Coffs Coast born and raised musician Benny Black realised a dream when he performed with his band at the 83,500 seat capacity ANZ Stadium for the NRL in Sydney earlier this month. The Sydney Olympic Park performance tops off a massive year for the hardworking artist, who has already played major shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Newcastle and toured as support to legendary UK Band The Animals. FOCUS caught up with Benny for a chat about what he’s been up to and what’s on the horizon.
How was the show at ANZ Stadium, and what was the atmosphere like?
It was awesome! It was all that we expected it to be. We were in awe at just how big the venue was from the time we walked in for sound-check until the time we finished our performance. We could feel the vibe of energy and excitement from the crowd as we walked down the tunnel and on to the middle of the ground to play. I remember thinking, “Whoa, how did I get here” ha ha! It was all a bit surreal, but once we began to play we settled in and had so much fun.
Is that the biggest show you’ve ever played?
It is for sure. There was a crowd of 21,500 people. We have played some festivals, but never to that many. It was a massive buzz to play to that audience, and we feel pretty lucky.
Wow, that’s amazing! The NRL has recently hosted Cold Chisel, Birds of Tokyo and Bernard Fanning. How did such a prestigious gig come about?
I had played a corporate function for the NRL in the past but I have always wanted to play live at an NRL game, so I contacted the organisers and told them what I’ve been doing and who I’ve been playing shows with, and they were happy to invite myself and the band perform. We were really honoured to get that opportunity, as it is only offered to a select few.
Congratulations! Who have you been playing gigs with lately?
This year I’ve been lucky enough to play tour shows in Sydney and the Coffs Coast with Ian Moss (Cold Chisel) and Diesel. I also toured with UK Band The Animals (hit song: House of the Rising Sun) in Newcastle, Canberra and Wollongong, and opened for Bay City Rollers (UK) in Newcastle. Last week I also supported Boom Crash Opera in Sydney.
I’ve been really lucky to play so many good shows lately and have a few new tour shows that have just been announced.
What new shows are coming up?
I just got the opportunity to open for legendary Australian band Moving Pictures on Oct 13 at Lizotte’s in Newcastle. I always had a lot of respect for that band and their songwriting and have been a fan of their hit song, What About Me. I’m also supporting The Black Sorrows at The Hoey Moey in Coffs Harbour on Sunday 5 November. I’ve been lucky enough to play a few shows with them, and they’re an awesome live band. Then I’m supporting Ross Wilson (Mondo Rock/Daddy Cool) at Lizotte’s in Newcastle again on Sunday 12 November. I’m playing another one of my favourite Coffs Coast venues, Element Bar, on Oct 6 and Nov 17. So there’s lots happening.
You’re a busy man! You’ve just released a new single worldwide on iTunes. Tell us about the track and the new music you’re working on.
Yeah, I recently released my new single, Shout It Out Loud on iTunes, which is going really well and has had some independent radio play, which I’m stoked about. It’s just a fun, upbeat song you can jump around to ha ha. It will part of an EP that I’m currently recording some tracks for in Sydney and some on the coast. The band and I have been experimenting with some new sounds and directions and it’s all taking shape. We are mixing the EP at Forbes Street Studios (Universal Music) with Producer Dan Frizza (Bernard Fanning/Daniel Johns) this week. Can’t wait to finish it and get it out there.
You’ve always been a strong supporter of charity events on the Coffs Coast. Tell us a little about that.
I love to support good causes and give back to the Coffs Coast community I grew up in as much as I can. I just performed for a fundraiser for the Cancer Council for the Coffs Coast Dancing with The Stars event in Sawtell on the weekend. Everyone should support that event as much as they can, as it’s an awesome cause. I have also performed at the Coffs Coast Relay for Life several times, as it’s a cause that’s close to my heart. I hope to be able to play as many charity events as I can.
You’ve had a lot of success as a musician. What advice do you give to up and coming artists?
Play live as much as you can. Give everything your best. Have a lot of patience and never give up.