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Progressive Rock Interviews

Adrian Benavides

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Adrian Benavides from 2012
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

I was raised in a musical household.  There was always music playing and instruments around.  I've been playing guitar since I was eleven years old.  I started recording my own music on my dad's reel-to-reel four-track recorder when I was in high school.  Eventually, I learned how to use hard-disk recorders and jumped into computer-based music as the technology became more readily available to facilitate writing and recording my own music.  I recorded a few other friends' bands while in high school as well.  I was focused on visual arts upon graduation and did quite a few multi-media and experimental music performances in conjunction with visual art openings in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.  I soon moved to Austin and enrolled in the local community college's Commercial Music Management program where I formally learned about audio engineering, MIDI production, synthesis and remixing techniques from some great instructors.  I played in several local bands and continued to write and record my own music.  Along the way I met several influential people who helped guide the way for me to become a professional music producer, mixing engineer, studio assistant, audio/MIDI programmer and live technician.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

I think I'd be involved in some sort of visual or performing arts.  I enjoy cooking so perhaps I'd have studied culinary arts.  I suppose I still can!

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?

Justin Broadrick, Trent Reznor, Danny Lohner, Chris Vrenna, Adam Jones, Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto, Jimmy Page, Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Peter Christopherson, Neurosis and The Beatles.

MSJ:
What's ahead for you?

There are several music projects in the works that I hope will see the light of day within the next year.  I've recently moved to Los Angeles and I'm looking forward to settling in and making some new friends.  I've been kicking around the idea of doing some live shows in support of Same Time Next Life.  There's a few records that some friends have been working on that I will be mixing later this year that I'm very excited about. 

MSJ:
I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

I would describe my current work on the album Same Time Next Life as progressive industrial rock music.  I have yet to be bothered by anyone classifying my music by their own comprehension via their personal experiences with the genres it seems to blend.  I often find it exciting and fascinating to hear how others are labeling the work.  I may hear something in it that I didn't before or be turned on to a band or record I was unaware of before getting others' feedback.  For example, while I was already somewhat familiar with the work of Sylvian/Fripp, I have paid more attention to the album The First Day after having STNL compared to it via Unsung Records' press sheet for the album.

MSJ:
You've got some impressive musical cohorts. How did you meet up with your various music partners?

I've been extremely fortunate to have met so many great musicians in the short time I've been an audio professional!  I'll keep this answer within the scope of the contributors to Same Time Next Life however. 

I met Pat Mastelotto in 2008 while I was working at a Guitar Center store in Austin.  He invited me to visit his home studio and soon thereafter asked me to help him re-work some things with his live MIDI rig.  I was already a huge King Crimson fan so I tried my best to keep cool!  Not long after that, he was working on some remixes for Steven Wilson's NSRGNTS RMXS album.  I had the privilege of playing on a few of those and doing a little editing work on them as well.  Markus Reuter was one of the other players on Pat's remixes along with Tony Levin, Pamelia Kurstin and several others. 

In 2009 I met Markus Reuter (and incidentally Fabio Trentini of Moonbound who, along with Markus and Lee Fletcher, I'd start Unsung Productions with two years later) at a California Guitar Trio show that Pat had invited me to in Austin.  By the next time he was in town, he and I were mixing a record for a German band that was initially slated to have Lee Fletcher as the mastering engineer.  This is when I first met Lee.  He was in town filming for the upcoming feature film Older Than God. 

Alex Dowerk was introduced to me through Markus.  I co-produced and mixed the ZweiTon album Form which features Alex on his Touch Guitars U8 Deluxe.  I didn't meet him personally until several months after the album had been completed.  I was working on a black metal record at a great studio in Hanover and decided to take a few days off in Berlin where Alex lives while I was out there. 

Eoghan McCloskey and Mike Day are two very close friends of mine who I met in Austin around 2005 from being involved in the metal scene there.  They're extremely talented guys and we've worked on a lot of music together over the years.  They play in a great metal band called "Vex" which I hope receives the attention it deserves soon.

MSJ:
Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Yes, I am always interested in working with other musicians and hope to continue collaborations for years to come.  Besides working more with Markus (who co-wrote and co-produced Same Time Next Life with me) and the other contributors to the album, I'd like to try working with the following musicians at some point (to name just a few off the top of my head): Colin Edwin, Roger Jarvis, Balazs Pandi, Zach Hill, Tony Levin, SiRenee, Bryan Mantia and Lee Fletcher.  There are a few of those listed whom I don't actually know and haven't had any correspondence with but would be nice to be in contact one of these days.  One can dream!

