Their breed of indie rock is loud, energetic, and desperately catchy, and people are noticing. Ahead of their upcoming single tour, we caught up with guitarist Tom Dowling for the latest.
Off the back of their new tunes June and Ghost, RAT!hammock are straight killing it. It’s high time to catch up with Melbourne’s hottest lo-fi rockers.
HAPPY: Hey, how are things? What are you up to at the moment?
TOM: Things are great, thanks for asking! We’re working on some new stuff, and about to go on a little tour off the back of releasing Ghost, which we’re super stoked about. We’re hitting Sydney and Wollongong on the 7th and 8th of June, then we’re back in Melbourne to play the Curtin on the 15th.
HAPPY: Just saw the film clip for Ghost for the first time – that thing is wild. Can you tell us how it came together?
TOM: Whenever it’s time for us to do a music video, Jackson and Mike Ridley spend a couple weeks bouncing ideas off each other and get into this weird loop thing where they end up with a bunch of crazy, impossible concepts. This was one of the few that was actually feasible in our budget and time frame, while still being a bit more than the standard band-playing-in-a-room clip. Jackson got his weird obsession with KISS references in there, and it turns out Sean’s the best Australian film villain since the first Mad Max.
HAPPY: You’ve worked with Mike before right? What’s the connection there?
TOM: Yeah! Mike, the beautiful man, filmed our first video clip for June. He also plays in a fantastic band called Grand Pine; we’ve played together a few times and there’s a big overlap of friendships, so it’s no surprise we ended up working with him for the clip.
HAPPY: How are you feeling about Ghost now that you’ve had a month or two to sit on it?
TOM: Pretty good! We didn’t really know how to feel about it or what to expect from it initially, and we were on tour for a while after it dropped so we were a bit removed from it, but it seems like there’s been a great response to it, so many people have been super kind and supportive and seem to like it.
HAPPY: Last time you were in Sydney was for some pretty huge shows with Last Dinosaurs, how did they go down?
TOM: They were awesome shows, Last Dinos have this amazing fan base, everyone gets down early and gets really into the supports, we felt so welcomed. Someone proposed to his girlfriend at the end of the first show, that was pretty wild, I’ve never seen that at a gig before. The Last Dinos guys are such sweethearts, it was great hanging out with them. It’s easy on tour to not give a shit about the support acts but all those guys and their whole team went above and beyond every night to make sure we had everything we could possibly need for a great show.
HAPPY: How do you feel like your live show has come along since RAT!hammock was in the early days?
TOM: I think it’s become a bit more coherent as a whole performance. Earlier on, the focus was on individual songs and everything was a bit looser but now we’re more aware of how things get responded to and we can work to creating a performance where there’s an overarching context and a flow. We’ve been playing together for ages now, so there’s also less of a gulf between a good and bad gig. We still have better gigs than others, but a bad gig is now because of smaller, less obvious details rather than career-ending fuckups.
HAPPY: On the other hand, is there anything you reckon you’ve actually become worse at since starting out?
TOM: I don’t know if we’ve actually gotten worse at it, but you inevitably lose some spontaneity and weirdness when you start to move into regular touring territory. Just before I joined RAT!hammock, one of my other bands played a show with them that was yurt-themed. Jackson ran yurt trivia between playing songs, the prizes were the hand-drawn RAT!hammock shirts that the band were wearing on stage.
We had a residency at Ding Dong a couple of years ago where we made a smoothie onstage during a song and mixed the sound of the blender into the outro. It’s hard to fit in that sort of novelty and kitsch into the set, and it’s probably not as necessary to have those stranger attention-grabbing features at this point, but it was a lot of fun at the time.
HAPPY: Are Ghost and June part of something bigger to come?
TOM: There’s definitely more to come. We can’t say yet exactly what form it’ll come in, but our last few singles are definitely a sort of bridge to the next thing for us.
Catch RAT!hammock live on their Ghost single tour: