Interview: Rupe - The Rabble


Back in New Zealand after a five-month European tour that saw the band play at the Rebellion Festival in the UK, THE RABBLE has also just scored an Australian release for its album, 'The Battle's Almost Over...'.  Another jaunt to Europe beckons the band - along with a better slot at the 2009 Rebellion Festival. Things are looking positive for the band - and this is what drummer/vocalist/founder Rupe had to say....

..So, the latest album - 'The Battle's Almost Over...' - I understand it has just received a release on Australian independent label, Crusade Records. How did that deal come about? From memory, I don’t think you have toured in Australia...
..Rupe) Yeah, our latest album ‘The Battle’s Almost Over’ will be re-released in NZ/ Aus through Crusade Records and in the UK through Deck Cheese Records. Just before we headed off on our first extensive tour of Europe last year, we received an e-mail from Crusade’s Tom Vernette stating that he would be interested in working with us. After learning a little about the label and the work they have been doing with other alternative music, we worked out the notches in the deal with our manager and signed. Tom has been great for us so far and we are extremely happy with how he has been promoting us – I personally can’t wait to see how the release goes this time around. It’s an amazing album in my opinion and deserves the push that, I think, Crusade can give us. We haven’t toured Australia yet, but will be heading over for 10 dates in June 2009 and will cover as much of the country as we can!

..I'm curious as to how the album came out sounding so powerful. It was recorded and produced by Chazz Rabble at your own studio, Number 8 Wire, but mixed by infamous Boston HC wizard Jim Siegel (BLOOD FOR BLOOD, MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES, THE UNSEEN, DROPKICK MURPHYS etc). How did working with him work out? Did you meet him face-to-face? What did you guys learn from working with a guy of his stature?
..Rupe) Jim Siegel was hooked up, in most part, through Mark Unseen. We knew that this was going to be our best work to date and, with the unbelievable help of ‘NZ on Air’ funding, could afford to push the boat out as far as production went. We asked Mark if he could recommend anyone who would do an affordable, yet amazing mix for us. Is it any wonder he suggested Jim - who did more recent UNSEEN records? It was a big step-up for us working with a man of his stature and one we hope to pursue again in the future. His work is brilliant as far as Punk Rock/ Hardcore goes; there’s no mistaking his drum sound or the stamp he leaves on a mix. Unfortunately, we never had the pleasure of meeting him face-to-face as the whole ordeal was done over the internet, but hopefully sometime in the future we can physically head over to Boston, Massachusetts and record at The Outpost…

..Lyrically the album tackles a lot of personal politics - old friends, current friends, enemies and general social observations. Where do you as a writer and THE RABBLE as a band, draw influence for the songs it sings about?
..Rupe) I’ve always viewed lyrics as a journey of the soul. The albums are there to reflect our lifestyle. They reflect what we are going through as individuals and as a band. We play a very soulful and honest style of music and in true rebel spirit we try and have our lyrics accompany that in a no-bullshit kinda way! We’re not here to wank on about love over and over again as may be in the case with a lot of bands trying to make it big on the world-scale. If we write a song about something it’s because we are truly feeling it!

..Following that on, I'd like to ask about a couple of the songs on the album - specifically 'Zombies' and 'Bored' - that, from my perspective, are lyrically lacking the depth of the other 14 tracks on the album. Where do these kinda songs fit into THE RABBLE ideal?
..Rupe) I wrote ‘Bored’ many years ago. It reflects how I felt at the time – I was a school kid, living under my parents roof with dreams of what was to come on many a drunken rock ‘n roll weekend! It’s a fun song that I personally enjoy playing, I remember being so young and full of boredom, I think most of us can relate to that!
‘Zombies’ is written about a night at Papa Jacks bar in Auckland City. A long time ago THE RABBLE played to a very small crowd of uninterested scene kids who spent the evening looking "cool" at the bar! I’ve always found the people at shows who care more about what they’re wearing than enjoying the bands as having very similar characteristics to that of the zombie. Same as your general public I suppose!

