How would you describe your music for people who don’t know you?
If Mumford and Sons and Kings of Leon had a baby and then had it raised by Jack White, I think you’d have Bennington.
You’ve just released your debut album – was it easy to write and record?
No. I moved to Nashville in September of 2012 in the hope of finding a band, and quickly realized that this scene was just a little bit different to what I was used to. Getting musicians to play as a part of a backing band is easy, but finding a group of players who are willing to invest the time and money into a new band is really difficult. Once I realised this I knew I was going at it alone with this record. This gave me a sense of creative freedom that I had never experienced with previous projects, and it allowed me to experiment with various styles in an effort to see how far I could push the envelope. There were no limitations, because nobody was in my ear telling me something wouldn’t work. So, I took advantage of that opportunity and was inspired to write a polychromatic album that was fresh yet diverse and in keeping with modern musical trends. I didn’t want to cling to one specific genre! It’s a risky move, especially since it’s our debut album, but I’m hopeful that listeners will be receptive of the album’s slightly unorthodox styles and see us as a fresh band that will always leave you curious of what’s coming next.
Although I enjoyed the freedom, it wasn’t easy being responsible for everything on the record. I constantly doubted myself and yearned for someone else’s creative ideas during the days (or sometimes weeks) when my creative well was dry. Recording-wise we were on a very limited budget, so we had to make do with the resources we had. It was a very challenging process, but through it I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge and experience that will carry through for future albums.
What’s your favourite track on the album?
Teddy. It’s not necessarily the song itself, but the story behind it. I was watching a documentary on Ted Bundy, and the more I learned about him, the more intrigued I became with his thought processes. Afterwards I decided to “step outside of my shell” and dig a little deeper into the mind of this serial killer. Morbid? Haha, maybe a little—but sometimes it’s fun to flirt along the line of crazy when the inspiration is there. Before I knew it, it was morning and I had finished the song. What was special is that the song wrote itself—everything happened without me thinking about it. I didn’t try to figure out what I was saying at the time, I was just reacting. Creative reaction can harness a lot of power because the artists themselves don’t even know what they’re trying to say. Once I had time to digest everything, I started seeing a very clear perspective of the song’s relation to Bundy. It’s beautiful when you can share a special moment with your record that probably only a select few will dig deep enough to understand. It means you’re pushing your fans to think on a deeper level, which creates a very special bond with the ones that do.
What’s your favourite song to play live?
Stone. It’s a very energetic and lively song that encourages everyone to come together. I also love the meaning behind it—people go to live shows in order to have a good time, and the song encourages you to live in the moment and take nothing for granted. It fits into the overall vibe we try to create at our shows. No matter what style of music it is, all live shows share in having something magical. If you really take a step back and try to digest that, there’s nothing else like it in this world. Music festivals are a perfect example of this – when you have such a large body of individuals connecting together through a song, it’s as close to magic as you can get. That’s why Stone is my favourite song to play live, because it tries to encourage fans to take part in what the song is saying in that present moment.
Who’s your ultimate musical icon and how have they influenced you?
Eddie Vedder. I don’t know if the sound of our band is influenced by Pearl Jam (or my voice with Eddie’s), but it’s just the kind of guy that Eddie Vedder is as a performer and a person. He will captivate you without even trying to do so. It just happens naturally through his deep passion and connection in what he is doing. There are other performers out there that try so hard to “capture you.” They try so hard, that they begin to think about how they can do it better. Once you think about it, you’re acting; and once you’re acting, you place an analytical barrier between the receptivity of your message and the audience. Eddie is entirely himself, and the way he conveys his emotions in a song is incredible. Connection is one of the most powerful elements in music. There’s no wonder as to how Pearl Jam has sustained a career in the industry for more than 20 years—audiences crave connecting to something that’s honest and real. So that’s why he’s my favorite icon, because there’s nobody else in this world that can perform at the same caliber he does it—but he would never be the one to tell you that about himself, which is the other reason why I look up to him.
What made you get into music?
My parents were lead singers in a successful covers band throughout my childhood. At the time, I figured everyone’s parents were local rockstars. As I grew up, I learned that a lot of people didn’t share the same passion for music as I did. Without the power of music, my parents would’ve never gotten together (they met through their band), so I firmly believe that music is the driver of my spirit. However, I didn’t begin taking things seriously, from a performance standpoint, until the age of eighteen when I joined my first band. From that point on, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
What do you hope to do in the next year?
In the next year, I hope our band has established a solid local following in Nashville and has got a couple of smaller tours and festivals under our belts. By then I also see us in the studio recording our second album.
Any plans for a nationwide tour?
No current plans, although it’s what we’re working towards. Our band is young, yet understanding of the industry. There’s not much benefit in touring if it’s “just to say you’re on tour.” – we still need to pay our dues, and continue to develop the image of Bennington.
Describe yourself in three words?
Living Loving Maid.