Take it as gospel – 2017 will be the year of The Rumjacks.
Bursting from the blue-stone streets of Sydney town in 2008, when frontman Frankie McLaughlin met bassist Johnny McKelvey, the band hasn’t stopped running since. A couple of EPs – Hung, Drawn & Portered and Sound As A Pound in 2009 – cemented early promise, debut LP Gangs Of New Holland the following year, building upon that. The Rumjacks had something, rough and raw, visceral and real.
“Its like growing up with a tear in your eye and a storm brewing in your heart,” muses McLaughlin on the musical heritage of the group. “We were raised on the Scottish and Irish music in our parents’ record collection, before colliding head-on with punk/rock as we grew older and thought we knew everything.”
These musical meldings held the band in good stead and they hit the road, barely stopping, a force to be reckoned with. It takes its toll though, and so they called a hiatus through 2013, before reemerging with the shudderingly powerful Sober & Godless, their second full-length release, in 2015.
“This album finds us right here, living very much in the now,” McLaughlin said at the time. “We haven’t tried to reinvent anything, just write really good songs and play them with all our heart for real people, look ‘em straight in the eye and, between us, try and draw something vital out of the moment.”
The release of Sober & Godless saw the band really hit their collective straps. The touring stepped up and The Rumjacks have since shared stages with the likes of The Dropkick Murphys, Gogol Bordello, The UK Subs and The Aggrolites, amongst others.
Further, their various film clips have amassed a gargantuan 18 million YouTube views, 13 million of those for their phenomenally successful ‘An Irish Pub Song’. During a successful tour of Europe last year (40 shows in 52 days), they headlined the Montelago Celtic Festival in Italy (playing to 15,000 people); played the Jarocin Festival in Poland; slayed ‘em at clubs in Berlin, London, Prague and parts of Austria and the Netherlands, finishing it all up at the Boomtown Fair in Winchester, England.
And so to 2017 – the year of The Rumjacks.
First up, back into the studio – no rest for the wicked, but more on that in the coming months. Then, from May, a five month tour of Europe, back to where they’re now received like old friends, their fan-base swelling, their Australian brand of Celtic/punk/rock a breath of fresh air on a continent too used to the same old thing.
“We’re playing Mighty Sounds festival (CZ), where we'll be joining The Casualties, The Real McKenzies and The Smith Street Band,” says McLaughlin. “[Then] Open Flair Festival (DE) with The Descendents and the amazing Hamburg Port Anniversary, usually attended by 1.5 million people, where we will be playing the F.C. St Pauli stage, a real honour.
“The Lowlands Festival (NL) and Taubertal Festival (DE) are two other great events we're looking forward to. [And] this tour will also take us on a more extensive tour of the UK and Ireland, as well as three shows in Scotland, which will complete something of a circle for me personally.”
Eight years in now, and The Rumjacks are a force. Their live shows have become legendary, their records lauded, their ethos and commitment second to none. They’ve put in the hard yards, and they’re not done yet – this will be their year, the year of The Rumjacks.