Interview w/ Kyle Benecke
R.I.P. status showing up for your favorite band is never a welcome designation. As a fan you question whether this is your fault or what might have happened if they just would have called Dr. Phil, but nothing can turn back time to a place where you and your favorite band were blissfully in sync. Kyle Benecke took the helm for Sioux Falls, South Dakota based hardcore band Nodes of Ranvier in time to record and tour what would be their fourth and final album, “Defined By Struggle”. Nodes of Ranvier had long been a workhorse in the Facedown Records stable of up and coming hardcore bands, but 2006/2007 brought many new faces and a change of venue to Victory Records. Defined By Struggle showed great promise as the band seemed to continue their signature sound without any glitches while simultaneously returning to a renewed clarity in the spiritual content of their music. Much to the dismay of fans like myself, 2007 was to be marked as the end of an era for Nodes of Ranvier but we were glad to catch up with Kyle as he sheds some light on the breakup and encourages us with words of wisdom for today.
You are from Omaha, Nebraska and Nodes of Ranvier was based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, what was the timeline and process for you being introduced to the band and finding yourself taking the helm for vocal responsibilities?
Kyle Benecke I’ve known the Nodes guys forever and I was a big fan as well. They asked me to be in the band after Nick left and the rest is history. It all happened really fast.
I was stoked that the fourth album, Defined By Struggle returned to the clarity of spiritual content that was expressed in the freshmen release of Lost Senses, More Innocence. How was the final product of Defined By Struggle received by the band and the fans?
KB As a Christian, I just wrote what I’m passionate about. We had a good response to the music and lyrics. Some people liked the return to spiritual content and some didn’t, no big deal.
Nodes of Ranvier had their trademark riff fueled sound, how did you prepare your voice and how were you able to get into a flow that fit to carry through what the band had laid as a foundation while showcasing your unique vocal tone as well?
KB When I first heard the songs for that album, I was really excited to get vocals down. I felt that all the music they were writing fit my vocal style really well. Not much preparation, just got in the studio and laid down the tracks. We were all happy with the result I think.
When you joined Nodes of Ranvier there were some massive changes, vacancies at drums, bass and vocals as well as a label change from Facedown Records to Victory Records. Did you have any idea that Nodes was going to disband or did that come as a surprise to you?
KB Yeah, there were a lot of changes going on, but I just jumped at the opportunity to do a record with Nodes and Victory Records. I pretty much grew up on Victory bands (Strife, Earth Crisis, Snapcase, Buried Alive, All Out War etc…..) I didn’t know we were so close to disbanding when I joined, but I’m well aware of the fragile nature of hardcore/metal bands. It was still a great opportunity and I had a blast.
It seems a little odd that most of the members who left Nodes of Ranvier before Defined By Struggle and even those involved with the final recording went on to work in other projects (like they still wanted to do music, just not NOR), can you pinpoint what you think led to the decision to put Nodes of Ranvier on R.I.P. status?
KB I’m not positive what led to the demise of NOR, but I have some ideas. I think part of it was just internal problems and not wanting to tour. The tours that we did were pretty bad as far as turnouts go, but again, that’s the nature of this world. At one point you’re hot, and then you’re not. It can be really disappointing. But music is in our blood. We probably won’t ever stop making music or being involved with it in some shape or form.
What are you up to now and do you have any vocal prospects?
KB I’m married and have a full time job here in Omaha, NE. In my spare time I shoot (video) as many shows as I can. (Check out my youtube page if you’re interested: http://www.youtube.com/user/thebenecke) As far as musical projects go, nothing right now, but I’m hoping to get a hardcore project started one of these days. Hopefully soon.
You obviously brought a depth of spiritual content to the lyrical component of Defined By Struggle, what has been your experience with faith?
KB I was raised Lutheran, but I never really cared too much about God, church etc… I became a Christian when I was in high school. My friend shared the gospel with me and that was that. Years later, through another friend, I discovered reformed theology. My love and reverence for Christ grew enormously because of that. Learning/studying about God’s attributes was mind-blowing to me. His sovereignty, love, mercy, patience, wrath etc… Continuing to learn about all these qualities that God possesses increases my faith and causes me to love and serve Him.
The Kyle Benecke Library recommends some pretty heavy reformed tradition reading such as “The Attributes of God” by A.W. Pink as well as straight classics like “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. Are there some key principles, thoughts or quotes that have helped shape your thinking towards life and faith?
KB Reading A.W. Pink destroyed me!!! His book, ‘The Attributes of God’, absolutely changed my perception of God in so many ways. Especially the chapter on ‘The Wrath of God’. So good! Other than that, I love most puritan stuff, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen etc….(Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is my favorite sermon of all time) Charles Spurgeon’s stuff kills me too. Basically, I like the old stuff. It’s hard to read some of it, but you get so much depth and understanding if you stick with it. Newer stuff: John Piper, John Macarthur, Tim Keller.
A great quote:
When I consider how the goodness of God is abused by the greatest part of mankind, I cannot but be of his mind that said, The greatest miracle in the world is God’s patience and bounty to an ungrateful world. If a prince hath an enemy got into one of his towns, he doth not send them in provision, but lays close siege to the place, and doth what he can to starve them. But the great God, that could wink all His enemies into destruction, bears with them, and is at daily cost to maintain them. Well may He command us to bless them that curse us, who Himself does good to the evil and unthankful. But think not, sinners, that you shall escape thus; God’s mill goes slow, but grinds small; the more admirable His patience and bounty now is, the more dreadful and unsupportable will that fury be which ariseth out of His abused goodness. Nothing smoother than the sea, yet when stirred into a tempest, nothing rageth more. Nothing so sweet as the patience and goodness of God, and nothing so terrible as His wrath when it takes fire. (Wm Gurnall, 1660).
Having been a fan of music and experienced life as a performer, how would you encourage those who want to make the most of their talents and use them to do more than just entertain?
KB I would tell them, don’t fall in love with yourself and respect others. For believers, guard your eyes, heart and mind. If you have the talent to play music, be careful and know what you’re getting into. Have fun, be honest, and don’t be afraid to say what you believe. A lot of people won’t like it and you’ll feel stupid sometimes, but that should build character over time.
Nodes of Ranvier – “Defined By Struggle” is still available from Victory Records. Be sure to check out Kyle’s Youtube page which features interviews and live recordings with bands like For Today, Impending Doom, Legend, The Ghost Inside and MORE.
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