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Marco Benevento: A New Form of Fusion

By Published: March 3, 2008
AAJ: And then you went home and started adding layers in your studio.

MB: Right. We did some raw tracking and then I came home and got to work. In "Ruby" I added a bunch of circuit bent toys after Andrew and Reed and I had tracked. "Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody" I looped that drum groove that's in 11. I found this loop and looped the tom thing that Chamberlain was doing and put some analog keyboard swells and some circuit bent stuff over it, just to create intros and outros and to color it up a bit. Even though it was colored nicely in the studio with all the great gear we were using, I wanted to... I don't know it's my own thing. Like I said, I'd be up late and just think "Oh this needs something!" And I'd look around and just pick something and record it.

AAJ: I didn't even notice that track was in 11. I really dig when a band can take a complex, sort of nerdy time signature and wrap it in a pop context to where you don't confuse the listener.

MB: Right—Joe and I have been doing that for a while, for sure. So I guess there's that sort of natural comfort.

AAJ: With the post-production you did on this record, is that something you get to do in the Duo as well?

MB: It's something I've never done with the duo before mainly because I didn't really know how to use the programs. This album is my Pro-Tools final, essentially. I couldn't afford to go into a studio and have someone edit for me because that would have taken way too long and it would have been 3 times the amount of money I spent. So I just figured I'd do it myself. With the duo—we're working on a new record right now, and I plan on getting more involved with post-production at my house.

I also went to New Orleans in December and recorded with Skerik and Mike Dillon, the new Garage a Trois stuff. We tracked and I took the hard drive home and I put a lot of shit on the Garage stuff. I wish I could send it to you but I can't. I added a bunch of stuff and cut up a bunch of drum stuff and ran it through an old tape recorder and then ran it to my four-track and then ran it back into Pro-Tools. I've been getting way into that. When it's something I really like I'm into bringing it home and fucking with it and messing with it sonically. As a musician, I'm sure you know this, you get into studying sound and rhythm and harmony and then you get further into studying how you can cut all that up and add stuff or move stuff and loop stuff or chunk it up. You get into sonic explorations and textures.

AAJ: Did you deal with that fear that you were going to sit there staring at the track for too long and dissect a song too much and not know when to step away?

MB: No, I'm good at saying "This is done." I'm actually the one who'll be like, "Can we move on already!" More so than most musicians I know. I have a healthy balance of knowing when to stop and knowing when to continue. But I know what you're talking about—I know those folks where you're like:

"Dude when is your record gonna be done?!"

"I'm working on it!"

"Dude you've been working on it for five years! Seriously?"

I guess my opinion about records and music is you wanna edit it so it's as clean as it can be and it's good but my thing is, when is the next record coming out? What's the next project gonna be?

I've been looking at records like this lately and it's been helping me out a lot: alright—you're gonna make a disc that has 8 or 10 songs on it. That's it. People are gonna go home and get an mp3 version of it or they're gonna get the disc. They're gonna listen to it, maybe 5 or 6 times if you're lucky, in a month. And that's it, then they're like "Cool that was good, when am I gonna go see 'em live." Then they see 'em live and then a year or 2 years from now they come back to you and think "Oh what is he doing now?"

I try to take the listener's stance as often as I can I guess. I've been having talks with the Duo's manager about me putting out a record and with Joe about it. It seemed sort of severe—"What are you doing? You're putting out a record?"—at first. But in reality, I've never put out a piano record, in my life. This is with Matt Chamberlain! This is an honor. This is great! It was funny that I was getting this immediate opposition but now everyone is sorta cool with it. C'mon—I hope to put out forty records in my life—this is one of them.

AAJ: This has a totally different feel than Benevento-Russo Duo. My favorite track is "Record Book"—I can't hear the Duo putting out a song like that but obviously you had that song in you and that song deserves to come out. You just have to find the right outlet.

MB: Actually this is a great segue into what I've been thinking about, which is that a lot of these tunes are tunes that just didn't work with Joe. Or—tunes that Joe didn't work with, I could say instead. Maybe I fucked up by playing him my little demo versions at home, with me playing piano. He would hear it and it would be hard for him to get out of that piano fact and it was hard to transfer to organ, Wurlitzer, foot-bass, and drums.

Ha—I actually never thought of it like that. Actually, Wayne Shorter spoke at my graduation from Berklee and he said some out shit, but one of the main things I remember he said was don't throw away anything you write down and don't throw away anything you record. He was like, "I just picked up a song I jotted down 30 years ago and it's one of my favorite things now."

When you come up with a rhythm or an idea harmonically and you write it down, that means something—whether you hit now or 5 years from now or 30 years from now. Whenever something didn't work with Joe I never thought, "Oh that sucks, I'm never gonna play that again!" I always thought I could find other outlets—I'm a musician, I'm not just some guy in a band. I like to do a million things.

I'm really happy that I was able to get these tunes out. Andrew I've know almost as long as Joe and Reed I've known a long time. Matt I've know for about 5 years. These aren't brand new relationships.

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