NEWCASTLE band Benjalu are preparing to perform in their home town again after a frantic eight months.
The five-piece band of Ben ‘‘Gumby’’ Gumbleton, Luke Elsley, Anthony Morris, Nick Saxon and Nick Cook have conquered stages across the country, at Byron Bay Bluesfest, Festival of the Sun, the Woodford Folk Festival and Peats Ridge Festival.
LIVE caught up with Gumby ahead of Benjalu’s gig at the Cambridge on Saturday.
Tell me about playing in Newcastle as an up-and-coming band.
Newcastle was great. Just to get our foot in the door we started off doing about half covers and half originals and it was good to see people’s reactions to an original song after you have just played something they knew.
From day one we didn’t want to be a cover band so we always played our own stuff and Newcastle was really good to us. That’s why we love our home town, because Novocastrians are just so behind anything that comes out of Newcastle.
What is the best gig you have played?
The Byron Bay Bluesfest has been the highlight of our career so far because when we were young it was a festival that we all loved. It was cool that people from around Australia were there singing our songs. It was great to go to a festival as big as that and play in the same timeslots as some giant bands and some huge influences of ours. People coming to listen to this little independent band and having a ball was a highlight.
You have worked with Ian Pritchett who worked with Angus and Julia Stone and The Beautiful Girls. Do you see Benjalu going down the same path?
Ian has become one of our good friends because he is really open to new things and there are talks about doing some more recording with him in the coming months.
We love The Beautiful Girls and Angus and Julia Stone, but I don’t think our music is just in that genre.
You have a pretty impressive following on Facebook. What kind of an impact do you see social media having on music?
Wow! I guess some people love it, some people hate it, but we embrace it because it is 4000 people that have found our music. We love getting on the web even though we are all hopeless at computers, but stuff like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the biggest tools for independent bands and bands that don’t have a major record label.
What advice would you give to any local bands looking to follow in your footsteps?
Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons: do it because you love music. We would be stoked and honoured if we became a role model for Newcastle bands, we are only a Facebook message away. Get out there and do it, go and have fun and play music and put smiles on people’s faces. That’s what we are doing and we are having a ball.
Where to now for Benjalu?
We are starting to think about our first album. Who knows what is going to happen in 2013?
Benjalu play at the Cambridge on Saturday night supporting Kim Churchill. Tickets at Moshtix.