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The best kept secret in music


"SWILL Magazine"

Mr. Bennett Interview

This interview was conducted by Slinky Van Horn (that’s me) in a rundown trailer somewhere in the deepest reaches of Alabama amid what seemed to me to be some kind of drunken redneck debauchery, but which the band members assured me was actually a fairly quiet evening. There were about 30 people, some of them looking downright frightening, milling around inside and outside the humble singlewide trailer, smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap beer. I have transcribed this interview as best as I could, but you have to understand there was a lot going on.

SVH: Well, I’d like to thank you guys for taking time out of your busy schedule of, uh—

JOE AVERAGE: Drinking.
ROB BANKS: Partying.
JA: It’s all part of the whole rock thing.

(AT this point, this skanky looking blonde in a halter-top came running through the trailer screaming obscenities at some other girl outside by the bonfire.)

SVH: Should somebody go talk to her or something?

JA: No.
SHOTGUN COX: Maybe they’ll pull each other’s hair out.
RB: We love a good catfight.
JA: Who doesn’t?

SVH: Well okay. I guess we should start by going around the table and having everybody introduce himself.

JA: Okay. I’m Joe Average. I play the guitar—badly. And I sing most of the lead vocals—also badly.
RB: I’m Rob Banks. Drums.
JA: He hits the skins. (Laughs)
RB: Yeah, I never get tired of that one, Joe.
JA: Sorry.
SC: I’m Shotgun Cox. I play the fuck out of the bass.
JA: And then we all kind of do PR. You know, pressing the flesh, kissing the babies.
SC: Mmmm, babies.

SVH: How long have you guys been playing together?

RB: About 3 years.
JA: Long enough to really start to hate each other.
RB: Joe and I got together in 1999. We played our first gig on New Year’s Eve, 99.
JA: And we still haven’t gotten much better.
SC: That’s not true. You’ve got me now.
JA: Well, yeah. Right.
RB: They’re fighting. Look.
JA: Sweet!

(We take a break to watch the redneck chicks smack each other around the bonfire a while.)

SVH: Okay, back to business. How would you classify the music you play?

JA: first of all, I object to you calling it music.
SC: Yeah, music implies some kind of talent.
RB: But seriously, we call it Trailercore.
JA: Or Sheepcore.
RB: There he goes with the sheep again.
JA: Hey, I’m from North Carolina. What do you expect?

SVH: Your tag line used to be ‘Rock and roll for sheep and the men who love them?’

SC: Yeah, but Joe was the only one who really felt that way.
RB: Joe’s really into sheep.
JA: If you looked like me, I bet your ass would be into sheep too.
RB: Maybe.
SC: Now we say ‘Where rock and roll meets mental illness.’
JA: Yeah. People always ask me if I suffer from mental illness.

SVH: And what do you tell them?

JA: I say no, I enjoy it.
RB: Ba-dum-dum!
JA: Thank you. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.
RB: No, really, we basically play rock and roll. That’s what we are, just a straight-ahead rock and roll band, with a kind of southern edge.
JA: And a sense of humor. Obviously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
RB: We’re a bit older than most of the bands we play with around here.
JA: Yeah, our influences are so old that the kids think we’re doing something new.
RB: Either that, or they just think we suck.

SVH: Speaking of influences, what would you say your influences are?

JA: Well I’m under the influence of alcohol right now.
RB: I listen to a lot of 70’s stuff. You know, Zeppelin, ZZ Top, old Aerosmith, stuff like that.
SC: I like stuff like They Might Be Giants, Mojo Nixon, Frank Black.
JA: I started out doing folk music, really. I’ve always listened to a lot of, I don’t know, rootsy stuff. Stones, Cracker, guitar rock stuff.

SVH: Mr. Bennett is kind of an unusual band name. How did you guys arrive at that name?

JA: Well, we used to practice in this residential neighborhood down in Gulf Shores, and there was this angry little man there who used to call the cops on us like every time we tried to practice.
RB: Gulf Shores has a weird noise ordinance.
JA: Yeah, basically if anybody complains, they can arrest you.

SVH: Did you actually get arrested?

JA: No, but it was close there a couple of times. Anyway, this dude was named Bennett and we just named the band after him.
RB: I’m sure he’s honored.
JA: Fuck that son of a bitch.
RB: We’ve got a picture of his mailbox on the back of our first CD.
JA: That’ll teach him to mess with us.

SVH: Tell me about your CD.

RB: Well we have one CD out right now. It’s called ‘It’s not you. It’s me.’ But we’re working on the new one now at our studio in Fairhope.
JA: Studio is kind of a strong word. Makes it sound like we know what we’re doing, doesn’t it?
SC: It’s all in the perception, isn’t it?

SVH: Where can people get a copy of your CD?

JA: Nowhere.
RB: It’s what we call a Limited Edition.
JA: Until I get off my ass and burn off some more.
RB: We usually have stuff for sale at shows.

SVH: Speaking of shows, where do you guys usually play?

RB: Anywhere the beer is cheap.
SC: The Enormodome!
JA: We’ve played the Daily Grind, End of the Line – back when it was Van Gogh’s.
SC: I don’t think we’ll be invited back there. (Everybody laughs)

SVH: Why not?

