do?

Play on.

* Eric Roberts plays bass in live hip-hop band Gym Class Heroes, which has been touring the world in support of the 2006 Atlantic release As Cruel as Schoolchildren.
- Bass Player Magazine

"Local Reggae Band Still Gets Crowd Moving"

By Sarah Peed Contributing Writer | September 8th, 2007

To secure a spot at the John Brown’s Body show last night at Castaways, fans arrived as early as 8:30 p.m. The crowd continued to grow until around 11 p.m., when Ithaca’s legendary reggae band was set to begin.
The temperature of the room was just under boiling, but no one seemed to mind as they waited to see the band. John Brown’s Body (JBB), now in it’s tenth year with members from Ithaca and Boston, lightened the mood before beginning by asking the crowd to “please stop sharing body heat.�

JBB kicked off the night with “33 RPM� and the soulful lyrics, solid rhythm and engaging performance created an atmosphere that got the entire room dancing. The show proved that even after 10 years of performing and inspiring other bands, JBB is still the local reigning king of reggae.

It kept the crowd buzzing with outstanding trumpet and guitar solos and irresistible beats that made it impossible not to dance. After a 15 song set, which included new songs like “Resonate� and “New Blood� from their latest album, “Pressure Points,� along with the band’s classics and crowd favorites, the eight man band left the stage. They reappeared moments later, to the delight of the sweaty crowd, and played two more songs, including “What We Gonna Do?,� also from their latest album, which features surprisingly strong and socially aware lyrics.

The band finally managed to leave the stage, thanking the reluctant-to-leave crowd for the “honor [of] sweating with you all tonight.�

But after a show like this, the honor was the crowds.

- The Ithacan

"John Brown's Body"

Gathering Of The Vibes | August 2007

It's hard to imagine John Brown's Body has already been around more than a decade. Their musical sojourn has brought the band to all corners of the globe, allowing them to perform in front of increasingly diverse crowds. The group combines socially conscious lyrics with authentic roots music. Many critics consider JBB one of the premier American reggae bands. Their universal appeal is sure to propel them to even greater heights of success in the near future.
- Gathering Of The Vibes

"Still marching"

Gene Davis, DDN Staff Writer
Saturday, May 3, 2008

John Brown’s Body is named after a famous Union marching song, and the band has done their namesake proud by trekking on through 11 years of genre transformations, lineup changes and waves of popularity.

The Massachusetts group has evolved from a straight reggae roots to a progressive rock dub sound over the last decade. The current eight-piece lineup is arguably the strongest it has ever been and the band’s confidence with each other shines through during live shows.

“There’s been tons of changes, lots of people have come in and out over the years,” said Tommy Benedetti, the band’s drummer who is one of the founding members. “We’ve been lucky enough to keep the vibes high and stay inspired.”

Tragedy struck the group in the summer of 2006 when bassist Scott Palmer died of cancer. The band took some time off to regroup before coming back stronger and with a newfound intensity.

Locally supported

Although the band is not from Colorado, Benedetti said the state has always been very supportive of their music. There are three shows locally booked for their current tour that spans both coasts and Hawaii.

“We do well out here,” Benedetti explained. “Tons of good people come out to support us.”

Colorado fans can expect to hear some songs from their upcoming album that’s slated for release this summer. John Brown’s Body hasn’t put out anything since 2005’s well-received “Pressure Points,” which PopMatters said was “their strongest, most consistent effort to date.”

Crazy career

The band’s upcoming release is almost guaranteed to expand their popularity in the states, and Benedetti said it will only add to an already unpredicted, crazy career.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been this long. When we put out the first record we didn’t even plan on releasing it,” he exclaimed. “Here we are years later playing theatres in Colorado. It’s not too bad. I’ve got no complaints.”

Get to the Colorado shows early to see the likeminded minded opening band Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. Giant Panda’s ridiculous name doesn’t detract from their excellent take on root rock reggae with a pop twist.

John Brown’s Body w/ Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

Where: Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom

When: Friday night

Cost: $15

- Denver Daily News


Over the course of a handful of albums, John Brown's Body has gotten tons of props for its approach to reggae. Far from being some Bob Marley cover band that plays reggae night at a Daytona Beach bar, the Boston/Ithaca, NY-based band fuses socially conscious lyrics with a vintage roots sound epitomized in the use of B3 organ, a horn section, great harmony vocals and a general warm analog production sound that recalls reggae's 1970s heyday. The eight-piece band's first album for the great Easy Star label sticks with that sound while also tastefully updating it with a bit more pop melody carried on the vocals, particularly on "Blazing Love" and "Make It Easy." Those looking for something more rootsy among the dozen songs should get what they need from "What We Gonna Do?" or the chugging "Resonate." Some question the band's origins in the Northeast (and not Jamaica), but there is no roots reggae band out there better than JBB. -- Tad Hendrickson -


"Pressure Points is a remarkable statement of arrival by John Brown's Body. It's their strongest, most consistent effort to date."
- Popmatters

"Showcases the band's blend of roots fundamentals and global pop sensibility. JBB sometimes evokes The Police or 311, if the latter had mellowed and grown up a bit."
- Relix

"JBB has come of age, maturing into innovators building on the sturdy foundation laid down by Jamaican musicians of a generation ago."
- Jahworks

"If it is possible to be both reverent and revolutionary, JBB has found a way with their new album."
- New York Daily News

"The most authentic purveyors of 'truth and rights' music around."
- The Village Voice - Popmatters, Relix, The Village Voice, ect

"Best American Reggae Band"

"John Brown's body is frequently lauded as the best American reggae band. I haven't heard a better one, and, in their style, you'd be hard pressed to find much better in the islands, either. They may sing about "picking up a good vibe" themselves, but they offer plenty of the same to all who will listen."
-Shuan Dale - Cosmik Debris


Pressure Points (Easy Star)
Spirits All Around Us (Shanachie)
Justin Hinds and John Brown's Body (Live at Grassroots)
This Day (Shanachie)
Among Them (Shanachie)
All Time (I-Town Records)



John Brown's Body is in the midst of its twelfth year of performing, supporting its latest studio album, Pressure Points (Easy Star Records). The eight-member group (from Ithaca, NY and Boston) has developed a strong reputation for it's originality and superb, energetic live show during its ten-year career.

Pressure Points has spent nearly every week on Billboard's Reggae Chart since being released. The Beat wrote: "Confident and humble, edgy and easygoing, Pressure Points is a brilliantly realized step forward for John Brown's Body, for American reggae and for reggae in general." The band has drawn respect and admiration across the music world, sharing the stage with the likes of Jurassic 5, The Dave Matthews Band, and Broken Social Scene as evidence of their universal appeal. The Village Voice called them "the most authentic purveyors of "Truth and Rights' music around" earlier this year.

After self-releasing their first album on ITown Records, they were subsequently signed to Shanachie Records and released three albums (Among Them, This Day, and Spirits All Around Us). The Boston Herald called them "one of the world's best roots-style reggae bands" after the release of This Day (2000). This led to an appearance at the Bob Marley Day Festival in Miami, FL, alongside Lauryn Hill and others. In the following years, the band has played many of the major U.S. Festivals and performed an average of over 100 shows a year for the past 9 years. Currently John Brown’s Body is on a spring tour from the east coast to Hawaii. Their first two shows sold out in NYC and Boston with record attendance in each city. Expect the group’s most anticipated record to date, “Amplify� to be released at the end of the summer 2008.