INTERVIEW: BENOT BREATHING

Full disclosure: This is a brand-new band on the scene I know absolutely nothing about. They were referred to me by a friend, so I decided to do some digging. Off the cuff, with no prep, here’s our interview:

1. Tell us everything! Tell us how the band was formed, how you arrived at the genre that Benot Breathing plays, and what your proudest accomplishments are with the band to date!

Justin- Benot Breathing originated with me and John moving on from our first project together. The name is that of the main protagonist from the horror fantasy novel I have been writing. I hope to publish it within a few years. The music sat in slumber for almost a decade after our Ep “Ivy” was recorded and released independently. The Gods did not allow us to perish.Thus, with determination me and John continued to work in secret until new allies could be found and molded into agents of the Breathless Empire. Melodic metal and Metalcore are the audio representation of the inside of my mind. A patterned array of the various images and sensations that characterize my daily experience. It is the only genre capable of holding a candle to those inner workings. Our ability to continue through failure and rejection has and always will be our greeted triumph.

Will -My proudest accomplishment is that in a short amount of time, we’ve managed to put together a good group of talented guys who all want the same thing, have started writing material and booking shows, and have pushed this band into a forward momentum.

John – Benot Breathing is a project that refuses to die. It formed out of the ashes of several failed projects that Justin and I were a part of, dating all the way back to highschool. The name comes from a character in a fantasy novel Justin is writing and several songs on IVY explore the world he is building through the perspective of those characters. The trials they face are analogous to our own times but the subject matter also gives those songs an otherworldly quality, particularly “Spooky.”

Soon after completing the IVY, it took nearly a decade for a dedicated line-up to take form among the trials and tribulations of our early twenties.There were several times Benot was put on hiatus or even outright disbanded. The fact that it even exists in its undead state is a testament to our friendship and collaboration as musicians.

Benot Breathing’s proudest achievement to date will always be the fact that we are still alive and making music at all—persisting, sublimating, breaking down the boundaries between the living and the dead. In a world that cannibalizes and commodifies creative impulses, just picking up an instrument at all can seem to be a monumental and futile task. With the decade we’ve had, all of us have had, it’s nothing short of a miracle that we haven’t given up completely or turned up dead. So take that for what it’s worth.

Jared – I’ve always wanted to be in a band with a lot of energy – something I could enjoy listening to while I’m playing. I’ve been looking for that for a long time and I can finally stop looking now. I’m excited for what the future has to hold for us as Benot Breathing.

2. How did you guys first meet?

Will – I met Justin and John after responding to an ad on Craigslist. I looked up the music that was already recorded and immediately fell in love with the style and sent them a message about how I was looking for a band to join. Originally, we had a different drummer and bass player, but they each had left so we started looking again. Craigslist came to the rescue again, where I found an ad posted by Rob and Jared looking to join into a band. It was like the stars aligned. We needed a drummer and bass player, and they needed a band.

John – As corny as it sounds—which is admittedly pretty corny— Justin and I became friends during gym class at our highschool when we both independently noticed that the other guy was wearing a Children of Bodom shirt. At that moment, one of us—I can’t remember who—approached the other and a conversation about our interests in metal began, so did our friendship. We both had separate bands at the time, long-story-short we started jamming together with the intention to start a band heavily influenced by In Flames, Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying and Lamb of God. Justin went through a prolonged period of writing and came out of the other side with most of our EP IVY written. Since then we have been on a mission to find a group that could do those songs justice. For a while, we had friends and family members cover the other instruments but we didn’t have a lineup that was dedicated to play full time until scouring the internet and finding a decent fit for each role. Our current lineup which consists of Will on vocals, Jared on Bass and Rob on drums is Benot in its most robust form to date.

Rob – me and Jared linked up from a former project struggling to get its feet on the ground, i was searching for more members for that project when found a post on band mix with a link to these guys with a Spotify and they said they needed a drummer and bass player, i listened to the EP (ivy)and I knew that me and Jared found our new home and the other guys just didn’t know it yet. i made a reach out on band mix but the site would only let us message if we paid for it. so i made a Craigslist post and i got a hit from the same guys, it was right near Christmas time and it was like the stars aligned and it was meant to be. we busted our arses to learn the songs and get over to show the guys what we have to offer. We weren’t officially added to lineup for a little while but we were going to work as hard as we could to get there. we happily found a home in a lineup of killer guys with great musical minds where we knew we belonged from the first time we heard the ep.

