I am not going to beat around the bush with this one. In my humble opinion what we have from Melbourne rock outfit Electric Mary is on one of the finest takes of “classic rock” heard in quite sometime. In the Melbourne rock scene and hell, let’s make it Australian rock scene, Electric Mary are a veritable supergroup of sorts. But on their past I will not dwell as names and faces are irrelevant. Electric Mary have already packed in more ROCK than some pretenders could hope for in a lifetime. To quote the band themselves Electric Mary is indeed Rock N Roll the way it used to taste.
Like the greats that paved the way for the path that they now tread, Electric Mary suffer from a problem, which is a problem that no amount of time has solved. How does one possibly capture on a plastic disc the energy and rawness and power that comes from a live show that a band like Electric Mary can deliver? You can’t, but they sure have come close with their full length album release “Down To The Bone”.
Only after you have seen Electric Mary live will you truly appreciate the words I have just spoke….just as have the likes of David Coverdale, Judas Priest, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden who are amongst the bands growing legion of admirers. A recent trip to Europe playing at France’s rock and metal festival HELLFEST was confirmation of the band’s growing international reputation, playing along side the likes of Slash, Alice Cooper, Twisted Sister, KISS and Motorhead.
A few days out from hitting the stage at their hometown Melbourne rock city, lead singer Rusty updated us on what’s been happening in camp mary!
Hey Rusty, thanks for taking the time to chat with May The Rock Be With You. After a trip overseas (which we will talk about) and no doubt some time to recover back home, you are back on stage again in Melbourne, rock city! How is everything going in the Mary camp right now?
Things are pretty frantic in the camp mary right now, we are rehearsing new songs and getting ready for the upcoming shows.
Now you have had a few weeks to reflect, what were some of your more memorable recollections of “Hellfest” in France where you shared the stage with some of hard rock and metal’s biggest names, Twisted Sister, Alice Cooper, Motörhead…
We drove nine hours overnight after a show in Compiegne, slept in the car for three hours and headed into the site with the garbage trucks that were cleaning up for the day ahead. We were filthy, bleary eyed and we had the biggest smiles on our faces looking at the two huge stages that lay before us knowing in a few hours we would grace Stage 1 along with Slash, Alice Cooper, Twisted Sister, KISS, Motorhead and the rest of the rock pigs!
In addition to Hellfest, you also played at the World Cup soccer for The Fanatics, a concert also including Powderfinger and Fatboy Slim, how was that experience?
Yeah that was a great experience but it never turned out that way. We each played our own night at The Fanatics headquarters in Durban which were crazy assed shows with a little of the world game thrown in for good measure. We then flew to Capetown where we played a killer show with Electric Mary and Powderfinger gracing the stage and ending in an evening of self gratification!
Whilst recently in the USA i believe you commenced writing and recording some new tracks. What can you share about these songs and when are we likely to hear new material?
We have been writing for a little while now and recording in a few differen’t places to see if we can get a feel for some magic. We usually record with our engineer Riki Rae, but alas his studio is out of action for a bit.
Can you share with us an insight into the songwriting process within the band and who is the riff master?
The process of writing usually starts with myself and a guitar followed by a trip to Pete’s (guitarist) to dissect and demo. Followed by another trip to the rehearsal studio to add each members musical D.N.A. Alex (bass) now brings in a new taste. AH and the riff master is Ritchie Blackmore!
Without wanting you to necessarily reveal your secret herbs and spices, what are the necessary ingredients that must be included when you are writing an Electric Mary song?
There is no real rhyme or reason. I love riffs and melody. I write in blocks, I don’t write everyday. I write when I get the urge and go back to the riffs I have on disc and see what happens. I have been writing a bit with Alex for the new album.
Where do you draw your lyrical ideas and inspirations from?
My lyrics come from differen’t places, usually I just sing along and I’ll say something that strikes out at me and I take it from there. It’s usually a subconscious thought. Sometimes it’s just completely made up out of nothingness.
Whilst nothing could capture the energy and sweat soaked intensity of an Electric Mary liveshow, your studio recordings do have a distinct live feel. Do you record your songs as a full band “live” in the studio, as opposed to individually recording your parts?
We record all together until we all agree we have the take. Then we look at each guitar part to see if there is anything that is just not good enough. I would say 75% of our songs are live and we will continue to do that into the future.
What is your take on the Australian music scene when it comes to the place of “classic rock”, especially in comparison to the likes of USA, UK and Europe where they seem to worship the gods of rock far more passionately as collective nations?
You’re opening a can of worms! Firstly we have far less people than most in Europe. We as a nation suffer from being stuck in between following America and Europe for our trends. I wish it wasn’t that way. We still tend to throw our heroes away when they hit 30 and there are not enough Australian songs played on the radio!
The way i see it, since the evolution of Electric Mary you have been rather deliberate in the way you haven’t forced Electric Mary down everyones throats. Slowly but surely, the rock n roll foundations have been built and the fans have come, all largely on the strength of word of mouth and obviously the power of your music & live performance…is my assessment correct, was this the plan, or was there no plan as such in the beginning?
Absolutely, we had the build it and they will come theory. We believe in what we were doing and we didn’t want the fans to burn out on Mary before we had a chance to explore all the musical possibilities.
Having seen you play the smaller stages of Melbournes rock clubs, all the way through to supporting the likes of Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and Judas Priest in stadiums, as a band, have you felt increased pressure when you are “support”, or is it the opposite and you hit the stage with a mentality of “we have nothing to lose, let’s slay them….”
We have nothing to lose. We are usually playing with our heroes, the people that built the rock ship that we sail on. The first Whitesnake show was where it really started for me. David Coverdale is my hero and we were told in no uncertain terms stay out of the way, this is not your show. That was cool, I just wanted to enjoy the fact that I would play on the same stage as David. He walked into our bandroom after our show, stuck out his hand and said in that beautiful voice “Phuckin great show man”. Arrrrggggghhhhh I was in heaven right there. From that day forward I had nothing to worry about. I knew the people had come to see the headline act and if we did our best we would deliver to them some goodness they weren’t expecting.
I know this is an Electric Mary interview, but I have to ask looking back now on the music of Mr Brown and the days of that band, what are some of your positive memories?
Awe yeah, Mr Brown. We never got that right. Mr Brown had too much plastic surgery and it strayed way too far from it’s original path.
Maybe this is a contradictory question, but do you think Electric Mary would have happened if Mr Brown had of been somewhat commercially successful?
Electric Mary is the best band I have ever been a part of and when it finishes that will be it for me. I hope she never strays…..
The origins of Electric Mary largely started as an unplugged entity and has now evolved into an international stadium rock behemoth…what has been the most satisfying elements of the journey so far?
The fact that we have been able to take it to a world stage, for me it’s all about the live gig. No matter how big or small. We have met some great people through this band. We have played with some amazing bands and all with NO management, NO record companies. It’s a feather in our collective hats.
Band Members: Rusty – Vocals, Venom – Drums, Irwin Thomas – Guitar, Pete Robinson – Guitar, Alex Raunjak – Bass
Latest Release: Down To The Bone (2009)