INTERVIEW WITH BOB C. BENBERG
By BRIAN HARRIGAN
Posted on MELODY MAKER
January 18th, 1975
Bob C. Benberg, Supertramp drummer, is a self-effacing Californian from Glendale who first tried his hand at drumming at the age of 12, using a kit belonging to the son of his father’s boss, who were involved in making tape copies.
He borrowed the drums to join “a little surf band that my brother’s friends were getting together. I went and played with them and it was really fun and everybody liked it. So for Christmas I got a drum set. That band turned into a band called The Expressions and we did all the local dances down in Glendale”.
From there Bob went on through a series of bands (The Lost Souls, The Ilford Subway and Ben Becula) playing around the Sunset Strip and making a record produced by Terry Melcher. “I’d been planning to come to England for a while just to get out of Los Angeles because I was tired of hitting the same sort of wall, if you didn’t know the guys who were working already and who had the good gigs there was no way of getting to know them”.
“I sold my car and stuff to get here and when I got here I just looked around and the first ad I rang in the ‘Melody Maker’ turned into Bees Make Honey, and I made some good friends there. Playing with the Bees got me round and got me playing. It helped me. About a year or so into Bees, we did a tour with Frankie Miller and Supertramp, and it evolved from there”.
Bob’s sympathetic style of drumming is what made him an interesting proposition to Supertramp. He has an economical style which lends itself well to the percussive piano playing of Rick Davies. “I just play the songs the way I hear them and absorb the ideas from Rick and Roger. When their ideas about drumming are better than mine I use them”.
Although he is full of praise for the songwriting abilities of Davies and Hodgson, Bob is interested in writing himself. “I’ve never learned a melody instrument and while we were doing ‘Crime of the century’, I decided to learn how to play the piano. I’ve learned it basically so I’m going to try to turn that into making up a few tunes”.
However, he is not interested in the more technical side of records such as production. “I’m happy just playing the drums really. If I think something’s got to go this way or that way I throw out my ideas. I figure if we’ve got a guy like Ken Scott around we should let him make the decisions”.
Bob’s equipment with Supertramp includes Ludwig bass drum, Gretsch snare, Ludwing toms, two Premier timbales, Paiste and Avedis Zildjian cymbals, wood blocks and Selmer Custom sticks.