A quick scan of James Benson’s Facebook page reveals a few things.

  1. He has incredible hair.

  2. He’s very into music.

  3. That’s because he’s in seven -- count ‘em -- bands.

Benson is a drug and alcohol counselor at New Season: Rochester Metro Treatment Center by day. (“I've been there for just under seven years at this time,” he says. “Over that time, I've seen almost 300% growth in patient numbers. The opioid crisis is still very, very real.”)

By night, he plays and sings in Solshade, Amiensus, Adora Vivos, Nòtt, and Fail to Decay (metal), as well as Chrome Waves (goth rock) and Comatose (grunge).

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When did you get into music?

When I was 15, I had just moved to Minnesota from Pennsylvania. At that time, I was just getting into more extreme music and my main influence was Led Zeppelin. I met a group of guys from the church I belonged to that were into a big array of music and mutually loved metal and rock n' roll, and we began jamming and recording on a single microphone logitech USB. I still have some of those recordings from around 2004 and 2005. We learned the DAW (digital audio workstation) Audacity.

Is there a unifying theme between all the groups you're in, aside from your presence?

Not really, no. A few of them have some unifying theme of being rooted in our influence of Black Metal -- a Norwegian-focused aversion to death metal that started in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

How do you find people to make a band? Where do you normally go?

I've been doing this for so long that for the last decade, or so it's just people I know personally from touring or elsewhere. My longest-running band, Amiensus, started with just people I knew through school or church. As we grew up and aged and circumstance changed, (it) became a larger network.

What's the most important aspect of making a band -- agreeing on sound? Personalities that mesh?

Personalities that mesh are absolutely the most important. Being able to recognize what your talents are and communicating that effectively matters the most, though. I couldn't be in so many bands and release music consistently without the band members I have.

Where do you find the time to be in all of these musical groups?

I have a serious job that requires 40 or more hours per week, (so) I chose not to have children but instead rescue dogs -- and in doing so, have enabled my lifestyle to include writing, playing, and touring in many projects.

Do you have any upcoming shows or streams? Any new music releases on the horizon?

Currently no tours due to the pandemic. Many in the works. Most recently, Chrome Waves released its third LP, "The Rain Will Cleanse" on Sept. 10, Comatose released its debut album "A Way Back" on Jan. 23, and Amiensus released its fourth LP, "Abreaction" in October 2020. All of my projects are available on streaming sites like Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube -- just search by name: Amiensus, Adora Vivos, Comatose, Chrome Waves, Fail to Decay, Nòtt, Solshade.