The Benjamin Gate Biography
Revolutionary times bring about revolutionary ideas. For South Africa's top rock import, The Benjamin Gate, clicking the age counter in a nation facing historic changes - including the end of apartheid and the country's first democratic elections - stirred this female-fronted five-piece to the conviction that boundaries don't exist when it comes to life, hope, and imagination. Though not a political band, The Benjamin Gate makes the case for living a zealous life as they power out a musical style that emulates their own empowering message. Inspired to the hilt, The Benjamin Gate best manifests their compelling creative paradigm with their sophomore effort, Contact.
The Benjamin Gate - made up of singer Adrienne Liesching, bassist Costa Balamatsias, drummer Nick Volsteedt, and guitarists Marc Pautz and Chris Poisat - splashed the stateside shores in 2001 with their stunning rookie bow, untitled. Their full-length debut received rave reviews, earned four Dove Award nods, and scored a pair of #1 singles on the rock charts ("All Over Me" and "Lay It Down") and a #2 single ("How Long"), all culminating in solid first round sales. Yet as untitled highlighted several Euro-pop touches, Contact finds its focus upping the tempo and energy for a more dynamic and daring rock release. Vibrant vocals, masterful melodies, and hard-stacked hooks all come together to give Contact a passionate, guitar-driven clash of rocket-fueled pop and searing six-string distortion. Contact soars with a raw vitality that opts for an energized live feel over the confined sterility of the overtly primmed and polished.
"We wanted Contact to have a raw, organic edge," says the 20-year-old Adrienne. "The guys in the band love effects, and they filtered that influence into a more rock sound. We also had fun playing around with different sounds and approaches to the songs. In the end, we want to take the special element we have performing live - a passionate, energetic, melodic, guitar heavy show - and translate them onto the album."
For The Benjamin Gate, a progressive sound comes with progressive lyrical themes, Contact being no exception. The attitude-filled "Do What You Say" challenges the tongue-flapping flakes of this world to walk their talk, while "The Calling" offers a warm tribute to all the talented people they've met and, as Adrienne says, "encourages people not to turn away from their talents because they're afraid of the future." The poetry of a beautiful day lifts the spirit in the dazzling "The Way You Are," while the notion that love is blind takes center stage on the metaphoric "Your Kisses Blind Me." Finally, for those especially trying times, Contact gives you "Violently," a power-packed ringer that calls us to unite and fight for what we believe in.
"We strive to write songs that are hopeful and relevant to our generation. More than anything, we want to give our listeners a sense of acceptance and a source of hope. Often times we write about things we've personally experienced, but we never limit ourselves with any type of rules," remarks Adrienne.
Contact will also be distributed to select EMI territories in Europe. This came about after their untitled single "All Over Me" earned A-list rotation on Stockholm Radio, Sweden's largest mainstream rock station. Following the station's lead, others picked up the single as well, and its video went all the way to #2 on VOX Pop, Sweden's answer to MTV's Total Request Live. More so than ever, Contact truly establishes The Benjamin Gate as an international music entity.
Peeling back the history pages, The Benjamin Gate first formed in 1998 following the tragic automobile death of a musician friend named Ben. The effect of the loss - which Adrienne describes as "shocking us into finding our own existence" - brought together The Benjamin Gate's five members with the charge to take life by the reigns, and for them, it meant fulfilling their dream of starting a band. Within a mere matter of months, the group had recorded a demo and enjoyed radio play in their home country. The Benjamin Gate then recorded an EP, and when they sent the recordings to the U.S. for mastering, fate found its moment. A studio engineer flipped over the music and sent a copy to ForeFront/EMI Records, who in turned signed the group to an international record deal. The group came to America upon the album's 2001 release, and they've been touring the states ever since, stopping only to record Contact with untitled producer Quinlan in Nashville.
Regarding the impact that touring has had, Adrienne comments, "Performing so many shows has helped me capture more emotional content into my vocals. It's also helped better my vocal performance in terms of expressing more passion and offering stronger melodies."
Whereas untitled proved a picture-perfect introduction to South Africa's hottest, Contact defines The Benjamin Gate with a vigorous energy and unbound creativity that makes them rising stars. Forged through personal upheaval in a land of revolutionary changes, The Benjamin Gate has a creative drive and higher purpose that come together brilliantly on the 12-songs that make Contact a hit.