The girls from Rackett have been absolute powerhouses lately, touring with some of the best like Spiderbait and Killing Heidi while simultaneously releasing banger after banger including ‘Alive’ earlier this year as well as their most recent hit ‘Tried to Quit’. Frontwoman Rebecca Callander took some time out of her busy morning to speak to Rabbit’s own Emily Hollitt about a little bit of everything from their songwriting, newfound love for Ariana Grande and Strandberg guitars before leaving us with a mild existential crisis. Read all about it below!
Rabbit Radio: What’s the plans for the day? Just chillin’?
Rebecca Callendar: No, I’ve got some songwriting to do, um, I’ve got a couple more interviews and then I’ll probably go to the gym.
RR: Solid day! I just wanted to ask, you’ve just released your new single ‘Tried to Quit’, how does it feel having that out in the world? Because I know you were playing it live a lot before you released it?
RC: Yeah it feels good! Yeah, we recorded 3 more tracks at the same time so, like now that ‘Tried to Quit’s’ out I just really wanna press go on the other 3 and, yeah, but I mean, I guess we’re excited. It’s been going on for a while this track because we actually played it as part of the Ruben’s Support Act competition so we’ve already kind of released it twice in a way so, ya know, but it still seems to have some legs on it and it is a really good track so…
RR: Yeah, definitely!
RR: How was your experience as well doing that thing for the Rubens because it was a pretty big production thing they did for that whole event.
RC: We notice that we brought in some new fans and people that weren’t aware of us before had, you know, kind of an awareness of us, so all in all I think it was a good opportunity for exposure for the band.
RR: How do you feel performing in that sense [instead of] performing in front of people in that sense? Do you feel like it’s different because you’re not feeding off of a crowd or do you find it alright?
RC: Much prefer to perform in a crowd. It was [a] very stiff environment. Like, 9am in front of like a crew with lights and, you know, it was really quite… it was a really awkward experience that way.
RR: Yeah, nah that makes sense. But you guys did well! I watched the video and I noticed you all have your own kind of ‘performance personas’ when you get on stage. That’s really interesting. [It] did translate well into that performance. How [did] those personas kind of come about? Or do they just kind of come naturally to you? Was it something you guys work on or do you just get up there and enjoy yourselves?
RC: They’re just, like, dramatized versions of what we are so we just get up there and be ‘bigger’ versions of ourselves.
RR: Yeah, definitely!
RC: Yeah, I think that’s what happens. I can’t talk for the other girls if they, like, have specifically created any kind of personas for themselves. But I know, for me, it’s just an extension of myself, really.
RR: I know as well with your live performance, costumes seem to be a big part of it too, you always dress really cool. I know [at] Big Pineapple Festival as well you had your Josie and the Pussycats themed one. Is that something you plan, is that something you brand yourself with and how do you kind of think of that before every show?
RC: I don’t know, we’re just having fun with it and a costume party’s always like a little bit fun-ner than a normal house party you know? So, we’re just having a constant costume party on stage and sometimes they’re planned, sometimes they’re not, sometimes we don’t dress up. Yeah, I guess we’re still kind of figuring [it] out, you know, we haven’t really settled on one particular idea. We’re just having fun with it at the moment.
RR: And I know you guys do have a lot of live performance. I was wondering if the idea of your ‘personas’ and how you present yourself reflects in when you write the songs? Do you think when you start to write, [you think about] how it will translate later?
RC: I guess yes and no. Rackett was initially a punk band because that aligned with the fact that myself had only just started learning guitar. And so, punk music is like the easiest genre to get yourself started in. It’s just, like, really simple 3 barre chords kind of fast, and it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of attention to detail. So, as I learnt more guitar and my taste in music [began to change]- I’m listening to like a lot more of like mainstream pop music. I’m listening to music which I never thought that I’d be inspired by like Ariana Grande or Lady Gaga. So, now I’m kind of in this weird, weird place where I don’t know that Rackett fans are necessarily expectant of like a really simple, punchy, punk sound? [Or] If they’re ready to go on this journey with me towards pop, or whether that’s a different project. So, in terms of sitting down and actually writing a song for Rackett, what I do know is that we love riffs. So, if I’m specifically writing for Rackett then we’ll try to like, craft out a riff first. [We know that] that’s going to be the fun-nest thing on stage [and its] organically going to produce a more high energy performance.