Jared – Rob and I were looking for something a little more serious than where we were. Rob reached out in a few directions and somehow Rob got in contact with the band and we decided to go check them out. After hearing them on YouTube, I was all in. This is my kind of band, my kind of sound. This is the band I have been looking for several years

3. Name your top bands/artists of all-time regardless of style!

Justin – Darkest hour, Lamb of God, As I lay Dying, August Burns Red, In Flames, Suicide Silence, Smashing Pumpkins, Born of Osiris

John – The answer to the question will probably vary greatly depending on which one of us answers. I’m always trying to discover new music and expand the boundaries of what I’m listening to but if I had to lock a few artists in place, that have continued to hold an important role in my life, I would reserve that space for the likes of Black Sabbath, Lamb of God, Bad Religion, As I Lay Dying, Against Me!, Mastodon, Coheed and Cambria and Flogging Molly.

Rob – My favorite by far has always been Trivium, i grew up on The Beatles and 90s country from my parents, but I found my way to Ozzy, Metallica, Lamb of God and all the classics and greats. Guitar hero honestly helped shape my path to metal. A7X, In Flames, All that Remains, Killswitch Engage. I even dig into some EDM hard like Liquid Stranger, lsdream, Excision. Any music i can feel in my soul, im not bound to set genres or purist ways.

Will – Bullet For My Valentine, Lamb of God, Amon Amarth, Evanescence, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Avril Lavigne, Citizen Soldier

Jared – Metallica, Lamb of God, Mudvayne, Machine Head, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and old school Incubus are among my top favorites.

4. Talk about any new music as much as you can, and tell people what they can expect! Also, I know you guys just played Stamps. What was the reception like?

Justin – Stamps will hold a special place in the heart of this band as it was our first show as a full live project. Our music is an amalgamation of the various influences listed before as well as our efforts to carve new paths within the confines of that genre. We are looking to evolve into more complex and musically educated works, while never forgetting the beauty of a simple banger.

John – In the past, most of the writing started with Justin and was rounded out after he would approach me with an idea and we worked it out together. More recently, there has been a much heavier emphasis on collaboration and growing together collectively as musicians. We have a handful of songs written that we think can thematically evolve into an album. They include more variations in melody and groove and each have a heaviness that fits well with the musical ideas introduced in earlier sequences of the songs. There is a different feel to our newer stuff that is also likely a result of the perspective of trying to write for the stage. As far as the specifics, people will just have to come and see for themselves.

We kicked off Stamps’ welcome back show with a lot of energy. It was also a lot of peoples’ first time seeing live music since the pandemic and I think you could see that in the way people were excited to be there, in our performance and in the other bands’ performances too. Our most recent show at Stamps was for a packed audience and we were treated to another awesome lineup and a great response from the crowd and our friends who came out to see us. The highlight of my night happened when I got to see my brother reluctantly join the pit after being thrown into it by a stranger and tossed around into a flurry of chaos as a half dozen other people joined in. The fact that we are able to inspire moments like that from stage makes the time we put into practicing worth it.

Will – We’re currently working on new music, with a couple of songs ready to go and that we play at shows along with songs from our EP. We’re aiming at getting into the studio to record a full album as soon as possible. Playing at Stamps has been great. The people there are super friendly and helpful and for a small bar, it draws a good crowd. With our most recent show, we had a great reception with people sending us compliments even days later. The metal scene in Buffalo is like a big family, and everyone makes it feel that way.

Rob – reception for our first show with this lineup was great, everyone was moving, having a great time. Almost everyone i talked to said they want to come back for more shows.

Jared – We are in the process of getting some songs together that haven’t been recorded yet and I’m pretty excited to play them. They’re all pretty nasty to me. I’m looking forward to the song writing process with these guys – I feel the best of everything is yet to be had. We had a lot of support from our friends at Stamps and all the other bands were supportive of each other. I’m looking forward to playing more shows there.

