by Christina Andreadis
It’s an exciting time in the John Brown’s Body camp as I had the opportunity to speak with the band’s drummer, Tommy Benedetti, about the release of their new album, Kings & Queens and much more.
On April 16th, JBB will celebrate the release of their latest album Kings and Queens,which will also be available on vinyl. The album has been four years in the making, “It took a little bit but it’s going to be well worth the wait for everyone,” explains drummer and original band member Tommy Benedetti. “There is a lot of potential for this record and we are so psyched. The first track, Step Inside, starts the record off saying: JBB is back and we mean business.”
John Brown’s Body, named in honor of American abolitionist John Brown, is an eight-piece reggae band originating from the Ithaca/Boston/Brooklyn area. Formed in the late 90s at Berklee College of Music, Benedetti had been a member of the former band The Tribulations. It was Benedetti’s first introduction to reggae music and the kid who grew up on metal and rock finally discovered Roots, Rock, Reggae!
“It turned out to be a music that I found incredible satisfaction as a drummer and as a musician.” After signing with Sonic Key Records in 1998, they started touring. “There wasn’t a scene to plug into as there is today and we had to do a lot of ground work to get the band out there and we put a lot of miles on.”
However it hasn’t been an easy road for JBB as they’re no strangers to trials and tribulations. In 2006, bassist Scott Palmer lost his battle with cancer. Soon after, the band faced the departure of several members. The years to follow presented other obstacles, the most trying was when lead vocalist, Elliot Martin, required surgery to remove polyps on his vocal chords. Luckily he fully recovered and the band maintained a solid lineup for years which enabled the band to evolve
“In 2008, we felt that we had reached another musical platform. We have our sound, when you hear our tunes there is something there that says JBB unmistakably,” says Benedetti. “As a musician, that is something that I strive to have- that identity.”
In 2008, three years after signing with Easy Star Records, they released Amplify, which landed #1 on the Billboard Reggae charts. Their musical talent and success has them touring “all over the planet” from the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, and even to New Zealand. When the band is not touring they’re always keeping it real and working hard.
“What keeps it fresh for the band at this point is that we are all working full time musicians, so when we are off the road with JBB, we’re doing other gigs, studio stuff, people are teaching, we are always active so there is just a really fostering musical climate in the band.”
Grab a free download of ‘Old John Brown’, a hot track off their new album at www.johnbownsbody.com. While on the site, check out their tour dates including the Big Upstate Reggae Festival in Rochester, NY on April 26th, and at the Electric Factory in Philly with SOJA on May 18th. Their new album Kings and Queens is fit for royalty. I highly recommend experiencing JBB live; catch a show and lively up yourself with the ‘future’ roots, rock, reggae that is John Brown’s Body.