band_benjiiBy layering authentic reggae, African, and eastern European folk elements over strains of heartfelt American roots music, The Durgas’ songs cut through rock ‘n’ roll’s insularity and pre-conceived standards.

The brothers Benjii Simmersbach (vocals, guitar) and Christopher Simmersbach (lead guitar) draw much of their musical influence from their childhood. Both were born in Bavaria/Germany but raised in various parts of Thailand, Tanzania, Mali, Senegal, Italy, and the U.S. The Durgas‘ music weaves the sounds and cultures of their upbringing into their music without losing touch with their roots in punk rock.

band_graigraiBefore The Durgas, the brothers Simmersbach achieved wide notoriety with their band A Subtle Plague(1984-1998), recording for the esteemed independent label Rough Trade. Along with a growing reputation as one of the best live bands in the U.S. underground grew their international appeal – A Subtle Plaguegained an extensive European fan base that allowed them to tour for years in a row. On their travels the band performed with a wide range of musicians including Iggy Pop, Mudhoney, Vic Chesnut, Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth and Soul Asylum, to name a few. Their communal way of touring and devoted fans led to Germany’s Rolling Stone magazine calling A Subtle Plague “the Grateful Dead of the ’90s”.

The end of the millennium brought the end of A Subtle Plague and a conscious change in sound and musical approach. Returning to the sounds of the folk and roots music of their youth, the brothers Simmersbach now found a larger palette in which to take inspiration from. Their current band constellation consist of drummer Török Gabor (Hungary), and Katy J Arnovick(USA) on bass and vocals, completing the line-up. When not on tour, their homes are in Boston, Budapest respectively.

 

band_katyBesides continuing their extensive, international tours, The Durgas are committed to bringing a unifying musical experience to challenged communities around the world. In 2003 they were the first band to play in Mitrovica, Kosovo since the Balkan wars, as part of the ongoing United Nations peace and reunification initiative. In 2004 they took part in the XV International AIDS/HIV Conference in Bangkok, Thailand and performed in AIDS hospitals and orphanages. In 2007 they toured throughout Asia, playing to children of migrant workers in Mumbai, India, in Sri Lanka to families displaced by the Tsunami, in Thailand at the Saphan Jai festival, and for Burmese refugees in camps along the Thai border. They have witnessed firsthand the profound effects that live music can bring about in people, across barriers of land and language. Their experiences abroad have led them to start their own foundation Music In Action, which has been supported by U.S. Campaign for Burma, Save the Children UK, the German children’s foundation WeltKinderLachen, Jack Healey (Human Rights Activist) and Michael Franti of Spearhead.

band_gaborThe Durgas’ music has been featured on several film soundtracks including Soul Of A Century(International Film and Video Award 2003, Premio EuroDoc 2002 for best European documentary) and Hotel Sahara. They most recently scored and composed original music for Into the Current, a documentary film by Jeanne Hallacy. The film was nominated for the Human Rights Award at the 2012 Santa Barabara Film Festival.

In January 2008 the Berlin label Cannery Row Records released The Durgas’ debut album Back To The Startwhich was mixed by Boris Wilsdorf (producer of the legendary German band Einstürzende Neubauten), featuring guest musician Chuck Prophet.

The Durgas’ next studio album Burma was recorded in Berlin and was self released in 2010. Produced by Noa Winter Lazerus (The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd) in Los Angeles and featuring Jim Fairchild (Grandaddy, Modest Mouse) on two tracks, Burma is a riveting collection of songs, which embrace the music of the world in a pure and passionate way and

Burma was written and performed by voices and talents who have experienced the full range of possibilities of music – from swaying rock fans in clubs across Europe to glowing faces of children in Burmese refugee camps – and is the sort of unapologetic, defiantly global music that is intended to speak to people across all borders and nationalities.

The windswept epic driving force of the title track could only come from a lifetime of taking in the world around them, while paying special attention to those who call Burma their home land. The song’s lyrics don’t only signify the group’s most pop-oriented song to date, but also allude to the struggle of a nation in transition.