5. In what ways have you guys been challenging or pushing yourselves in your respective roles?

Justin – Each Band member holds the other to a high standard. Steel sharpens steel. Writing songs on the very edge of our capability and skill level then forging ourselves to play them well is the method by which we all improve. I enjoy making things difficult.

John – Rob and Jared only joined the band in late January or early February so those guys had the tremendous task of learning our entire catalog of songs in only a handful of weeks. The fact that they were able to do it was impressive. For myself, one of the things I have been doing recently has been incorporating layering our songs with backing vocals for our live shows. I’ve also been writing a bit more for our unreleased songs than I have been in the past. There’s some stuff that Justin and I have been working on that we have yet to introduce to the other guys as well. Collectively, we are pushing to improve our presence on stage and working towards getting a full length ready to take to the studio.

Will – I’m constantly trying to improve my technique and quality. I’ve been working on breathing patterns and being more cognizant of when and where I take my breaths so there aren’t any cuts in the lines. I’ve also been trying to write songs that are relatable to the audience on an emotional level. I want people to hear the songs and understand that they aren’t alone. That there are other people in the world who feel the same and have been through or are going through the same things.

Rob – I myself have not been around guys of this level and on the same page musically as me, so its making me push my self harder to fill the role i have always dreamed to be in. as Justin shows us new songs, one of us will recommend a change or what not or something to spice it up. him and john will take those suggestions made back home and write something write on the cusp of my ability to play yet know that i can do it if i set my mind to it, we all push each other to be better and do our best. its a great atmosphere to be in.

Jared – We’re pushing ourselves to keep up, not to catch up. It’s been challenging learning material that’s already been written. A new kind of challenge is coming as we write new music.

6. Talk about the most memorable shows you’ve played, along with your favorite venues!

Justin – Being mostly new to the live scene with this project there is not much to tell. We each have a past with other bands but the journey had really just begun for Benot Breathing

John – Mohawk place and back when they were open Xtreme Wheels and The Waiting room were always great places to play. I think Buffalo lost something special when X-treme Wheels closed. We haven’t had too many shows under our belt so far as Benot Breathing but in the future I’d like for us to branch out and play more places in western New York and Pennsylvania though.

Will – Being that we’re a relatively new band, we’ve only been able to play at one venue, although we are reaching out to as many venues as possible. For me the most memorable was definitely our show on March 3rd. We drew in a lot of people and so did the other bands so the place was packed. The other bands we played with were incredible and full of energy. The whole night was a great time.

Jared – This is the fifth band I’ve been in where we’ve played shows. However, as far as Benot Breathing goes, Stamps is the only venue we’ve played. I can’t say I have a favorite venue yet.

7. Tell us how you each started playing your respective instruments. Some people find gear talk annoying, but I want to hear about your first guitars, drum sets, and vocal setups too!

Justin – I started with Schecter and Jackson early on. Now I predominantly use My Black Shadows Ibanez for recording and live performance. I use a Peavey 150 with and Avatar half stack as my main show rig. The E uses a digital version of that sound with the Ben Bruce effect system added atop.

John – There was always something that seemed powerful to me about picking up a guitar and fucking clawing back at the world with music. Sometimes it’s not an exaggeration to say that ninety percent of what we have to put up with in our lives is complete bullshit. Why should I get up to go to work at nine to drive to a job I hate and waste my life away when I can get up at noon and play guitar until my fingers bleed. One of those options brings profound enjoyment, the other only agony and alienation. Music has always been a way to bite back at a world that is cold and dead and mechanized in its organization, Metal just happened to have the heaviest teeth to do that with. So, yeah, naturally I wanted to play guitar. I was in punk bands at the age of fifteen before I even knew my instrument enough to play it well, to not sound like dog shit. I didn’t care. It was the most fun I’d ever had. Still is. That’s why I’m still playing. I have an Ibanez something-or-whatever and some pedals, however, gear talk bores me so, no, you can not know about my set-up.

Rob – I got a jr les paul knock off and cb drum set when i was really young for Christmas and never really played them. Years later I made my best friend and we decided to start jamming all the time and we pushed each other to learn more songs and cover as many as possible, it was all for fun and no pressure. I took some rustoleum paint and made my set black and red and even put some foil silver duct tape as an accent ring just to be that cool 12 year old. The kit sounded horrendous but it got me by! now i slap skins on my beautiful mapex kit with all Zildjian A and A custom cymbals. started from the bottom now I’m still not there. someday i might fork up the money for a pearl masterworks.

