In 2007 when I was 16, I used to browse MySpace for new underground punk bands. It sounds silly when you consider what a soulless, spam ridden graveyard MySpace is now. At that time, it was a great way to connect with bands from across the globe. I randomly came across a punk band from New Zealand called The Rabble. When I clicked play on their music player I was immediately struck at their ability to blend a wide range of punk styles. They have an early anthem like punk sound with a modern feel. Fast forward four years and the band is back with their new album “Life’s a Journey.”
I was lucky enough to interview their singer Chazz about the new album, their journey as a band and being yourself. You can check out my interview with him here. While you’re at it check out their Dying Scene Band Spotlight and album review.
Your brand new third full-length album “Life’s A Journey” was released earlier this month. I know that you recorded your previous album “The Battle’s Almost Over” in your home studio. Did the song-writing / recording process differ for this album?
This album took quite a bit more time to write than “The Battle”, therefore to me, it has more depth to it. Every song means something and feels like it is a journal documenting a time in our lives. Some songs like “Piccadilly Line” took about 2 and a half years to write, and I love that. I think you can hear it as the song progresses. But recording wise it was similar to “The Battle” in the fact that I recorded the drums at York Street Recording studio, and then did everything else back at my home studio. I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to recording / production for The Rabble, so I really enjoy doing it that way, and think our sound becomes stronger and more unique.
The albums theme centers around life being a journey. When you started the band you were just teenagers. What are some things you’ve learned musically and personally in your journey as a band?
Ahhhh. Where to begin? For me, I’ve learned that being as open minded as you can, and still staying true to yourself is a big part of life and being in a band. A lot of people I’m sure will call us sellouts because we like to change our hair and don’t have the token mohawk on every album, but once again, I’ll bring it back to staying true to yourself…. in this case “myself”. That, for me, is punk rock. Musically, I’ve learned how to play more than just power chords on the guitar hahaha (saying that, not A LOT more haha), and I like to think that in our most recent album we’ve pushed ourselves to the limits of what were capable of.
Your guitar has a unique sound. When I hear it, it reminds me of an old rock and roll sound. Is that what you are going for and you use anything special to achieve that certain sound?
I feel honored to hear that I have a unique sound. That is what any guitarist strives for, and takes years of playing to achieve this. But for me, I play a Gibson Les Paul Custom through a Marshall Head and now (as from this week) through an Orange guitar cab. Though as Jim Siegel told me, 95% of a guitarists sound is in his hands (playing style), not what he uses. I’ve always loved the guitar style of people like Lars Frederikson, Mike Ness and “The Kid” (ex-Dropkick Murphys) and also love 50’s rock n roll solos. I guess if you combine all of my influences together they probably make up my sound.
These songs sound a lot more like punk rock and roll anthems compared to the faster street punk songs on the past albums. Are you trying to lose the whole street punk vibe or do you still enjoy playing fast songs with screaming?
Me personally, I love every type of punk, from bands like The Unseen / The Casualties, to things on the other side of the spectrum (Cartel / Blink 182 / other pop punk stuff). So, writing an album where it sounds more of one style was never an intention, that’s just how things turned out. I still love super fast screamed songs and definitely think there will be a lot more of that from The Rabble in the future, but I also love to play super catchy sing along punk rock anthems that can get a crowd chanting back with you!
What bands do you get the most inspiration from musically? I hear a lot of the ’77 punk sound in your tunes along with Oi!, hardcore and rock and roll.
Hmmm. My favorite band (believe it or not) is Green Day. A band I used to hate back when i was younger. So I take a lot of influence from them, but also take influence from bands like Rancid, Social Distortion, The Unseen, The Dropkick Murphys, Stiff Little Fingers etc etc. Although there is influence from these bands, I like to think that we know our own sound well enough to guide ourselves musically.
It seems like you’ve brought in a lot more of a reggae sound into the new album like songs like “Running Away.” “Mind Ghetto and “Wrong Side of the Tracks.” Those are my favorite songs because of the bouncy sound. How did those songs come about?
