Benji Cossa makes sincerely beautiful homemade melodic pop with roots. Hear his mad-genius charm, glorious ragged edges, and other-worldly singing. His is direct, joyful, and richly detailed music made by a very nice man who enjoys flying a kite.
Benji Cossa began writing and recording songs in 1995. Since then he’s amassed a treasure trove of undiscovered lo-fi AM gold. Since hooking up with Serious Business in 2007 Benji has released four full length records with a 30 song magnum opus double album in the works. Benji's world view is simultaneously child-like and astoundingly wise. His voice is beautiful and unmistakable. Perhaps most importantly, every entry in his bulging song-book boasts unthinkably infectious melodic hooks. People will listen to Benji's music for their whole lives.
On stage Benji has performed with many shifting lineups of musicians associated with the Serious Business universe including The Tightens, The Cossacks, the Hall of Heroes and most recently the larger-than-life Key Players.
His latest record is Benji Cossa and the Tightens, a 70s styled, country-pickled full band live-in-the-studio romp with a shit-hot all-star band. Think Sweetheart of the Rodeo / Tupelo Honey. Prior to that, in 2007 Serious Business Records issued Between the Blue and the Green, a small wonder of infinitely pleasing home-made pop.
As of May 2011, Benji Cossa has a new double-album called II in the works as well as a cassette/digital only series of "greatest-hits" compilation-tapes curated by his friends and family. The II project, a long-term slow motion collaboration between Benji and Serious Business' Travis Harrison, began with the recording of this song in early 2009: BENJI COSSA - Annie Delia by seriousbusiness II remains in progress, having recently achieved something of it's final form. II should score lives in some form before 2012 concludes. And about that tape series that we mentioned. Benji did recently ask about a dozen close pals to assemble their ultimate Benji mix-tapes. The results will come out in a timed series of releases that will probably be called Favorites and will available for free, for $$, and/or physically on cassette.
People will listen to Benji's music for their whole lives.
Benji takes us through his vast pre-2007 discography…
"I started writing songs in college…1995/1996…Sophomore year:
1) The first release was some tape comp that Kreb-Star put out. It was a song called "The Motion of the Ocean." There was a surfer on the front and it was called something like (if it was not called) Permanent Vacation and I believe it was blue. The only other band I remember that was on it was called Six Cents and Natalie 1996? Lost in shuffle.
2) Cossacabana was a tape release on Kreb-Star Records, Eric and Bjorn Copeland's label (now of the Black Dice). 1996? Maybe early '97. Made up of recordings and re-recordings of tapes unreleased officially with names such as: "Love Songs from the Cosst," "The Cossine if Love." "Bela LuCossi," etc. Sold out. I think my Mom has one or two.
3) Then I went on tour #2 across country after college, summer 1998, and made a tape called 4 for Tour, a cassingle to bring in some extra bucks. The first tour was with Eric Copeland who was the Ninjas during the summer of 1996. I played drums for him and he for me. I think it was 1996.Yeah, it was. I had a bunch made so had a bunch left over which I threw out a few years ago during a move.
4) Rollercossa - The breakthrough one-sided 7” single was released in 1998. The Rollercossa. 3 songs. I have a few of them.
5) There were some other comps in there but I don't remember them. One Comp was called Can We Still Be Friends and is still available for purchase from Magic Marker. I had sent Curt two versions of a song I made for a friend Tommy McCaffrey's movie in college which were combined and put on the album as one song. I made music for other people's movies such as Mandy McCorkle and Brian Bress. Good times in college. I remember playing on the radio a few places but it was a bit of a blur. I know I played at Rutgers once. Eric went with me. It was pretty cool.
6) That band Tullycraft covered my song, “Knockout,” in what I gather was 2001 on their album called Beat Surf Fun. This song was played on Road Rules and I didn't know about it until a few years later. When I got in touch with Sean (lead Tullycraft) through Curt (lead Magic Marker) and asked him to send me a copy of the show, he sent me an album and a shirt. I still have not seen the episode and obviously have not benefited from the exposure.