Will – Well I’ve been writing songs and poetry ever since I was a kid, but I never really tried being a singer or screamer. I actually played many different instruments throughout the many different bands I’ve been in. I started off as a drummer, moved to bass for a while, played rhythm and keys in a few, too. In one of my more recent bands, we ended up kicking the vocalist out because he was a bit of a jerk and just wasn’t a good match, personality-wise. It was poor timing though because we were trying to record a song, and now we desperately needed vocals. I told the guys that I wanted to give it a shot and I absolutely loved it. As it turned out, I was pretty good at it for never really having tried before, and I’ve been a vocalist ever since.

Jared – Growing up listening to music, the most relatable sound to me was bass. I didn’t understand that that’s what I liked until I was about 13 years old. Once I figured out that sound was the bass guitar, I knew that’s what I wanted to play. My late step dad, Dan, went out and bought me my first bass when I was 15. He paid $100 for it, which was way too much. What’s interesting is that it was a very cheap, unknown guitar. In spite of that, Will is the only other person I know that has ever owned a Gremlin bass guitar! Since the Gremlin, I prefer Schecter bass guitars but currently love to play my vintage Ovation Magnum II.

8. Tell us who your favorite underground bands in the WNY scene are!

Justin – Dredneks, Daggermind and, Pale Hell are my current favorites.

John – Buffalo’s underground scene whether its punk, death metal, hardcore or any other genre has always been teeming with talent. A few bands that people interested in heavy music should absolutely know about are Pale Hell, Shallow Teeth, Grizzly Run, DaggerMind and Phased Out. If rock is more your thing, my brother has a band with a good fuzzy 90’s garage rock feel called Sundown. Dear reader, this is your cue to stop reading this article and look up these bands. Go now! Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Will – A good friend of mine is in the band Loveboxx. They’re absolutely fantastic and I wish them all the love and success in the world.

Rob – i dont know a whole lot of them as I haven’t been part of the full scene long, but my best friends band The Burkharts, they are always a great time, they sound amazing together. Great performers too. You will leave their shows with a big smile. Even if the music genre isn’t your cup of tea, their energy makes you love them.

Jared – Invictra and Skrotum

9. Plug any relevant links to your online presence. (the simpler the URL, the better)

You can find us on all the major platforms. just search it up!

Benot Breathing on: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify. Be sure to add our songs to a playlist if you dig it! to make it easy to get to any of the links, just go to our linktr.ee below!

https://linktr.ee/benotbreathing

10. Shows seem to be getting “back to normal”, whatever that means. Tell us about the first shows you worked or attended where you felt as though the pandemic was on the verge of becoming past tense in conversation.

Justin – We will probably never return to normal. Too much has changed. With that said: I saw Pale Hell at the Rec Room in Buffalo Ny in September of last year and that was really the first show in a couple years for me. Having worked with that band’s vocalist Charles S. in projects before it was important to me to support my friend. It was easy as they are awesome.

John – There are still over one thousand people dying each day in the United States. The feeling that “normalcy,” as correctly stated above as whatever that fucking means, is alien to me. The conversation should be centered around how we can make venues and music events safe for the immunocompromised and those who are at a severe risk to this or any other virus.

Will – Our show on March 3rd. The large crowd, the great bands. For a moment it definitely felt “back to normal”.

Rob – what is normal? it was great to be a part of a night of fun, good tunes and healthy distractions for the guests. the whole point of music and art it self is to be a reflection of our lives and to forget about the rest of the world for just a few minutes. the world as we know it has never been, and will never be a fully functioning happy “normal”. The world we grew up in is different then the world our parents did, and will be different when our children grow up. All we can do is wake up each morning and try our best to not add to the chaos. but if we are to add to the chaos, we want to do it through music and have everyone around us hear it, feel it, and live it with us.

Jared – Our show at Stamps, no one was forced to wear masks. So that pretty much felt normal.

*Taken from our April 2022 issue: “Lessons in Dissonance”

If you’re interested in purchasing physical zines, visit: http://www.linktr.ee/wretchedsound

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