With a handful of awards up their sleeves and a fan base resembling that of a rock star, emerging Newcastle roots fused rock band, Benjalu, are on path to success that many can only dream of reaching.
The trio, made up of Ben ‘Gumby’ Gumbleton on guitar and vocals, Luke Elsley on guitar and Anthony Morris on bass, have impressed critics and music aficionados alike – all in just a few short years.
Winning numerous awards for their original music and their equally engaging live shows, Benjalu are now set to bring in the New Year at the Queens Wharf Brewery alongside Dead Letter Circus, Children Collide and Aussie rock ‘n’ roll favourites The Living End.
With just one month before the band’s “biggest show of the year”, Benjalu bassist Anthony Morris caught up with Reverb’s Lilen Pautasso to discuss the bands bourgeoning success.
Described as an event that hosts “the most dynamic rock performers on the live music scene today”, New Years Eve at the Queens Wharf Brewery is guaranteed to haul in thousands of party goers and rock ‘n’ rollers ready to bring in 2010.
Having performed an almost endless cycle of shows since 2007 and with two critically acclaimed EP’s to their name, Benjalu are set to end the year with a ‘bang’ – both figuratively and literally.
As Anthony Morris explains, it is the chance to bring in the New Year alongside beloved Aussie musicians that proves most rewarding.
“It’s a great feeling because, to me, it feels like all the work we’ve put in is paying off and we’re really getting somewhere,” he said.
“To be able to play in front of that crowd who are all there to appreciate your music and at such an important gig is incredibly rewarding”.
Yet, despite being given such a significant opportunity, a New Year appearance is only one of the band’s many achievements.
Just this month, Benjalu took out the Blues ‘n’ Roots category at the 2009 Newcastle Music Awards with their song ‘So High’ and over the past couple of years the band has been given the chance to support some of their favourite musicians.
“We supported one of our favourite bands in the whole world called State Radio from the U.S.A.,” explains Anthony.
“The lead singer of the band was also from another band called Dispatch and they did basically the same thing we are doing for 15 or so years…so we got to talk to him about the experiences we were going through that were identical to what he went through with Dispatched”.
And apart from supporting artists such as State Radio, Josh Pyke and Kate Miller-Heidke (just to name a few), professional acclaim has also become just as rewarding.
“It’s so great to see all our hard work become recognised by, not just our friends and listeners, but professionals,” explains Anthony.
“One of the biggest highlights of my career happened only yesterday (9th November 2009) when we won the Blues and Roots category for the ABC music awards.
“It’s been wonderful to win all the awards we have and get some Triple J radio air play too”.
As Benjalu continues to cement themselves as one of the region’s most loved acoustic rock acts, critics are calling the band a “supremely mature and exciting act” with their latest EP praised as an album that surpassed all expectations.
After releasing their first studio-polished EP ‘Reflecting On’, Benjalu opted for a different, more laid-back approach to their second release ‘Waterwalls’ in an attempt to bring out the real identity of the trio.
Ditching the studio and sitting on lounges instead, the mellow and more folk-driven beat of ‘Waterwalls’ is, as Anthony describes, the bands most honest release.
“Last time we recorded in a studio and it was all very serious so it came out that way, but this one seems to flow more and it has more of a raw vibe which is what we were going for,” explains Anthony.
“Because the more relaxed and mellow sound is what we love and what also makes up our image, ‘Waterwalls’, in my opinion, is definitely our best release”.
Like ‘Reflecting On’, each song on ‘Waterwalls’ takes on a uniquely different personality mixing elements of jazz, folk and contemporary rock to maintain the groups fresh sound.
With a handful of awards under their belt, a loyal fan base both home and abroad, and a spot at this year’s biggest show, Benjalu have undoubtedly solidified themselves as both a mature and truly unique act.
As a young and vibrant rock group, it is certain that the group will continue to make their mark on the Aussie rock scene and attract music lovers of all sorts along the way.