INTERVIEW WITH... ELECTRIC MARY
“It’s 10 in the morning, the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky and I’m drinking coffee...” Rusty Brown, singer and founding member of Aussie rockers ELECTRIC MARY sounds like he doesn’t have a care in the world. And why should he? Well established on the Australian live circuit, their previous album ‘III’ was critically acclaimed when it was released in 2014 and with new record ‘Mother’ set to be released next month things are pretty sweet right now.
Asked to describe the new album Rusty laughs self-deprecatingly and says “time-consuming” but it quickly becomes clear that it is an album he is incredibly proud of - and justifiably so. He describes it as having more depth than previous albums and, having been lucky enough to get a sneak listen to it, we at DTF can confirm he’s not wrong. However, he is also keen to assert that it “still has that Electric Mary sound”, and again he’s right on the money. Fans of the bands will not be disappointed, it still rocks as hard as anything they’ve released previously but there seems to be an added level of craftsmanship on the record, more nuance, more confidence - more depth indeed.
“We spent four or five days in pre-production just hammering it out. I had this saying: best idea wins,” Rusty elaborates, “even the drummer was allowed to throw in ideas! It was a real band effort to make this album.”
Although the collaborative songwriting approach is new, ELECTRIC MARY didn’t abandon their methods completely. “We're a self-funded band, it's not like we're U2 or something where we can go into the studio continuously until we get everything exactly how we want it,” so instead they try to bring their live sound to the studio, “up to 85% of the album is live, even the solos. If you listen we don’t play rhythm guitar under our solos.” Perhaps it’s this approach that gives the album an immediacy that some more over-produced albums lack. It’s also a testament to their commitment to getting that ELECTRIC MARY sound just right.
“We go into the studio at ten-thirty am and leave at about ten pm, that’s our hours,” Rusty declares “it’s very different playing a song at ten in the morning to only the engineer than it is to 600 people at night. Unless we hire a whole bunch of people to come into the studio and clap us!” although that might hinder the self-funded budget somewhat, and if truth be told one listen to the album is enough to convince you that ELECTRIC MARY are more than capable of getting themselves across on record without hired help.
However, considering the almost universal acclaim for previous album ‘III’, you wonder if the band felt any extra pressure for the follow up. Not at all, according to Rusty.
"There hasn't been pressure because really we aim to please ourselves and hope it pleases our audience. We don't write songs to get played on the radio. We just do what we do." In fact, he says, the only pressure on them was from themselves to "write a good song".
Having got the songs in the bag the album was mixed by Steve James, son of the legendary Carry On star Sid, a fact that seems to genuinely excite the singer. Despite being an Aussie through and through, Rusty Brown obviously carries a lot of love for the UK. He lived in London for a short while, and loved his time there, so much so that he is still an avid follower of West Ham United and he waxes lyrical about Steve James's archetypal 'Britishness'.
"He's got that real English thing [puts on a luvvie accent] 'oh hello darling', 'bloody marvellous' I bloody love it, I think I'm in a Derek and Clive movie when he's around. Story time with Steve James worked it's way into the day a few to many times I suppose!".
It seems though that his love of all things British is not shared by his fellow countrymen, "when I was growing up as a kid Australia was very English. Now it's very American." It is an obvious bone of contention when he discusses the effect it's had on Australian radio. "I don't know what it's called but we had this agreement with America, y'know the government, that they had to play 45% american music and 20% of our own. How fucking stupid is that? When you think about all the bands that tour over here it's American bands. Playing all the wineries and stuff. So the older people are laughing because they've still got a scene."
So where does that leave the Australian rock scene, "I haven't seen any sign of a resurgence," he says somewhat surprisingly, especially as to us Brits it sometimes seems like you can't turn round without bumping into another cool, young rock band from the antipodes. "Its all R&B over here, they don't play rock on the radio. Well they do but it's all the old not new. Like Rival Sons have never been played over here and they probably should do." However he does see signs of hope. "The Queen film has meant they're getting a lot of play, hopefully people will hear that there's more to Queen than Radio Ga Ga." Rusty also mentions Greta Van Fleet, "people say they sound like Led Zeppelin, but they're not Led Zeppelin, they've got their own DNA...and people are still listening to them. They're played on the radio here."
Obviously excited by the return of that classic rock sound Rusty postulates that if there is a resurgence then perhaps ELECTRIC MARY would fit right in. If there was any justice in the world then they should be leading the charge, because while they undoubtedly have got a classic sound they feel fresh and vital - even 15 years after they started.
"We've had this thing from the start, Pete and I wanted to make a band you'd make when you were 15/16, not a band we'd want to start at 28. Because when you're 28 you starting a band for a different reason, you're thinking of different things. When you're 15 your not thinking of anything except smashing your guitar and singing whatever you're singing."
The 15 year old inside him must have been in dreamland then when ELECTRIC MARY earned prestigious support slots with the likes of Deep Purple and Judas Priest. However, despite admitting that playing with Blackmore would be on his "bucket list", he believes nowadays ELECTRIC MARY need to focus on doing their own shows and he takes great pride in the fact that when they return to a town they play bigger venues each time. Their album "Live In Helldorado" came about due to the venue they were playing selling out the first night, adding a second and then selling that out too. When Rusty tells the story the sense of achievement shines out of him, this you feel is what keeps him going. And it seems there's no sign of ELECTRIC MARY stopping any time soon.
They may have had five guitarists, three drummers and their fair share of "fisticuffs" on the road, but they're keeping rock and roll, and that 'ELECTRIC MARY sound' very much alive and in ‘Mother’, they may just have created their finest moment to date. And as Rusty himself says "we've got a lot of people who like what we do, and we've still got many people who don't know us so fingers crossed we can reach them with this one."
We can only hope they do, because the world needs bands like ELECTRIC MARY to keep rock and roll alive.
ELECTRIC MARY release their new album ‘Mother’ on Friday 15thFebruary via Listenable Records.
Electric Mary are:
Rusty Brown – Lead Vocals
Pete Robinson – Guitar Vocals
Alex Raunjak – Bass
Brett Wood – Guitar, Vocals
Spyder - Drums