Imagine: you are chillin’ at a lakeside music festival, booze in hand, and you notice two gentlemen – both generously over six feet tall – with their legs over the sides of a Wal-Mart dinghy, cackling as they float by. This aptly summarizes Penitent Ben & the Petty Crimes’ gate crashing shenanigans at this summer’s Keloha Festival.

“I had a broken elbow at the time, too!” vocalist Benjamin Mott exclaims. He’s successfully kept a table chuckling with his troublemaker’s tale. “I also remember really wanting to be seen by people at the show. I mean, we thought we were hilarious. The funniest thing on the lake! And nobody ended up giving a shit about us.”

“Until there were a bunch of cops where we had hidden our dinghy,” guitarist Adam Sharp chimes in with a grin. “I won’t get into that too much, but I’ll say this: I’m really glad we didn’t have our IDs on us.”

And thank goodness they didn’t. Months after their fiasco, the group is ready to roll out a self-titled EP on up-and-coming record label Big Smoke. The six-track album is a fusion of soft acoustic folk and indie pop that emulates the fuzzy warmth and emotion of a live show. “For previous projects, we laboured over every single guitar lick, vocal line, harmony — every everything,” says Mott. “This time, I wanted to do something live off the floor that sounded like five guys playing together in a room.”

Standouts like “Indianna” showcase Mott’s crisp vocals and the band’s melancholy guitar work in a chill-worthy heartbreak ballad. “[The whole album] is perfectly imperfect, with all of its flaws,” says Sharp.

As our conversation winds down, the infamous dinghy unavoidably comes up again. “I still have the little paddles in my van somewhere, guys!” Mott laughs. “You just never know what heist we’ll have to pull off next.”

Penitent Ben & the Petty Crimes release their self-titled EP with a show on December 6 at the Media Club.

By Kristina Charania

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