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Q+A: BENNY MAYHEM – ‘SAVE THE KOALAS’ TOUR

| 18 June 2021 | Reply

Q+A: BENNY MAYHEM – ‘SAVE THE KOALAS’ TOUR
By Shane Pinnegar

The Benny Mayhem Band: Kat, Benny, Frank

Regional Western Australian towns are in for a treat as folk-punk troubadour Benny Mayhem and his eponymous band hit the wide open road with Benny’s Koala Fundraising Bucket, collecting donations for Wildlife Victoria to help the koalas whose habitats were devastated in the 2019-20 Eastern States bushfires.

The band’s tour are playing free-entry shows in towns which may not get a lot of touring bands, making a difference not only to the poor koalas who have almost been forgotten in the shadow of the global coronavirus pandemic, but also to locals who don’t get to see a lot of live music shows.

Proudly supporting Wildlife Victoria in association with Rotary, Benny Mayhem’s ‘Save The Koalas’ tour starts with these dates:

FRIDAY 11 JUNE – Dunsborough Lakes Tavern, DUNSBOROUGH **
SATURDAY 19 JUNE – Denver City Hotel, COOLGARDIE
SATURDAY 26 JUNE – Broad Arrow Tavern, KANOWNA
MONDAY 28 JUNE – Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, MONKEY MIA
THURSDAY 1 JULY – Paraburdoo Golf Club, PARABURDOO
FRIDAY 2 JULY – Iron Clad Hotel, MARBLE BAR
SATURDAY 2 JULY – Iron Clad Hotel, MARBLE BAR
SUNDAY 4 JULY – North West Brewing Co., KARRATHA
FRIDAY 9 JULY – Red Sands Tavern, NEWMAN
SATURDAY 10 JULY – Samson Beach Tavern, POINT SAMSON
SUNDAY 18 JULY – Shark Bay Hotel, DENHAM **

** SOLO ACOUSTIC SHOWS

facebook.com/BennyMayhem

“Our aim is to cover as much of Western Australia as we can,” Benny is quoted in his latest press release. “We’re going to bring our high-energy, W.A. sound back to the many regional venues we regularly play at, and to as many new ones as we can.

“We have created a Fundraising Bucket that will be travelling with us as part of a large Social Media Campaign to generate as much interest as possible. We hope every night people will come to each venue to listen to three sets of great music and donate to this very worthy cause.”

Here at 100% ROCK, in the Goldfields town of Kalgoorlie, we were intrigued. We need to know more! So we did what any sensible rock and roll magazine would do, and hit our main man Benny Mayhem up for more information, STAT!

Firstly, why choose to go off the beaten track as far as they are? Why not just do a weekly residence in Perth, or stick to the major cities instead of small towns here and there?

“I’m a full time professional touring musician, and have been since I relocated from Perth to London in 2012,” Mayhem explains. “That was just after my old band, Project Mayhem, broke up. The other band members from that band and I were all of a certain vintage where we needed to make choices about what to do next. For me, touring as a solo artist became a way for me to continue to make my own music, while travelling and seeing the world at the same time.

“In 2015, I started working with management in Perth, and we formed the Benny Mayhem band. So eventually I moved back home to Western Australia full time, and from 2018 onwards my focus has been touring regionally with my new band in W.A., as well as overseas.

“So touring W.A. was something that I was already doing, and now we have added the ‘Save The Koalas’ fundraising project on top of that. It’s a great way to give something back to the Australian community, while bringing great music to people in remote and regional WA – as well as in Perth, and beyond.”

Mayhem, a scion of Albany in W.A.’s southwest, is heavily influenced by his regional upbringing.

“Yes, I was born in Albany in the mighty Great Southern [region] and I spent my childhood there. I have a song about it, called ‘Kinjarling’, which is the Menang Noongar name for the area around Albany. The song is my story – a Whitefella story – but it explains in great detail that being raised in such a unique environment — surrounded by nature and (in those days) the faded industry of a former whaling town on the wild Southern Ocean… it creates a very particular identity, especially for Albanians.

“[But] I have lived most of my adult life in bigger cities — Fremantle, Perth, London, Glasgow, Liverpool — but even in Europe the call of the wild was never far away. Many of my solo tours would include distant areas of the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Wales, for example. And, if we had a spare day, my touring colleagues and I would go hiking.

“So it’s only natural that it has carried over to my career now at home in Western Australia.

“My current bass player in the Benny Mayhem Band – Ben Mason, aka Kat – is also from the bush, near Mandurah. Drummer Frank is a Perth boy, but in his career he has always travelled regionally, both here in W.A., and during his time living and working as a professional drummer in the USA. It’s just what we do.”

The band are playing Coolgardie Saturday, 19th June, and then Broad Arrow, just outside of Kalgoorlie, a week later on Saturday, 26th June. The gigs are less than an hour apart from each other, but a week is a long time and The Benny Mayhem Band have work to do in the big smoke.