7) I kept playing and making my own albums, joke singles, Christmas albums, etc but saw no action in releases.
8) A filmmaker friend, Ben Coccio asked me to do a song for his movie, Zero Day, for which I gladly and fittingly gave him "Volcano." This got some exposure and I was listed in the NY Times as a composer. According to IMDB, the movie was released in 2004. I believe it was earlier, but...
9) In 2004, Hisham (college schoolmate, ex-Black Dice drummer, now in Pixeltan (DFA) and Among Natives) and United Bamboo contacted me to participate in the comp, They Keep Me Smiling which turned out nicely. They played my song "April" on WFMU and I missed it. I didn't know it would be on, but I turned on the radio and heard my name. It was exciting.
Please enjoy yourself as Benji walks us through a list of his many collaborators...
1 )"The first guy I ever really played music with was Dan Strange and we had a band called Phantom of the Paradise which was just the 2 of us. I wrote songs on the accordion and guitar and Dan would write a lot, too. We recorded all the time. It was what we did together and it was really fun. He was the minister at my wedding. Check out Dan's imdb credits.
2) Man... A lot of stuff like Beerhenge, a frat-rock cover band 1998- eternity, with Kevin Umbricht
and Joe Bradley from Cheeseburger.
I've played a lot of crap with these guys.
3)I once played in a Lou Reed cover band for Halloween and once in a CCR cover band and once in a Neil Young cover band. Usually in these bands I play the drums. In Beerhenge I play(ed) drums. The other two guys play the guitars. One time I was in a short lived band called Arockalypse with the members of Beerhenge plus Sebastian Blanck
4) Dan, Kevin and I had a Band called the Teenage Girls which you can hear on Kevin's website. A little joke-band. I was replaced as drummer by this guy Sascha who I have never met. He and Dan live in LA and we recorded some of the album during a visit in 2003 or so. We started the band in 1999 or so. It was more of a project than a band.
6) But as far as I am concerned I never really had a band until 2002 or so. My first Band called the 24 Karat Band went through a few changes of line-up but settled in to being myself, Eric Copeland, and Joe Bradley. Great Band. We stopped playing a few years ago but I believe one day the phoenix will streak his fires across the skies again.
7) Now I sometimes play with Josh Kaufman and Annie Nero and Brian Kantor as you well know. They are the Hall of Heroes. Drop Annie, move Josh to bass and put Devin on guitar and you've got yourself the Foolish Mortals. I also record with my friend John Walsh who has many synthesizers. I met him because I hired him when I managed the pet store in Greenpoint. He was one of my two best men at my wedding.”
To conclude Benji adds…
Here is a photo of Benji slicing onions.
BETWEEN THE BLUE AND THE GREEN
THE ROLLERCOSSA 7"
BENJI COSSA AND THE TIGHTENS
FAVORITES 01: SEBASTIAN BLANCK
FAVORITES 02: ERIC COPELAND
FAVORITES 03: DANIEL STRANGE
FAVORITES 04: VAL BRITTON
VAULT VOL. II: JEWELS AND GEMS
WHAT'S THAT SOUND? / BURN, WITCH, BURN
"King of Song" - Bjorn Copeland of the Black Dice
“His voice is endearing and tuneful and his songs unfailingly hooky... Cossa is a small-scale indie pop treasure” –Tim Sendra, AllMusicGuide
"Home-recording genius" -Erasingclouds.com
...ON Benji's '08 CMJ set (with the Cossacks)
"First on the stage at Piano’s was Benji Cossa and his band, whose 1950s-style rock featured killer tenor sax solos and driving, addictive rhythms -- a credit to the drummer, since the band’s line-up was sans bassist. Though there were moments when the tenor stole the show, Cossa’s voice denies overtaking, and offers an odd, yet pleasant, juxtaposition to the purely rock sounds of his guitar. He kept things fairly relaxed during his set, asking for a moment here and there to make sure he had the lyrics right and checking tempos with his drummer, but it seemed to fit right in with the vibe of the night." The Tripwire