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Q&A: BATTLESNAKE Banter With Founding Guitarist BEN FRANK

By June 2, 2023June 6th, 2023One Comment

Words by James Lavel (Swamp Gully Howlers; Pistonfist; The Automaton)

Sydney 7-piece Battlesnake have risen from the depths bringing soaring riffs, melodic harmonies, and sci-fi retro inspired rock to the masses. After an already killer 2023 playing alongside rock legends The Smashing Pumpkins & Janes Addiction across Australia with the World is a Vampire Festival, Battlesnake have just dropped their debut self-titled album, with a few of the tracks already immortalised in music video format – the most recent of which, Nazarene Extreme was gifted to the world just this week.  We posed some questions to founding guitarist Ben Frank – if this is what the mighty Battlesnake have achieved in the first half of 2023, just what have they got in store for their growing fan-base next??…

What inspired the concept behind BattleSnake? 
The concept of Battlesnake was born out of the desire to create the most over the top crazy band we could. I feel like I’m creating the music that I always wanted to listen to. In 2017, I was lucky enough to have become good friends with two of the most talented guitar players I’d ever heard, and one night someone suggested we start a three guitar rock band. Once that seed was planted we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. Once we got my brother Samuel on board as singer, the vision and direction of the band was solidified. Samuel and I grew up sharing a bedroom wall, so we listened to the same music, watched the same movies, read the same books and were inspired by the same things, so we shared an artistic vision. With The Lord Of The Rings, Mad Max, Judas Priest, Rainbow and AC/DC as our primary influences, we always knew that we wanted it to create something larger than life, something more than ‘just a band.’ The vision combined with the musical talent is what inspires us.

With so many members how do you keep the creative process coherent to achieve your desired vision for your songs? 
Well, we only have one rule. No idea is ever allowed to be shut down before it has been fleshed out completely. If it still sucks after fleshing it out, only then can we shut it down. With that in mind,  it’s actually surprisingly streamlined once we have the skeleton of a song. 3 of us get together and come up with those skeletons, we then take them to the band and we play through them and workshop them, then the three guitar players get together and write the solos, and Billy (keytar) comes up with synth parts and sound design production elements, and viola, we have a song!

Having just finished the ‘World is a Vampire’ tour, what were your biggest learnings and highlights, and how did you find yourself in the position to tour with some of the biggest alternative bands in the world? 
Obviously the biggest highlight was meeting all the people in the bands and crew, such an awesome group of people. It was crazy to see how something at that scale functions for weeks on end and even crazier that we were right in the thick of it all thanks to a promoter taking a punt on us! We’ve been working really hard for 5 years now so it’s nice that the hard work is starting to pay off.

Your live shows are full of theatrics and seemingly choreographed moments, how long did you guys spend building your stage show? Is it all planned out or do you just get up there and unleash? 
Oh man, we have had countless rehearsals where we’ve spent so much time building the show and integrating all the production elements, lasers, strobes, pyro and visuals that we haven’t even gotten to playing the songs. That being said, when it comes to the performance side of things, we just unleash fuelled by adrenaline, the energy from the crowd, and the slightly unbelievable reality that we’re playing in our own favourite band. 

Photos by @ummagummamumma – Shot for Good Call Live at The World Is A Vampire Festival, Eatons Hill Hotel 2023

I spoke with you guys during the ‘World is a Vampire’ tour about moving the band to digital setups and ditching the amps. Can you share how this has affected how you perform and your advice for bands thinking of making the switch to digital?
It has been a complete revolution. I was sceptical at first, but it has opened up a whole world of possibilities. We are 100% wireless and all fx changes are controlled via midi from our playback rig. That means that there are no pedal boards on stage so anyone can be anywhere at any time, freeing us up to run around like madmen. On top of that, the tonal possibilities are endless. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the crazy sounds on tap. The ease of setup, consistency, reliability and freedom of movement make it worth it for us. Obviously as a guitar player there’s no substitute for standing in front of a wall of cranked marshalls, but with IEMs, you can hear yourself super clearly anywhere on stage, and it’s easier to mix out front.  If you’re thinking of making the switch, you just need to decide what’s more important – the thunder of a 4×12, or the freedom, easy lug, reliability and not going deaf that digital allows. 

What is your advice to Australian bands currently trying to break into the scene? 
Don’t try to fit into a mould or pander to what you think people want to hear. Make the music that makes you happy. Be in your own favourite band. 

You guys have just released your debut self-titled album, how has the reception been and what have you learned from the process? 
Anybody who has written an album before knows the amount of blood, sweat and tears that go into it. From the fruition to release has been a total journey but a really enjoyable one for all of the boys. The reception has been incredible, we just make this music because we love it so it’s  always amazing when other people love it too. Especially when they’re not just your friends.

What are your views on AI song writing? Do you feel AI will destroy the originality in music or help it flourish? 
Overall I think it’ll help it flourish. Obviously there’ll be a portion of the industry that will use it to churn out generic bangers that are engineered to appeal to the masses, but that is already happening without the use of AI. Where I think it will help it flourish is it will help artists come up with ideas that they wouldn’t have on their own. It’ll help people to think outside the box. Another source of inspiration.

What’s next for BattleSnake? 
We have our Album Tour coming up in July and August, then straight back into writing!




Thanks to Maric Media

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