Naughty antics

“I just thought they had a lot of talent for being so young"

Local teen band Ignant Benches is riding a wave of good luck.
  • Local teen band Ignant Benches is riding a wave of good luck.

Local teen band Ignant Benches is already enjoying some lucky breaks, thanks to the producer of their first professional recordings, Brian Karscig, whose group Louis XIV was once named one of 10 Artists To Watch by Rolling Stone. “We only recently became aware of his music upon meeting him,” says 17-year-old singer-guitarist Anson Kelley. “On the day we were supposed to meet him, we managed to listen to every Louis XIV album in the car before we got to his house. We really like their song ‘Air Traffic Control.’”

Founded by former members of Convoy (who also flirted with national success), Louis XIV was a sexed-up glam rock band who landed on TV shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Last Call with Carson Daly. Naughty antics such as putting a nude woman on their album cover caused occasional problems, but the band still occasionally reconvenes, and Karscig went on to play with the Killers and the Nervous Wreckords.

“I heard about these guys about eight months ago, my friend told me about them when he heard them on Loudspeaker,” says Karscig of how local radio introduced him to Ignant Benches. “I just thought they had a lot of talent for being so young. It’s really inspiring to see them practicing and writing all the time, and really throwing themselves into their music.”

Karscig has produced records for locals such as Anya Marina, the Silent Comedy, Transfer, Apes of Wrath, Republic of Letters, and Subsurfer. His songwriting collaborators include Brandon Flowers of the Killers (“Thief in the Choir,” “Turn the Light On”), Sam Endicott of the Bravery (“Send It in a Letter”), and local star AJ Croce (“Keep the Change”).

Past Event

Sacred Hearts Club

  • Thursday, July 19, 2018, 8 p.m.
  • Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / Free

Having a producer with so many connections has already paid off for the band, who range in age from 15 to 17. “Brian messaged us one day, telling us that Cory [Stier] at the Soda Bar was wondering if we wanted to open for Foster the People,” says Kelley, referencing the July 19 "Sacred Hearts Club" event that is actually Foster the People's after-party, held the same evening they open for Paramore at Mattress Firm Amphitheatre.

It's quite a leap from their 2014 inception, when Chula Vista 8th graders Anson Kelley (guitar, vocals) and Andy Tistoj (guitar) decided to play that year's school talent show. Subsequent gigs were scored after the band was joined by bassist Isaak Jejjoni and drummer Mauro Rocha.

"Technically, our first show was at our middle school talent show," says Kelley. "There's cringeworthy video footage of that on YouTube, but our first real show was at Soma, over near the Sports Arena. We were opening for a bunch of heavier bands, so we were very out of place. And it might have been riddled with mistakes, but it was a big step for us in making the jump to small venues."

"Most of the time, we try to play all ages venues or house shows. When we do get the opportunity to play local bars, we usually have to wait outside for a couple hours until we play, and then immediately leave the bar when we're done. It's fun. We did this at the Casbah, and also Brick By Brick."

So what does Ignant Benches sound like? According to Kelley, “If Julian Casablancas and Alex Turner had a baby, you’d get a beautiful baby. We’re that baby’s ugly friend.”

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