Words: Jen Rees
A few lucky people were able to see Joel and Benji and their band do their soundcheck and they played us a couple of songs as well as told us some stories. Then they answered our questions before we got to meet them and have our photo taken with them.
Joel: So are you guys excited for the show tonight?
Benji: Do you all have the record Greetings from California? As we are going to play a lot of songs from that. We are also going to play some Good Charlotte songs. The whole theme behind this tour is Greetings for California and we are playing songs that we wrote in California. So only the Good Charlotte songs that we wrote in California, not the ones we wrote in Maryland.
Joel: But still some pretty good ones!
Benji: Does anyone have any idea what the whole point of Greetings from California is?
Crowd: “Growing up!”, “Follow your Dreams”, “Remembering where you came from”, “Believe in yourself”
Joel: This is our band. We bought our band with us for our show, they are all Australian. We found out that we are all related, they all have hyphenated Madden on the end of their names. We are going to do some covers for you but is there anything that you want to hear? Crowd: (Some songs were called out)
Benji: We want to practice doing some acoustic songs in front of you, anyone want to hear a song from Greetings From California? I feel like “Brixton”. I am just throwing that out there. I know no one said that but I just feel like singing that.
They do a lot of throat clearing and making jokes. They played “Brixton”, encouraging us to sing with them.
Benji: That was the first time we had ever done that song acoustically! Good practice! Anyways. Hope you guys have a good time tonight.
Joel: Just having a sip of tea, I am a sipper.
Benji: Do you want us to let you into a little secret of ours? We are going to play a song that we wrote but for another Australian band called 5 Seconds of Summer. You guys know them? They are some of my favourite dudes on the planet, I love those guys so we are going to play one of their songs.
Joel: A little different rendition of it but not so different..
Benji: I first heard about these guys through a friend his name is John Felman, a producer, I’ve been friends with him for 16 years.
Joel: He has a video of me when I was 17 jumping off stage with my backpack on like a parachute. (laughing)
Benji: Kids, back in the 90’s we used to jump off stages with backpacks on. He actually called me up and told me about them.
Joel: I actually heard about them from some kids from the airport in Australia, there were a bunch of kid waiting, it was like two years ago, I was just like who are these guys? More importantly who are these kids waiting to see them? I will cut you man! If you don’t sign this! I just want a selfie! That’s what they said!
Benji: So anyway we are going to play “Amnesia” for you.
Joel: OK so first questions, but the band need to go and change into their all rhinestone costumes now, we designed them, wait till you see the outfits I made them I stayed up all night sewing them. (Laughing)
Sadly some of the people present at the Q and A had bought their kids and the hostess thought that the kids asking questions were more important than the music journalists! However they were cute. A lot of the time Joel and Benji spoke over each other or finshed each other sentences but where I can tell I have separated the the the twins answers!
What is your favourite song from Greetings to California?
Benji: What is that song……: “I am going to let it burn burn burn” (laughing)
Joel: Mine is probably “Californian Rain” because musically it means a lot to do a song like that and the story means a lot to me. Also “U R” as it means a lot to me because it is written about my family, my kids and my wife so those two probably mean the most to me. But the whole record is more than just about the songs, it’s about the whole process of the three years, musically wherever we were going. It meant a lot to us to make this record and to come and play show like this, and people accept that is a big deal for us. The whole record really means a lot to us but those two mean that most to me.
Benji: I like “Brother” that’s like a really meaningful song to me and it is a song I’ve really wanted to write for a long time. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it. And then at one point it just came out, it meant a lot to have that song on our record. This record for us was really about breaking free, I mean it’s a good thing we love Good Charlotte so much. But Good Charlotte did not really belong to us anymore, in a way it really belongs to the fans which we love. But when you make records you really want to make everyone happy and sometimes you realise that’s not a reason to make a record because that’s not why the fans actually like you, they want to hear what you really want to say. This record was about making the record for ourselves, sounds like “Brother” would probably never be on the radio is a really important song for me to get out.
Where else have you done your concerts?
Joel/Benji: We have done concerts in a lot of places, all over Australia, we’ve done concerts in South America, all over America, Asia, Europe, Canada, United States of America, everywhere! We’ve played concerts in basements, living rooms, churches, arenas, clubs, birthday parties all different places. Bar mitzvah’s, that mitzvah’s pretty much all kind mitzvah’s! Just about everywhere. We’ve played at AFL games, NRL games, NFL games, NHL games, any games we’ve play it. We have played for hillbillies!
Growing up some of my favourite memories were sitting in my lounge room with my grandpa playing guitar. All four girls singing at the top of our lungs to Country Road and Hotel California. What are your songs that you remember growing up?
Joel/Benji: Pretty much the same, we used to listen to records when we were kids, we used to listen to them in our living room on the floor and our dad would play Eagles and anything from the Beach Boys. A lot of music that we didn’t appreciate at the time. As we got older and angrier we started a band in our bedroom and we didn’t want to sound like old music, we want to sound fast and loud. Even on those early records I think the melodies were born out of the Beach boys and Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Billie Joel. Our dad used to play The Zombies for us, he just loved music and so those were our best memories sitting around a record player in our living room. That’s what the making of this record was all about, was listening to records, and we did put it out on vinyl for anyone that wants to have that experience can have that experience. Listening to music with your parents as a little kid I think is a really important thing. I get to share that experience with my kids. My kids don’t know who any bands are so when they are experiencing music for the first time it’s pretty amazing to watch what music does not real so there’s nothing better I think. It’s a great memory to have.
What AFL team to you go for?
Joel: I go for the Swans.
The music industry is very harsh and bands are trying to express themselves through their music, what is it you are trying to express?
Joel/Benji: I think that there are many tiers to that question. I think we have always wondered our overall vibe of our music-united people because I think that everybody in their life goes through pain. We all experience pain. We all go through painful things and it’s like this chronic pain that we all suffer from just living. Music is a one time the best medicine, it’s something that humans can give one another. I mean you can go to the doctor and get medicine where humans are the most powerful resource helping each other, giving each other music, giving each other laughter. I think number one thing always tried to good vibes and things like that will. We want people to understand and connect with one another. In the music industry what we are trying to achieve right now is that we wanted to do something different and properly, the obvious turn was just take some guitars and like a really popular DJ track from one of those guys like is killing it right now. Guys that we have respected and worked with have done that and we want to do something different. It just didn’t appeal to us. So with this record one thing we really wanted to do was to do the not safe thing and the thing that wasn’t guaranteed to be a hit. We recorded everything on this record the old school way. We feel the record we made is different to everything else that is out there and that is what we really want to do. We just want to give everyone a musical experience. Tonight you can see the show took a long time to create and a long time for these musicians to learn all the intricate parts of the songs that you may not notice but it was important for us to recreate the record so it can be a rich experience for everyone. It is a listening experience whereas a Good Charlotte show it’s a loud and fast start and everyone’s jumping and everyone’s getting down in the mosh and stuff and we love doing that too. This is a little different experience and we hope that people understand that it’s more about listening than a visual experience. We just want to give you something different. Hopefully we inspire others to keep pushing to be different. We can wrap this whole thing up by saying what Greetings for California is all about. It is about following your dreams. We came from a really small town, we did not know anyone in the music industry, we did not have an uncle that worked at a label. We knew no one when we left home with about 40 bucks in a backpack and a guitar and when and to the world and jumped off. California was a metaphor for us, it was a dream to get out of where we live and go to California. We thought that would be really cool you know because the record labels were from California. So Greetings to California this is like a postcard to everyone we love. Saying look we are here, we wish you were here. Go follow your dreams!
Thank you so much Joel and Benji!