According to a recent press release: “Our Undivided Attention, the forthcoming album from Nashville-based rock band Benchmarks, represents the culmination of four years of evolution by a band that has searched for an identity of its own in a town with a storied musical history.” in advance of the discs release, we get vocalist Todd Farrell Jr. to answer 10 Quick Ones to shed light on the bands latest release and more…
1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?
We started recording Our Undivided Attention in December of 2015. It took us almost 7 months to finish, because we recorded it ourselves when we weren’t on the road or working jobs or having to deal with real life. We’re really proud of what we came up with, and it’s probably the most complete release we’ve ever put out. There are a few musical (and lyrical) themes that run throughout the record, but I wouldn’t call it a concept album. There’s also a full-band version of a song that was on our last EP, American Night.
2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?
When I was about 10 or 11 when I heard “For Those About to Rock” by AC/DC while riding in the car with my dad, and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. Later, he ended up buying me Back in Black and I found his old Mel Bay guitar chord book. It was over from then on.
3. Who would be your main five musical influences?
Iron Maiden, Counting Crows, Lucero, Pete Yorn, REM
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?
I think getting a glimpse inside of Adam Duritz’ (of Counting Crows) brain on a song would be really inspiring.
5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?
We’re basically not-punk for the punks. We probably fall into that punk rock spectrum, whether it’s because of the aggressive electric guitars and drums, or maybe just the ethos of the whole thing. We’re all ex-punk/metal/ska/hardcore dudes that decided to write really melodic songs.
6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?
I think musicians have a unique opportunity to get all the messed up things inside their brains out in a really healthy and constructive way. Anyone can get excited or violent or depressed, or drunk, but not everyone can turn that emotion into something beautiful. Musicians have their own therapy, literally, at their fingertips.
7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?
I’m probably the one who cooks. I usually am the one making sure everyone is ok, still having fun, has everything they need, etc. Goose is probably the dude at the bar who found someone with a Slayer t-shirt to drink beer with, and Jack is in the back drinking water and trying to figure out what to do with his hands. In a non-band work setting, we’re all sitting at a Mexican food restaurant arguing over whether the new Japandroids record is as good as the last one (for the record, I think it’s even better).
8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?
Sometimes I think I want to be an author or a teacher, but at this moment, I want to write storylines for videogames. It’s basically being a storyteller with an unlimited medium with endless possibilities. I feel like I should be hired to write the next Elder Scrolls instalment, if anyone out there has an in…
9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?
From ages 16-24, all I really wanted to do was play in metal bands. Sometimes I feel like if I had that time back and started doing what I’m doing now, I’d be a lot further along, or something like that. However, had I not spent that time chasing that particular dream, there’s no way I’d be where I am today with the people I’m here with. I don’t really want a do over, but I wouldn’t mind some advice, like “actually learn your scales and modes” or “don’t stay at that one house in Birmingham, it gets weird later.”
10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?
I think sitting in the studio with T-Bone Burnett recording August & Everything After for Counting Crows would have been something cool to see. They’re a band that had nothing but a bunch of demos and a new deal with Geffen. They filled in for Van Morrison at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without even having a record out yet! I just can imagine them being in the studio and thinking, “if we don’t come up with something awesome, then we’re really gonna fuck this up!” Lucky for us, they did deliver.
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