Deebs Days Countdown: An Interview with Jack Bennett of The Talismen July 21, 2022 14:46
Great to sit down and chat today, Jack. I figured we could start by talking about your musical background. How did you get started as a musician? How did this ultimately lead you to your bandmates?
Jack: Let's see. It was pretty early on in grade school. I picked up drums first. I was playing a lot of punk rock stuff. A lot of Travis Barker stuff. I think that got a little too loud for my parents, so I ended up picking up guitar around 4th or 5th grade. I didn't ever learn any traditional scales or anything like that. I would bring songs to an instructor in the back of Capitol Music in Montgomery. This was mostly rock and punk rock stuff with signature riffs.
It was around 9th grade that I became really close with our drummer, George Norrell. We really hit it off quick. We vibe with a lot of the same musical influences. I think the band started in 10th grade, when our keyboardist, Jack Wagstaff, moved from Birmingham to Montgomery. We all went on spring break that year, where we really connected with our bassist, Jack Anderson, who was two years ahead of us in school. We ended up forming The Talismen shortly after.
We started as 7-piece band; with our friends Jack Barganier on bass, Camp Spain on guitar, Jud Blount on guitar, and the four of us still playing today. Yes, there were originally four Jacks!
Jack Anderson was actually playing acoustic guitar and singing at the point. We started gigging around Montgomery, playing some local events, and setting a nice foundation by the time we finished high school.
Fast forward to 2018, and we had evolved into a four-piece with Jack Anderson on bass and vocals. It was around then that we linked up our manager and focused our sights on more expansive gigging. It's really been onward and upward from there.
That's a pretty unique story to have started the band so young. What have been some of the highlights for The Talismen since that pivotal time in 2018?
Jack: Oh man. Definitely JingleBall in Montgomery back in December 2019. We opened for a supergroup formed by Kevin Scott. They were performing Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, and Jennifer Hartswick was also on the bill. She was kind enough to sit in with us. We closed out set with Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," and she was just incredible.
We had our first real festival play that year as well. We played Umphrey's McGee's Woodlands Festival in Charleston. It's been great to connect with some amazing bands along the way. We've really enjoyed building relationships with groups like Big Something, CBDB, and Funk You.
We also recorded our first album at Technical Earth Recorders in Montgomery at the end of 2018. Robert Shimp was incredible to work with. It can a little intimidating getting into a recording studio for the first time, but he made the process so much fun. We're really grateful for him and the opportunity to record Jar Full of Something in our hometown.
We later connected with our friend Kevin Scott, who was kind enough to get us into a private studio in Roswell. This was right after JingleBall in December of 2019. We recorded a four-song EP, Extra Vehicular Activity, with he and Jason Kingsland. That second experience gave us an even better idea of what we wanted to achieve. We still left and felt like we had a lot to learn, but it was such a valuable experience.
Kevin has a long history with guys like Col. Bruce Hampton, Jimmy Herring, and John McLaughlin...just to name a few. Jason has recorded and produced bands like Band of Horses, Perpetual Groove, and a bunch of others. We're just really grateful for that experience in studio with them.
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
I would imagine so. Where would you say the focus on recording and studio time has been since then? Y'all have been recording and producing some of your own material recently, correct?
Jack: That's right. We did end up releasing a live album during the pandemic though. Big Friendly Productions put on an amazing live stream series to help bands like us when touring wasn't an option. We were so happy with the recordings that we decided to pick a handful of our favorite tracks and release them as Live From The Bunker later on in 2020.
But yes, I moved into a house a few years ago which allowed us to setup a really ideal rehearsal and recording space. We've since recorded and released two singles, "Savage Road" and "Lockwood," and we're just about done with what will be our third single of 2022. We'll have much more news on that one here soon.
Very cool. I know there will be plenty of fans excited to hear that news. Y'all have been hitting the road pretty hard here in 2022. What have been some of the highlights, and what has the band learned from life on the road?
Jack: We've learned a lot from touring. It seems to be picking up and getting better each year. Some of the highlights this year have been playing Mountain Music Festival in West Virginia. We played our first true theatre gig with Big Something at The Bijou in Knoxville. We did a three-night run with Papadosio back in April, and that was a big opportunity to get in front of their fans.
More recently, we did a Panic afterparty in Huntsville and a Phish pre-party in Gulf Shores on the same weekend. We even got to catch a few nights of the Phish that weekend, which was a big plus. We don't get to go out and see as many shows as we would like to these days.
There is definitely a lot of work to be done off the road, but being on the road and seeing the progress we have made has instilled a lot of confidence in ourselves. This past year has really taught us a lot about what it takes to be successful in this industry. Networking with bands, selling merch, and making sure you don't run out of gas (laughs). It's easy to think that getting on stage and playing is the most important thing, but talking to your fans, networking, and building relationships is equally important.
Photo by Nicholas McElroy: Nicholas Jude Photography
That's a fact. It's great to hear that you guys have made so much progression this year. What's on the horizon for the band? You guys have some big gigs coming up, right?
Jack: Absolutely. Several big festivals coming up. We're super excited to be playing Big Something's festival, The Big What?, in Virginia in a few weeks. Like I said earlier, we're big fans of that band, and we can't say enough nice things about them. Then we have CBDB's festival, Deebs Days, later in August. Those guys have been really good us over the years, and we really look up to them. That's also a big hometown show for us, now that we're all living in Birmingham. They put together an amazing lineup, and we are looking forward to meeting and seeing all of those bands perform.
We head back to The Charleston Woodlands for Resonance Music & Arts Festival in mid-September. That's going to be a full circle moment, being at the same location as our first big festival play back in 2019. It's pretty humbling to be on the same lineup with bands like Goose, Umphrey's McGee, SunSquabi, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and so many more. The lineup is just stacked.
I'd say there is plenty of excitement ahead for you guys. I'm glad that you mentioned Deebs Days. For those who might be attending the festival and catching their first Talismen show, what would you say that they can expect?
Jack: High-energy rock and roll with some crazy jams. Like most of our peer bands, we pride ourselves on playing a totally unique show every time we step on stage. We've been working hard and planning a few special surprises for this one. This will definitely be a Talismen set to remember.
That's what I like to hear. Well before we wrap this up, where would say that the focus of the band will be from this point forward? What's in store for the future of The Talismen?
Jack: We're definitely focusing on more touring and writing, recording, and releasing new music. We really want to continue to connect and work with other bands around us. That has been really valuable for us, and building our network will only make us stronger. You can expect us to release a few more singles by the end of the year. We'll be looking to record another full-length album at some point in 2023.
Right on. Well, I appreciate your time today, Jack. Look forward to seeing you guys play again at Deebs Days in just a few weeks.
Jack: We can't wait. Thank you Jordan!
Video by Nicholas Jude Photography
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography