JAMES Bennett admits he was filled with trepidation when he touched down at Los Angeles International Airport in March to record his second album with renown producer Scott Campbell.
The Charlestown resident had previously only recorded in small studios outside his former home town of Port Macquarie.
This time around he would be attempting to create his art in unfamiliar surrounds in the presence of a man, who has the likes of Alanis Morissette’s mammoth hit Jagged Little Pill and No Doubt’s Return Of Saturn on his impressive resume.
There was also the added pressure of outside expectations. The whole trip - studio time, session musicians, flights and accommodation had been financed by a crowd-funding initiative. Bennett needed to succeed.
“I was stressing out major,” Bennett said. “I hadn’t even been over there full-stop, little alone to record an album.
“I was thinking ‘oh shit what if I can’t get out what’s in my head? What if they don’t understand where I’m coming from at all’?
“It would have been all for nothing. I couldn’t think like that for too long because it would have ruined everything.
“So I tried my best to not think about it and just roll with it and have faith.”
The LA trip proved a raging success for Bennett and the result was the album Run With The Hunted, easily his finest work.
Bennett credits that to Campbell’s ability to understand the sound he craved and how to make it a reality.
“When I write them or want to record them I have some idea of how they should come out and in the past, because of the recording methods I’ve done, I haven’t been too cluey with it and it hasn’t come out how I wanted it,” he said.
“I think this one has come out pretty perfect to the way I think they should sound.”
It’s fitting Bennett recorded Run With The Hunted in LA, because the album flows with a ‘70s west coast folk sound and even touches of pop (Fake Feathers) and southern rock (Deal With It).
Bennett also wrote two new songs, Clear As Mud and 101 North, while in LA. The latter was inspired by the classic LA freeway Bennett travelled frequently while driving between the studio and a friend’s house.
“I had no idea I was going to write them, but I thought it was fitting that I put two songs on there that I wrote while I was there,” he said.
Since returning home in April Bennett was been hitting the road with abandon, drumming up interest for the record.
In the last two years alone he has racked up 200,000 kilometres on his Holden Commodore wagon on long journeys up the north coast or to Victoria.
The constant travel inspired Run With The Hunted’s title track.
“It’s about the tail lights in front of you and when you get into that zombie mode when you’ve been driving on the highway for ages and ‘gosh I hope I make it’,” he said.
“About doing that endlessly and playing around the place and thinking ‘what am I doing, am I doing it right’, all that mind set.”
James Bennett launches Run With The Hunted at Lizotte’s on September 13.