"If we didn’t have music, all of this would probably send us a bit insane" - Jack Bennett
Back in August 2018 Lonely The Brave revealed that Jack Bennett, also known under his solo moniker Grumble Bee, would be their new vocalist. What followed was a short string of shows, including an incredibly emotional performance at London's Omeara, and the start of a new chapter for a very special band.
With new single 'Bound' now out in the world, and serving as the first taste of new music since 2017, we caught up with Jack to talk about stepping into the band's universe and what to expect from their upcoming new album...
How does it feel having a piece of music from this new era out in the world?
Says Jack Bennett: "Yeah, obviously we’re really happy with getting stuff out there. Most of the time [in these past 18 months] the rest of the band would only come up to the studio whenever they could because of their work and family commitments, so if we were able to get something tracked and recorded in that time we would. It’s so lucky that we were able to get about six tracks back in January. By six tracks I mean the music bar the vocals. Obviously we didn’t know anything about the lockdown at the time and by chance we filmed the video for ‘Bound’ a week before quarantine kicked in. It landed all pretty lucky.
"We did wonder whether we should park everything for now because of it. The reality is that music doesn’t stop. Music is there for everything in life. If we didn’t have music, all of this would probably send us all a bit insane."
Well ‘Bound’ is out, but your journey with the band started near enough 18 months ago. So let’s take it back. What did it feel like for you joining the band at that point in their career but also within those circumstances?
"At first I didn’t know that they were looking for a new singer, I just knew that the singer had left. Mark [Trotter, Guitarist] gave me a call though and asked if I wanted to come down and have a run through of some of the songs, not asking me to join or anything. I had already supported them a bunch of times, I’d played a bunch of festivals with them and seen them as a fan of the bands. I knew what they sounded like and what the music was like. I knew that it was obviously going to be a bit weird singing them because it’s different to my range. I guess for me it was a case of making sure the band were happy with what it sounded like. I didn’t just want to come in and plonk myself on top of the band. Anyone can do that. But they reported back and seemed to like it and we went from there."
It’s such an interesting thing for you to go from the world you had built on your own to a completely different one built by other people…
"Yeah, absolutely. I’ve always been quite stubborn with stuff, especially with vocals. The thing is that if you don’t like my voice, there’s not a lot I can do about it. It’s my voice. So with Grumble Bee stuff, I was just doing whatever I thought sounded good and put out whatever I wanted. With this stuff, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t coming in and taking the piss. There’s a lot of effort put into this band, both within the song writing and within the fan base. People have been coming up and saying how these songs have changed and save their lives. And that was just at the first show!"
How was that first show for you? It was quite a unique experience just in how the band and the fans seemed to be feeding off each other. It was an incredible display of support and felt very special.
"I was just trying to do the best that I could for these songs and do them justice. I just didn’t want it to sound like I was going off on one on my own. I had to give the crowd a chance to listen to these songs with me in them. It was probably the most positive reactions I’ve ever had from anything musically. The thing was that nobody was talking about how the band were playing after two years of not. It was just a parallel comparison between my vocals and David [Jake, ex-vocalist]'s vocals. That’s why we wanted to get stuff out and recorded as quick as possible."
What were those first few sessions of writing like then, and how do they compare to the ones you’ve been able to have more recently?
"It’s a weird one because at the beginning I had no intention of recording anything. It was just about practicing in my studio because we had the space. It was weird as well because I’ve always been more into being on social media, but these guys like to take that step back and focus on the music. So when they came in for the first time and we were practicing the songs, everybody continued jamming and it ended up becoming our “best” song. It’s a song that was supposed to come out as the first single as well.
"We kind of took everything song by song. We would write an idea, record the demo, do pre-production in the studio and then take it back to the studio again in the form of a proper session. The lads would only come down for a weekend at a time, so it was sometimes a faff just because you had such little time. The amount of times we would come out with something that I would never consider a song, but then when you add production and vocals to it, it would quickly become something bigger. ‘Bound’ was never even supposed to be a son, but came out in that way.
"What I realised is that the band sound like Lonely The Brave even without my vocals. When you start adding your own melodies to it, which is usually what guides a song, that’s when you start figuring out the things that actually make the band who they are. Things are so objectively guitar-led here, you can see how a song is from just that. I would just try and make sure every song we wrote had the chance of being a single. We never approached these songs as if we were working on an album."
It’s pretty amazing when you can approach music in that way where you’ve focused on just making each song stand out on it’s own, and then when you look at it in album form they are just all equally as massive…
"Yeah, that’s the goal. Though for the band things are done. For me, the vocals are still being worked on. The last 10% of this is turning an instrumental song into something that’s big and anthemic"
Where does that come from you thematically then? How have you gone about writing the right sort of lyrics?
"Some of the band originally thought that there needed to be an overarching theme running through the whole record. Maybe that’s how bands do it but that’s not really how I listen to music now. More so, I will use the catchiest thing I can to fit in with the guitars and then work on lyrics around that.
"Originally I could have written something about the journey of the band and the struggle of reaching this point, but for me I’d rather write about individual things that matter to me and what I care about. So I’ll write about my husky or my ducks and things like that. I can’t start singing about something the band has gone through when I haven’t gone through it personally you know? It would just be fake."
How far along would you say the record is then?
"Currently we have five fully mastered songs, which all feel like singles. It’s going to be a ten-track proper album with a few interludes in there. It’s weird talking about the songs as a whole album though when we’ve only released ‘Bound’. ‘Bound’ served as more of a bridge between things. But we have some songs which are a bit poppier, the sort that your mum would like, and some which as a bit dirtier and heavier."
On the subject of ‘Bound’, how did it feel having that drop as the first taste of this new chapter?
"Relieved is the wrong word, but the band were just really happy to have something out there. Personally I was expecting an onslaught of me being slagged off. Because of the loyal following it felt like everything was going to be about the singer rather than about the band actually being back and what they sound like. Honestly, it ended up being nothing like what I expected."
Does it all feel a bit more settled for you now?
"Yeah, absolutely. Everything just feels so positive and that’s all you can ask for."