“Mind Ghetto” is a song that we wrote a few years ago, when Rupe wanted to add a Reggae / Ska type sound to a Rabble song. I was a little unsure about it at first, but then once we wrote the song I was stoked. “Running away”, was actually taken from a very very old Rabble song that wasn’t ska at all, but used the basics of the chords to produce that song. Jamie and I started to write the guitar / bass for that on our first UK / Europe tour, and wrong side of the tracks was written just before that tour in our old practice room (which was an abandoned horse barn type thing). I remember playing those first chords for the first time with Rupe and Jamie and just thinking how different it sounded. Slightly sad sounding with a positive spin in it. Not sure how you describe that musically haha.
What was it like to have the singer from Dropkick Murphys appear on your song “Rose in My Hand? Do you listen to a lot of Celtic Punk? I hear it on old songs like “The Coast Song” and “Carry On” a little bit.
That was one of the most mind blowing things to happen for us. Much like having Mark Unseen featured on our last 2 records. Both times when we thought of the ideas to have them featured, we never thought we’d be able to pull it off, but then somehow we did.
Speaking of the Coast. What’s it like living in New Zealand? New Zealand is known for it’s beautiful sights but what’s it like culturally?
New Zealand is a beautiful place. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. At the same time, there isn’t the biggest scene for music here, and punk rock is almost non-existent. It doesn’t thrive like in Europe. That’s why were always saving to get back on the road.
I’d imagine living there would make it hard to tour. What would it take for you guys to become a regular touring band here in the U.S. And elsewhere?
Some help getting us on the Warped tour would be awesome. It would mean we could tour most of the US. Being on the other side of the world never helps. It makes saving to tour very very hard, which is why we try to get people to buy our albums rather than just download them.
This album talks a lot about working hard to get past your troubles. What troubles have you had in the past and how did you get past them?
Life in general is a struggle. I don’t want to go into too much detail.
What advice would you give to someone who is having a hard time?
Just fight on through. Life is hard, and there will always be struggles, but the beauty will outweigh the ugly side of it, you just have to take the time to see it.
You have two brothers in the band. Is there any sibling rivalry between Rupe and Chazz? How did your friend Jamie come into the band?
Rupe and I started the band when I was about 14 or 15. Of course there is always gonna be a little rivalry between family but there’s more good times than bad, and we have an awesome sixth sense between us when writing songs etc and know what the other person is going to do 90% of the time. Same goes with Jamie, we met him when The Rabble first started out, and he was in a punk rock band called “5th threat”. We were always amazed by his super quick bass playing. So when we had lost another bass player for the 3rd time, we knew our first choice would be Jamie! We all get on and have a good laugh when around each other, so all is going great, and I think we all complement each others sound.
You have two singers in the band Chazz and Rupe. Chazz has more of a “singing” voice while Rupe’s voice works better for rougher tracks. Is it rough to strike a balance between melody and rough punk music?
I think the balance of gruff vocals and melody is what makes The Rabble. Having the ability to switch in a second between a catchy hook to 1000% aggression and intensity gets me every time. Also accompanied by Jamie who sings a few songs every so often too, (Start Again / Two Tickets To The End Of The World) and does a ton of backing vocals.
My favorite Rabble song of all-time is “Devil’s Highway” off the previous album. How did that come about? It sounds a dark song and I love the rainy day vibe.
Hmmmm… In all honesty I can’t even remember how this song came about. I just remember recording the super western sounding guitar played on my Gretsch Southern belle, and Rupe doing my favorite scream of all time in it (just after the bridge). Such a powerful song. Very Social Distortion influenced.
You also had some punkabilly influence on songs like “Who I Am” and “Can’t Relate to You” Do bands like The Living End influence your sound?
When i wrote “Who I Am” I was listening to a lot of stray cats, I guess that’s the influence from that song, and I came up with the guitar riff for “Can’t Relate To You” while on our last tour I think. Sitting in our sound guy “Rat’s” lounge on an off day jamming his guitar. Also The Living End is one of Jamie’s favorite bands so that possibly shines through in some of the stuff he writes.
If there’s one thing you want people to take away from your band what would it be?
I’d want people to realize that being in a punk rock band, doesn’t mean you have to fit every cliche in the book. It means “being yourself”. And to me, that’s what The Rabble stands for. Listen with an open mind and open ears. You can’t fit us in a box the way a lot of people would like to, so people get confused by this. I think when they stop trying to see what they want to see they will get it!