May 29, 2019

The new Mike Benign Compulsion album—our fifth—is complete!

We’re delighted to announce that The Mike Benign Compulsion recently completed work on our fifth album. Titled Bygones, the 12-song LP was recorded and mixed by the incomparable Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings.  

Bygones is slated to be released in September.

At this point, we know the album will be available on vinyl, via digital download and for streaming through the usual array of digital suspects (iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.). We're not sure yet about CDs—we’ll decide that in the coming weeks.

The album cover art comes courtesy of our longtime friend, the fabulous L.A.-based artist Lois Keller. Another old and dear friend, Damian Strigens, did his usual masterful job on the layout. And ace photographer Mark Hines captured the band looking about as good as we can at this point in the journey that is life.

Like its predecessors, this album features a host of frequent collaborators and special guests, including Tyler Traband, Phil Bregant (Wire and Nail, Eagle Trace), Jack Rodee (Radio Radio), Bob Jennings (Semi-Twang, Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound, Panalure), Mary Hinderliter, Ayinde Garry, three of the lads from Something To Do, Kevan Oberdorf, and others.

Watch for a new single, a new video or two, and a slate of live performances in the coming months. 

The Mike Benign Compulsion look up,
probably because photographer Mark Hines told them to.


August 30, 2018

Milwaukee Summerfest 2018: videographic evidence

Here at the offices of The Mike Benign Compulsion, we're all about the timely delivery of relevant content.

To demonstrate how catastrophically we've failed on both counts—timeliness and relevance—here's a video snippet from our July 1, 2018 performance.

May 31, 2018

Drummer Mike's shoulder went "boom"

The Mike Benign Compulsion 
Milwaukee Summerfest
Uline Warehouse Stage 
Saturday, June 30th     5-6 pm

For decades, drummer Michael Koch was a man with two perfectly good shoulders.

And make no mistake about it: those shoulders were like the co-captains of Mike's upper body. They marshaled his limbs to great effect, allowing Mike to perform feats that eluded the rest of us.
He did Tai Chi and played Ultimate Frisbee. 
Ach! du lieber, Drummer Mike

He drained jumpers from far beyond the top of the key. 
He lifted small children--and some rather large ones, too--over his head like they were nothing at all. 
He danced expressively at every opportunity, moving his arms this way and that, taking great care not to use said arms to inadvertently pummel those around him. 
He used his magnificent arms--each with its own, fully functional shoulder--to pull his lederhosen on one short-panted leg at a time...just like you and me.
And when pressed into service, Mike took to his drum kit with German precision and unspeakable beauty.

But then, without warning, Mike's shoulder went "boom." 

Or, as his braniac doctor put it, "there is a complete full-thickness tear of the infraspinatus tendon with prominent medial retraction."

Yeah...whatever. Nerd!
Anyway, Dr. Big Words will be performing surgery on Drummer Mike's shoulder in July. Meaning The Mike Benign Compulsion's upcoming performance at Summerfest on Saturday, June 30th, from 5-6 pm, will be Mike's last show for a few months. 
A simulation of Drummer Mike's 
wounded shoulder. 
It would mean a lot to Mike if you could be there to cheer him and his shoulder on. Especially since there's also "mild osseous degenerative hypertrophy of the acromioclavicular joint."
If that doesn't guilt you into seeing Mike and the band at Summerfest, we're not sure what else would.

March 22, 2018

There's nothing funny about music

The Mike Benign Compulsion
The Ball Turret Gunners

Red Dot Tosa
• 68th & North Ave.
Friday, March 30th • 8 pm • $5

It goes without saying that music is serious business. 

Not funny business. 

Not monkey business. 

Not Risky Business, either. (That, of course, is the movie starring a young Tom Cruise and also Booger from Revenge of The Nerds. And also Balki from Perfect Strangers, who was also Serge in the Beverly Hills Cop series of movies. None of those people will be in attendance at the show to which this email refers, mainly because those people are funny and music is not.)
The comedic actor who played Balki and Serge will not be in attendance. It wouldn't be appropriate. 

No, music is serious business. So serious, in fact, that The Mike Benign Compulsion will be playing their musical compositions before a live audience at Red Dot in Wauwatosa, on Friday, March 30th. And by that we mean they'll be playing musical instruments and singing into microphones while people--maybe even you--are there to witness it.

But things promise to get even less funny than that. That's because The Ball Turret Gunners--also a musical outfit that plays and sings musical numbers they compose themselves--will also be performing at the aforementioned Red Dot show on Friday, March 30th. As anyone who's seen The Ball Turret Gunners can attest, they are four fully grown men who are also musically adept. (Adept means "very skilled." And they truly are.)

