I'm very proud to announce the release of Special Benny's debut album 'Toys' on 6th September 2010 through Proper Songs!
The six-piece band are Mat Baynton, Grace Cheung, Tom Corbett, Ben Gates, Rob Smoughton and Matt Turner who hail from Southend, Brighton, Bexleyheath and Hong Kong but now call London home. Most of Special Benny studied music, apart from Mat, who went to clown school. Although five members can distinguish between a Neapolitan 6th, and a French 6th, none can fall over quite so hilariously as Mr Baynton.
The tracks on “Toys” draw from a variety of musical influences. Although they admit their individual tastes differ greatly, the band cites Tortoise, Jim O'Rourke, Sufjan Stevens, Battles, Frank Zappa and Steve Reich among their shared favourites.
As might be expected from a band who admire such experimental luminaries, there is a high degree of collaboration and planning involved in their song writing: “We finish all our ideas together, or the band as a whole aren’t interested. Democracy can be hard within a band, it can lead to arguments. But at the same time, the fact that we are always surprised when we play together is an absolute joy.”
Special Benny are not a band to rush things - their ultra-obsessive nature with microscopic detail of sound would send the most hardy of studio hermits around the bend - but even for them “Toys” has been a long time coming. Mat and Ben have been making music together since they were 14, before meeting other members around university and starting Special Benny (named seconds before playing their first gig, the name stuck ever since, somehow). Despite building up a solid live following and self-recording/producing/releasing the “Rumblestrip EP” in 2006, the group struggled to find their natural rhythm and life began to interfere. original drummer Steve Galloway left, Matt Turner took a job in Australia for a year, Mat Baynton’s acting career took off, Ben and Grace started a family – the group even called time on Special Benny with a final gig at their spiritual home of The Fox in Lewisham, South East London. Then in late 2008, they discussed playing seriously again with their friend and drummer Rob Smoughton (who releases as Grovesnor on Lo Recordings and is live drummer for Hot Chip). The resulting rehearsals inspired the group into resuming with renewed focus, leading to the completion of “Toys”.
The release of “Toys” is a testament to their desire and need to create music together, and to do so on their own terms as a group. It is the sound of people discovering common ground despite their differences and disruptions and creating music that’s beautiful, precious, timeless and entirely their own.
More at specialbenny.com