Our alumni are doing pretty incredible things, and Andrew Bennett is no exception. Musician, Filmmaker, and Instagram Star are just a few ways Andrew is making his mark on the world. In a recent interview, we sat down with Andrew and asked him about his time abroad with ISA, and how he’s parlayed that into a dream career that is uniquely his own.
Andrew, inquiring minds want to know, when and where did you study abroad with ISA?
In 2007, I was about to start my junior year as a history major at Texas A&M. Out of the blue, I got a call from an old high school friend who suggested we study abroad. After two years in my little college town I was pretty restless and feeling a little lost on where my education was going to take me, so it was the perfect excuse to go do something new, challenging, and exciting.
We narrowed it down pretty quickly to Barcelona as I knew I wanted to be in Europe because of the history and the ease of travel. Growing up in Texas, it made a lot of sense to study Spanish. And if living on the Mediterranean Sea is an option, then why not!
You have a pretty unique story about forming a band abroad. As a guitarist, how has study abroad helped shape you as an artist? Tell us about MCG’s latest album?
It would not be an overstatement to say my musical “career” started while studying abroad. The first thing I did when I got to Barcelona was post an ad looking for local musicians who wanted to play. To my great surprise, the first group that got back to me happened to be a Spanish blues band!
“Can you sing the blues?” they asked me.
“Not in Texas, but perhaps I could here,” I responded.
With that, my first live band was founded. We eventually got a residency Tuesday nights at the Harlem Jazz Club off Las Ramblas, and those shows were really where I learned how to be a stage performer.
MCG is the brainchild of Mariclaire Gamble, our lead singer and humble bandleader. We’re told we sound like Best Coast, Metric, Vampire Weekend and Fleetwood Mac. We just released our second album, a 7” vinyl called Outside. It was recorded here in Austin at The Bubble studios, produced by Chris “Frenchie” Smith (The Dandy Warhols, Wild Child, JET, Built to Spill.) We’ve been playing together for a couple years now and this is the first release that really sounds like the live show. It’s rock and roll, with some electro dream pop mixed in.
You’ve been called an Instagram celebrity and even featured on NPR and CNN. How did #Handstandrew come about?
It’s my version of planking. I do them everywhere. Our first site visit in Spain was to Valle de los Caidos. It’s supposed to be a memorial to the soldiers of the Spanish Civil War, but it kind of comes off as Franco’s memorial to himself. Francisco Franco was the dictator who ruled Spain from 1936-1975. I wanted to take a picture while visiting, but how do you just smile and wave in front of such a grandiose display of vanity? So I decided to be a punk and do a handstand instead. Then I just kept doing them at every site and have never stopped, even to this day. I just got back from Philadelphia where I did one on the Rocky steps. Search #handstandrew on Instagram to see the whole collection.
What’s next for you, Mr. Bennett besides this Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial that you star in…You know the one that only plays in the UK?
I can’t say that I’m actively pursuing acting…yet, but being in a UK-broadcasted KFC commercial with a bunch of my fellow Austin musicians was definitely a fun experience. When I’m not playing music, I produce and direct short films and commercials for Edwards Media, a boutique production agency in town. Next time we talk maybe we can tell the story about how making guerilla YouTube videos for ISA led me into a film career as well. Or the time I got a job with ISA after writing a company jingle for the CEO ;-)
And go study abroad. It’s the least regrettable decision you’ll make in college.