Devin from our Summer Promotions Team got to chat with Joe from Joe Benjamin and a Mighty Handful. Check them out on Spotify here!
Devin Kiernan: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me Joe! My first question has a little to do with your background. You’re originally from Germany, so what brought you to the U.S.?
Joe Benjamin: I came in 2009 to study music. My initial intention was to study voice and composition. I came to New York City to study music here. As I was coming to New York, I realized I wanted to start a project in which I started a band — that became Joe Benjamin and the Mighty Handful.
Devin: Did you always know you wanted to be a part of a big band? Or had you ever considered going solo?
Joe: Well that’s a very interesting question because in a way it is a solo project because it’s my music and I’m the frontman. But it can never really be solo unless it is just me and a guitar. It was also important to include every member of my band in the marketing to the public. It’s a solo project, but I want to make it as little a solo project as I can. All the guys sing live and they’re laughing. Usually there is a constant turnover with band members, but for me they all stay constant
Devin: How did the band form?
Joe: In 2010 I performed in an 18-piece band – I don’t know what I was thinking, it was a ridiculous project. I had stalked musicians on Craigslist for that. But I didn’t like what I did. So I focused on writing music for a few years. But then a lot of members from the old band came back because they wanted to keep playing with me. It ended up that the core group of members always remained. Sometimes we have substitute players that end up sticking with the band. After years of playing, we’re a family
Devin: That’s awesome. Can you describe your sound?
Joe: We originated under the swing jazz genre, which is where I’m from and my training. We’re are now are a funk band. We have a funking band vibe with a jazz influence.
Devin: Do you have a favorite artist, someone who has inspired your music?
Joe: Some of the top are Frank Sinatra, then after that Jamie Cullum, and Bella and Sebastian. They have a kind of music that is different than mine, but they’ve had a big influence on my artistic growth.
Devin: You’ve toured before in Germany. Do you have any different expectations for your tour in the U.S.?
Joe: The tour in Germany was extremely successful. We got a lot attention in Europe because we were from New York, which is a big interest to the media. In rural towns especially that always attracts attention. Also, in Europe there is a big openness and people are very open minded about our music. In the U.S. my expectation is that the people who come to our shows will be very surprised to hear something of this kind – a big band instead of pushing buttons. It’s fully an acoustic show, almost an orchestra. My expectation is that we’ll get a lot of new followers.
Devin: What’s your favorite song on your new album?
Joe: “Three Days No Sex,” I find it super witty and super hilarious. It’s orchestrated and arranged in a very complimentary way to the band. It is very swingy, very vaudeville. “Virtual Insanity,” is another one that signifies the feel we’re going for. It was the inspiration for us to go towards funk.
Devin: To wrap up, what can we expect from you in the future?
Joe: A second album. That’s in the making and it will be more coherent to the genre. The one that’s out right now is more of a collection and the next will be more funk. Also, some funky music videos.
Devin: Sounds great! Be sure to check out Joe Benjamin and the Mighty Handful this summer — they’ll be touring through New England until the end of July.