Defining Their Sound
California based indie-rock band Benches (f.k.a. Ignant Benches), has taken many forms since its creation. The band was formed in 2014 when lead singer Anson Kelley was just in middle school. Since then, the band has evolved tremendously through its various iterations and have opened for big names like Foster The People and Ultra Q. Now with over 245,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, they are creating a name for themselves as the inventors of the self-proclaimed sub-genre “Bench-Rock.”
Bench-Rock encapsulates the unique style of music, and is how the band identifies themselves. “It’s something that is ever changing,” bassist Charlie Baird said. “We are always taking influences from whatever music we are listening to… it starts in many different places and is just a product of whatever we’re inspired by.”
The band embraces open-mindedness when constructing their sound, not confining their new music to specific influences.
“We don’t really even know what Bench Rock is, and that’s kinda the point. It’s a lack of understanding but a willingness to just do whatever happens and just go with it.” Lead vocalist and lyricist Anson Kelley said, “It’s anything and everything.”
Using Their Voice
The latest music from Benches is their single “Crash”, which is unique from past tracks put out by the band due to the narrative nature of the lyrics. The song, holds a nostalgic feel, reminiscent with the popular sounds of early 2000s rock. In the world of rock, it's not uncommon for artists to delve into the darker side of life. From the nihilistic punk of the Sex Pistols to the brooding introspection of Joy Division, musicians have long used their art to explore the depths of human emotion. But few have done so with the haunting beauty of “Crash”.
“Crash” is a powerful exploration of the dangerous allure of proving one's worth and the depths of depression. "On the surface, it's about going too far to prove your own name and worth to yourself or the world. The lyrics portray our narrator's flawed internal contemplation, rooted within the lowest points of depression," Kelley said.
And yet, the song is much more than just a simple exploration of mental illness. It's a powerful commentary on the way society glamorizes self-destructive behavior and depression. "The reality of depression and these harmful thoughts is reflected in the choruses and more intense sections," Kelley furthers. "They are harsh and desperate, flooded with spiraling heightened emotion."
But it's not just the lyrics that make this song so powerful--the instrumental background itself plays with the illusion of glamor that often accompanies the rockstar lifestyle. The simple dreamy guitar in the verses directly contrasts with the feelings of anguish painted by the melancholic lyrics. It's illuminating the trend of "depression as an aesthetic," as Kelley puts it, taking the "live fast, die young" rockstar aesthetic too literally.
Their unique bench-rock sub-genre is a reflection of their willingness to take influences from various sources and blend them into something new and exciting. "Crash" perfectly showcases Benches' ability to create meaningful and thought-provoking music through the importance of it’s messaging to the band. With their growing popularity, Benches should be on everyone's radar. They are currently in the recording process, and are performing local shows in San Diego, so be sure to check them out.
You can listen to crash HERE