White Collar Sideshow
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White Collar Sideshow

Fort Smith, AR | Established. Jan 01, 2006

Fort Smith, AR
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Rock Industrial

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Formed in 2008 in Fort Smith, Arkansas (which the band proclaims as “famous for its gallows”), the performance troupe White Collar Sideshow takes elements of vaudeville, carnival, the wild west, horror movies and industrial rock – with a heavy emphasis on percussion – and smashes them together to create what they describe as “a wall of insanity.” The quartet is comprised of “Ringleader” TD Benton, percussionists Herr Schwein and Leech, and bass guitarist Veronica, a.k.a The Faceless Woman (although you get to see her unmasked here).
Since it's almost impossible to describe such a visually unique band in mere words, we decided to catch up with three of the band members before a show, where they talked about their origins, inspirations and themes, and how those all come together in their latest audio-visual extravaganza The WitcHunt – a combined album, live performance and film based on the Seven Deadly Sins. WitcHunt the album was produced by Chris Baseford, who has worked with Rob Zombie, himself a major influence on the Sideshow sound; as a result, there's a raw, old-school industrial vibe to their tracks, which gets an extra gritty edge from their percussion-heavy instrumentation. - FEARnet.com


With the White House about to be occupied by a Mormon, religious cults are on the mind of a few suspicious people out there, who peer through their mini-blinds before they respond to the ringing doorbell at their abode. White Collar Sideshow has most certainly seen their fair share of mental abuse in the form of judgmental stares and tags of “religious cult this” and “trouble-maker that.” This ain’t no cult we’re talking about, though.
From a distance, T.D. Benton and his family appear freakishly comfortable in their inked-up skin. Tophats, ties, vests, dresses and boots hearken back to a freeform steam punk novelist’s imaginary time frame. His wily stage grin seems to mimick a traveling snake oil salesman from yestercentury, but once you’re on his radar, he’s likely to approach you and the phony sales schtick you project upon him falls off like the fur of his pair of attack lapdogs they keep holed up in their roadworn recreational vehicle. His Southern charm meets rock culture misfit humility very quickly disarms any thoughts of religious freaks, evangeliphonies or even shock-rock arrogance. Like me, you’ll soon say to yourself, “These are my kinda people.”
How has jumping into this wild and crazy ministry been and how has the transition been from “Oh my gosh! This crazy thing is working!” to “How do we keep this thing going?” At first it was, “Wow, I can’t believe we are really doing this gypsy nomad life,” and learning how to live on the road. It has been very challenging and has certainly been a crazy life indeed, but we are used to it now. You can definitely tell the difference between needs and wants, that is for sure. At first it was tough finding places to perform, we were naive to think everyone in the “Christian world” would embrace it (and that is still very tough). Now we are getting booked in general places like tattoo conventions, horror fests, bars, clubs and still our fair share of churches and Christian events... The new direction we are headed has been well received and God has opened a lot of doors for us. Because there is a lot of freedom in performing for general audiences, the learning curve is how to challenge people’s thinking and inspire people to go further in the Christian world, and how to meet people and love people where they are at, in the general world. I love it! I do most of the creative, and Herr Schwein (Philip Wells) is the ultimate servant, Leech (Tristen Benton) does his fair share when he’s on the road, while Veronica (the faceless woman) keeps the train rolling and is one of the hardest workers I’ve seen in this business. She is our manager, tour manager, booking agent, advance person, merchandiser, oh, and bass player... She keeps us super busy and I’d love at some point
to find someone who gets what we do to help relieve some pressure off of her. It’s hard to find peeps that work as hard as you do.
What are some lessons that God has taught you along the way?
One: You can’t judge a book by its cover! Two: Just because you put the word Christian in front of it doesn’t make it so. Three: Don’t worry about what other people think! Three-point-five: Don’t become a cheap imitation of someone or something else. God wants to use us for who we are – not for what everyone wants us to be. Our identity should be Christ – as hard as that is to achieve sometimes!
What inspired this new concept album?
The film part of The WitcHunt is loosely based on the seven deadly sins, and the inspiration behind this was, “Before you point your finger at someone, what is it that consumes your life?” This is something that we deal with on a day-to-day basis and something I am just as guilty of doing. The musical part of this project was based on my brother being killed in a head-on car crash. I have never felt so much anger, hatred, frustration, sadness, heartbreak, questioning my beliefs, questioning why I’m on this planet ... so overwhelming. For months (of) not rolling out of bed, not feeling like doing anything and wanting to quit doing the sideshow, (then) a friend of mine – Eric from Sleeping Giant – challenged me with using all those emotions for this performance in order to connect with people who are going through the same thing. What I didn’t realize is how many people (are) dealing with a tragedy of some sort – dealing with the same emotions, and how many people in general feel the same way all the time – Christian or not.
What has been the toughest transition from the old live show to the new one?
The toughest part, I believe, was and is finances... We have no record label backing us, and we felt that a Kickstarter wasn’t for us, so with the help of a few friends and our last few years of tour money we reinvested everything we had and have to make the dream come true. The filming took 13 months with over a hundred actors and with us and Travis Joiner (777 productions) doing everything, (it) was one of the biggest projects we have ever worked on. Not to mention finding some - HM Magazine


