Mutiny: Folk-Anarchy from Down Under

May 2005

With the re-release of the the 1997 album ‘Rum rebellion’ now available on Philadelphia’s Fistolo records Gregory Bones of Melbourne’s long time punk folk group Mutiny recalls the making of the album.

The tale of Rum Rebellion starts in the old world when we toured Europe in 1994. We had already been playing our mix of folk and punk for a few years and had released a 7 track EP ‘Any Way You Can’. After two months on the road playing England, Germany and Holland and even playing our bastardized jigs to real Irishmen in real Irish pubs (in Ireland!) it occurred to us that our strengths were not so much in being a punk folk band, but that we were Australian and had an antipodean colonial sound that was unique. When playing our music, songs like “The Squatting Song” with Chris’ throaty voice, we were telling stories in an Aussie folk ballad manner that had something more to offer people overseas who had heard many a crusty Celt outfit. It was these ideas and a newfound sense of national identity that would influence the writing of “Rum Rebellion” when we returned home.

When we got home we found a new fiddle player in Michelle (who plays a mean fiddle) and started rehearsing and writing songs while Briony was still in Europe and hence Chris became the main vocalist. Another influence at this stage was the retro punk explosion; bands like Green Day, certainly the story-telling lyrics and energy of Rancid’s “Let’s Go,” and the books of Irvine Welsh lent to a tell-it-like-it-is street story in our newer lyrics. We played up and down the coast, and started recording with our friend Nic Carrol at his home studio. His place was a shop front house with the shop part soundproofed for a band room and the control room upstairs next to his bedroom. Every time he wanted to move a mike or we wanted to hear how the take sounded outside the cans we would have to run up and down the stairs so we all got very fit.

We were playing as often as we could at this stage and supported the likes of Conflict, Citizen Fish and Propagandhi on their Australian visits, and found ourselves doing the legendary Wedding Parties Anything Christmas show, taking on their rider.

Eager to put out something new, and knowing the album was a fair way off, we mixed some of the tracks and put out an EP called “Bodgy Tatts.” It was in a cardboard sleeve and saw us folding and sticking hundreds of the things ourselves. Gradually the album comes together and we plan to go to Europe again.

Like I said before, there was a move to incorporate Australian colonial folk into the Mutiny sound and we were listening to bands that had done this before – like the late ‘70’s-‘80’s leftist folk act Red Gum and the late 80’s-early 90’s Melbourne folk rock balladeers Weddings Parties Anything (whose Christmas booze we drank) and the great Sydney celtic rockers Roaring Jack. So in “Rum Rebellion,” you find many references to local streets and history, tunes that are colonial in a ‘Botany Bay’ kind of way…as well as lots of punk polka, jigs, and a bit of eastern European ska, klezma, and gypsy stuff. I listen back to it and think it’s a really honest record, a document that captured where we were at – the sound of five people who had been playing a lot of shows together, putting the set down on tape.I am also fond of the graphics, the cover of the re-release is an old painting of governor Bligh hiding from the troops during the Rum Rebellion which was the back cover originally. The new back cover is another old painting of Bligh being thrown off the the bounty. Lightening strikes not once but twice. All the lyrics were hand written by a friend for 40 bucks and the photos of the band were done by my brother. They look great and we come across as a bunch of crusty pirates but like all great photos they weren’t set up, we were playing a show in a lane-way during a Brunswick st festival, we didn’t get booked for the official stages so we helped set up and play the ‘pirate stage’ when we started all these punks turned up and danced and my brother took the shots.

After releasing Rum Rebellion we toured Europe again and then the states in 99, it always got amazing reviews but we a bit under the radar as we were a bit early for the whole celt punk thing. Its great Fistolo have re-released the album and its good to hear it all these years on when I fell quite removed from it The band has moved on in many ways and it’s a bit like another bands record but listening back we were not bad then… not bad at all. We have released other material since such as 2002’s Bag of Oats mini album which has a tougher tighter and more accordion driven sound and we have another patch of recordings we have yet to put out which may be the best Mutiny yet so keep you’re ears open.

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