..How true - there will always be the fashion clique I guess... We spoke about the deal with Crusade above – will the album see an international release further afield - Europe, Japan, US even?
..Rupe) Like I said earlier, the album will have its first release in the UK through Deck Cheese Records. We have had offers from Europe and Japan, but nothing we are quite happy with as of yet! We are always looking for licensing deals to help get our music out there, but as far as creative control is concerned, we want to retain 110%. Right now, the rest of the world can buy our albums/ merch from our online store at www.myspace.com/therabble so we can afford to take our time; until of course we find the right licensing deals in all the territories, where they will become easily accessible and available in stores.

..Mark from Boston band THE UNSEEN does a guest vocal on 'This World Is Dead'. How did you develop such a close working relationship with a band of THE UNSEEN's stature? Did he visit New Zealand to record the vocal?
..Rupe) We had the pleasure of opening for THE UNSEEN when they toured New Zealand. We made friends with Mark, he is a really cool guy with a lot of involvement in the scene! After that, Chazz (RABBLE guitarist/ vocalist), kept in touch over the internet and we just thought we’d give it a crack and see if he would be interested in having a guest-scream on one of our tracks… We are unbelievably stoked with the outcome; it’s a great track and he added his unique voice to make it all the more special to us!
When we recorded it, we had to send him the track/ lyrics via e-mail for him to learn whilst on the Warped Tour with THE UNSEEN. After that he stopped into The Outpost, laid down a few takes and Jim Siegel picked the best one and mixed it.
When it was all done, we jokingly asked Mark if he would like to do a video to back it all up. Haha...!! He said, "Fuck yeah," and we pulled some funding from our savings account from live shows and flew him over to hang for a week. The whole experience was mind-blowing and one I won’t forget! I have an UNSEEN tattoo on my arm and have been listening to them since I was 13 – it was an honour to have him work with us!
We also laid down another track with him whilst he was in NZ – the track ‘Reflection’ is put out under a different band name, OWN WORST FEAR, which is our unofficial side-project with Mark. We decided to do it this way, as opposed to another RABBLE track, as for this one he helped us work on it at our practice room etc and Mark wanted it to be separate. We plan to do more songs when we’re all in the same country again! Until then you can find some pics and the track ‘Reflection’ over at www.myspace.com/ownworstfear

..You've recently returned from a five month tour of the UK - quite an experience for ANY band - give us an immediate impression of what occurred there.
..Rupe) Imagine how you would feel after five whole months in a van with eight other people. You’re playing a very energetic style of music every single night that requires your entire mindset! At 3-4am you get to sleep on a crappy motel bed or a fans couch/ floor and for breakfast, lunch and dinner you eat fast food. During the day you’re travelling up to 14 hours and it’s winter so you’re sick as fuck - constantly. It was an unbelievable experience! Haha, I loved it, I hated it, I will do it again soon! My health is shocking because of it and I had to give up smoking to save my voice – but that’s life in a touring band! You’ll sacrifice everything for your art and if you don’t; you will not survive!

..As a touring band, what differences were immediately apparent from touring 'down under' and that of the UK?
..Rupe) The extreme cold and the distances in-between shows. The size of the audiences can be a lot bigger too…

..One of the main events was playing at the Rebellion Festival yeah? How was that as an experience?
..Rupe) Rebellion was unreal. I’ve never seen so many Punk Rockers in one place! We played the mainstage on the Friday afternoon as one of the ‘bands to check out’ in the brochure and were blown away by the reception - we stepped out on to that stage to over 2,000 people. Fuckin’ amazing! Our stage manager said that no band had ever opened that stage in the afternoon to an audience that big! It was really humbling and over the weekend I got to check out a lot of my favourite classic Punk bands and meet a few of my heroes…

..What else occurred during that tour? How rigorous an experience did you find the whole event?
..Rupe) It was really too big an event to account in one small interview – I’d need to write a fuckin’ book or something! Let’s just say that some of us have suffered harder than others. We all have poorer health because of it, that I know, but what can I say? Nothing could have prepared us for the toll five months on the road can be on your physical and mental condition. There were a lot of amazing experiences and we will have some great memories for the future; but there was also a hell of a lot of hard work put in, seriously!

