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, Anti Flag, CJ Ramone, and Bad Religion amongst many others.
Further, their various film clips have amassed a gargantuan 25 million YouTube views, 20 million of those for their phenomenally successful ‘An Irish Pub Song’. During a successful tour of Europe in 2015 (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 2016 ….first up, back into the studio. The band recorded their strongest offering to date – ‘Sleepin Rough’. This was quickly followed by a new three album worldwide deal with ABC records and a huge tour through Europe, playing over 100 dates across a five month run 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.
Highlights of the tour include the Mighty Sounds festival in the Czech republic alongside bands such as Casualties, The Real McKenzies and The Smith Street Band; Open Flair Festival in Germany with The Descendents; Hamburg Port Anniversary, attended by 1.5 million people; The Woodstock festival, Poland, attended by more than 400,000 people plus some huge sold out club shows across the continent.
With barely moment to draw breath, the band returned to Australia to begin touring in support of ‘Sleepin Rough’ which will keep them on the move until February 2017.
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.