Jackery Benjamin from Hello Amora

This is my buddy Jackery from Hello Amora, a new band in the London scene. You’ve seen this guy at shows. You’ve probably gotten drunk with him. This band is no bull though. Amazing guys, great songs. And when they play their first show, they will be wild. Jackery went into a lot of detail answering these, but you know what, I appreciate it. So should you.

http://www.facebook.com/helloamora

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1-Who are you, and what is your role in Hello Amora?

-My name is Jackery Benjamin, and I play guitar for Hello Amora. I try not to limit myself to guitar though. Every member of the band has knowledge of multiple instruments; so we try to help bring the best out of one another. I also play a big part in song arrangements, lyrics writing, vocal phrasing and seeing the whole process through, whereas one of the many guitarists in this band may write/polish one of my guitar riffs.

2-Who are the rest of the guys in your band?

-In the process of piecing Hello Amora together we had to cycle through a number of members in a process we like to call “FILTERING OUT THE FLAKES!!” We honestly must have gone through a gajillion member changes but it was important to us to find the right members we launched.

MIKE BARR (ex-Here’s Looking at You Kid) …has been with myself throughout the whole process and is the bands other guitarist. He comes from more of metal background and it really shines through with his lead riffs.

TROY THURSTON (ex-He Has Eyes) …is our bands Hype-guy! He has a ridiculous supply of energy; he mostly screams and has incredible vocal projection. When we do group chants it’s important for him to stand further away from the microphone than anyone else. Troy is the bands resident Hardcore-Kid!

DAN DUBEAU (ex-Second Floor Escape) …plays both synth/keys as well as clean vocals/harmonies. Admittedly, our band has the necessary amount of production, but rest assured 90% of the synth work is all going to be played live. We are really happy to have him doing clean vocals because he pushes to do everything in full voice which reminds me of some early Emarosa/Four Year Strong.

CHRISTIAN SCAGNETTI (ex-Second Floor Escape) …is responsible for- slappin’ dah bassist-. He certainly uses all his music knowledge to take advantage of every string.

NICH LONGE (ex-The Lakeside is for Killers, presently-Goodbye Sky Harbour) …ohhh Nich..Nich Nich. He is our bands very talented and entertaining drummer. (though Nich will always be to humble and bashful to admit this. His stage presence has got to be my favourite thing

3-Can you explain to me the meaning behind the band name Hello Amora?

-This is an exert of the name from our FB page:

A name that is originally inspired by the spell “Alohomora” from the popular film/novel Harry Potter. This charm is used to open mechanical locks that are not protected by magic. To us this name is important because we feel we have the power to open up doors and remove any obstacles that stand in our way. The lingual origins of this magical spell comes from the Hawaiian word “ALOHA” which mean both Hello/Goodbye, and the Latin word “AMOR” which means Love. Do you have the power to welcome new love into your life? When something or someone you love is getting you down… do you have the power to let it go?

To be honest it kind of started off as a joke. Having 6 members in your band makes it very difficult to agree on a single name. So many ideas start off great at first, and seem golden, until you look back on it like it was spawned from a horrible blackout drunk night.

On March 25th, 2012 we had our photo-shoot with photographer John Kerr on the beach of Port Stanley. We had already been in the works of recording our second song and still shamefully hadn’t come up with a band name. Any musician will tell you that talking to others about your band without having band name has got to be the most painfully awkward conversation (pointless). By the end of our shoot we settled on Hello Amora.

4-The way the band came together seems kind of crazy. How did everyone congregate together?

-I personally have been trying to get a band together for many years now and have ran into countless difficulties with other members… mostly a slew of negative reasons that would be to exhausting to go through. I am just happy and grateful that I have found solid members that want to push this as bad as I do.

Around December of 2010 I was considering moving to Windsor, ON. There I had met some sweet d00ds in a band called “YOURS TO CALL.” I believe you were brother bands with these guys and joined them on the MR. T-OUR. in 2010 This band was on the verge of breaking up and I planned to realign with them and some new members.. I started writing with the bands guitarist named “JB Yilmaz” which was a very rewarding experience for me, (thx brothaman.. I learned soo much) but before I could even move to Windsor the guys from YOURS TO CALL decided to call it quits.

JB was nice enough to let me take the riffs I had written and use them for my next project. I then had approached our guitarist Mike Barr of whom I had been in contact with from years before. When Mike was just leaving -HLAYK- as kids our musical style clashed but now that we had grown up and matured (both as people and musicians) we were ready to take another stab at it. March of 2011, in a desperate search to find other musicians I reached back out to Mike with some new track ideas. Mike had come a long way and was already mixing electronic music on his own. (16 yr old Metal-Head Mike Barr would not be caught dead doing in a million years). I was very excited to find message back indicating that shit was about to get real.

