2018 is an important year for the Australian rockers, The Rumjacks as they complete their first decade as a band and they celebrate it with the release of their brand-new album “Saints Preserve Us” but also with their latest tour that has recently brought them to our country including three stations in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras. During their last stop, the band’s frontman, Frankie McLaughlin, found some time time to talk to us just before joining the rest of the band on The Ghetto’s stage in Patras.
Friendly, humorous and absolutely comfortable, he talked to us about his feelings regarding the completing of the first 10 years of the band, their new album, their celtic influences, how politics and friendship affects their music while he revealed to us that their next music video would be shot in our country before their departure for the next stops of their tour!
With apparent enthusiasm for their visit to Greece, The Rumjacks attuned their guitars, mandolins and banjos and they thrilled the fans with their celtic melodies which they love to combine with rock and punk, giving them the promise of coming back again in the future.
Let’s start by talking a bit about the band. How did you meet and how were the Rumjacks formed in the first place?
It started with Johnny the bass player and myself. We both had background in the music obviously but also with his family being from Northern Ireland and myself from Scotland, we grew up with a lot of Scottish and Irish music around, plus we love rock’n’roll and punk and we decided to kick off a band form there .
How do you feel about completing your first decade as a band?
It feels like an achievement. I don’t think there is anything I have done for ten years, so that’s pretty good but I prefer to think of it like it’s not the end of something, of just a decade but maybe the beginning of the next one. That would be a good way to look forward for.
What was the toughest thing you had to go through as band in your career so far? How did you face it?
We usually go through all the things that anyone else goes though in life but for starters you have to have your friends around you. If you’re friends with the rest of the band -some bands aren’t friends and that’s very important to be able to talk to each other if there’s something going on- you need to speak about it, you have to know that we can do this, otherwise we fail as a band and we fail as individuals as well. Any hard times are faced that way for us.
What should your fans expect from the release of your latest album “Saints Preserve Us”?
I think that’s our best record yet… it feels that way and I don’t usually say that. We were in different circumstances. There was a bit more pressure because we tour so much and we had to put the songs together, we had to record and there was more pressure of time. I think it’s a little bit of all the other albums put in there but with a much sharper edge.
Can you reveal to us which is the next single from “Saints Preserve Us”?
I have no idea. I think we’re going to do a video here tomorrow.
Here in Patras?
Somewhere. I don’t know yet! Definitely here in Greece and it’s going be for “A Smugglers Song”, so I have to practice up the song now.
You were formed in 2008 and your first album “Gangs of New Holland” was released in 2010 and your latest album “Saints Preserve Us” on October 12th. Through this decade in which ways do you believe that your music has evolved?
Obviously we were first seen as a Celtic punk or an Irish Punk kinda band. It’s an obvious place to start but we’ve always had other influences in there just as straight rock or straight punk, a bit of ska reggae because these are the things that we love that we grew up listening to, and that’s always been in there. Nontheless our playing and our experience over these years adds to this album. So I like to think that we haven’t changed, we have just become better in doing whatever it was that we were doing.
You often use a political commentary in your songs. Do you believe that the social and political situation have a negative influence on future creations or is that an extra motivation?
I like to be careful with it because for many years I thought for me personally I don’t like being told what I should think or what I should believe so I’m not going to do it just like somebody else. Some bands are a bit more direct telling people “do this, do that” but I’m not comfortable with that. I prefer to give some information or somebody gives me information and then I just wanna make up my own mind, so that’s how I approach it and I’d like to think of it like when a parent is trying to feed vegetables to a small child, they have to mash them up into something else or when you have to give medicine to your family pet you have to put it inside something good. So I kinda put it in there as part of the story, sometimes humorous, sometimes colorful and then it can be absorbed this way. Even just the way the things are awarded for me it’s important because if somebody’s going to sing those words I want them to feel like it’s coming from them if they agree and they sing along.
In this album you have collaborated with Paul McKenzie on the song “The Foreman O’Rourke”. How did this collaboration occur?
I lost a bet (haha). We’ve played together quite a few times and we are great friends with the band. We had many wild nights. It was something that needed to happen. Also it’s for the fans. We’re music fans ourselves and when something like that happens and we get to do an album with a couple of our best artists, it’s great. I was up in my hotel watching Tim Armstrong from Rancid –I think it was Tim-, with Eddie Vedder and C. J. Ramone, all playing a tribute to Joe Ramone, a few songs together on stage, and I was “look at these guys at the same place at the same time, that’s crazy”. So there’s a bit of a thrill but I just asked if Paul would like to do this and we went straight to the studio.
Would you collaborate with an artist that serves another musical genre than yours?
Yes easily. The way that I write is not different from pop music.
Can you give me any names?
Well I can’t do it now but I have a song that I would love to have done with Amy Winehouse. I think that it just suits her but there are so many others. Music is just music, sometimes it isn’t even music but good songs are good songs, I’ve heard songs that are pop, like Britney Spears songs, that somebody once played a version of them just with an acoustic guitar and that was incredible. Once you strip away all the light stuff it can become a pretty heavy song. I’ve also worked with underground artists… Anybody that wants to work with us deserves what they get so if they want to do it, they’re welcome.
Which of your songs holds a special place in your heart and why?
On this album “Cold London Rain” because it was written about my girl before she was my girl and her story gave me this idea for the song. I wasn’t thinking about writing a song on that day, I was thinking about trying to go to sleep. I was desperately tired after we played a show in London and we headed off the next morning for our next stop and my head was up against the glass and I was like “please sleep”. I think we were going to Cardiff, and all of a sudden the song started to pop in my head and I was like “for the love of God, why now?”, so I wrote it on the road and it’s just a good memory of spending time with friends and getting to meet people but you have no idea what it would eventually wind up mean so much in your life. It was a good time!
Could you tell me just “A few (not a Dozen) Good Reasons To Weep”?
The biggest one for me is the lack of kindness. Just anywhere in the world. If one person is off the line then it spreads and ignorance because ignorance of any kind is a big problem. If you wipe out ignorance you can get rid of fear and hate.
You have visited Greece again in the past while touring! What’s so special about our country that makes you want to come back?
I know that I speak of all of us because we’ve talked about it a lot. It’s just the warmth of the people. You are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Ouzo is of course one of the highlights but also food –oh my God- and the ocean… we’ve had some great experiences here. We don’t get to see much or do much while on tour because we’re so busy but the first time that we came here, we had the afternoon off and we were taken to the beach for a couple of hours where we just ate, drunk, floated into the ocean and I thought “wow” it’s a pretty good day and that’s my favorite memory. We had many great shows in this tour but even among them we were looking forward for this one and we had three shows in Greece and that was the only thing we were talking about and it gave us something to look forward to. Like when you’re tired on tour and our shows are hard like last week we were saying “it’s only a few more days to Greece boys”. Here we see good friends, colleagues and also fans that we’ve started friendships with, and it’s really nice to catch up.
Could you describe with a few words/a phrase the following:
1. Celtic Punk – Hilarious
2. Ireland – The West coast of Ireland is stunning.
3. Australia – very far away right now
4. Bad Movies -Rock’n’Roll
What are your next professional plans?
We’re looking forward to start writing new stuff, new songs. Νow that we’ve got this album out of the way, I’m now free to absorb ideas and influences. We also do a few video clips whenever we have time so we’re going to do some more.
Do you have a motto in life?
One that I remember from when I was in the Air Force Cadets was “A Vinculo Terrae” it’s latin for “Free From the Bonds of The Earth” and of course it’s in reference of flying but I like the wider meaning.
Interview: Theodore Kolliopoulos