DIRTY RATS are a really cool Aussie hardrock band that you really should check out. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
How important is the band’s name in giving out the right kind of vibe?
Jamie: Good question, we are a dirty rock’n’ roll band, so I guess you get the idea of what we are about from the name, having said that there is a hip hop band in the USA with the same name……we don’t look like hip hop guys though !
Wayne: I think it is important for a casual observer to be able to look at a band name and have some idea of what their music might be like. I guess it never hurts to create a brand name that will resonate with fans and become synonymous with the music a band creates. Having said that though, it seems to me that some band names have become almost stereotypical to the genre they represent, like everyone has become obsessed with naming their bands after death and destruction and occult symbolism, and of course you have to have your band name in a font that nobody can read for extra cred. Or maybe I’m full of shit. Dirty Rats were named while everyone was young and pissed and thought it sounded cool, so who the fuck am I to talk anyway? Short answer, Dirty Rats rock and so does our name.
I wanted to start a band in the 80s but couldn’t fin d the right people to do so with. What was it that made you want to do the band?
Jamie: Me personally, I wanted to show off, meet girls and tour the world. My dad is a muso, he’s 90 and still plays in a brass band. I guess it was partly genetic. I studied classical piano from the age of 5, but rock was in my blood. I never doubted I would be in a band. Wayne: Personally, I have always loved music, but I only started to sing and play in my mid thirties. I tried a few bands, but I always got frustrated with the inevitable disagreements regarding music and band directions that stopped us creating and gigging. To me it wasnt rocket science, if you enjoy creating and performing music, why stay in your bedroom or a rehearsal studio? Get the fuck out there and spread that shit around. I got really discouraged and was just doing solo acoustic gigs and was thinking about giving it all up. Finding the Dirty Rats in 2015 was like finding the holy grail for me. Four other blokes who liked the same type of music as me, wrote music like my music and just wanted to get out there and perform, fuck the location or how many people were there or if it paid well, just perform out music. Man, it has been an awesome ride so far and it’s only gonna get better.
With so many genres and sub-genres of metal today what is your definition of the music you play?
Jamie: We think we are a classic Aussie hard rock band. Think Rose Tattoo , AC/DC etc. But my favourite band is Motorhead. When I started I wanted to be Australia’s Motorhead. And like Lemmy, I always describe The Rats as a rock ‘n’ roll band.
Wayne: We play hard rock. I’m not entirely sure if there are sub-genres of hard rock, but if there are then I don’t care. We play hard rock and that’s it. I dont care what genre of music you are into, you can always enjoy some old school hard rock, its like riding a bike, you never forget just how great it is. Our music is the kind you can put on in the car and turn it up loud as you cruise down the highway or when you go out sucking piss with your mates. The only requirement is that you play it loud, that should probably be the first thing listed in the instructions.
How do you arrange the tracks? Is there a method to how you arrange the songs on a record?
Jamie: It’s not a conscious thing. That sort of happens organically. I think we put the songs on the cd in the order we recorded them, same way we structure our live set….though atm we start with Rat Town and finish with Not Alone, completely the opposite of the cd……you know what ? I have no idea how we any of that happens lol…
Wayne: My son explained this to me once. There is a formula you can use to arrange songs on an album that goes from a dynamic opening track, mellows out in the middle and then works its way up to a crescendo at the end of the album to finish on a high note. There is a science to it that has been developed and perfected over time to create the best album mix to appeal to the listener. Dirty Rats have nothing to do with that sort of highfalutin kind of shit. We just kind of put the stuff on the album the way we perform it or in the order it was recorded. It seems to work, I like it anyway.
I am fascinated by how people can still come up with things that hasn’t been done before, chord structures that hasn’t been written, sentences that hasn’t been constructed before.
Jamie: Where do you find your inspiration to create?
In the old days I wrote most of the songs, my stories were basically about things that had happened to me or were happening around me. Now Wayne write the lyrics and I write the riffs and Chooka does too. Wayne has had a really full on life, lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, they sewed it back on, but it’s 4 inches shorter….very funny to look at, plus a whole heap of other adventures. So he draws on that stuff. He sends me his songs, they always have music written, I chuck out his riffs coz they always suck, then I just jam until I find something. Then we bash it into shape at rehearsal. Sometimes they don’t work so I go back and start again.