We spent until Dec 2011 writing /cycling through members. At the time I’d been working at a local Call Centre and had moved my drive to find musicians during regular business hours (probably should have been working). I’d often ditch my work duties to search Kijiji ads. It was also time to search outside of London. I came across an advertisement from a bassist that looked the part and had great influences list …and we were sold.. cuz that’s what really matters…right!!?? We exchanged messages. His first response informed us that he was a package deal with our vocalist/keys/synth player Dan Dubeau. (Both of which had played together in SFE and shared the stage of Warped tour together.) They had sent us live footage of past shows and we were thoroughly impressed with their combined dynamic.

Lastly we had to have a drummer to support the cause. First of all I would like to say we had our eyes set on Nich since the beginning. He was even the first person we offered the position to. Nich had originally declined as his focus relied with his currently running drum school “THE END IS NICH” and is /was in two other local bands GSH, & TLIFK. In that time we had a few drummers lined-up but everyone seemed to bail on us right before things got serious. This explains why Nich does not appear in our first photo-shoot. (Not to worry we will be booking another one inclusive of Nich this summer)

We re-approached Nich with the idea of joining our band by showing him a sneak peak recording of our debut track “I’D TELL YOU TO GET LOST, BUT YOU ALREADY ARE”. Nich had much to consider before joining another project. He balanced the ideas of… would he be spreading himself out too thin or would he have time with the productivity of other projects. As we returned home from our long day on the beach Nich confirmed that he would be down to make it work with us. He was intrigued by our band because he felt that we would be a great outlet to challenge himself as a drummer.

Our un-official 7th member is Chris Webb who I had jammed with in the early days of ESCAPES. Chris was referred to me by Nich as a way that Webber Studios and Hello Amora could unite and get our respective feet through the door. So far Chris is in the works of engineering a 3-song demo for us and we plan to work with him again in the future. Chris is great at using the tools he has to make a band sound larger than life. It makes us feel soo secure to know that he really cares about the impression that the final piece is going to make. He puts in a lot of extra hours in for us and working with him is extremely relaxed and comfortable. We sometimes treat him to a sandwich or some good ol’ Arizona Green Tea. He expects bands to come to him completely prepared and ready to go. ON A SIDE NOTE: I am currently assisting an unknown London band with pre-production to help get them ready for Chris so stay tuned for more information on that. For Hello Amora Chris has taken are original ideas and just polished up little areas where his experience as a musician can teach us things we don’t already know. We trust the guy as he plays virtually every instrument aside from vocals.

5-I’ve had the pleasure of getting a sneak peak at some newer material, and it’s insane. How do you guys go about writing your music? 

-Insane…. Aaron Barry you flatter me!! …blushies***

With us…. we find it easiest to have one person bring an initial direction for a song to the table.

Some of our members live between Kitchener and London and at other ends of the city it makes it hard for 6 people to write in a jam space scenario. We utilize a program called to bounce ideas off of each other online and the songs blossom. Our music tends to get busy at times, we are most critical on ourselves to sure every riff or melody has a purpose.

Over time the songs generally go through many transformations with a lot of ideas being added in and taken out.

Some bands try to write 20 songs and then choose to only use the best set of those songs, but with us we try to write one song at a time. We feel that we are productive when sacrificing riffs or sections than entire pieces. For example if a chorus isn’t catchy enough and that seems to be the weak part of the song but the rest is golden, we simply rewrite the chorus rather than having to start completely from scratch.

We notice that we start with some general traditional song structure arrangements such as intro, verse, chorus, verse, and chorus. From that point on the song could go virtually anywhere. Sometimes we even add a few extra verses to give the lyrics a deeper impact. The verses don’t have to be the same instrumental either, or maybe the chorus vocal hook is played over a completely different instrumental party all together. Whatever works best for us!

When it comes to lyrics we generally meet up for food or beers and discuss what we feel the lyrical content should be about. We care a lot about the messages our songs hold and we want to portray them in a artistic way. I personally have always been a great fan of painting a picture with words. Character development is huge for me and I love kickin’ back in my bed with some of my favourite band’s cd booklets and trying to find the deeper meaning/metaphors/analogies/personification that artists have hidden within their lyrics.

I may have trailed off for a moment, but being a lyrically driven band is something that we have always strived for. We hope that our melodies our catchy enough for true fans to want to memorize our lyrics and sing along.

6-I don’t even know how to describe your music. It’s all over the map…in a good way. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

-Please.. If anyone can describe our music to us, they must let us know.

It must be hard for most bands to label themselves, but I find it especially hard being in this band. Granted we are not doing anything entirely new. There are a lot of influences from each member all over the map, but we each try to do our own thing.

