It’s hard to imagine a record reaching its optimum popularity almost two years after it was released but that’s exactly what happened for nine-piece Melbourne band, Clairy Browne and The Bangin’ Rackettes.
Clairy Browne and co are back in Melbourne after touring the US twice last year, now gearing up for a show at Melbourne Zoo as part of the Zoo Twilights series. Browne, the group’s head honcho, spoke to Music Feeds about strong females, touring with nine others and what’s on the horizon for 2014.
The clan released their debut album, Baby Caught The Bus, in Australia in 2011 to a small commotion, but last year it threw them into what Clairy Browne describes as a “whirlwind” in America, traditionally one of the hardest markets to crack.
“It was crazy”, Browne says, “It all came through a commercial for Heineken. I was flown to Prague to do the commercial and then it and the song got airtime during the Superbowl and it all sort of spiralled out of control from there.”
Spiralled, indeed. Love Letter reached number one on the iTunes R&B charts, the band travelled to the US to play South By South-West, a 28-date tour and eventually signed to iconic independent label Vanguard. “They are absolutely loving Australians over there at the moment, so it’s a really great time”, Browne says.
The band are currently wrapping up a hectic touring schedule, one which will end with their show at Melbourne Zoo. Browne insists that, while touring together in the confines of a bus can be stressful, there’s still a sense of camaraderie.
“It’s fine. We all respect each other and get along really well,” she says. “We all get homesick at some point and it’s good to have each other there. At the same time if somebody wants to have a cry on the bus, because it does happen, they’ll just put something over their head and everyone will know that they need their moment.”
The Clairy Browne and The Bangin’ Rackettes’ show is a well-oiled machine – a melting pot of 60s girl-group inspired soul and contemporary R&B meshed with tight choreography. As much attention is given to aesthetic as to the music, a move that Browne says was intentional from the start.
“The aesthetic was something I thought up at the beginning. I’m inspired by really strong woman and wanted to create something that represented that. And so that’s what I hope our live show portrays”. The shows borrow pieces from all parts of music’s history. Browne names influences from The Beatles to Etta James to contemporary R&B singers.
Despite doing some serious globe trotting over the past year, when asked what her favourite venue is she can’t go past home. “I like playing dirty, sweaty venues”, laughs Browne. “The perfect venue for me has from 500 to 800 people, something like The Hi-Fi in Melbourne”.
It’s almost been three years since the debut album from Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes but Browne hints there are exciting things on the horizon. The band have been working on new material with Alabama Shakes producer Andrija Tokic and spent some time last year recording in Nashville. Browne even spent Australia Day holed up in the studio writing.
She expects to road test that new material at the Zoo Twilights shows. “It’s exciting,” she says, “It’s always good to be able to give the show a shake-up with new material. I’m really excited to test it out”.
As for the future, Browne suggests this zoo show “could be the last in Australia for a while”, with plans for album number two going full steam ahead.
Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes play Melbourne Zoo Twilights next Friday. Check out the full Twilights series program here.
Friday, 7th February 2014 – doors open 5:30pm
Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes with Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk
Tix: Via Melbourne Zoo Twilights