It was after a crazy concert at Hellfest that I had the great pleasure to meet Frankie and Johnny from The Rumjacks. They will tell us about their career as well as what could bring them a buzz on Youtube like “An Irish Pub Song” with its 52 million views.

Hello how are you? How was your concert, here in one of the biggest European festivals, the Hellfest?

– Frankie
It was very very good. It’s the earliest show that we’ve played in a long time because normally we come on at like midnight or 1 a.m. So we had breakfast and then we played a show. It’s a great day to be at work and now we get to enjoy the other bands. It’s different for us coming to a mostly metal festival where you think: “Who’s going to come and see you or guys like us ?” but, before we went on, the entire place was filled and the circle pit was happening and the smash pit was happening. It’s really good that people just love what it is. As long as you give it some serious energy and some power and they just say yep, that’s why they’re here. We enjoyed it ourselves very very much.

– Johnny
Yeah. It was only a 30 minutes short set but we made the most of what we did in 30 minutes. I don’t know how many songs but we did as many as we could in that time. 30 minutes was unreal. It’s good fun. A lot of people; more than expected so…

Last year, you celebrated your 10 years of career, did you think to arrive there? What are your worst and best moments of the last 11 years?

– Frankie
The worst moment was when I saw my best friend, here, Johnny, fall through a stage. Not because: “Oh shit my bass player is in trouble” but because I built that stage with a friend of mine. I was thinking my building is shit. I thought I was a good builder. So that’s the worst and the best… Every time we play anyway here in Europe is always the best. You always catch up with good friends, come to New festivals, see old friends, make new ones and just being out there together really is like… Yesterday, I flew all the way to Alicante and then came to Nantes and then I thought: “Why am I flying like this to go to work for half an hour? How did you come out there today ?” : that’s why! Everybody’s just going crazy and it’s always a good time for me.

– Johnny
The different places of the world we’ve got to be able to see and travel to from playing music. That’s what I will highlight and for the downsides: the lack of sleep, it’s probably the only thing but you can always make up for that. It’s not the end of the world. I get to travel to see the world: It’s good fun.

– Frankie
I used to go to festivals like this a lot when I was in my 20s and then I got tired of being dropped on my head from the top of a crowd or coming away sunburnt, drunk and with every muscle in my body aching… I said: “Allright, I still like festivals but how do I come to them and not get fucked up … start a band!” So we started the band and now we get to be in the cool spot.

How did you come up with the idea of Celtic Folk / Punk Rock? Was it the original idea or did you evolve towards this style?

– Johnny
Well, we all came from different bands and we all played music for a long time before the Rumjacks became the Rumjacks. A chance meeting with Frankie in a local pub in the Blue Mountains, far west Sydney. They met and talked and talked music and went around his house and listened to what he had. We all did music in different styles beforehand and it came from our parent or we grew up on the music. It was always there. Then, you listen to heavier music or whatever you want to call and you kind of forget about a little bit or you do something else but you come back to the music you grew up listening. The Worlds Collide a little bit. It’s not reinventing the wheel but it’s just making better wheels.

– Frankie
Yeah, there were many bands before us. From even the 50s and 60s, there were guys that were playing folk music back then, particularly in Scotland and Ireland where we are from and where our families are from. Today they’re like: “Oh a lovely folk band” but you’ve got to remember, in their day, they were like the Wild Boys! The folk guys were like the heavy drinkers, the party animals, the guys playing the stuff that the old people didn’t want to hear at all: “Oh look! They’re making a mess of old traditional music” They were like the rockers of their days and, of course, as Johnny said, we got into heavier music from metal to punk rock and we grew up with all of these records playing in the host whenever the parents got drunk. You’d be trying to go to sleep, you hear ‘The Dubliners’ or ‘The Corries’ and you’re like: “Oh my God! Not again…” So it’s inside you anyway! Then, when you smash those two influences together with everything else that we’ve done in our own life, it just goes together really well. We play a stylized version of the traditional music or the folk music that our parents liked. We just play it loud and fast. And so, we end up in metal festivals. Yay!

– Me
When we saw your show, It was perfect for you. The crowd was amazing so …

– Frankie
Oh, there is a very good crowd on our shows! They’re very very cool. I mean: I know every band in the world says it but I really believe it that we have the best fans anywhere in the world. We never have any trouble. It’s always good good good people just losing their shit. We meet them a lot and we form friendships with them over many years, some of them. I honestly said many many times that I’ll put my fans up against your fans any day for being the best humans in the world and then they can fight it out or maybe have a drinking competition or a beer pong or I don’t know.