With the White House about to be occupied by a Mormon, religious cults are on the mind of a few suspicious people out there, who peer through their mini-blinds before they respond to the ringing doorbell at their abode. White Collar Sideshow has most certainly seen their fair share of mental abuse in the form of judgmental stares and tags of “religious cult this” and “trouble-maker that.” This ain’t no cult we’re talking about, though.
From a distance, T.D. Benton and his family appear freakishly comfortable in their inked-up skin. Tophats, ties, vests, dresses and boots hearken back to a freeform steam punk novelist’s imaginary time frame. His wily stage grin seems to mimick a traveling snake oil salesman from yestercentury, but once you’re on his radar, he’s likely to approach you and the phony sales schtick you project upon him falls off like the fur of his pair of attack lapdogs they keep holed up in their roadworn recreational vehicle. His Southern charm meets rock culture misfit humility very quickly disarms any thoughts of religious freaks, evangeliphonies or even shock-rock arrogance. Like me, you’ll soon say to yourself, “These are my kinda people.”
How has jumping into this wild and crazy ministry been and how has the transition been from “Oh my gosh! This crazy thing is working!” to “How do we keep this thing going?” At first it was, “Wow, I can’t believe we are really doing this gypsy nomad life,” and learning how to live on the road. It has been very challenging and has certainly been a crazy life indeed, but we are used to it now. You can definitely tell the difference between needs and wants, that is for sure. At first it was tough finding places to perform, we were naive to think everyone in the “Christian world” would embrace it (and that is still very tough). Now we are getting booked in general places like tattoo conventions, horror fests, bars, clubs and still our fair share of churches and Christian events... The new direction we are headed has been well received and God has opened a lot of doors for us. Because there is a lot of freedom in performing for general audiences, the learning curve is how to challenge people’s thinking and inspire people to go further in the Christian world, and how to meet people and love people where they are at, in the general world. I love it! I do most of the creative, and Herr Schwein (Philip Wells) is the ultimate servant, Leech (Tristen Benton) does his fair share when he’s on the road, while Veronica (the faceless woman) keeps the train rolling and is one of the hardest workers I’ve seen in this business. She is our manager, tour manager, booking agent, advance person, merchandiser, oh, and bass player... She keeps us super busy and I’d love at some point
to find someone who gets what we do to help relieve some pressure off of her. It’s hard to find peeps that work as hard as you do.
What are some lessons that God has taught you along the way?
One: You can’t judge a book by its cover! Two: Just because you put the word Christian in front of it doesn’t make it so. Three: Don’t worry about what other people think! Three-point-five: Don’t become a cheap imitation of someone or something else. God wants to use us for who we are – not for what everyone wants us to be. Our identity should be Christ – as hard as that is to achieve sometimes!
What inspired this new concept album?
The film part of The WitcHunt is loosely based on the seven deadly sins, and the inspiration behind this was, “Before you point your finger at someone, what is it that consumes your life?” This is something that we deal with on a day-to-day basis and something I am just as guilty of doing. The musical part of this project was based on my brother being killed in a head-on car crash. I have never felt so much anger, hatred, frustration, sadness, heartbreak, questioning my beliefs, questioning why I’m on this planet ... so overwhelming. For months (of) not rolling out of bed, not feeling like doing anything and wanting to quit doing the sideshow, (then) a friend of mine – Eric from Sleeping Giant – challenged me with using all those emotions for this performance in order to connect with people who are going through the same thing. What I didn’t realize is how many people (are) dealing with a tragedy of some sort – dealing with the same emotions, and how many people in general feel the same way all the time – Christian or not.
What has been the toughest transition from the old live show to the new one?
The toughest part, I believe, was and is finances... We have no record label backing us, and we felt that a Kickstarter wasn’t for us, so with the help of a few friends and our last few years of tour money we reinvested everything we had and have to make the dream come true. The filming took 13 months with over a hundred actors and with us and Travis Joiner (777 productions) doing everything, (it) was one of the biggest projects we have ever worked on. Not to mention finding some - HM Magazine