JA: It’s a long story, but basically me and Chris almost got into a fistfight with some of the patrons there.
SC: I seem to remember the words ‘bunch of Geritol-swilling cock-smokers’ coming up.
JA: It was not our finest hour.
RB: That was during the … what did Howard call it?
JA: The Ejectile Dysfunction phase.
SC: We got kicked out of a lot of places during that period.
JA: We didn’t play enough belly-rubbin’ music.
SC: Oh yeah. Almost forgot about that. What the hell is belly-rubbin’ music, anyway?
JA: Apparently not us.
RB: Where else have we played? The Point in Ft. Walton, The Splash, Cosmo’s in Mobile, Springfest. And of course the trusty Fairhope American Legion.
JA: Where the beer is cheap and pisswarm and so are the women. (Laughs)
SC: And don’t forget the Stolen Lunchmeat Tour.
JA: Yeah that was fun.
RB: Guerilla booking.
JA: What we did was, we went into clubs looking poor and downtrodden and said we’d been ripped off and we really needed to make some money to get home to … where was it?
SC: Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
JA: Yeah, right. And the crazy thing was that it worked. We got to play in Birmingham, Atlanta, Greenville, Asheville, Knoxville, I don’t know, a bunch of villes.
RB: Athens.
JA: Yeah, Athens. All while living on potato chips and stolen lunchmeat. If we ever get famous, we’re gonna have to pay back a lot of lunchmeat-karma.

SVH: What else have you done?

SC: Well we did your mom the other day.

SVH: Hey man, my mom is dead.

SC: Jeez, I wondered why she wasn’t moving that much.
JA: To steer this back into family-friendly territory…
RB: We were on Local Licks a couple of times, back when Sykes was doing it.
SC: Doing it.
JA: That was back in the Forrest days.
RB: Forrest was our first bass player.
JA: We have a hard time with bass players. Chris is our fourth.
RB: We go through bass players like most people go through, uh…
JA: Condoms?
RB: I don’t know.
JA: Sheep?
RB: There we go with the sheep again. Joe, you seem to have a preoccupation with barnyard animals.
JA: Hey, Joe and sheep go together like milk and cookies.
RB: I’m not gonna be able to sleep well tonight, I can tell you already.
JA: Oh god! The sheep are coming, the sheep are coming to get me!
RB: Joe, take another pill and pull yourself together.
JA: Rob is the sane one in this organization, can you tell?

SVH: It’s hard to know what I can tell at this point. Let me see, I had some notes here but that girl spilled beer on them.

JA: You ought to see my songbook. Vomit is really hard to wash off.
SC: It lingers.

SVH: Well all kidding aside, it seems like you guys are really best of friends.

RB: Oh yeah.
SC: Nobody else will hang out with us.
JA: Can you blame them?
SC: Oh no. I wouldn’t hang out with me if I had any choice about it.
JA: Yeah. My wife left me this past year. Sometimes I wish I could leave me too.
RB: There’s never a dull moment, as you can tell.

SVH: What do you guys think about the music scene around here?

JA: What music scene?
RB: There really are some good bands around here.
JA: Yeah, there’s a lot of talent in the area. It’s just that there’s not many places to show it off, at least on the Alabama side.
RB: Pensacola is better.
JA: Yeah. It’s weird. There’s more places to play over in Florida.
RB: There’s a lot of places to play over here if you’re a cover band.
JA: Hey man, do you boys know any Skynyrd?
SC: Play some belly-rubbin’ music!
JA: It’s an uphill battle over here. But we’ve played with some great bands. The Hormones, Fry Cook, Pre-Emptive Strike, HGH, Metastatics, Emulsiphier, Endica, uh, Slow Joe Crow, a bunch of good bands.
RB: There’s no lack of good bands around here. I just wish there were more places to play originals.
JA: Well, if wishes were horses—
SC: Joe would fuck them.

SVH: Do you guys have anything up on the internet?

JA: Yes. We’re on, and IUMA, and we’ll have back up and running in the very near future.

SVH: Is that a police car pulling up?

RB: See what I mean? Never a dull moment.
JA: Shit. Hang on a minute. Damn neighbors. Get these underage kids out the back door, please.
SC: Back door.

(We pause again while Joe goes outside to talk to the cops, who are now here in not one but three cars. After about half an hour, Joe returns.)

SVH: Does this stuff happen a lot around here?

JA: Oh sure, we’re local favorites.
RB: Local heroes.
JA: We always make a splash down at the Fairhope jail.
SC: It’s all part of our rock and roll lifestyle.
JA: Yeah, welcome to our world.
RB: You wouldn’t want to live there, but we have to.
JA: Nonstop chicks and glamour, let me tell you.
SC: Leaky roof, no heat.
RB: Angry neighbors, no money.
JA: Yup. I should have listened to what my momma always used to tell me.

SVH: And what was that?

JA: I don’t know. I never listened. You’re not that smart, are you?

- Slinky Van Horn


It's Not You It's Me- album released on Balljoint Records

Airplay on Rock 106, Pensacola: Swamp Dr., Thanksgiving


Feeling a bit camera shy


Mr. Bennett was formed in the fall of 99 with the intention of becoming a chart topping polkacore band, but after discovering that supermodels don't dig polka we transmogrified ourselves into the power rock trio that we are today.

Our style ranges from honky tonk to heavy metal, a variety store of rock!

Beware of cheap knockoff bands that promise kick ass rock but don't deliver. Insist on genuine MRBENNETT rocknroll!