Your single “An Irish pub song” counts more than 52 million views on Youtube, what was your reaction when you noticed this incredible climb? Has this changed anything in your career?

– Johnny
I remember being out with a friend: Basil. He’s also in charge of records. I remember him telling me: “Have you seen the YouTube hits ?” We’re just having a beer and he told me that that was like a hundred thousand. I thought we just put it up and you forgot about it. I never paid attention that it has gone up really quick and that it keeps climbing and climbing and climbing … Clicks and shares can be one thing or can be absolutely nothing but it definitely helped us reach an audience, start looking maturing, start moving around, leave Australia and broaden our horizons. I won’t say badly about YouTube and the Internet helping us at all because it has, it definitely has! It wasn’t intentional at all. There was a cheap video that we made at a St Patrick’s day gig in Sydney in a couple of local pubs. It was done in a day and we put it out there and we just do what we could with what we had at the time. So it’s not intended to be a hit by any means: what’s a hit, I don’t know. It was a surprise but we are very thankful that it did at least it! It was a gateway drop to the rest of the Rumjacks. Then, I guess we backed it up with music that people liked as well as “An Irish Pub Song”. But it was definitely a gateway to help us continue, broaden, back it up, do it and follow it up.

– Frankie
I had an early version of that song in a personal demo that I did. It was more like a poem but it was kind of done over the top of some music. I had the lyrics in the car with me when we were driving from Sydney to Brisbane one time which is a 12-hour straight drive. I was showing them to our guitarist and he was reading them and he said: “You have to make this a song! This has to be a song!” I said: “Yeah! OK! OK!” So when it came time to write our first album we sat around the table and he came up with a little thing and then I said: “All right! This will suit these words”. I changed the words a bit, put it on top. I was joking but I told everybody in the band, told my friends that this is going to be if anything, the biggest thing we ever did because everybody will understand it. I said no matter where you are in the world even in the Himalayas when you’re climbing the Himalayas you find an Irish pub. So everybody’s gonna understand this so I said: “At least it will translate anywhere in the world and so maybe it’ll be a hit” The next minute, like Johnny, says, hundreds of clicks become thousands and then millions. It’s cool but I can’t pretend to be surprised. Everybody is going to love this because it’s the pub song, It’s the hit, It’s the gimmick. As Johnny said, it opened up people to look at the rest of our stuff. They got more albums, more videos, more things and we engage a lot with our fans and so there’s always something for them. We’re always giving them something so they’re always giving you the love. That drove us to the point that we can play festivals like this. It’s not just done when you make the song, it’s popular, and then sit back and wait for the offers to come. You have to work hard and then when they say these guys work hard, they see the videos and the interactions and they say: “Well, they’re gonna have an audience here let’s bring them to this festival”. Some of our other songs and videos have millions of clicks too because it started that ball rolling 10 years ago and now we like anything we do unless it’s absolute shit. Most people are gonna like it and say “I’ve been following these guys since I was a child now I’m an adult and I’m making better decisions with my life but I’m not changing my love for The Rumjacks.

You did your first tour in North America in 2017, how was the reception? Do you have countries in which you would like to play?

– Frankie
I would like to play in the People’s Republic of China. Just because I know how difficult that is. It’s easier than in America. Now we have a very big audience in America. Apart from Europe, it’s the other big market for us. We’re always growing it, we gonna go there soon and start up some new deals for us to tour and do some other things there. We have to answer that other big half of our market. We’ve been in places like Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Russia, and Ukraine. It’s crazy that they love this thing. We have to really expand more on the American thing because when I was growing up, we were said: “Oh imagine you made it big in America”. We made it big in America before we even went to America. There’s the Internet for you. Back in the days of the fax machine, you couldn’t do that.

– Johnny
Like Frankie said it’s somewhere we need to get back to and do better shows: there are so many people and they have such big places too. They have been supporting from the very beginning as well too. So we ought to do our best. It’s not easy. Americans, you make it very very hard for bands to tour but we’re working on it and we have not forgotten you. They need to be visited. Myself, I want to see more of Asia, that would be great. We did a little run there like Frankie said Japan was wild and absolutely amazing: really good people, great food, great cakes, great music, … They are really passionate about music there; they go a hundred and ten percent. Love you got back there and see more of evasions for me.