Wayne: I generally write the lyrics and sometimes a melody to go along with it. Jamie then takes my lyrics and melody, calls me a wanker and tells me my melody is shit, then writes a tune to go with my lyrics. Chooka cranks out some wicked riffs and licks, Andy comes up with a rhythm and beat and we play it a couple dozen times till it sounds right. We then play it at as many gigs as we can till it is perfected and then, hopefully record it. My inspiration comes from my personal experiences, my past and my present and generally when people frustrate and piss me off, which happens much more often than you would think. Sometimes it comes from good experiences, like Rat Town, and sometimes bad, like Not Alone. If it can be lived, it can be written about, that’s pretty cool.
How important is the graphic side of the band? How much thought goes into art work etc.?
Jamie: We should be better at this. We have a great guy who helps us, Rom Anthonis, but I owe him so many favours I kinda feel bad. Hopefully SLIPTRICK repackes our cd and makes it awesome.
Wayne: logo is important, but I think it needs to evolve as the band evolves. As long as you have that central theme to work with, in our case the Rat, there is no real need to stay with the same old graphic all the time. Just my opinion and not necessarily shared by everyone, but it doesnt seem to have hurt bands like Iron Maiden or Kiss, so I dont think it would hurt us, but maybe that’s just me.
I get the feeling that more and more metalheads too are just downloading single tracks. Is the album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
Jamie: I reckon bands can no longer put filler tracks on albums. Every song has to be a killer if you want people to download the whole thing. It’s a good thing.
Wayne: singles are good, but an album is always going to be the standard by which any band is judged. Creating an album is a process that gives a snapshot of where the band was at the time of recording, where their heads were at. They can be used to convey a whole concept like a Pink Floyd type of project, or just like our last album where we wanted to record the stuff we were performing in pubs and clubs. I dont think that digital downloads are killing the album any more than cassingles killed cassettes or singles killed record albums. In my mind, it just means that I dont have to struggle trying to decide which one of my songs should be a single release. I love all our stuff, so its better that the fans decide if they like one particular song over another, or if they want to buy the lot as an album. As long as people are listening, dancing, drinking, fucking and shouting out the chorus, I dont care what format they are listening to.
Are we killing our beloved metal scene by supporting digital downloading or can anything positive come from supporting single tracks and not albums? Will the fan as we know him/her be gone soon?
Jamie: I don’t think so. If you are good enough you will get fans. As I said, bands need to write good sons, no fillers, and albums will sell. And if a band can’t write 8 or 10 decent songs, they should give it away…..
Wayne: Nah, fans will always love to listen to music and digital downloads just mean that people can listen to a shit-ton more bands than they could before because all music is now more accessible. It may stop domination of the scene by a handful of big players and record labels or radio stations dictating what is good and what isnt, but eventually it should make the scene stronger as the fans decide what they want to listen to, not some corporate schill.
Is there a scene to speak of for a band like yours? Where do you fit in?
Jamie: In Australia, not really. But overseas yes. We get heaps of airplay over seas, none here. I like to think we fly the flag for good honest rock, there’s always gonna be a market for that !
Wayne: Around Melbourne, and Australia in general, there has always been a scene for hard rock and pub rock like ours. Some of the greatest pub rock bands in the world have evolved here, with a lot of them still kicking on, like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Angels, Cosmic Psychos, the list goes on. The problem with so many bands concentrated over a small population means that the audience is spoilt for choice, so you dont always get a big crowd at a quality line up.
What does the future hold?
Jamie: A tour of Europe in May next year and a new album ,which is written, we are fine tuning the songs live atm. Then who knows !
Wyne: We have been promoting ourselves via digital radio for a little while, and that combined with promotion through Metal Coffee and our recent signing with Sliptrick Records in Latvia, means that we are far more popular and get much more airplay in Europe, UK and the US, than here, but thats cool with us. Rock n Roll is due for release in Europe and Scandinavia in December and we hope to be touring through the Baltic States and a few other countries in May next year, so we are rapt that we will be able to entertain a new audience and hopefully increase our fan base outside of Australia. I recommend everyone to go to www.dirtyratsband.com to check us out, and maybe hit us up with a like on facebook and twitter. We would love to hear from you all.