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The Bennies on the journey towards their new album 'Natural Born Chillers'

Around the end of 2012, following the release of their debut album Party! Party! Party!, Melbourne ska-punk hybrids The Bennies were in search of a new guitarist. 

The man they got was way more than any of them had bargained for – not least of all because he towered over them. His name was Jules Rozenbergs, also known as King Jules, and the former Gun Runners guitarist was quick to make an impression. Within months, they'd recorded the Better Off Dread EP and were doing runs around the country in support of it.

“It was all pretty serendipitous,” says Rozenbergs himself, speaking to Beat from his Melbourne home that he shares with his wife Lucy and their two dogs. “I remember being so stoked on that first tour – and if I'm honest, five years later, I'm probably even more stoked on this band. We've gone through so much together, and we've made so much together. We had no idea this would be the result – it's the best time, all the time.”

We've now arrived at album number four for The Bennies, entitled Natural Born Chillers. At eight tracks and just under 25 minutes, it's the shortest Bennies record to date. By that same token, however, it may be their best – it's a concise, upbeat effort from the genre-defiant quartet, who collectively see the record's brevity as a strength, rather than a weakness. “It was one of those things where we just though, 'Fuck it,'” says Rozenbergs. “Eight songs, four a side... perfect symmetry, y'know? Who gives a fuck? These eight were a collection of songs that worked together, and they deserved to go together. That's literally the only thought that went into it. It's also great for people with short attention spans, such as ourselves.”

The album ranges from classic Bennies anthems like 'Dreamkillers' and 'Get High Like An Angel' to what may well be the first-ever spoken-word ska song in the form of 'Trip Report'. In it, the band share some small anecdotes over a bouncing beat, equal parts hilarious and catchy. “That was a group effort, that one,” says Rozenbergs with a laugh. “We're fond of the narrative style, so we decided to go with it and share a couple of true stories. We thought it was a great way to showcase our personalities. I find my friends extremely entertaining, so we figured it would be worth giving a shot. Hopefully, people like it.”

Much like its predecessors, Natural Born Chillers isn't preoccupied with being held down by genre constraints. Is it a rock album? A punk album? A reggae album? A ska album? The answer is yes to all of the above – and the band wouldn't have it any other way. “It's quite a liberating thing for all of us, I think,” says Rozenbergs. “It is what it is. This band started out not giving a fuck, and I think that's something that's stayed true as the years have gone on. I mean, put it this way: The Pied Piper never turns around and asks the rats what they'd like him to play, does he?” He lets out one of his unmistakable belly laughs. “Not that we're comparing our audiences to rats, mind you! It's only a metaphor. Truly, though, I think every band has that right – to just get out there and do whatever you want. We'll write whatever we want – that's our sovereignty.”

The Bennies are a ray of sunshine on cloudy days. They're a mood swinger. They're a band that's here to thrive off positive energy, and bring people together on the back of it. It's something Rozenbergs holds dearly, and is demonstrably proud of as a musician. “Think about it – we've all been fucked by the world in some way,” he says. “We've all been dealt a shitty hand. We don't want to wallow on these negative moments. I know that music, for me, has been there to pull me up by the bootstraps when I've been in the quicksand. With The Bennies, all I can hope to do is pass that on. I hope we help someone. I hope this band is a positive force.”

The Bennies' new album Natural Born Chillers is out now via Pool House / Remote Control.