– Frankie
There is a really good band that we toured with in Japan last year. I just love them and I’m gonna share the name anytime I can. Look them up! Their band called Fungus. They are just the best guys on the planet and they are really, embarrassingly, good musicians. They make us think why are we playing after these guys. Like everything else in Japan, it’s 110 percent perfect on all rates. There’s nothing in between. They’re funny guys too. So anybody who wants to read this, check out fungus and get some good Japanese street punk!

What are your projects? Are you working on something new? How do you see the future of the band?

– Frankie
We’ve never made thought the other day; we’ve never made an album that wasn’t in a hurry. We’re always trying to get an album done so we can go on tour again or I’m in the studio at midnight, flying to another country in the morning and writing the last lyrics for the songs. We’ve always done things like that and I think that, in its own way, push the best from the band. It’s more alive than taking two years to make an album: Fuck that! We can’t spend two years making an album even if somebody gave it to us for free. What are you gonna do for the rest of those two years: sit around to get lazy and write pretty songs… We can write a pretty song but it’s a pretty song that’s gonna shake your soul too but it’s on the point. So this summer we’re doing a lot of festivals across Europe and then looking forward to other great territories by the end of the year and early next year but I’m using this time also to start writing songs and gathering songs because we know next time they say: “Are you guys ready to do an album ?” We can come in with at least 10 songs to start with and say: “All right, we go! We have an idea! It’s different from the way we used to do it. We live in five different countries now and we see more of each other than when we lived in the same neighborhood in Australia. That’s pretty crazy. We share ideas online, send mixes and send things. So before we have a session in the studio, we have one or two practices of the song Let’s do it! So right now, we’re building songs to get ready for hopefully another album next year but there’s lots of videos, lots of other content that we’ve created, some acoustic stuff, some live things that we’re starting to share now from last year. So there’s always something coming out. We’re always up to something. We are like terrible little children with shit all over their faces, you can’t leave them alone for five minutes and trust that they’re gonna do nothing. We’re always doing something, you know that when the children go quiet and it makes you nervous, you say “Where is that little asshole ?” That’s like us. It’s like: “Oh they’ve been quiet! They’re up to something !” There’s always something and that’s awesome right now.

For the public who does not know you yet, what would be the song you would recommend to them? Is this your favorite? If not which one is it?

– Johnny
Mine would probably be, if it wasn’t “An Irish Pub Song” for obvious reasons, the title track of our last album “Saints Preserve Us!”. In the four minutes and 10 or whatever it is, it kind of gives you an up-to-date version of what we do. It’s not shamrocks and shenanigans 24/7. It’s not smooth reggae vibes 24/7. It’s not straight punk or punk rock stuff 24/7. It’s all found somewhere in the middle there.

– Frankie
That’s a good point that Johnny said that because it’s a very unique song. Even now it’s got its base in like Hard Rock and everything else, it still has this unique quality from us that indicates maybe you should go and find out what else these guys do. You’re gonna get the whole thing which is basically a punk rock band, a band, a rock band, a heavy band and whatever. The played music was heavily stylized by the stuff that we grew up with individually and then as a band. So there’s a lot of reggae, there’s a lot of Scottish and Irish folk music, there’s a lot of street punk and there are elements of metal. There are all these things and it’s just representing our experience of music in this life. But, of course, because we have a very strong Scottish and Irish background, it’s going to have that element all the way through even in a heavy song. You’re going to have some mandolin or some whistling and like that, that says: “it’s heavy and I want to smash myself but also I can drink a green beer and go looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I’m so confused’ We’re definitely a band for confused people. If you’re confused, we are your guys because we’re confused too.

We arrive at the end of this interview and as always, we leave you the last words of this one.

– Frankie
OK well, I’m still feeling a little bit shy because, two nights ago, I had a dream that our guitarist Gabriel kicked me out of the band. There was a big bar on stage, like in the middle of the stage, where everybody could just come but the sound of the coffee machine was killing my side and I couldn’t hear what I was singing. So I fucked up and saw the guitarist kick me out of the band, I’m asking him some very tough questions now like: “Do you even like me, bro? Do you like me ?” and he thinks he does. But it was just a dream so it’s OK! Everything’s good! We’re not going anywhere! That’s the only experience I have to share with you lately. But we’re gonna be around for a while and that’s it for me.

– Johnny
Just a massive thank you to everyone who listens to us: your listeners or your readers that may not normally go towards what we do, check this out and have a listen and surprise yourself. Surprise us, turn up to show and we’ll enjoy together. Cheers.


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