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Brothers Bentley mixes elements of many styles

With the recent release of their latest album, Outside Another Box, and a growing number of dedicated fans, Brothers Bentley has set forth to find a place in the rock music scene in the Nashville and Murfreesboro area.

The unique blend of rock, funk and jazz tainted with influences of Latin and percussive style playing provides an exciting and enthusiastic approach to music.

From their meager beginnings in Sims Hall, an MTSU dorm room, Brothers Bentley has progressed to providing powerfully intimate lyrics with an incredible, eclectic sound for their well-packed crowds. The confident quartet features Mark Bentley’s smooth, sophisticated vocals and percussive rhythm guitar while his brother, John, plays a tasteful yet aggressive lead. The solid rhythm section is backed by the nimble fingers of Dave Wagner on bass and the jazz-rooted drumming of Austin Grant. Their music is charged with observations of everyday life, bringing the listener into a realm of loneliness and romantic disillusionment. These character-driven songs are enhanced by the band’s precision playing, especially with songs such as “The Beginning,” reminiscent of Jack Johnson mixed with The Police and The Clash, tinged with the feeling of Latin and reggae roots.

I caught up with Mark Bentley and Wagner to get the lowdown on how the band started, its direction for the future and their thoughts on the Murfreesboro/Nashville music scene.

“You take four different mentalities in music . . . with Austin who is a classically trained jazz drummer, and you got Dave, who is the old grunge rocker,” laughed Bentley, as Wagner grinned about being the eldest one of the band. “My brother John is the youngest player in the band, who brings kinda of the what is happening now thing with his lead stuff, and I fall more into a singer-songwriter style, and you mash all that together.”

After shows at the Exit/In to the recent Acoustic Nights show at the Boro, the group has evolved to a more intimate, acoustic setting.

“It was very spontaneous, and we hadn’t really rehearsed the acoustic versions of anything,” Wagner said.

“We enjoy all the different things that we can do with a full rock band, but I think it would be cool to get rid the extras and get down to the bare minimum and then let it grow on itself again,” Bentley added enthusiastically.

After their release of the latest album, Outside Another Box, Brothers Bentley was happy with having an album that represented what they could do onstage, instead of an overly-produced album that they could not mimic without extra players.

“We did Outside Another Box to prove hey, this is us as rock band, but I think on the next album, we are going back to a little more of the production side and have some fun on the recording process. It will still be true to what we do onstage, but it will be filled with more of the bells and whistle stuff,” Bentley commented. The Brothers Bentley are ready to release a new single sometime this summer, and the band is excited about become more tightly knit and precise with their playing abilities. Both Mark and Dave were tight-lipped about the song name, but were more open to talk about how the band had progressed.

“In our new single, the interrelationship between the guitar and the bass is the magic of the song, and the acoustic guitar really holds down the foundation of the song, which is something we did not have on the last album,” Wagner said. Both grinned as they mentioned the impact Grant had on the album, as they laughed and said, “Austin is kicking it old school.”

With personal songs of struggle and discontent such as the “The Beginning” and the politically-driven “Alarm Clock,” Brothers Bentley are not only diverse musically, but also show diversity in their lyrics.

“ ?Alarm Clock’ was a song about politics, but did not actually pick any side . . .

it was pretty much about waking up and seeing what is really around us, and not hitting the snooze button too many times,” the elder Bentley said.

The first track on Outside Another Box, “The Beginning,” relates more to how the band first started, and how hard it was to get everything together.

Brothers Bentley feels that people are not only coming out to see their music, but also to see a entertaining show. With high-energy showmanship, the band has pushed away from being just another typical group.

With the backing of Happenstance Productions, which is run by their old friend Mark Duvall and Wagner, Brothers Bentley has been able to develop at a steady pace, giving the band some sense of creative freedom, and receive some publicity.

“It seems hard for any band in the area to make it,” Bentley said.

Promotional spots on Lightning 100, and utilizing Internet sites like facebook.com, Itunes and other music sites have helped the band, but the local scene has changed since the Spongebath Record era of the late ’90s.

“It’s all split up now, and at the moment, the scene seems to be more metal-heavy. It is harder for a band like us that fits into a more Jason Mraz/John Mayer/Jack Johnson type than a band that sounds like Tool or Pantera . . . but you gotta give them kudos for what those style bands are doing,” said Wagner.

“The funny thing is that we get a lot of responses from people who like our music from all over the U.S., but it was hard when starting up around here to gather up a good fan base,” Bentley said.

For more information, visit brothersbentley.com.

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