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New Jersey's the Benjamins (not to be confused with the Milwaukee pop-punk band signed to Drive-Thru Records in the early 2000s) were formed in October 1999 by vocalist Joe DeGennaro, bassist Ben DeGennaro, keyboardist Roger Hitchuk, and drummer Jeremy Luke. The alternative rockers initially came together solely as a covers act playing around the Jersey Shore, and with a repertoire that included radio and MTV hits alongside '80s favorites like Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl," a-ha's "Take on Me," and (of course) plenty of Bon Jovi, they quickly gathered an enthusiastic local following. After going through some guitarists, the Benjamins settled in with Anthony Picone in 2003 to complete their core lineup, and with him on board, they eventually began penning their own songs. These songs slowly started making their way into the group's nightly sets, and in May 2004 the Benjamins self-produced and released their debut album of original material, Go. (They'd previously released two albums of cover songs.) The crew contributed tracks to a few compilations and increased its hometown profile opening for acts like the Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind at the bands' New Jersey tour stops. The Benjamins toured up and down the East Coast, playing over 200 shows a year, and in spring 2006 their hard work snagged them a sponsorship deal with Coors Light. After spending over a year writing and recording new material, the band (by now a quartet minus Hitchuk) released its sophomore effort, Chronicles of the Garden State, in April 2007 via Core Records (distributed by Koch Entertainment). ~ Corey Apar