For a band that still seems to be in the humble beginnings phase, Rudely Interrupted have received a good deal of attention. They’ve met Tom Cruise, played for the UN and are the subjects of a feature-length documentary which should be coming out soon. Rudely Interrupted are unique in a few ways. Five of the six band members share a range of both physical and intellectual disabilities (Blindness, Deafness, Aspergers, Autism and Down Syndrome) and the music is refreshingly unpretentious.
The band came together under the guiding hand of Rohan Brooks, but since formation the group has become greater than the sum of its parts. “I started a ‘school of rock’ for intellectually disabled and disadvantaged musicians at the disability service where I was working and thought it was way too cool to keep in a rehearsal studio. When it first gelled and we all played a single note together I think I started crying.
“It was a total mess in the beginning. All sorts of behaviour and tantrums. Josh had never played a drum kit, Marcus had never played in a band, Connie has always and will always rock, Sam is the ultimate rock star, Rory is a bloody musical genius and I had never played guitar. Put all that together along with the Asperger’s and all the other differences and it amazes me as to how we do anything!”
It would be easy to write this article with sentences that begin with phrases such as ‘despite their disabilities’, but to do so would be ignoring the obvious abilities of the musicians. Listening to their first song, Don’t Break My Heart, I am struck by how genuine it sounds. The lyrics are simple but effective, displaying pop sensibilities but not limited by a desire to be the next big thing. It reminds me of that fantastic band from NZ, The Chills, combining relatively low key guitar strains with subdued vocals. In Our Dreams has raw vocals that provide a neat counterpoint to the retro synth sounds.
“We try to keep it as organic as possible. The songs come through a few techniques I use to gain interest and the attention of everyone in different situations. The guys have a never-ending stream of fantastic topics to put melodies with. They have a totally different take on life. Me and Josh (drums) might be jamming on a rhythm idea and Rory (vocals and guitar) will be trying to get my attention with a repetitive phrase, but instead of dismissing the interruption we use the phrase as a melody and keep the moment moving forward. Don’t Break My Heart came from a question Rory asked me, ‘Can you die from a broken heart?’ I hit a discordant note and Rory laughed and said MALFUNCTION! MALFUNCTION!”
Since the band’s first live performance in 2007 Rudely Interrupted have performed sold-out shows in New York, Toronto, Bristol, Manchester and London, proving that the band has a pull beyond that of the heart-warming ‘triumph over circumstance’ gimmick. Cynics can say what they want, these guys know their stuff.
“The disabilities have of course opened doors and created different opportunities, like the United Nations invitation in New York etc, but at the same time a big part of why we keep on keeping on is to challenge the thoughts of those who don’t believe these guys have a place in the Australian and international community.
“The band have grown so fast and so far in such a short amount of time. The first single took us months to record all the parts and get it to the stage to go and mix it in the studio. Now the guys have been through the process a couple of times from writing to recording and know what is expected from them, so it all runs smoothly in comparison to the early days. “
The band’s first album has songs titled “The Pimple Song,” “Get Me Out Of Here” and an amazing cover of “Love My Way”.
“It’s come together a lot quicker than other times we have recorded. We have been playing most of the songs live now for a while so it was a real hoot to record them all. We have called the album “Tragedy of the commons” which basically means if people co-operate rather than being defensive then there is more for everyone.“
This seems to be the fundamental spirit of the band: more for everyone through co-operation. “I’ve been in bands all my life and had to put up with crap and in turn others have to put up with my crap. When it happens with this band we turn it into a song, that’s the way we deal with anything and everything that’s hard to express for the band members. Every musician does it (self expression) although most people tend to think it’s about how good you are at playing your instrument and that couldn’t be further from the truth. To us it’s about nailing the part in the song that rocks the hardest for each of us.
“If you go back in the short history of all things rock n roll from Elvis to the Beatles, I think you find rock n roll music has carved the path for so many in the world. Even just a short month or so ago you can look at the event called “Sound Relief“ in Melbourne and Sydney. Rock raised more money in one day than any other fundraiser Australia had to offer and yet people still dismiss music as not important and music as a therapy to be nonsense.”
The band have even earned the esteem of Tom Cruise, famed nutbag, through a chance meeting at a TV studio.
“We were in Canada at Much Music for an interview and it was snowing outside, we walked in to the TV station and Tom Cruise walked up to us, stuck his hand out and said he was very pleased to meet us. All I could think of was Risky Business and Scientology, so I said ‘no problem Tom’. I said to Rory who was next to me ‘It’s Tom Cruise’ and he said ‘pull the other one, I’m not falling for that’. “
Given the success Rudely Interrupted are already enjoying, it is likely the future holds far more in store, such as the movie that will, hopefully, be out soon.
“We had a group of film makers (Susie, Ben and Whitto) follow us around the world and they captured all the drama, highs and lows so with a little luck and a lot of funding, it should be out sometime before 2020.”
Check out Rudely Interrupted at http://myspace.com/rudelyinterrupted and http://www.rudelyinterrupted.com and keep an eye out for their upcoming album, Tragedy of the Commons.