..What differences were apparent on a social and political level? I read a column of yours in the online UK Punk zine, Distorted, where you stated that you felt a lot of Londoners specifically had some kinda hate in their eyes - a sense of suppressed violence. Can you expand on that somewhat? Gotta say, as a Brit who has been outta the country for 6 years and having returned for short periods, I know EXACTLY what you mean - but expand on that for those that need more information.
..Rupe) I found the UK very patriotic! However violent a nation they become, they still seem to find the means to be proud of it! There was a lot of knife crime going on around us and it was scary at times. A lot of young people are getting caught up in gangs etc and there was more than one occasion where we were physically threatened by the public for the way we looked. We had broken bottles brandished at us in Wisbech just for walking down the street! The rest of Europe was very politically-minded which is a change from NZ I think, I guess you’d have to be coming from the history of say, Germany? They are very aware of the issues the world has and are out there fighting for/ representing change. Very cool!

..How did you get involved in writing that column? Is it a regular deal and is it something you would like to pursue further?
..Rupe) ‘Distorted’s’ founding member Cervan Cotter is a RABBLE fan! We met him at some of our London shows and became friends. I decided to show him the tour diary I had been writing for vampedup.co.nz to find out what he thought and I think he was impressed. He asked me to do something for ‘Distorted’ and since I like writing I was stoked to be a part of it. I write my column titled ‘Words Are Ammunition’ once a month and it can be found in every issue. You can check out the new issue and back issues right now at www.distortedmagazine.com – I have done seven columns so far and am excited about pursuing this further in the future!

..What is your SINGLE greatest residing memory of the UK experience – both good and bad?
..Rupe) Good: Hanging with THE CASUALTIES in Germany and Belgium.
Bad: My little brother having a breakdown and going catatonic when he couldn’t hack any more. We were all so exhausted and had been very sick with the Flu over and over again - it was hard for him!

..So - what now for THE RABBLE? You seem like prolific writers - have you started work on the follow up to 'The Battle's Almost Over...'? Do you think it will take the band in another direction - or will it be more of the same spiky topped rebellion we have heard before?
..Rupe) Yes, we have started work on new material to follow up ‘The Battle…’ We will ALWAYS stay true to our roots with our message and overall sound, but are also constantly evolving with time. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again; if there’s a mould that Punk Rockers are supposed to fit, then THE RABBLE will proudly bend it, shape and change it to suit us! We are not afraid to have our sound grow as we do, and it will continue to evolve with time - no matter what the naysayers may think. We are proud of that! You can always expect the "spiky-topped rebellion" from us though – you can count on that!

..Checking out your websites, I read you are heading back to the UK for more Rebellion shows in 2009 - tell us more! What are you hoping to get out of this visit that the last failed? Is America, Japan or Europe calling for Rabble-isation?
..Rupe) Yeah, we are heading back to the UK/ Europe for another two months around July/ August and then tying it all up with another mainstage slot at Rebellion Festival! This time we are on a little later than mid afternoon and are hoping to once again draw a crowd!
We need to hit the tour with a lot of merch. Last time we turned up with next to nothing and we lost out on a lot of sales. If you don’t sell whilst on the road, you don’t eat and you end up (trying to) sleep in the van instead of in a bed and it’s not nice. We can’t do that again! Because we are geographically-isolated - being from NZ - we need to sell as much as possible this time to ensure that we can continue to tour and spread THE RABBLE’s message!
We hope to hit America very soon, but can’t say when…

Photos from Rupe Rabble's Myspace Page
The Rabble on Myspace