In a broader sense, I'd like to pursue some genres of music with other musicians who would like to go there with me.  I've been wanting to get more into hip hop lately.  After having recently spent time on the road with Childish Gambino and Danny Brown, I've observed some things about hip hop production.  I think it is fair to say that hip hop and industrial music are very close relatives.  I think there are some very extreme and exciting things being done with hip hop production that modern industrial music is lacking; particularly in regard to vocal production.  I'd like to explore those ideas with some other musicians.

MSJ:
Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

I think illegal downloading of music is absolutely a hindrance to the careers of musicians.  I think now more than ever there is an understanding of how musicians make music (both technically and financially).  This understanding comes to the average listener in the same educational format as the one that allows the average listener to steal from the artist: the Internet.  People are becoming increasingly aware of what it takes for someone to try and make a living being a musician.  We have crowd-funding sites now to help artists fund projects.  We have technology which allows people to make records on extremely tight budgets.  Some music producers in various genres of popular music are being recognized almost as much as the artists they produce.  I feel like it is only a matter of time before the generally otherwise globally-conscious and ethically-minded youth of today finally figure out that artists have rights too (to paraphrase The Trichordist from a recent blog post - http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/letter-to-emily-white-at-npr-all-songs-considered/).

MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

I don't think I've ever heard a fan-made concert recording that I've really enjoyed.  I do think that, in the case of fans recording shows, at least an individual has (more than likely) paid to see the performance in the first place and enjoyed it enough to want to share it.  I understand this might be a slippery slope but I don't see this as quite the problem that is the illegal downloading of music.  Bootlegging shows just seems to be of a different culture altogether in my opinion.

MSJ:

If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Ah, SightReado… we meet again.  Spewing forth cosmic rays of treble and bass clefs full of notes I can barely comprehend at even the slowest of speeds.  For shame, for shame.

MSJ:

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Trent Reznor, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Pat Mastelotto, Johnny Greenwood, Tori Amos, ?uestlove, John Paul Jones, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, OhGr, Reeves Gabrels, Otto Von Schirach, Bill Rieflin, Markus Reuter, Bernhard Wöstheinrich and Trey Gunn.  Why?  Why not?

MSJ:

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

I would probably look at such a thing from the standpoint of allowing for live performances of songs (some from side-projects) that might otherwise never happen be logistically possible.  Therefore my list of performers would be as follows:  King Crimson, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Neurosis, Mastodon, Godflesh, Techno Animal, centrozoon, no-man, Opeth, Ministry, Cock Robin, Ulver… and something totally random that has nothing to do with the proposed criterion: Peter Fox.

MSJ:

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

The last CD I bought was the recent RareNoiseRecords release by Metallic Taste of Blood. Lately, I've been listening to that as well as Meshuggah Koloss, Stick Men Open, Colin Edwin PVZ, Owls The Night Stays, Danny Brown XXX and Death Grips.

MSJ:

Have you read any good books lately?

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I don't spend a lot of time reading books!  I did read The Hunger Games book before the movie came out a few months ago.  I wanted to be in on the wave of people who read the book before seeing the movie for once.

MSJ:

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

While I was working with Childish Gambino as playback engineer, MIDI programmer and backline tech, we played Coachella's main stage this year.  Because of that gig, I was given an artist wristband and got to check out a lot of great live music at the festival.  I very much enjoyed seeing Refused, St. Vincent, M83, Death Grips (they've got an amazing drummer!) and Radiohead.  I was saddened by the news of the loss of their drum tech, Scott Johnson, recently.

MSJ:

Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?"

If anything, I feel guilty about not spending more time listening to music!  I don't think there's any music I'm embarrassed to admit that I enjoy.  Except for Wreckx-N-Effect.  I'll never admit that I freakin' love that song “Rump Shaker.”  Nope.  Never.

MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Several years ago I was playing bass in a power-metal band based out of Austin.  We once drove down to Laredo for a gig.  As we arrived at the venue we discovered it had been double booked that night.  The promoter's alternate plan was to hold the concert in the back parking lot of the club which shared its lot with the loading bay of a Wal-Mart store.  The PA speakers were placed on a flatbed truck and we set up our gear and played in that Wal-Mart parking lot.  No stage.  Just us and about one hundred metal heads in attendance standing outside on the concrete.  I felt really cool because I had a wireless unit for my instrument.  So I climbed up on the flatbed and had a moment where I felt like Slash in the “November Rain” video where he's standing on that cliff with his hair blowing in the wind.  Then someone threw a sandwich on my wireless receiver.  It's quite possible we were also the opening act for a puppet show that evening.

MSJ:

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Louis CK, George Carlin and Tina Fey.

MSJ:

What would be on the menu?

Pizza, burgers, some good beer, lots of fried appetizers and ranch dressing on the side.

MSJ:

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Live long and prosper. 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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