This week the Massachusetts outfit Chuggernaut are in the Meet The Band spotlight. They recently released the EP Kodiak. Vocalist David Benites introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Chuggernaut.
David Benites: The band has been around since 2013, and I joined as singer back in July last year. Chuggernaut has been a driving force for raw, heavy, catchy and real refreshing music since coming onto the scene. First Batch came out in 2016, and an intense re-imagining of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” after that. I was stoked when I got the call to join, and I’m happy to be here now on my first release with the group, Kodiak!
Describe the songwriting and recording process for Kodiak.
Writing and recording was near done last year, but after parting way with their previous singer, Jeff Gard, the guys decided to start fresh with all the vocals. When I joined, Dave Cohen (guitar) and I worked real hard together on all the lyrics and vocal melodies. We’d meet several times a week, writing for hours on end. We have a really collaborative album here as a result. After three days of 15 hour tracking sessions at Eyeland Studio in Providence, R.I., months of preparation and now with its release, I couldn’t be happier with Kodiak if I tried.
How would you describe the album’s style/sound?
One of my favorite things about this album and this band is how diverse the sound is. All of us enjoy heavy music, but additionally love taking all the throwback rock and metal sounds that influenced us growing up and putting them in a modern context. We’re all over the spectrum when it comes to what we listen to individually, and Kodiak is an example of what happens when we all get in a room together and just let loose and rock out. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s lively, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
What led you to go the independent route for the release?
We haven’t made the move over to any record label or anything like that just yet. We wanted to get this music out there to show the world first, and really lay down the foundation for who Chuggernaut is. We’ll see where that takes us next!
What has been the response to the EP so far?
It’s been overwhelming! We’re getting a ton of positive reactions to it, and to our music video for “Stranglehold” we did with Zenbeast Media. The most interesting thing has been how many different groups of people from all over are enjoying the album; people from all age groups, music tastes, and from vastly different places. Everyone has a different favorite song, for different reasons. It’s made for great conversation, and a ton of fun at all our shows. Kodiak has a little something for everyone.
What has been your most memorable Chuggernaut live show?
Our album release show last month here at home has been my favorite so far. We had a super excited and energetic crowd, and the place was packed full with our family and friends. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to debut this new music. With bands like InAeona, Wolfsmyth and Scalpel on the bill with us as well, the show was set to be a success from the start.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We’re back in Boston now making plans, playing some regional shows, and gearing up for more full scale U.S. touring. We definitely have a lot in the works!
How did you get started in music?
I started out as a classical and jazz person through and through. I’ve been a Trombone player since I was very young. As I got older though, I started to get more and more interested in voice, and my family got me into rock music like Aerosmith and Journey. It’s been a continuing evolution ever since.
What drew you to metal?
My mother found a music video one day when I was in high school. She thought I’d like by the band Apocalyptica (my mom has been a main contributor to my music tastes). (laughs) With Apocalyptica, four guys playing cello so well combined with heavy metal left a VERY lasting impression on me! They became the gateway for me to all the groups I would look up to.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Aerosmith, Journey and Apocalyptica from my family, spiraling into groups like HIM and Three Days Grace. That led to System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed. I got a taste for even heavier music through Slipknot, Korn, Killswitch Engage, Suicide Silence and Parkway Drive. Once the door was open it was all over for me. (laughs)
What was the first concert you attended?
I was front row for Apocalyptica when I was 16, and then at a stadium for Disturbed and Killswitch Engage less than a week later!
What are some of your non-musical interests/hobbies?
I’ve always enjoyed sketching, painting and writing poetry; next goal is to dabble in photography. I also enjoy physical fitness and studying different forms of it. Marv (David Marvuglio, bass) just started teaching me some wrestling/MMA moves on tour, though I’m a bit crap at that FOR NOW.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Right now I’m hooked on the albums American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash, For Sentimental Reasons by Linda Ronstadt, and Chelsea Grin’s Eternal Nightmare. Again, I’m all over the place.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Definitely keep your eyes open, cause we have a ton in store for more videos, music and shows everywhere soon. Thanks for talking with me, and thank you to everyone who’s enjoying Kodiak so far. Cheers!
(interview published September 22, 2018)
Watch Chuggernaut – “Stranglehold” Video