As one door closes another opens…such is the case with BENTO, the new musical creation from Silverchair drummer/co-founder Ben Gillies. The band’s debut album, DIAMOND DAYS, is scheduled for release on Friday, October 26 on Gillies’ own Diamond Day Records label (MGM Distribution). The title track is available now for purchase on iTunes, and the video—shot in Gillies’ hometown of Newcastle—can be seen below.
DIAMOND DAYS presents twelve bristling and glistening rock & roll songs, with Gillies up front, singing his heart out, singing his own songs, and opening up like you’ve never heard him before.
“It’s an album of self-discovery, of finding myself,” says Gillies. “I’ve always written songs and over the years I’ve kept a log of every idea. It’s exciting to finally see some of these ideas fully realized.”
Adds the 21-time ARIA Music Awards winner: “Being part of something as awesome and mammoth as Silverchair required so much of myself and at times there was very little energy left for other things. Now I feel as if I’m freed up and can satisfy my own creative output and get about doing what makes sense for me at this point. It’s been a while in the making and I’m excited to finally share it.”
BENTO is as indie as they come. While Silverchair could tap into big recording budgets and high-level industry infrastructure to support releases, BENTO is entirely DIY – an organic veggie patch to Silverchair’s Apple. Gillies has funded the entire project himself and has personally overseen every element, from artwork and videos through to the mechanics of releasing the album on his own label. “It’s great to feel like I’m really in the driver’s seat on every detail with BENTO,” he says. “That’s just not possible when you’re in a band. It’s a totally different way of approaching things after years of adhering to a particular formula. So that makes BENTO both exciting and a bit scary.”
Prepare yourself, however–BENTO sounds nothing like Silverchair. And if you happened to have heard his short-lived Tambalane project from a few years back, well, BENTO sounds absolutely nothing like that either. The immediacy of the lead track, the title track, “Diamond Days,” will give you a fair indication of what BENTO is all about. But there are a dozen different moods and views present on the album.
Gillies informally began work on BENTO’s debut during a break in Silverchair duties back in 2010. He took hundreds of ideas he’d collected over the years and spent a week sifting through them at Mangrove Studios on the Central Coast of Australia with engineer Josh Telford. Work actually started on the record in mid-2011, once Silverchair revealed what it was doing next. “When Silverchair decided to go on our ‘indefinite hibernation,’ I decided to keep running with my thing,” says Gillies. “I went back in with Josh and that’s when I was like, ‘I’m making a record – this is a record!’”
As soon as Gillies felt enough of these new songs were taking a solid shape, he moved into Big Jesus Burger Studios in Surry Hills, Sydney with Eric J Dubowsky (Weezer, Carolina Liar) coming onboard as co-producer. He enlisted the talents of a diverse array of musicians to help bring his vision of life, including Papa Vs Pretty’s frontman/guitarist Thomas Rawle as a lead player on the majority of the songs, plus keyboardist Scott Aplin (music director of Australia’s version of “The Voice”) and bassist Dave Symes (Missy Higgins’ music director).
While he did play all the drums on DIAMOND DAYS, Gillies’ other big challenge with BENTO involved stepping out from behind the drum kit and becoming a frontman for the first time. And he makes no qualms about it – it scared the crap out of him.
“I was literally shitting myself,” he says laughing. “It’s a fear I’m having to confront – but it’s exciting. Scary and exciting. From my experience, anything that’s confronting and scary, once you overcome the fear, then you can enjoy it. So that’s how I feel about it, but I’m still a little bit nervous.”
This is BENTO, and this is…these are…DIAMOND DAYS.