SIX OF THE BEST: Benefits | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Middlesbrough festival Twisterella, taking place on Saturday 12th October, today announce a special performance from brand new band Benefits, who will perform at 7pm on the Westgarth 2 stage.

The band, whose core members comprise of Kingsley Chapman on vocals, Robbie Major on keys/synth/noise and Jonny Snowball on drums, have already got tongues wagging thanks to their recently unleashed debut track Taking Us Back, a snotty attack on “a rose-tinted gammon dream” thick with spoken word ripostes and discordant doom-laden guitar stabs.

Here, they offer some insight into a few of their favourite things from fighting fascists to vegan burgers…

Say Nothing – A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, Patrick Radden Keefe
Robbie: Harrowing and fascinating in equal measure, Say Nothing examines the Troubles through detective novel and investigative non-fiction. The book focuses on Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, who was dragged from her Belfast flat in December 1972 by masked intruders, with her children clinging to her legs. She was never seen again. Keefe uses McConville’s disappearance as a vehicle to unpick some of the most complex areas of the Troubles, leading us down many dark alleys, bringing in first-person testimony, crossing over into politics, the hunger strikes, collusion, 4,000 deaths, the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit, whilst all the time keeping the human cost of the conflict in full, heartbreaking view. The book offers no heroes, only variously flawed villains. There are no winners, or sides to take. In keeping with the non-binary nature of the complex, confusing conflict, key players negotiate a fragile peace because of, not in spite of their own involvement and flaws.

The White Pube
Kingsley: The White Pube are the greatest art critics in the world. They’re honest, funny, sometimes do reviews entirely in emojis and are seemingly the only critics in the world who aren’t afraid to call out art, art history, artists, institutions and curators for being utter bullshit from time to time. They’re utterly fearless and a shining light in a dull sea of basically dressed overly earnest pretentious bores. If you’re an art student or work in the art world you should take note of every little thing they say and do.

Kingsley: My hairdresser is the best hairdresser in the world. I’ve known him since I was a kid and he’s done all sorts of things from being in class bands to being an amazing mixed martial arts fighter. He also knows loads about rap which is a great thing as my knowledge of rap pretty much starts and stops with the John Barnes section in World in Motion. Anyway, in a roundabout way he recommended slowthai to me and from my first listen it became obvious that there’s not been as exciting an artist in British music in years. Always destined to be massive he’s a fucked up astute punk version of the Streets who manages to push the anger button of every Daily Mail reader in the country. Unafraid, inventive, hyperactive, the hero that Britain needs right now.

Dr. Browns, Middlesbrough
Robbie: It’s been great to see Dr. Browns in Middlesbrough brought back to life by new DIY collective Goosed Records. They’re putting on weekly gig and open mic nights mostly with no door fee, professional sound, PA, and an attentive audience. They hosted a Studio 64 reunion recently that reminded me of how important that little corner of Middlesbrough was, especially for eager young bands. For a while it was a right of passage that you’d rehearse downstairs in Studio 64, then play your first couple of gigs upstairs in Dr. Browns, and finally you’d save up to do a two-track EP with Nathan back over the road at 64 – all the while being encouraged by the success and support of other bands who hung around there. 

The volunteers at Goosed have definitely brought that back, and it’s absolutely mint that young bands in particular have a supportive and safe environment to make their first appearances. They even have their own recording studio upstairs in the venue, and are offering training in sound engineering to those who can dedicate a bit of time to the collective.

The Battle of Stockton, 1933
Kingsley: During the Great Depression in the 1930s Europe was going absolutely fascist crazy and Britain was no different. Spearheaded by rich opportunist power mad arsehole Oswald Mosley, the British Union of Fascists and their Blackshirt supporters would target towns that had high levels of unemployment and were suffering economic hardship with a view to drumming up support and recruiting new members. In September 1933, with the state Stockton was in it should have been easy pickings for them but the good people of the town banded together, rejected their fascist guff and literally kicked them out of town, with the help of potatoes pimped up with razor blades. It’s an event that’s largely been uncelebrated over the years and most Teessiders probably have little knowledge of it which is a massive shame, it’s history we should be hugely proud of. It proves that the North East can and will stand up to cartoon fascists laden with lazy populist rhetoric. We need to reject the current crop of xenophobic fascist ghouls who are once again circling like vultures around our austerity hit towns with their promises of a rose tinted version of a gammon past that never actually existed.

Oumph Burger
Kingsley: I’ve been vegetarian for well over a decade now and the thing I miss most isn’t the fancy stuff – it’s not the big slabs of expensive fillet steak, or delicately cooked fish, or a suckling pig – it’s bad cheap fast food. I miss shaved kebab meat slithering down the side of my mouth covered in garlic sauce, greasy burgers with indiscriminate meat content, crappy stinky gut busting fried chicken and yes, parmos. I don’t like nut roast, vegetarian quiche or mushroom risotto, I may as well not exist in the eyes of pretty much every restaurant in Britain. Scandinavian vegan food brand Oumph is my saviour. I can’t even begin to describe their burgers, I really can’t. I’ve tried pretty much every brand of veggie burger going and nothing comes close to it. Even if you’re one of those awful meat eater types who are killing the planet one dead cow at a time I urge you to give one a go. Oh, and if you want to recreate a pretty banging kebab I wholeheartedly recommend Vivera’s pretend Shawarma Kebab meat. 


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