White Collar Sideshow toured for over 3 years with their original show, make than their original experience or event. Seeing them live is an experience you don’t soon forget. Combining frenetic drumming and percussion with a strong bass line played in front of video screens, they have enthralled audiences throughout the US in settings ranging from large festivals to small churches and auditoriums.

This time WCS has become even more adventurous, combining the music with a short film. The movie is a creepy, dark film based on the seven deadly sins (anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, lust, envy, and pride) and how each of us has our own private struggles with these. TD Benton wrote the WitcHunt in response to the accidental death of his younger brother in 2010 and the impact of this can be heard in the emotions of the lyrics and vocals, ranging from dark to questioning and angry. WCS worked with producer Chris Baseford (Rob Zombie) on this release and there is a definite underlying feel of a Rob Zombie release here. WCS is known best for their live shows and to the credit of Baseford, none of the energy or impact is lost in this recording. Incredible drumming and percussion and a more prominent bass line than in the past really stand out musically in this release. Biggest change of all are the vocals by TD Benton. Benton’s voice and tone fit perfectly within this mix, ranging from spoken sections to shouting in a military-like cadence in some places, best heard in “Black Heart Hearse”. Comparisons will likely be made to Ministry, Rob Zombie, and maybe even some Rammstein, but WCS manage to stand on their own.

The physical copy of The WitcHunt contains both the DVD of the film and the CD with just the music soundtrack. The best way to experience the WitcHunt is to see it performed live where WCS sets up in front of video screens and plays the soundtrack live to accompany the video. Next best choice is to watch the DVD through a good home stereo and large HD tv. Once you connect the video with music, the music will always have a deeper impact. Should you want just the music on its own, fear not, it’s more than good enough to stand on its own.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by: John Jackson - The Metal Resource


Both an audio and visual extravaganza, The WitcHunt is the follow-up to White Collar Sideshow's 2007 self-titled EP.

The band has taken their unique performances to a whole new level with a recording and video loosely based on the seven deadly sins. This 2 disc release contains both the music CD and The WitcHunt film.

Audibly and visually stunning, The WitcHunt is also graphic and disturbing. The album and film take the listener/viewer through the pitfalls found in our modern society as it uses the seven deadly sins as the basis of The WitcHunt.