On the night when this show takes place, there will be parking spots readily availability in the surrounding neighborhood. The host venue will serve beverages and also food. And the evening's itinerary will look like this:
  • 8:00 - The Ball Turret Gunners
  • 9:15 - The Mike Benign Compulsion

This event is going to happen. And people will pay five dollars to be there when it does. And there's nothing even remotely funny about that.

January 1, 2018

Secrets of The Mike Benign Compulsion

It's the new year, which for many is a good time to come clean with the truth. In this email, we reveal secrets that have, to this point, been limited to the innermost sanctums of The Mike Benign Compulsion organization. 

Warning: no band member emerges unscathed from the staggering revelations that follow.

Guitarist Joe Vent can lift a 2-pound sack of flour over his head.
This should not be a surprise given Vent's reputation for executing feats of strength while playing in bands like The Hungry Williams, The Yell Leaders, Squares and New Harmony Indiana. 
A sack of flour

At a recent New Harmony Indiana show, Vent picked up a microphone stand with one hand and passed it to bandmate Matt Krajewski. Afterward, Krajewski confided that "the guy can be a little bit of a show-off. I can't tell you how many times we've been in the middle of a song, and I look over, and Joe has this look on his face like, 'yeah, as soon as this song is over, I'm going to pick something else up.' And then sure enough, the song ends, and he'll have a chair in his hands, and he's about to lift it off the ground. That kind of thing can be a huge distraction." Nonetheless, Krajewski grudgingly added, "I guess you have to give the guy props. I mean, he's pretty strong--especially for a musician."

Bassist Paul Biemann can fix anything.
Which explains why Biemann was tapped by Jimmy Carter--our nation's 39th president--to help fix the Middle East. A key player at President Carter's 1978 Camp David summit with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Biemann saw his moment to make history when the earphone jack on Sadat's transistor radio malfunctioned. Lest the Egyptian leader not be able to catch that week's edition of Casey Kasem's American Top 40, Biemann made his move. "Anwar," he said, "I'm pretty handy with the electrics. I've got some tools in my car...I can fix that in like five minutes." Before long, the radio was working again. A smiling Sadat returned to the bargaining table, and eventually inked his name to the historic peace accord that ensued. 

This incident, of course, gave rise to the popular late 70s catch phrase, Paul Biemann can fix anything, even the Middle East.

If Michael Koch had his way, he wouldn't be playing the drums. 

He'd be playing the didgeridoo: that droning, tubular wind instrument introduced to the world by indigenous Australians. Flash back to late 2009: The Mike Benign Compulsion begin rehearsing for their debut performance. Koch shows up for the band's first rehearsal without drums. He pops the hatch of his VW station wagon to reveal a half dozen didgeridoos in pristine condition. He carefully loads them into the practice space, one at a time. According to band member Joe Vent, "Michael acted like everything was exactly as it should be. And then he got all bent out of shape when we told him there was no way in hell he was going to play those things in this band." Eventually, Koch relented, and went on to play drums at countless live shows and on the band's four albums. 

"Drum circles are for losers. Didgeridoo circles rule!" --Michael Koch, 2017

Today, when you see The Compulsion live, all outward appearances will tell you Koch is indeed playing the drums. His arms and legs and feet will move about, propelling each song to where it needs to go. But all the while, in his head, Michael Koch will be bellowing out the mournful, sonorous airs of his beloved didgeridoo. 

Mike Benign eats worms.
Many people have thought this over the years. A few have even said it to Benign's face. They'll holler, "Mike Benign eats worms!" with the self-satisfaction that comes from knowing you've set someone straight. But imagine how those people would feel if they knew Benign actually does eat worms. It would be the way people would feel if they walked up to U.S. Senator James Lankford (the junior senator from Oklahoma) and accosted him with the line, "James Lankford is the junior senator from Oklahoma!" And Lankford would be all like, "uh...yeah?" And then the people who yelled it would be all like, "wow...that didn't go nearly as well as we thought it would."

Anyway, Mike Benign actually does eat worms. Not all the time. Kind of like how some people are with steak or lobster or even vegetables. It's not something they eat all the time, but if it's there, they might be like, "okay, I'll have some of that." So next time you see Benign, you might be tempted to yell "Mike Benign eats worms!" at him. Or you might say it to him in a conversational manner, without the yelling. For a moment or two, you'll probably feel better about yourself. But that feeling won't last. Because Benign really does eat worms. And where do you go at that point?

Still, we can't tell you how to live your life. You have to do what you think is right. Just always remember: Follow your dreams. Because if you can dream it, you can do it!!!