Get active in the rage against the machine with The Ruckus. We chat to the rock activists on the eve of their Sydney show.

The Ruckus love to shake things up. One of the most prolific Sydney bands in terms of sheer activism, the rockers Tomi Gray, Bernardo ‘Froggy’ Lopes and Paul Mason are no strangers to a little bit of a rebel yell.

Keen advocates for the Keep Sydney Open movement, the latest stunt The Ruckus are pulling comes in the form of a good, old-fashioned gig with a political twist. Rattle Sydney is the event standing up in the face of a massive shift in our music scene. On the first day of October artists and punters alike will be kicking it at one of Sydney’s foremost live venues, the Botany View Hotel.

The Ruckus

On the eve of Rattle Sydney, we chat with rock activists The Ruckus to pick their brain about Sydney, and why we need to stand together to battle the forces stifling our free way of life.

HAPPY: Was there one catalyst that made you want to organise Rattle, or was it a bottling up of your feelings on the Sydney scene?

THE RUCKUS: We have all been part of the Sydney underground music scene for a few years now in one way or another. You hear people talk about how the Sydney scene is dead, almost like its a cool thing to say. The popular opinion, often regurgitated by people with little knowledge on the matter, is that the ones in parliament are making the rules for the rest of us.

They’re so detached from what’s actually happening in their city, but jumping on the band wagon of trashing it nonetheless because they’ve seen how it seems to get a rise out of people on Facebook. The reason we are putting Rattle Sydney together is not so much to show those people their ignorance on the matter, it’s more about coming together with friends in celebration of the many varied positive aspects of what’s still available to residents and visitors of this city, right on our doorstep.

HAPPY: Do you think the Sydney music scene is seeing a resurgence under the oppression of the lockouts?

THE RUCKUS: I don’t care about the lockouts. They are a cleverly devised distraction to a bigger problem. I think the emphasis that is continually put on them is only aiding the agenda of those who would rather us not think too hard on matters of more importance. Of course I know they are ridiculous, and believe they will be overturned.

I also think that in the meantime, while we attend rallies and sign petitions we should be thinking and more importantly discussing why this is all going on in the first place. I guarantee it has little to do with coward punching in Kings Cross.

HAPPY: The Botany View is putting on some great shows. What role do you think venues play in keeping the scene alive?

THE RUCKUS: A good venue is paramount to creating the feeling of community. When there is a place that you know you can go where you will find people with the same belief systems as you, and some with varied beliefs to keep it spicy, a controlled atmosphere (controlled meaning only ensuring the safety and joviality of those within its walls) and experience something as pure magic as 100 strangers mashed together on a dance floor vibing out to the right sounds, then you will keep coming back.

You will tell everyone you know and it will mean something to you. It will be ‘your place’ with ‘your bands’ that pour ‘your beer’. We’ve all had our place.

HAPPY: What would you change about the lockouts, or the recent lockout amendments?

THE RUCKUS: Its crazy to think that if we get these laws overturned and can get blind till sunrise again that everyones problems are gonna be solved. We have always, always had something to complain about. If I could change anything it would be that we don’t look so heavily at the negatives in our day to day life. How much have the lockouts affected you personally? I have friends that own and operate businesses that are affected but most of them have seen it for what it is. Another hurdle along the road, jump it, keep moving.

Life is like that, nothing stays the same forever and you wouldn’t want it to. Sure, if I had my vote, it’d overturn, but I’m not gonna let it ruin my day. For me as a musician to say that it has affected my livelihood would be admitting that I did not have the intelligence to think my way around the problem. Venues close earlier. We’ll just go play on the fucking streets then. When that doesn’t work anymore we’ll do something else. Roll with the punches. Thats the human spirit.

HAPPY: What can the average punter do to make a change in Sydney right now?

THE RUCKUS: Don’t worry about Sydney as a concept. Every single person needs to start taking responsibility for themselves. You want to make a difference to yourself, your happiness, your state of living. Go out of your way, once a week, break up the routine, push your boundaries, grab a gig guide or walk into almost any bar or club on any given night, see something you’ve not before.

It may suck or it may change your life. Experience what’s going on for yourself. If everyone in Sydney was to do this it would be a vastly different place. But it has to start at the beginning.

HAPPY: What advice to you have for other bands and music people wanting to get involved?

THE RUCKUS: Do what you’re doing. If you can, do it more.

HAPPY: You’ve just played King St Crawl – how was it?

THE RUCKUS: Thats a fucking great creation right there. The entire town is buzzing. People everywhere out getting amongst it. Is there any reason that shouldn’t be taking place every weekend? It sort of is. When we played the crawl we took a different approach. On the street outside the Newtown Neighbourhood centre we set ourselves up in a cage with all our gear and delivered our set to passers by on the street like animals at a zoo.

Ironically everyone you talk to is in a band nowadays, yet being a musician is one of the most difficult and unstable career decisions a person can take. We (musicians, artists, poets, actors – creative people) are out there slogging it away absolutely everywhere, some for the right reasons, some the wrong, and all nearly landing ourselves on the endangered species list. The crawl was one of the moments that remind you instantly why you give it all you have in the pursuit of making music your life.

HAPPY: Congrats on the success of Fever, are you guys thinking about the next release yet?

THE RUCKUS: Fever was sort of an advert for the new direction of the band. We had spent a long time reconstructing and I think it was a bit of a shock to those who have been following us over the past year or so. We were surprised that it took as much traction as it did. It got featured on music blogs in London and New York and played on radio abroad.

Aussie radio still seems a little unsure of how to take us but we got huge community radio support here for it thought. Now that the dust has settled on that, we’ll be releasing some of our live set filmed at the King Street Crawl throughout November before the follow up single to Fever in January of 2017. Then we take The Ruckus overseas for a lengthy tour of Europe to make some new friends.

HAPPY: What have been some of your favourite places to get weird on tour?

THE RUCKUS: Ozzy roads have been very kind to us. We’re very grateful to have met so many amazing people along the road so far. Anyone who’s reached out and told us that our being in their town had meant something to them has made all the difference. People who have offered up some floor space for us to crash out when the funds where low, or cooked us a meal. Had a chat or a jam.

A lot of venues have been very accommodating and a lot of the bands we’ve been lucky to tour with have taught us a lot. We’ve played some of the biggest venues in this country and some of the smallest – it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Myself, Paul and Froggy are just grateful to the universe for providing us the opportunities we have so far.

HAPPY: And finally, any kind words for the lovely members of the NSW State Government?

THE RUCKUS: I’m sorry. It must be rough.


Find all the details about Rattle Sydney on their Facebook event. If you agree with Tomi, you’ve got no excuse to make your way to this free show.