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!!!