The WitcHunt is an eye-opener for those who are used to the more refined and "correct" music released by the majority of Christian artists. - Christian Rock Files


I can definitely say I wasn't aptly prepared for the following set. As we watched them set up on the tiny stage, we observed a man wearing a top hat, curly mustache, formal vest and sporting tattoo covering nearly every bit of exposed skin. He was carrying items like a unicycle, beer kegs, and a tree saw onto the stage. Meanwhile, a woman in a purple dress that exposed her tattoo-clad arms was setting up a small screen and projector that soon was displaying overwhelming statistics about the problem of porn running rampant in even the lives of Christian men and women today. It was only then that we realized this wasn't just an eccentric secular local act, but the first performance as part of the March N2 Madness Tour. Front man T.D. Benton soon introduced himself and his band of performers as White Collar Sideshow and began to share mysteriously about addictions and the masks that people wear in public, while we might do other ugly things behind closed doors. As they played their first song, we soon realized that the band merely consisted of two drummers and a bassist. No singer. No guitarist. The woman in the purple dress now donned a creepy white "faceless" mask, and the other member, whose eyes had black circles of makeup under them, was soon wearing a ghastly pig-face mask, sitting behind a drum set. As Benton and the other drummer performed simultaneously on their respective kits, and the "faceless woman" played bass, clips from old black and white horror films were projected onto the side screen (nothing gory or grotesque). Voices from different films and speakers were spliced together, while words flashed almost subliminally during the movie clips. Benton's drum kit featured a large buzz saw as one of his cymbals, and at different times during the band's set, he'd beat on the tree saw with a drum stick as he bent it for different pitches, or he'd spin the unicycle and smack its spokes. The Sideshow created a surreal and dreamlike experience, fabricating an often creepy feel, which served as an appropriate setting for Benton to share about being a recovered drug addict and porn addict. Phillip, the band's mask-wearing drummer, even took some of Benton's talking interludes as a chance to hop into the audience while wearing the unnerving pig face mask to intimidate members of the crowd. Phillip would then climb back on stage and behind his kit to resume playing. White Collar Sideshow closed their engaging and unique set, after several songs, with "Pardon Thy Monster," and left the stage for a set change. They're the kind of act that would have been an ideal match for Showbread (most likely right before their set, too), so I can easily see why they were billed for this tour. - Jesus Freak Hideout


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Hailing from the city famous for it's gallows- Fort Smith, Arkansas...

Established in 2006 and living like cowboys and gypsies ever since,
we have traveled the globe with our strange and unusual performance, captivating audiences along the way.

Our sound can be summed up by "Industrial Shock Rock" while our original film "The WitcHunt" plays in the background.
We provide the live soundtrack to our creepy silent film.

One part band & one part film.
A wall of INSANITY with a modern vaudeville twist; a very fine SPECTACLE to say the least!!

We have been defined by many different shapes and forms:

*Amazing & spectacular *strange but true *revolutionary *original *intense *honest *relevant *exciting *inspirational *passionate *beautifully-artistic *loving *forgiving *convicting *unbelievably-weird *haunting *unusual *extreme *mind-boggling *insane & crazy *horrifying *disgusting *garbage *offensive *distasteful *trashy *and even "The DEVIL!!"

From the mind of TD Benton, alongside Travis Joiner (777 productions) and producer Chris Baseford (Rob Zombie, John 5, Tommy Lee), our full-length album features film and a new performance titled
~The WitcHunt~

Based on actual events; we take you on an innovative-thrilling and stimulating roller coaster ride through life & tragedy.

TD Benton (vocals, drums) brings the creative and clever players;

...the brutal Herr Schwein (drums)
...and the lovely but mysterious Faceless Woman (bass)

Together these characters bring you a chilling and somewhat haunting performance on the soul.
Before we point our fingers at each other, what is it that consumes our hearts and minds?
What are the vices that haunt and torture our lives?

Traveling the arterial highways full of passion and purpose.
Looking for the amazing and spectacular, the loving and forgiving.
Searching for faith and the unknown...

we are burning our fossil fuel trying to figure out how to exemplify true life!