Guitar virtuoso Rene Benton never stands still. Between touring the world - racking up 50 countries to date - and unending session work with everyone from the Chubby Checker band to Fishbone, the guitarist has found time to record a new solo album, Xpressions Too!!! (Short Storeez).
The album's crammed full of fretboard heroics across 12 prog- and metal-tinged tracks, all of which clock in under the three-minute mark. Suffice to say, it's a relentless listen that builds upon Rene's storied musical past, which he explores a little here, as he talks first guitars and onstage nightmares…
1. What was your first guitar and when did you get it?
"It was a plastic guitar with plastic strings when I was seven years old - I thought it sounded great!"
2. The building's burning down - what one guitar do you save?
"An Ibanez pre-RG built in 1988 in Pennsylvania. It's rare, has great tone, and can take a beating, so that's coming out with me!"
3. Is there a guitar, or piece of gear, that you regret letting go?
"A Tokia Telecaster with paisley print, which sounded better than any Telecaster on Earth in my opinion."
4. And what's the next piece of gear you'd like to acquire?
"A Strictly 7 guitar. An innovative company slightly ahead of the curve, and I tend to gravitate towards people like that."
5. Is there an aspect of guitar playing that you'd like to be better at?
"Wow, great question. Most practise so many aspects of playing that it's like playing professional basketball - so many vulnerable spots. I think the technical side of playing is endless, so I will say sight-reading. I really need to do better at that."
6. What are you doing five minutes before you go onstage?
7. ...And five minutes after?
"Thanking God in the name of Jesus they didn't boo and throw tomatoes at me!"
8. What item of gear would you take with you to a desert island?
"Any acoustic guitar."
9. What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you onstage?
"Well, the worst I can think of is playing a solo and the singer's hair got caught in my guitar tuners! I guess you could say that's probably the worst thing to happen to him! It was beyond awkward to say the least."
10. What advice would you give your younger self about playing the guitar?
"It's okay to jam with your friends, but make sure you practise alone as well."