To simplify I would say passionate Hard-core yell screaming, full-voice clean vocal lines, metal-esque lead riffs, prog-rock rhythms/arrangements, punk/pop/funky bass lines, and drumming of virtually every avenue you can take.

Some people get into music because they love a certain band or genre soo much and only want to play in a band with others who are into the same thing. Our influences vary sooo much we see it is more of a collaboration involving our love for music. We just do our own thing and try not to worry about how it is going to sound in the end. Our main focus is playing tightly, on key, and most of all just having fun that we get to play with other musicians / brothers with the same passion.

7-Listening to ‘I’d Tell You To Get Lost, But You Already Are’, I can hear a lot of the influences. Who would you say influenced you the most?

-On or band page we actually list dozens of influences and group them per member. You will notice that some artists appear on everyone’s list, but some bands that have specifically influenced me are local legends SHOTGUN RULES, and bands like CHIODOS/FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND/A STATIC LULLABY/TAKING BACK SUNDAY/BRAND NEW/EMAROSA/& COHEED AND CAMBRIA

Combine all those influences in a blender and call it a day.

That’s my influences in a nutshell.

In addition I try think outside the box and let things like movie soundtracks/video games/horror movies/dance music and other random things influence my writing. Whatever sounds best.

8-To date, you guys haven’t played your debut show, but when you’re ready, who would your dream show be with?

-I can’t speak for the rest of the band but my dream show would be to play with Chiodos, for some reason they really captured an era of my life and I have always personally enjoyed their stage presence and the entertainment value of their live set.

9-I see you all over, at so many shows. What has been the best show you have been to?

-I like to support the local scene as much as possible; there was even a time when my whole wardrobe was just show merch. I would just get gnarly from rocking out too hard or jumping around in a classic push mosh and decide it was time to buy a new shirt and toss the old one.

My fave show to date must be Shotgun Rules. They had the entire basis covered. High energy stage presence, great song writing skills between all instruments, a bro-like chant at the beginning of every set, creative song arrangements, meaningful lyrics, at shows all the kids would be singing along. The energy between the band and audience was unreal. It we complete harmony of what a show should be and I hope that one day they decide to return to do a reunion show.. It would bring joy to sooo many people.

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10-If you could be in another band, in any era of music, who would be in the band, and what era?

-This question is a tough one because I haven’t really toyed with the idea before. I feel that now a days the bar of being a musician is set a lot higher in some aspects such as originality and which genres are more popular but easier in a sense that having an online presence is such a great way to get the word/music out to the masses. I would probably like to head back in time to the 60’s and just jam with a bunch of hippies. Playing the Woodstock festival would be quite the experience and being in a band at that time would be more laid-back in a way.

11-I think every band, myself included, would love to grace the cover of a magazine. If you had the chance, what magazine would it be, and what would the cover look like?

-I think any guitarist would love to rock the cover of GuitarWorld magazine. I am sure Mike and I would be tossing the attitude power stance aside and up to our usual pranks/shenanigans and just look ridiculous. I am sure the band goal would be to have our whole unit take the cover of AP Magazine (Alternative Press) and have some sort of centerfold poster/article high-lighting some band history and our journey thus far combined with some examples of where we are heading at that point in time.

12-You guys have really strong lyrics. What does Hello Amora stand for as a band?

-Lyrically we want to focus on positive messages, or real life issues that every day people face or struggle with. They do not necessarily need to be about relationships or love lost per say. We try to write vaguely enough for the lyrics to be interpreted in any way that could hit home or close to the listener.

What we had in mind when writing our first couple tracks are:

1) Being there for a friend whom has fallen into a dark place. A friend who has pushed everyone they love away. We have all been there, and as friends we only want what is best for each other. If one of my friends falls down I am going to do what I can to pick them back up even if it is only lifting their spirits. You can’t force your friend to get their life back together but if they are lost they may want/need some guidance to find their way.

2) The second track covers topics like growing up too quickly or becoming too serious of a person. It focuses on how people need to lighten up and remember what it is like to play as a child. One thing I also see too much of is people giving up their dreams just because they do not believe they can make anything happen for them. They get stuck in boring 9-5 jobs that consume all of their time and they forget what it is like to have a hobby/passion and invest time, money and thought into making it work.

3) As for the third track, we are quite the ways away from releasing it so I do not want to give away too much information but I will say that it touches base on the topic of anti-bullying and we go about it in a pretty unique and creative way.

The most rewarding thing so far that has come from our lyrics is a wall post we got from a fan named Lynzey P. just 7 days after releasing I’d tell you to get lost..

She was going through tough times with some friend and wrote: “Just thought I’d let ya guys know.’’

When I was away from home and not dealing with certain people very well

Your music helped me calm down and stop crying. Also listening to you while having a smoke outside watching a big storm happen = fucken life!!! Soooo your music helps bad moods become good moods and makes good moods even better”

To know that our music our music can have that calming effect on someone really is touching to us and will always mean more than anyone can ever comprehend.

