Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Conformists' Mike Benker: "I Will Do it With Gusto Two More Times. Be There or Miss the Boat Forever."

Posted By on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Page 2 of 2

COURTESY OF THE CONFORMISTS
  • Courtesy of the Conformists

As all members of the Conformists proudly count Shellac as a favorite band, Why did you choose to record with Steve Albini?

We needed a big name producer to get that "pop" to the album when the single drops. So, naturally we looked in the phone book of famous people but Captain Lou Albino was busy.

Oh, and he helps badass bands make badass records.

After the release of your third album, numerous tours under your belt, and growing recognition in the U.S. and Europe, why are you leaving the band?

Because I think getting respect is selling out.

Actually, it's because both sides of my life were pulling apart in opposite directions for quite a while now. I was becoming the reason we didn't play out of town so much. I was the reason we said no to a lot of shows. I am sick of letting my friends down.

We had several good talks about where to go from here. I had said that they would have to throw me out before I would quit and that I would do it for as long as possible. I heard from a mutual friend that band members thought we were deadlocked because they didn't want to kick me out and I didn't want to leave. This opened my eyes because I realized that it would be way better for everyone to just walk away. I did fifteen years. It was a good run. I am leaving on top. Time to turn the page.....

Most people may not understand but most people are not Mike Benker

What does the future hold for the current Conformists line-up?

That is for them to decide. There is no more us, only them. I will be serving on the Executive Council for life, however.

Chris Dee will not compromise this band's quality one bit. There were times I thought my way was better but he was always right. You were always right.

I expect the culture of excellence will prevail.

What can fans expect from the anniversary show?

Possibly the second longest Conformists performance ever and Patty's margarita happy hour. Beards, mustaches, and unencumbered folks.

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?

I have been waiting fifteen years for this question:

1. DO NOT PLAY LONGER THAN 35 MINUTES, TOPS. Leave people wanting more not less. The first Black Sabbath record is just under 38 minutes. Are you better than that record? Nope.

2. GET THE FUCK OFF OF THE STAGE. Grab your drums and move out of the way. When you set up, take as long as you want. You are burning up your 35 minutes. When you are chit-chatting about how you just weren't "feeling it tonight" while you remove wing nuts from cymbal stands, know that a band is ready to run you over. If you see another band helping you off the stage, that is a bad sign. Figure it out.

3. STOP FORMING BANDS AND TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SOUND. Get in the basement and play your asses off. Write ten songs and play the shit out of them then plays some shows. Scrap seven of the songs and write more before you dare record. The first ten songs a new band writes are usually not that good. Keep the best three. Not all of your ideas are good, numbnuts. Stop recording and releasing everything.

4. IF SOMEONE SAYS "GOOD SHOW" SAY "THANK YOU". If you complain about your set to someone who liked it, you look like a douche. Don't be a whiner. Take the compliment and try harder next time.

I could go on all day, but I will try to keep this simple...

What is the one thing that you hope fans can take away from your music? What have you gained from your time in the band?

Try something different. Be selective with what you put out there. If you write 100 songs and only nine are top quality songs, then release the best five. You will get a reputation for being elite.

I am not a good singer but I made it work. I can perform and I will do it with gusto two more times. Be there or miss the boat forever.

The Conformists have always done whatever we wanted.

Tags: , ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 28, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation