CHRISTOPHER BENNETT (Minsk) – I could never just take orders

CHRISTOPHER BENNETT (Minsk) – I could never just take orders

Christopher Bennett begynte å spille gitar som femtenåring og det var Led Zeppelin låta "Black Dog" som fikk han inn på riktig spor. Han er i dag gitarist og vokalist i doom/post-metalbandet Minsk, som for tiden er aktuelle med sitt tredje album kalt "With Echoes in the Movement of Stone". Vi sendte over våre spørsmål til Relapsepromoduden i Nederland og etter litt purring og masing, dukket endelig Christopher Bennetts bidrag til The G-String Series.


When did you start playing the guitar? In what age and which band was actually the one that made you wanting to grab a guitar and start playing?

I purchased my first electric guitar at age fifteen. My parents both had acoustic guitars sitting around the house so I messed around on those until I saved up enough money to buy my own. I bought a guitar and a bass around the same time. At a junior high dance, I had an epiphany while hearing Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog". I knew that I had no choice but to try to figure out how to get a guitar to sound like that.

What actually makes a guitarist unique? Feeling or technique? Many people for example cannot stand Satriani…who is absolutely a master when it comes to technique!

Personally I find guitarists who focus more on feel to be more interesting. However, I don't think that you should just ignore technique. Focusing on your technique can make your life as a guitar player much easier sometimes. I can't imagine sitting for hours playing scale after scale but I do think some exercises come in handy. I do admire the players who can make you marvel at their speed, I just don't want to play that way myself.  So many little things come together to make a guitarist unique, tone, picking style, usage of texture, etc. All these things are part of the never-ending quest to satisfy the ears.

What was your first guitar? Do you still have it?

My first guitar was a Kramer. I forget the model but it was one of the Eighties Models with a single humbucker. That guitar met its fate at a particularly animated practice of an old band when it was thrown to the ground and suffered a broken headstock. I had grown to hate that guitar, so it was good to give it a proper burial. 

Do you think that the guitarist is making the quality or maybe the equipment can do magic?

A great guitarist can make not so great equipment sound good. The best guitar players sound like themselves no matter what they are playing on. I also believe that you can completely reinvent your sound with the aid of effects, new amp, odd tunings etc. I think certain equipment can further the evolution of your playing. It all starts with the fingers, and the mind, of the person playing.


What kind of equipment do you use? Guitars…pick ups…amps…? Do you use different equipment in the studio and different while playing live? If yes then what is the reason?

The stuff I use changes quite a bit. I use Emperor cabinets. As far as Amps, A Sound City 120R, Red Bear MK 120, Emperor 60 Watt, Marshall JCM 800, Sunn Model T, Peavey 5150, Fender Twin Reverb. All these have been used off and on through the history of Minsk. Some are just used in the studio. I have a Les Paul, SG, An Ampeg SG, and a Telecaster that get most of the live use. A Kramer Aluminum neck has had some use in the Studio. Soon I hope to have a new custom beauty from Scale Model Guitars in Chicago.
Yes, I use different gear live and in the studio. The main reason is that while recording, you have the luxury of trying many different combinations of amps, guitars, and pedals, while in a live setting you have to pick something and go with it. My live setup changes and evolves constantly. 

Construct the guitar of your dreams…brand, pick ups, strings..everything!

It wouldn't be a certain brand.  If it is going to be a dream guitar then I would want it to be crafted by some obscure master luthier from the Swiss Alps or something like that. I would want a natural wood finish made with Mahogany or whatever variety of wood sustains the best. A semi-hollowbody would be nice.   Maybe some Bare Knuckle pickups. It would be a simple, but well-made instrument made from the best components.

Now form the band of your dreams…with you participating of course…Which individuals you think would fit like a glove to your style?

Wow, how many members do I get? Geezer Butler on bass, David Gilmour guitar/vocals, Christoph Closer from Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore sax/Rhodes, Jason Gerken from Shiner on drums, and to complete it, Kawabata Makoto from Acid Mothers Temple on guitar. I'm not sure what that would sound like but it would be amazing I'm sure. I could go on and on with this one. 

Are you participating in the composing of your bands material or you're just a performer? How important is it for an artist to be able to express himself? I mean, if for example you were in a band only for performing someone else's musical themes…would you handle it not participating…not being able to express yourself?

Our music is a result of a collective effort. Oftentimes it starts with me having a couple of guitar ideas. Yes, I would have to be an active participant in order to want to be involved in music. I could never just take orders and play just what I had been told to. 

Have you ever run out of ideas while composing a new album? How did you fight it? What was the solution?

Fortunately, the pool of ideas seems to be quite deep. It can be easy to fall into a habitual way of playing but I think trying new tunings or experimenting with a different pedal can help bring new ideas. I think even stepping away from the guitar and playing piano can help. 


Do you have endorsements? Do you think endorsements are important for an artist?

I don't really have any "official" endorsements but the kind folks at Emperor always keep me supplied with whatever I need; cabinets, cases, amps. They have been a huge help. I think endorsements can be nice but I would never want to get stuck playing one kind of thing unless I was positive that there was nothing better. I would be nice to not spend my entire income on gear.

In all the years that you've been playing did something go totally wrong during a concert of yours? If yes, what was it. Please go ahead!

Oh yeah, many times. It usually involves some mysterious cut in volume related to a fucked up pedal or amp. I have had that happen and then the next day, everything was fine. There is a specific show that comes to mind in Austin Texas where during the middle of an otherwise great set, my setup just stopped producing sound. We had to end the set as the show was on a tight schedule. That show still haunts me. The next time on the same stage we had a great show without incident, so we overcame the voodoo of that place.

Ok then…thank you for answering these questions. One last thing now! Who is the guitarist that you admire or that you would like to "punish" by have him answering these same questions?

Thanks again and good luck with your project(s).

I would ask Duane Denison of the Jesus Lizard about all of his experiences, especially with a crazed singer running around the stage with him. Thanks for the interview!