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About the Album:
Some bands choose to follow the latest fad, becoming one in a long line of musicians to parrot the newest pop sound. And then there are those bands who blaze their own trail. These are the ones who hold that unique creative vision other bands try to emulate, the artists that stand ready to transform music, by leaving their own fingerprint on the art form. From the first raw chords of their debut release, it's clear that The Benjamin Gate is one of the latter. Reflecting the multi-generational makeup of its five members, whose ages range from 19 to 32, the band blends aggressive pop-rock melodies with daring sonic flourishes. Add 'extreme worship' lyrics, plus the energy of their South African home base, and you've got a sound wholly unlike anything the pop world has produced before. 'It's quite different, quite raw and energetic,' observes Adrienne Liesching, The Benjamin Gate's 19-year-old lead singer. 'It's very South African, just in the spirit behind it.' A key to understanding The Benjamin Gate is to know that this is a band born out of adversity. In 1998 a 20-year-old musician named Ben was tragically killed in a car accident. Mourning his loss, several of his friends and bandmates united to form a musical unit that would be part tribute to their friend, part personal reality check. 'The death of our friend Ben just made us re-evaluate life,' Liesching explains. 'It made us want to do something of importance, rather than sitting around all day.' That group evolved into The Benjamin Gate, consisting of singer Adrienne; guitarists Marc Pautz and Chris Poisat; drummer Brett Palmer and bass player Costa Balamatsias. The band's name is deeply symbolic, both homage to their deceased friend and metaphoric of the band's mission. 'The actual Benjamin Gate was one of the original gates in the walls of ancient Jerusalem that they used to herd the young sheep through,' explains drummer Brett Palmer. 'For us, that directly relates to youth, and our music being a gateway between the church and the world.' It also is an apt analogy for the band's progressive style. Notes bassist Costa Balamatsias, 'The Biblical tribe of Benjamin had a very warfare-like approach; in battle, they would go out ahead of the other tribes of Israel. Our music definitely goes out ahead.' A cornerstone of the group's sound is Adrienne's dramatic vocals. Adrienne joins the ranks of such distinctive female voices as Sinead O'Connor, the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan, and Shirley Manson of Garbage, plus a fiery edge that's all her own. 'I kind of let what's inside of me come out,' she says of her vocal stylings. 'Wherever that comes from I don't know -- my relationship with God, my life in South Africa, it comes out through my music.' The rest of the band supplies the distinctive sonic musical touches, which make The Benjamin Gate so unique. 'Our guitarists are known for going absolutely mental with these atmospheric sounds,' laughs Costa. 'Brett and I try to focus more on the groove-based parts, because we like to keep the music danceable.' The band writes all of its own material. Describing the lyrics as 'extreme worship' is no misnomer as one listen to this collection makes clear, these songs are passionate devotions of faith, although the overall sound is a far cry from Christian music's modern praise & worship movement. Each song on untitled reflects a specific moment in the band's life. 'Live Out Loud' is a core composition for the group, as it was inspired by the death of their friend Ben. The song expresses the fundamental lesson: never take life for granted, make each moment count. 'To me, it's an anthem,' says Costa. 'I've met so many people in my Christian walk who, in a weird way, make you ashamed to be a Christian. There are so many people criticizing you all the time. This song says to live out loud -- be bold in Christ! Whatever God is putting inside me, it's for me to live out loud.' Countering that perspective is the song 'How Long,' an impassioned yearning for Christ's return. This song speaks to an entire generation living their faith loud and clear, waiting to see the face of Christ. The aggressive 'Scream' is typical of The Benjamin Gate: grinding guitars and a driving rhythm surrounding worshipful lyrics of devotion. 'It talks about wanting to be swallowed up in love, covered in God's sky, enveloped in His awesome expanse,' explains guitarist Chris Poisat. 'The chorus is a very powerful, warfare like wail: I scream it, I scream it. It's a very powerful proclamation.' Leaning into Euro-pop territory is 'All Over Me,' which marries the group's strong melodic sense with its aggressive rock edge. 'It's basically commenting on the evidence of God's love in our lives,' says Adrienne. 'It's God's love all over us.' Adrienne also supplies untitled's most heartfelt moment, with the tender ballad 'Hands.' A simple composition of piano and Adrienne's stunning vocals, the song expresses an anguished need to see God's hands. 'That song is more like a quiet time for me,' says Adrienne. 'It came out of a time with God I had one morning. I was going through something in my life and that's really how I was feeling at that time. I don't play piano very well but I wrote it on the piano at home.' Listening to untitled, one finds a world of artful defiance, where expressing faith in a new way becomes an act of worship. Reeling with creative energy, a passion for Christ, and being lead by one of the most powerful female vocalists in Christian music, this is one band ready to blaze a new trail through the music world.
Vocals: Adrienne Liesching
Bass Guitar: Costa Balamatsias Guitars: Chris Poisat
Guitars: Mac Pautz
Drums: Brett Palmer
Piano: Suzanne Pautz [Mac's wife]
Synths, keys, & tortured loops: Quinlan
Rap: DJ Kwinolen [probably Quinlan]
All songs written by A. Liesching & M. Theodosiou
Music written by The Benjamin Gate (A. Liesching, M. Pautz, C. Balamatisias, C. Poisat, B. Plamer, M. Theodosiou)
"Secret" & "How Long" written by the Benjamin Gate & Quinlan
2001 Starstuck Music (ASCAP) / (All rights admistered by EMi CMP.
Produced by: Quinlan
A&R: David Bach
Mixed by: "How Long" and "Heaven" mixed by JR McNeeley at The Castle, January 2001. "Halo," "True," "Nightglow," "Lay it Down," "Scream," and "Live Out Loud" mixed by Shane D. Wilson at Charlie Peacock Studios, January 2001. "All Over Me" and "Blow My Mind" mixed by Julian Kindred at Earful Sound, January 2001. "Secret," "Hands," and "Rush" mixed by Chuck Zwicky, November 2000.
Engineered by: Chuck Zwicky
Recorded: @ SABC Studio 1, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, July 2000 and Earful Sound, Franklin, TN, August 2000.
Mastered by: Stephen Marcussen
Digital Editing: Shawn Andrews
A&R Coordination: Janelle Craft
Photography: Marcii Goose
Design & Illustration: Jamie Bell
Creative Direction: Scott McDaniel
Creative Coordination: Susannah Parrish
Booking: Jeff Roberts & Associates
The Benjamin Gate plays guitars by Vaccaro (and so does Quinlan).