“Frank and I have just started laying down the drum tracks for my debut album, which is due for release at the end of the year. And the ‘Save The Koalas’ tour will likely continue through the rest of this year too. So, after the Coolgardie show, we will head straight back home to the office to book more tour dates, and to the studio to record.

“Some folks might not realise the mighty amount of work that goes into every show that we play. From booking the shows, to helping promote the tour, to loading up the tour trailer at 5:30am to drive 600km to build a stage, set up the production, sound check, and then – at last! – play a three hour show… only to pack it all down, and do the same thing again the next day! It’s a full-on operation, and we love doing what we do, but it is hard work and so it’s rare we get time to stop, as you would on a holiday.

“That said, we do love to stop off and see places when we can. I’m hoping to see the [Kalgoorlie] Super Pit, and I would love to stop in Gwalia some time too. It’s amazing some of the places that we do get to discover for ourselves on the rare occasion we get the chance.

“Also – yes, we are writing new songs at the moment, including some material written by the three of us!”

This new set of tour dates aren’t Mayhem’s band’s first for the tour – in fact, they’ve raised a crazy amount of money for the koalas already.

“So far we have raised $14,550 for Wildlife Victoria – plus, an additional $9,000 for local W.A. wildlife which was part of a big fundraising event last year with the Palace Hotel in Southern Cross,” Mayhem explains. “It really has been an amazing year, and I would like to thank our audiences across Western Australia for their generosity and enthusiasm.

“The ‘Save The Koalas’ tour has far exceeded our original hopes but I am pleased to say that we are about half-way toward our goal of raising $30,000. This money is given to Wildlife Victoria to reimburse them for their recovery grants given to our sponsored shelter in the Gippsland region of Victoria worst affected by the bushfires.

“The great part about it is that because we are reimbursing the charity for funds already spent, we know where the money is going and we are able to see the results. The images of the koalas on our Koala Fundraising Buckets are pictures of koalas from the sanctuary so that adds a great personal touch as well as transparency.

“I must also give a big ‘thank you!’ to Rotary, who have assisted with setting up and overseeing the fundraising project, for all their amazing work in helping to make it happen.”

Once upon a time any Perth band of note would spend regular time on the road trawling through regional towns and drawing great crowds, but it is rarer and rarer nowadays (though since COVID lockdown we have seen a few more tours through the Goldfields). I ask Mayhem why he thinks many bands don’t consider a regional tour at all, let alone a rite of passage.

“Due to its size, Perth is seen as a destination centre for musicians from around Western Australia, but due to its relative isolation from other capital cities, there’s a prevailing idea that we are not connected to the rest of the world – or that it is only possible via aeroplane,” he muses.

“Of course, this simply isn’t true. There are so many adventures to be had around this state, and beyond, and so many wonderful towns and cities as well as regional and remote communities in W.A. You just have to get out there and see them for yourselves.”

Apart from raising much-needed funds for the excellent, though struggling, koalas, the most pressing question is, what sort of vibe should country town punters expect from a night of unique ‘folk-punk’ from the Benny Mayhem Band?

“What I love about regional touring is that everywhere we go, the attitude seems to be, ‘come as you are’,” Benny laughs. “My band and I value honesty and community, and we like to have fun — and we seem to find those same values wherever we go. That’s what it’s all about.

“My band and I play three sets of great music, including my own songs and songs written by other people that we grew up listening to and which audience members remember and can connect with too. Our music is fun and upbeat, with an acoustic guitar in the ‘folk-punk’ tradition, but a nice solid rock ‘n’ roll rhythm section too.

“It’s a big sound, but it ain’t heavy – and that means that your grandma or your kids can enjoy it as much as you do. There is a bit of something for everyone in what we do.

“If you think Paul Kelly, The Pogues, a bit of Nirvana Unplugged, with mandolins and other interesting instruments thrown into the mix too. We like to think we have a distinct W.A. sound. But at the end of the day, it’s all about great songs and a great night out… and it’s all for a great cause, too.

“Plus — most of the shows on this tour are Free Entry, so that makes it easy to come along and see for yourself!! Please be sure to check out our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/BennyMayhem – for more details and tour dates.”

 

Here’s those tour dates again:

FRIDAY 11 JUNE – Dunsborough Lakes Tavern, DUNSBOROUGH **
SATURDAY 19 JUNE – Denver City Hotel, COOLGARDIE
SATURDAY 26 JUNE – Broad Arrow Tavern, KANOWNA
MONDAY 28 JUNE – Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, MONKEY MIA
THURSDAY 1 JULY – Paraburdoo Golf Club, PARABURDOO
FRIDAY 2 JULY – Iron Clad Hotel, MARBLE BAR
SATURDAY 2 JULY – Iron Clad Hotel, MARBLE BAR
SUNDAY 4 JULY – North West Brewing Co., KARRATHA
FRIDAY 9 JULY – Red Sands Tavern, NEWMAN
SATURDAY 10 JULY – Samson Beach Tavern, POINT SAMSON
SUNDAY 18 JULY – Shark Bay Hotel, DENHAM **

** SOLO ACOUSTIC SHOWS

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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