13-Everyone in your band is forced to switch instruments with someone else in the band. Who goes where?

-In my opinion Dan would probably front the band as a band with even more clean vocals. Troy would play drums as he is already trained in basic percussion and plays a djembe fairly well. Nich would play guitar and would give us a much heavier aspect to our band. Christian would play rhythm guitar as it is the closest thing to bass for him and probably do more back-up vocals, Mike would play samples and because of his electronic music background I could see him being great on keys. That would leave me to tackle bass as it was my first instrument.

Who knows maybe one jam session we will put that to the test just for kicks..

14-You can take on any other band in a bowling match. What band do you challenge?

-Honestly I would have to say SEARCHING FOR SATELLITES or UTKF, they are solid musicians/performers and I see a lot of great character in those bands. Why them do you ask?? Well…. I feel we know tonnes of other local bands that we are already so tight with inside our community, but both S4S and UTKF are two bands we haven’t really had the chance to bro out with yet and a nice competitive bowling match over pitchers of beer and greasy food would be a solid way to break the ice. You’ve been challenged homies, what sayeth you???

15-What does HA! have planned for the second half of 2012?

-Honestly a tonne of practice. We are just finishing recording our demo and will soon be tightening our entire performance so we can leave a solid first impression onto the live platform. We are up to a lot of other madness as well but I can’t release all of the information just yet. Follow our FB/Twitter accounts and we promise to keep you posted as soon as further developments unfold. Make sure you click on the LIKE button and select SHOW IN NEWS FEED to stay on top of the updates as they unfold.

16- Every band has their favourite place for pre/post show eats. What restaraunt do you guys stop at the most eats?

-Honestly, being in a band can get expensive. We don’t have a lot of time to eat at home even though I do love cooking. We usually follow the deals. In London.. Monday is all you can eat wings at THE HONEST LAYWER or half priced menu @ THE ALE HOUSE, we find ourselves at WINKS EATERY more often than not, as well as PRINCE ALBERTS DINER. Currently Troy is working @ SMOKES POUTINERIE. So that is a regular place for us. Lastly we have been trying everything on the menu @ this London joint called THE EARLY BIRD. Eating out as a band plus a couple pitchers of draft is almost as expensive as being in a band.

17- Being in a band, In know this feeling. If there was one person in your band who you could take in a wrestling rig for 5 minutes to blow off some steam, who would it be? 

-I jokingly wanted to say Troy, he is that big cuddle bear that looks hard as fahk but would do more damage to you due to drunken clumsiness and over loving you then he actually would out of anger. Troy would probably break me by accident. Mike is my closest in height (we are both hobbits..) …which would probably make for a more interesting match.

18- Bands often have a lot of free time pre show. You load in, then have nothing to do for 3 or 4 hours until you play. How do you guys occupy your time?

-Run around town with posters and meeting kids on the street for the first hour or so convincing them to come party with us, then meet the other bands as they load in during sound check. And lastly hang out in line with kids outside the venue and get to know them before show time. Try to find out where the action is after a party and who is kind enough to lend us a floor and a slew of blankets and pillows to crash on so we at least have a roof over our head. We will raid your fridge in the morning and cook you breakfast…promise c:

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19- Most bands have a family dynamic. In HA!, whos the dad, mom, etc.

-We often joke about this. Our 6-piece band is almost completely balanced. With myself, Dan and Troy being the bands front, (we go with the flow and our accepting of a lot more) we are eager beavers, we work hard and go with the flow as it comes our way. Christian, Mike and Nich help keep us grounded. They make sure we don’t take on more than we can chew. They have a very realist approach and are most critical about things submitted to be launched. We need them like good needs evil. There can’t be one without the other.

To really narrow down the mom I would have to say Nich, he always wants what’s best but you don’t always want to hear what he has to say.. even though mom is usually always right. I am kind of the dad and keep everyone in line and on track, I hand out tasks for everyone to finish and keep tabs on all the kids.. The only time I really become the mom is when things are not getting done.. I haven’t really felt like a mom that much in this band.. so I guess that is a plus. When we hang out we all play like brothers. We just launched a video for I’D TELL YOU TO GET LOST which covers behind the scenes footage of our photo-shoot with John and it really captures the character and personality within us all.

20- If you described your band dynamic as a sitcom group (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld etc) who would it be?

-This is great.. I would have to say “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER!” Every person in this band has their own unique sense of humour and lifestyle, and are jokes/conversations all feed off one another. Our story seems to be very open ended and we are on the search for something, we want it soooo bad… it just hasn’t happened for us yet. But we can dream. We have made mistakes like Ted along the way but like the sitcom, everything seems to happen for a reason and the universe brings us all together.

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