The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats – Welcome to ‘Rockgrass’

Written by Marc Zanotti on 21st January, 2013

The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats – Welcome to ‘Rockgrass’

The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats may hail from Melbourne, but the Victorian quintet have been burning up stages nationwide with an infectious fever that is the band’s ‘Rockgrass’ sound.

As the hybrid name suggests, Dead Rats combine rock ‘n’ roll with bluegrass, and in the process bring a regional swagger at a metropolis pace together in a ball of unabashed good times.

Having just played Trevor Festival 2013 and with their debut album Bloodhound Killed My Squeezebox continuing to be met with praise, Dead Rats bassist Davin McDonald gives a little background about the band.

What kind of experience did the band have playing Trevor Festival at Heritage Farm on Phillip Island?

Davin McDonald: It was by far the most pro setup we played with, all the sound guys and volunteers were great. We’d love to be there next year!

Apparently the title to your debut album Bloodhound Killed My Squeezebox has to do with a serendipitous circumstance that led to the inclusion of the mandolin into The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats’ sound. What is the story behind the title?

DM: Dan [Sudholz] [banjo] has a really large bloodhound [Earl] that has a tendency of breaking things just by walking past them. His tail alone is like a wrecking ball. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Being that Dead Rats’ ‘Rockgrass’ sound is a little left of most popular alternative music, are you surprised at the numerous positive reviews Bloodhound Killed My Squeezebox has collected?

DM: We still don’t know what to call it ourselves… Honestly, we had no idea how it would be received. We really are surprised that so many people have taken the time to write about it. It definitely spurs us forward!

Dead Rats have a reputation for playing at a frantic pace, with your live shows noted for their high energy and good vibes. How did you go about trying to capture that feeling on your album?

DM: Working with Shane [Nicholson] made a fairly intense situation very relaxed. Shane and Nash [Chambers] placed mics in front of us and we played the whole thing live, with maybe a couple of vocal and solo over-dubs here or there. We recorded 13 songs in 5 days.

Producer Shane Nicholson said that Dead Rats were like nothing he’d ever heard before in Australia. Do the band’s influences extend overseas or have you taken from various local grassroots and rock bands to create your ‘Rockgrass’ sound?

DM: Obviously we are influenced by all the greats: Doc Watson, Earl Scuggs, Bob Dylan. Etc… There’s a lot of rock in there too, like Lynrd Skynyd, Led Zep, and even Tool. So most of our influences are from OS. But the band is very open-minded; sometimes we listen to opera.

Out of the Banjo, Mandolin and Washboard, which instrument gets the strongest reaction for a solo?

DM: Always the washboard.

Singing duties are shared within the band. Of the five members, how many sing and do you each handle writing your own lyrics?

DM: Dan, Chris [Wishman] and Locky [Alcorn] do the singing, but Dan and Chris are the main song contributors at this point.

What’s coming up for The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats in 2013?

DM: Hitting the festival circuit and possibly another album, maybe even touring OS… Who knows…


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