Graham Reid | | 6 min read
You gotta love the motto of Benjii Jackson's Muzai Records: "independent Fighting Spirit".
And they been going their independent way since 2009 wqith some of Elsewhere's favourite fuzzy pop albums. Records by the Wilberforces, the Bemsha Swing, god bows to maths, Sunken Seas, Zen Mantra (and yes even Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing) have had considerable airtime in the Elsewhere premises.
Right now the Wilberforces have a new album Paradise Beach (out on 12" vinyl only but you can hear a stream here), and they are touring (dates below).
But because Thom Burton of the Wimberforces has already answered our questionnaire (here), why not let the head honco at the little label that could (and does) have a turn? Check out the label's website here.
And now . . . heeeeere's Benjiiiiiii
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. I know everyone is groaning that I wrote that, but it was true. I was young, impressionable – my best mate’s bigger brother was into heavy metal which meant, by extension, me and my mate were getting into heavy metal. But it was that song when it first came out, coupled with this complete opposite of what metal bands would be wearing, that really reverberated with me. It was like three dudes who could be the next door neighbour’s young adult offspring were in this band playing this poppy-yet-heavy music. There are points when it’d come on randomly and I’d still attest it’s one of the best songs written.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
Probably MC Hammer. It was the nineties, he was a pop culture phenomenon and pretty sanitary for consumption around the house. I was very young, this was pre-Nevermind also. But yeah, that was one of the first artists that got me listing to music on my own accord.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
Lennon (though George was my favourite Beatle). Nirvana. Gaga. Jacko. Nothing against Jay-Z, I just grew up with Jacko.
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
Probably back to being a music journalist – anybody looking for a reviewer? I have a decent CV of interviews under my belt also. I swear!
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
Exhausted, by Foo Fighters. It's the closing track of their self titled (and still utterly incredible) debut album, and I think one of the best, more melancholic songs that the band have put out – perhaps one of the best melancholic songs penned. Everlong gets a lot of love, and it's good, but this was basically the Foo Fighters in their angry, unpolished best.
Trampoline, by The Greenberry Woods. There's a generation that missed out on the power-pop/college radio stuff of the early/mid nineties; and it was one of the best times to grow up listening to music. You'd have things like Buffalo Tom, Juliana Hatfield, Redd Kross, Elastica, Tripping Daisy, Superchunk, Grant Lee Buffalo, all that Nineties Flying Nun stuff. So bloody much. The Greenberry Woods were unfairly overlooked – Trampoline is such a sugar sweet piece of earnest power-pop; almost like an American college Teenage Fanclub. It's so nineties.
Refuse/Resist, by Sepultura. Max Cavalera is my generations Ozzy Osbourne. He is an elder statesmen of thrash, some even say a godfather to nu-metal given how diverse Roots was as a metal album. Chaos AD is one of the best albums ever recorded. Not just in the metal genre – period. It was bands like Sepultura that made metal not just something you can head bang to, but get into a groove with also. Some people call that groove-metal. I just call it really good song writing.
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
My wife owns the set list from Dinosaur Jr’s performance at The Studio from 2007. She opened for them (a wave of our friends collectively groan once more having read that last sentence). It’s framed and on the wall of our lounge – with a footprint and electrical tape on the edges for genuine authenticity. That, for me, is pretty interesting.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Martin, from god bows to math, once lent me a book that I was reluctant to give back to him, called “We Owe You Nothing.” It was a compilation of interviews that Punk Planet had conducted over the years and had some very interesting selections. You had the usual from Steve Albini, Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye, but then the booked delved into Sleater-Kinney, the whole Kill Rock Stars stuff, Thurston Moore, Noam Chomsky and the work of the Central Ohio Abortion Access Fund. It really showed how diverse the punk community is – and was one book I could pick up again and again and again. Well... until Martin wanted it back.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
I'd probably go on stage with Thom from Wilberforces. I genuinely respect the guy as a musician and a friend. Plus he'd have no qualms telling me if I was shit or not. Which is a quality you have to have when sharing the stage with someone. The guy's a film buff also – so I'm sure anything we did would be littered with obscure references to Gerald Kargl and Gapser Noe.
I'd play bass. I'm a six foot something, rotund figure – bass seems to be the ideal instrument in that case.
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
The Evil Dead; to realize where the sometimes dark and self-depricating humor comes from. Big Bruce Campbell fan here.
Beyond The Mat; to understand my appreciation of professional wrestling and just how fucking similar being in a band is to be a independent wrestler.
Akira; my love of Japan began here and started the informed viewing pleasures of a wider range of foreign movies... not just Japan.
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Last vinyl I bought was the new Queens of the Stone Age album, “... Like Clockwork”. Not just because Dave Grohl is on the album again – Josh Homme is a very talented individual and I'm enjoyed the majority of his output.
Last thing I downloaded was “The Love Club” by Lorde. Legally, might I add. It's cool to see a 16 year old musician fuck with conventions and her lyrics are honest, without this whole delusion of grandeur. She's legit, and her approach at times is more punk that people give her credit for.
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .
Be dumb not to answer with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. I would be set for life on that track alone. I heard once that part of any sync deal of Queen appearing on a compilation album is that they have to be the first track on the disc. I've not been as pedantic to see if this is true, but it's a pretty awesome story none the less.
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
The movie poster to Reservoir Dogs. It's an iconic part of the 90's – both the film the influence and it's design elements.
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
I have a tattoo and it's not that I am not happy with it, I just think it's kind of pointless as I forget at times I even have it.
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
I'd probably spend a couple of years in Japan doing anything and everything I could, then end up going back to the UK to be with my family. Family's always been important to me – I think if I knew this mortal coil I'm on is about to come to an end, it'd be selfish not to spend time with my loved ones.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
I don't have an album to release. I'll shill the Wilberforces EP though – so in that case. “Wilberforces is Ichiban”
FRIDAY 12TH JULY AT 2 CROSS STREET [SHARED SPACE] WITH CIVIL UNION
FRIDAY 19TH JULY AT MIGHT MIGHTY WITH FANTAILS
FRIDAY 2ND OF AUGUST AT DARKROOM IN CHRISTCHURCH WITH GUESTS
SATURDAY 3RD OF AUGUST AT QUEENS IN DUNEDIN WITH GUESTS