Interviewed by: Tom Munday
Image credit: Mitchell Conti
US blogger Whiskey Teeth once referred to West Aussie punk group The Love Junkies by proudly and loudly saying: “Ears exploding never felt so good”.
Positive feedback like this can push a band from great to extraordinary in the eyes of local and international music circles. Meeting in high school, Mitch McDonald, Lewis Walsh, and Robbie Rumble took it upon themselves to amplify Perth’s ever-resent punk-grunge scene in 2009. The group jumped from jamming sessions in the garage to the studio within a remarkably short space of time. After their first EP, thanks to an overwhelming look-in via RTRFM, they received immense critical acclaim, and the group became assured of their sound’s immense impact.
Their confidence and guile has seen take on multiple tours around WA and Australia over the past few years. Multiple highlights – a WAM Song of the Year Award nomination in 2011, ‘Louie’ single release in 2012, recording opportunities with Canadian producer Alan Brey (The Novocaines), sessions at Big Day Out, In the Pines, Southbound, and Groove ‘N’ the Moo, the release of debut album Maybelene in 2013 etc. – have since boosted the group’s undying love for professional music’s ins and outs. Last year, the group went one further – releasing their latest album Blowing the Devil’s Trumpet.
Tom Munday chatted with Robbie about everything from the band’s modest origins to winning a slot in this year’s SXSW festival.
1. How did the group come together and form its signature sound?
We all met in high school. The boys, Mitch and Lewis, are into their grunge like Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age that kind of stuff. I was just kicking around at all the gigs and then I joined the band. I started playing bass when they were a two-piece. I listened to a lot of punk then we infused it all together, I guess.
It’s a fairly tight-knit musical family over in Western Australia. All the bands kind of know each other, which is cool because we all play in each other’s shows and everyone is very friendly. The music community, I guess, is very close-knit, friendly, and welcoming, which is always nice. It’s not really very competitive, everyone kind of feeds off each other’s songwriting in a way.
2. You released your latest album, ‘Blowing on the Devil’s Trumpet’, last year, what separates this album from your previous work?
I’d like to say a lot [laughs].
I feel like we definitely took a step forward in terms of finding our won sound. I feel Maybelene really went from one genre to the next, we didn’t really have a set sound and place for that album. Then, Mitch started bringing in some songs that all started having a very “Love Junkies” sound to them which we were really looking forward to, everything wasn’t quite as blues-y as it used to be. It all became a lot darker and scarier than all the other stuff.
So I think we’re heading in a good direction, you know.
3. The music video for ‘Television’ stands out as being really cool and clever, how did you devise the concept for that shoot?
That one was pretty on the spot. Mitch’s folk were moving out and we used to jam in the back shed, there is like a shed within a shed and it had all this random crap just lying around. It was all over the floor because they were putting everything into boxes, it was just all this random stuff around the shed. We just put some fairy lights up and totally DIYed it! [laughs] There was pretty much no real aim to that at all, we just started dancing around and then filmed it all ourselves. It was a really good night!
4. What have been the highs and lows of your touring experience?
Well, we’ve met a lot of really cool bands like The Sinking Teeth, Super Best Friends, and Maids, and just a whole bunch of really nice guys. We got to see the Great Ocean Road which was cool, we stayed around there for a couple of weeks. The travelling and sightseeing side of it is really good. The low part is just living off tuna sandwiches everyday, which was a bit shithouse [laughs]. Other than that, there’s not really any lows. It’s all good times.
Our Western shows are usually crazy, there are people just jumping all over the place, everyone knows the words and its all really good. We’ve played some shows over East as well. Adelaide and Melbourne have always been good to us and it’s getting better and better. We pull a crowd in Perth obviously because we’ve been playing for four or five years around Perth now and have gained a good fan base. We toured around about six or seven times last year, that sort of helped built up a fan base over East. It’s certainly coming along well, we’ve played some good shows over there now. Our last show in Melbourne went off, people were dancing around and having a good time. The more we play over there the more word gets around, I guess.
5. What is next for The Love Junkies?
We’ve been having some really creative jams lately so we’re gearing up to record another album at some point probably later in the year. So now we’re kind of writing songs and doing all that stuff. Just touring and writing at the moment.
6. You recently played at SXSW, one of the biggest music acts on Earth, how did they approach you to play?
We actually approached them. We applied through Sonicbids and we got it. Our publicist in America, Planetary, we are playing their showcase which worked out really well. We got Planetary showcase and Australian Barbeque, so two really good showcases. We only found out like a couple of weeks ago [before], we were one of the last groups to be approved and it was kind of like: “Yes or no? Do we have enough money?” [laughs].
7. Several local live venues have closed, or are closing, down, how do you see Perth’s music scene changing over the next few years?
It definitely sucks that they’re closing down. But there are opening doors from other people and there are all these little micro festivals at the moment, that’s kind of an up-and-coming thing. It is obviously going to affect the system of venue hire and all that kind of stuff. Not all the local bands would be able to justify playing some of the venues that are around because if you can’t pull a crowd than there is no point paying for venue hire. There’s a lot of things they need to look at right now. But venues are popping up all the time, you know? Just because they are a few closing down now doesn’t mean more wont pop up.
You can catch The Love Junkies at The Bakery this Friday, April 17th (Tangled Thoughts of Leaving – Album Launch) and Saturday, 18th.