Benefits - Flag/Empire
Benefits are an issues-based music collective from Teesside in the North East of England. They write songs about the urgencies that concern them, and they play them loud.
Forming in 2019 and consisting of Kingsley Hall on vocals, Robbie Major and Hugh Major on synths and noise, and Jonny Snowball on drums, they quickly evolved from a standard shouty punk rock outfit into a minimalist, overtly political band that merges noise, hip-hop and industrial rock, creating an effect that feels urgent, darkly hilarious and unsettling all at once.
Thus far, Benefits have been completely DIY yet, via a succession of digital singles and accompanying videos through 2021, they built a following that enabled them to complete a sold-out headline UK tour in March 2022. They also gained fans in high places, including Sleaford Mods, Black Francis, Garbage and Elijah Wood and Steve Albini.
James and Ryan of Yard Act were also instant admirers and that’s where their label Zen F.C. comes in. Using their ill-gotten major label gains Zen F.C. are pressing Benefit’s single ‘Flag’ (backed with ‘Empire’) on vinyl.
On working with Yard Act, Kingsley comments: “I think Benefits come at some of the same subject matter that they talk about but from a slightly different angle (and by ‘slightly different’ I really mean ‘more frequent swearing’, though we've never said the C word in a song unlike...ahem). We appreciate every bit of help we’ve had off them, we just wish we could somehow repay that kindness (not monetarily mind, we're totally skint).”
Yard Act’s James Smith says of the release: “Lots of bands are saying all this stuff so what makes Benefits so special? Why do I need to be told what I already know over and over again by a shouty man from Teesside? Well, because no one else is saying it with such physicality they sound like their voice box is about to leap from their throat and eat your eyeballs. With that little bit of influence we’ve garnered and the small fortune of money we now have kicking about, I’m so glad we can play a part in spreading the word on Benefits, because I think they’re well on their way to a classic debut album, and I’m going to fucking love being able to brag about how important I was in making it all happen.”
Label: Zen F.C.
Genre: Rock, Psych & Garage
Format: 7" Vinyl
Cat Number: ZENFC012S
Released: 27th May 2022