RR: Yeah, that’s really cool! Really interesting! And do you find that you have a primary songwriter? Or is it kind of equally distributed, depending on the song?
RC: Well, I’m definitely the primary songwriter. And every now and then Astrid will throw out a riff. You know, a lot of the songs, like, are passed along a chain of, you know, producers and songwriters. Usually started with myself and I’m there throughout the entire experience and evolution of the song. But sometimes they’ll have influences and contributions from songwriters outside the band and then our producer Dave Hammer does a lot of, kind of, surgery to the song. So, yeah! It’s definitely a group effort, but sometimes the group might be the whole band or it might just be me and a producer.
RR: Yeah! And speaking on the importance of riffs and stuff, you also have a lot of importance with the guitars you have on stage? I notice you’ve hooked up with Strandberg Guitars. How did you guys organise that? How does it feel like to play? They’re very interesting looking guitars!
RC: Yeah! Well, basically, we were at the Melbourne Guitar Show and we were, you know, just trying out all these different guitars. Then we came across the Strandberg Guitars and I picked it up- it’s 2 kilos! Like, a normal guitar can be up to, like, 6 kilos. So, like, picking this up was like “wow, this is so light it’s amazing!” and then Ola Strandberg the actual designer of the guitars [came up] and I was like “alright, how much?” and he was like, ya know, “2 and a half grand” and I put it straight back down I thought no way, like, I’m a struggling musician! And then, a couple of days later he actually hit us up and said that his wife had found us coincidentally on Instagram and told him to check us out and then made contact with us and now he’s sent us some guiars! One for me, one for Kat so, yeah! The whole design of this guitar is all about aerodynamics and preventing injuries and improving playability and in terms of how it plays, like, I sold all of my other guitars. Like, this guitar is the shit, it’s just so easy to play and it sound awesome! So, it’s definitely worth the investment if you can. I mean, in my opinions, once you play one its really hard to go back to a heavy guitar that gives you carpal tunnel and hurts your shoulders, messes with your back and is also, like, it’s just harder to get up the neck fast. So, yeah it’s just a great guitar.
RR: Outside of guitars as well, vocal parts I found are really important. Particularly, in ‘Tried to Quit’, there’s lots of group vocals in that one. Is that kind of a branding thing? How’d that kind of come about? Or is that just a ‘jam and have fun and see what happens’ [situation]?
RC: No, so that song has like had quite a journey over the years. I moved to Melbourne before Rackett kicked off and I started a little punk band there and that’s when I wrote the chorus and then that band continued on their journey. Then, a few years later, which brings us up to like, this year, I found it in my voice memos and I was like “Fuck, what happened to that song?”. And so I talked to the old band and was like “Can I develop this around that chorus?”. So, with their permission I worked with another Sydney-based songwriter called Jakob Keysell and we created these verses to represent, like, the internal conflict of the addiction. So, you know you’ve got that part of you that’s like “Oh, I shouldn’t!” but “Oh, fuck it, I should!” like who cares, you know? So we wanted to create that internal dialogue and that’s what we did!
RR: I’m going to move on to more industry based stuff because obviously you guys have done really, really well as an all-girl group. But there’s a lot of conversations around that at the moment. I just wanted to talk about your experiences with that, with all the equality- you know with Camp Cope’s push equality as well- and if you feel you’ve been affected by that?
RC: I mean, maybe we’ve been given more opportunities and we’re grateful to have music fans demanding that. But we’ve always shown up to present ourselves as proficient musicians and good songwriters. But we never really set out to make any great statements about equality but it’s just aligned with the times and from my personal experience I’ve never felt a victim of a sexist attitude personally towards me, but I know some of the girls in the band have. So, I guess it just comes down to your personal experience. You know, we all have different experience.
