Former Squeeze bassist John Bentley goes heavy metal

Former Squeeze bassist John Bentley – who lives in East Preston – is taking a new musical direction with a heavy-metal album.

John Bentley
John Bentley

John has teamed up with Bill Liesegang and Barry Fitzgerald under the band name Totenwitz to release the album Decomposed on January 21.

“It’s quite a grim album but not because I feel grim! It’s heavy metal and in heavy metal, you don’t get songs about the moon in June!

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“This is something that I’ve always wanted to do and that’s a bit unusual when you consider my musical background but I do like to embrace all genres of music and I’ve always been a big fan of that type of music.

“My love affair with heavy metal started with the Jeff Beck group before there was even a phrase heavy metal. Jeff Beck used to play with Jimmy Page and they would be hanging around together. Jimmy Page took the music on board and went away and made a tape and it sounded like the Jeff Beck group and then he went away and formed Led Zeppelin which was very heavily influenced by Jeff Beck. Jeff Beck in my view was a very big influence in music.

“I just love heavy metal. It gets my feet tapping and my head nodding. I like the early heavy metal, Black Sabbath and AC/DC, what is now called melodic metal. On the early albums of Led Zeppelin they had some really fantastic riffs and some really interesting time signatures. It was influenced by classical music as well. And I also love John Bonham’s drumming. It just sends me!

“So I’ve always had this in me but because of the pandemic I had to give up gigging. And I wrote this album. The album took me eight months to write and then a friend of mine who arranges musicians put me in touch with the two other guys that are in the band.

“It is what I call a virtual album because it has been recorded by sending files. I send a file to the guitarist and he puts his parts over it and it is very, very high quality. I think it’s one of the most amazing things about the internet. There are three of us and I’m doing vocals and the incredible thing is I have never met the other two!

“Lyrically there is a lot of darkness in there. As I said, heavy metal songs aren’t about the moon in June. It’s dark material. The first track is called Cargo Of The Living Dead which is about slavery. And the second track is about a gang war that went wrong in Liverpool and a young boy was shot in the neck because he got caught in the crossfire. It’s a true story. It was in all the newspapers.

“And there is a track about an article that was in the French newspapers, a quite macabre story where a village in the Alps was hit by serious flooding and the local graveyard was washed away. It was very traumatic for the relatives of the deceased. They watched their relatives being swept away…

“I suppose the darkness has always been there. I can bring these things up if I need to. When you write a song, you think where does it come from. They come from newspaper articles and things that have happened to me or things that I’ve heard or just observations, and the fact is that we are in a dark age. We are in an age where it is not difficult conjure up dark scenarios. I’m not doing this to be dark or to be depressing. I think it just really goes with the music. It is all bog standard heavy metal that I’m doing. I am not trying to break any barriers. It is real early heavy metal.”