Get ready to dance and to sweat as the Sweat Boys’ founder speaks with ReGen about the slightly darker sound of the band’s upcoming EP and appearing at this year’s Sanctuary Festival.
An InterView with Benny Sweat of Sweat Boys
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
“Party boys have feelings too.” – so states Benny Sweat, the head of the Wisconsin electro/dance act Sweat Boys. Bouncy beats and bass lines pumping beneath sardonic vocals set to images of young men drenched in sweat, dressed sparsely in leather jackets and booty shorts (and little else)… it all sounds delightfully scandalous, like the disco fantasies of Studio 54 with a decidedly midwestern electro/industrial flair. It’s all in good fun, and the band’s live shows have been steadily garnering a reputation for being just that, with every show turning into one big sweaty party. But with the Nervous Prayers EP due out on June 28, Benny Sweat takes the project into slightly different territory; while no less danceable, the EP presents a myriad of more saccharine, emotionally darker lyrical content, all set to bouncy ’80s synth and electro-pop, as if to provide an upbeat antidote to hearts and souls on the verge of cracking under the weight of existence. ReGen had the brief opportunity to speak with the band’s founder on the eve of Sweat Boys’ appearance at Milwaukee’s Sanctuary Festival, with Sweat discussing the new sound of Nervous Prayers, while continuing to tease what an unsuspecting audience is in for at one of the band’s live performances.
Let’s talk a bit about your upcoming EP, Nervous Prayers. The material on it seems to take on an even more saccharine style of electro-pop; still danceable, but a lot less ‘party-EBM’ and a lot more poppy. What can you tell us about the writing process for this EP?
On Nervous Prayers, you have Jerry Miller contributing guitar, Nicklas Stenemo providing guest vocals, and Rob Robinson on mastering. How did they come to be involved on the new EP, and in what ways do you feel their contributions have enhanced the sound of Sweat Boys?
As stated, the style is a bit saccharine, and the lyrics have a very sardonic and even somber tone vs. the more ‘party’ and ‘dance’ oriented lyrics of your past releases. What can you tell us about your lyrical approach on Nervous Prayers, and how it differed from Sweat Boys up to now?
Sweat: There was a stretch of time when I had finished these new songs where I considered releasing them as a different project. I was going to start a new group, call it Nervous Prayers, and have it be the ‘serious’ project. But the more I thought about it, a lot of my favorite ‘party’ bands all had ballads and shit and I thought, ‘Why the fuck can’t I do that?’ So, I did that. I figured it’ll land or it won’t. Party boys have feelings too.
Similarly, your live shows seem to always take on a very fun, dark party vibe, like a bouncy soundtrack to an S&M romp. With the lyrics to the new material being a bit darker, what do you feel is the correlation between the energy of the music and the tone of the lyrics in the live show?
You’re one of the bands on this year’s Sanctuary Festival. Would you tell us about how you came to be involved, and what you are most looking forward to about the festival; any bands in particular that you’re excited to see/hear?
Nervous Prayers seems to have an almost late ’90s synthpop vibe to it, and retro trends and nostalgia seem to be pervading a great deal of music and art these days. What are your thoughts on these retro trends and how they are being approached and expanded on by the newer generation?
Sweat: I’m all for it. If the people creating it are doing what they love and the people listening are enjoying it, it’s all good. People seem to love hating on throwback sound or dismissing certain things as nostalgia, but not everything has to break new ground. Sometimes a good song is enough… most of the time, actually.
Photography courtesy of Sweat Boys