RR: As well as that with the nature of the industry as well, I know it can be a massive grind, as you said, even to purchase guitars and stuff. How do you feel with marketing yourself and making money with Spotify and performances and everything. Do you feel like you’ve been affected by that as well?
RC: I guess you’ve got to be flexible with learning new technologies and learning how to make money as a musician and, I guess like persevering through the financial ‘droughts’ because once you reach a particular ‘tier’ in how you can make money. For example, like, since we started, you know, we might have accepted appearance fees of, you know, very small amounts, and in the time that we’ve built the business, we’ve managed to like, tenfold that amount. So, you can imagine like when you get to, say, a band like, I don’t know, let’s just say The Rubens, like their appearance fees are huge, you know? They’re more than a lawyer per hour. So I guess that kind of like golden, shining ‘tier’, you know, that keeps us going through the hard times. But, I guess I consider myself as much as an interest in business that I do in music because running a band is running a small business. So, there are small business initiative programmes that I’ve participated in to build some basic business skills and get some support from the Government. So, there definitely are programmes and financial opportunities for support from our Government which is, like, amazing that we live in a country that allows us to do that. So, yeah, it’s just like anything- you’ve got, like, overheads and income. So, you have to manage them and yeah.
RR: That’s really interesting, thanks for that! As well as that, what can we expect next from you guys? I know you said we’ve got some singles coming out, are we expecting an EP or an album? More shows?
RC: Well, I’m unsure at this stage what we’re going to give to people next. As I said, we’ve got the other 3 recordings from the same sessions and they’re all like singles in their own right. So, whether we just release those as singles. All I can tell you to expect from us is that we’re not going away. That we’ve got more music, it’s done, we’re just figuring out the best way to give it to people and that we’re still writing and we’re still performing if you go to our Facebook, we’re playing like 3 shows a week until the end of the year. So, you know, just expect that we’re not going anywhere.
RR: Before we kind of wrap this up I’ve got a couple of kind of more fun questions. So, firstly, what’s your guilty pleasure?
RC: My guilty pleasure is, at the moment. A Handmaid’s Tale. I like to like zone out to something good on television.
RR: And also, would you rather fight a cat-sized horse or a horse-sized cat?
RC: Ah, definitely a cat-sized horse because a horse-sized cat would be…they’d eat you!
RR: Yeah, they’d be the pointiest thing in existence!
RC: They’re evil! I’ve got two cats, I know what they’re like. They’re like, predators, so we would be talking about a leopard or something like that, you know, we wouldn’t stand a chance!
RR: Perfect! And, before we send you off, can you leave everyone listening with your number 1 piece of advice? With anything!
RC: Be interested in why we’re here.
RC: What are we doing here? And, find something that’s interesting to you and pursue it, if it’s within the betterment of mankind. Some, a very small majority of our society, are interested in aren’t beneficial to our society or mankind but, yeah, just have a keen interest in your evolution and understanding why we’re here.
RR: Nah, that’s really cool! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us today!
RC: Perfect, thank you for having me!
RR: Perfect, bye!
You can listen to the full interview, check out 'Tried to Quit' or watch their Support Acts video for The Rubens or catch them live yourself at any of the following dates/ venues!
RACKETT ‘TRIED TO QUIT’ TOUR DATES
Friday 26th October Workers Club Melbourne
with The Belair Lip Bombs, Fight Ibis, Spiral Perm
Friday 26th October - Saturday 27th October Kyneton Music Festival Kyneton
Saturday 10th November OzAsia Festival Adelaide
with The Hormones
Saturday 17th November The Factory Theatre Sydney
with The Buoys, Fight Ibis, Boydos
Thursday 29th November - Friday 30th November Jungle Love Festival Sunshine Coast
Friday 30th November Netherworld Brisbane
with Fight Ibis
Friday 28th December - Wednesday 2nd January Lost Paradise Festival Glenworth, Victoria
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