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Five questions with Chris Bennett, vocalist for RoXtar
Members of RoXtar are, clockwise from top left, Ron Pirkle, Robby McMahan, Kerry Leo and Chris Bennett. Center photo is Kimberly Clark. The band will be performing Friday at Monkey Barrel.


When: 10 p.m. Friday
Where: Monkey Barrel, 115 Washington St. NE, Gainesville
More info: 770-297-0116

Even if you haven't heard of the local band RoXtar, you've probably seen its members rocking out in local clubs for the past decade or so.

Members Kerry Leo and Chris Bennett started playing together in an incarnation of the longtime local band Captain Luther Howdy and the Prozac Cowboys in the 1990s. When that band's founding member took some time off, they kept the band going for a few more years and added their own spin to the established band.

But now it's time for the longtime friends and musical collaborators to do their own thing, which is why we can now take in a RoXtar show.

Leo and Bennett, along with vocalist Kimberly Clark, drummer Robbie McMahan and guitarist Ron Pirkle, will perform Friday night at the Monkey Barrel in Gainesville. We spoke with Bennett about the band's start and what we can expect from the show this weekend.

Question: How long have you and Kerry Leo been working together?

Answer: Kerry, he and I go back a long ways. We were actually roommates when we were kids, in college.

We started a band called The Suspects with Kerry's brother, and we played a lot of (record company) showcases, but it just didn't work out. After that we decided to just have fun playing music, and that's what we've been doing for a few years in various projects.

We were actually playing in a band called (Captain Luther Howdy and the) Prozac Cowboys, and Kerry and I had been playing in that off and on since the 1990s. Basically, three or four of us were in that band a few years back and kept it going for a few years. We kept the name going and took it in a different direction.

Q: So, does RoXtar continue the 1990s vibe Prozac Cowboys had?

A: Some of it would be called alternative, I guess. We really have two lead singers - we have a female singer named Kimberly Clark — and she sings all the girl stuff. We sing Sheryl Crow or she'll even go back and do some Janis Joplin. I do Foo Fighters, Train, U2.

Q: So it's kind of alternative, kind of songs everybody knows?

A: It's not your classic Top 40 band. It's a little bit different. We've been out and seen bands that play all the same songs and we've done that, too, and wanted to play some different music.

Q: When you're singing a, say, U2 song, are you trying to channel Bono, or are you putting your own spin on it?

A: A little bit of both. If I sound like anybody, it's probably a cross between Tom Petty and Mick Jagger - at least, I like to think so.

Q: How about original songs?

A: We all have a writing background. Kerry and I write with a guy, Kip Raines, up in Nashville (Tenn.). He's written songs for Tim McGraw. He played in our band back when we were showcasing for major labels. And Kimberly is good friends with Bruce Burch, and he is helping her along. So she writes and Kerry and I write and our drummer, Robbie McMahon, he was in (1980s Athens band) Time Toy. ... Ron Pirkle, he's really a good guitar player and engineer. He does a lot of audio work and he's got a home studio.