Marco Benevento: A ‘Live at Tonic’ Interview

How did you pick the lineups for each of those shows?

A lot of it was dictated by people’s schedules. Mike Gordon was only available on the first Wednesday, Chamberlain was only available for the last Wednesday…everyone that was able to come down had their own very busy schedule, so whatever worked for them, worked for me. I called a bunch of musicians that wanted to play but we’re too busy and couldn’t make it happen, guys like John Medeski, Chris Potter, John Ellis, Ari Hoening, Andrew Barr…so I worked with who was around really!

Check out the Live at Tonic video teaser

Obviously it’s a shame that Tonic shut down not too long after those shows — what do you think of the way the music scene is headed in NYC?

My feelings on Tonic closing and other great clubs closing are that I think it’s terribly “Un-New York,” or at least what most people think of New York as. New York used to be a creative place, and most importantly, a supporter of creative musicians and it seems that New York now is a supporter of large, out of place, condo buildings! What the hell is going on in the music mecca of this world?

I’m thinking my time in this city may be coming to an end. I’m headed for the country! At least I can make music all day and night out their, I don’t think the trees would mind that much. But seriously, I think it’s a shame that a great club like Tonic got forced out of their spot in the lower east side, it really was a raw, “accepting of everything” kind of joint. RIP TONIC!

The Duo started to really gain some national recognition, especially following the GRAB Quartet shows and the positive Pitchfork review (albeit a year late). But the Duo’s been a little absent lately – what’s behind the decision to take your foot off the gas, and what’s the next step for you and Joe?

Whoa, yeah, the gas pedal was at about 100 miles an hour for a long time — I think one year we did 280 shows. Playing and touring with one other, in this case, gorgeous red-haired musician, for a while can, believe it or not, get exhausting, both physically and musically.

Now, let me explain…really, musically Joe is an endless source of inspiration and without a doubt one of the best drummers on the planet, but as a pianist/organist playing with one band that only has one other member in it, it can get a bit repetitious for five years, doing about 200 or more shows a year. And mainly, that’s because when you’re touring and traveling so much, there’s not a lot of personal creative time where a germ of a song can reveal itself to you. Sometimes, you really need a clear head and a clear space to let the “inspirato” hit you.

Again, the road sometimes isn’t that great of a place for that to happen. However, sometimes it is — sometimes the constant movement brings ideas, and of course the random things that occur on the road can inspire a new tune, whether it’s an opening band, or a great hang backstage, or a flat tire, or whatever…sometimes the road can be a great source of creativity, but balance is key — Joe and I are figuring out balance. Thankfully we’ve had time to explore other musical endeavors, as well as home time, to create. We have a couple of new tunes that we’re working out at the moment, but plan to have a handful ready by our fall tour.

Will we continue to see more “Marco-Plus” shows in the future, where you form a temporary band and hit the road for a couple of shows here and there?

Oh yeah. Again, this trio with Matt and Reed is blowing me away. I’m looking forward to our three-night run at Yoshi’s and our gig at the Triple Door in Seattle, tonight [ed. note: That was last night — don’t show up tonight] Actually, I’m doing a trio gig with Reed Mathis and Andrew Barr of the Slip on Oct. 19th at Joe’s Pub. It could be considered a CD Release show in NYC, actually.

Music obviously isn’t everything in your life…and we like to get a feel for musicians outside of their comfort zones. So how do you pass the time when you’re not practicing or recording or playing for crowds? What’s your favorite time-waster, or websites, or books or movies? Gimme something.

Wholphlin! This DVD magazine is totally inspiring — check it out. It’s pronouced Wolf-in…like half wolf, half dolphin, and that’s how they got their name. But it’s all short creative films that get the creative juices flowin’ for me. Also, the first spaghetti western film called “Zachariah” — Elvin Jones plays a great character named “Job Cain” and…well, I’ll just let the movie do the talking, it’s amazing. And I love cooking. Eggs Benevento is always on the menu at my house, it’s the best breakfast this side of the Mississippi…

We’d like to thank Marco for taking some time to talk with us while he’s out on tour. Go out and buy the man’s shit…it’s dyn-o-mite.

Live At Tonic Track List (<< you can order there)

CD 1:
1. Clouds
2. Record Book
3. Fearless
4. The Arrival of Greatness
5. Sabbath
6. The Night Before October
7. Carnival of Souls
8. Prestidigitation
9. Moonglow

CD 2:
1. Peppermint Hippo
2. We’re Using Time For Fun
3. Seems So Long Ago Nancy
4. You Must Be A Lion
5. Intro
6. Nobody Does It Better
7. Executive Session
8. Elmer’s Tune

CD 3:
1. Bye Ya
2. The Weathermen
3. Diego Garcia
4. Church of God Victory
5. Chalaza
6. Teardrop Tea
7. Birthday Boy
8. Gimme Some Lovin
9. Sing Sing Sing

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0 Responses

  1. marco, matt and reed were freakin’ amazing lastnight here in seattle at the triple door!!! it’s exactly as marco says in this article — “The energy of the three of us on stage is very visible; we’re totally in awe of how the music happens. It was and still is unexplainable! Every time Reed and Matt touch their instruments, they do it with wide-eyed wonder and excitement…”

  2. just picked this up last night…disc 1 is pretty solid, disc three a little out there, and still have disc two to tackle. but I agree with the TRIO material…CLouds, Record Book, and Fearless are amazing with Mathis and Chamberlaind.

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