‘Screaming rap rock electro pop mutants’ is how Sydney band RedHook describes themselves, and it’s pretty apt. Renowned for their high energy live performances and distinctive sound, the hard working quartet have achieved a degree of success that most relative newcomers to Australian music can only dream of – with debut single ‘Minute on Fire’ going gangbusters and a coveted spot on the lineup for Aussie festivals Good Things and Download, before scoring a sweet spot on the Download stage in the UK.
The lineup has changed through RedHook’s history, but seems to be solidifying in its current incarnation of original members Emmy Mack (vocals) self proclaimed “massive nerd” Craig Wilkinson (guitar), drummer since early 2019 Alex Powys and new bassist Maverick Burnett.
We caught up with Craig and Alex in between punishing sets at BIGSOUND to get the lowdown on all things RedHook. I ask Alex what it was like coming into an already established group.
“Unreal!” he exclaims. “I straight away went great, fantastic, I’ll do this. I got the opportunity to work with Craig and Emmy and the others who have been involved with Redhook and worked super hard and tried to get the songs down, learned to speak everyone’s language, and it seems to be working.”
Craig agrees. “It’s been lots of positive things so far. It’s been an ever growing little family, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right people.”
How Craig and Emmy found each other in the first place is certainly a contemporary rock story. Craig put out a message on a bunch of Facebook groups looking for a band and Emmy’s best mate and ex-bass player Matt called him up and asked him to get involved.
“We met up at a gig and got really drunk together,” Craig recalls. “And that’s how it all got started!”
After releasing first single ‘Minute on Fire’ they realised they were onto something special, says Craig.
“We thought ‘No one’s ever heard of RedHook, we’ll just put it out and see what happens.’ Then we could see our Shazam numbers and online numbers creeping up. Straight out of the gate we were pretty lucky that people kind of latched on and saw the potential in RedHook.”
Rob Nassif, the drummer from Gyroscope, has been managing the band since December last year.
“Rob’s been able to open the door to a lot of opportunities, that’s how we were able to get the Download UK and other overseas opportunities,” says Craig. “Plus he’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.”
Download UK was the first overseas gig the band had played, and it was a biggie.
“It was surreal,” says Alex. “We played Download Sydney too and just being able to share areas and stages with huge artists was great, especially going into the UK, we hadn’t done it before.”
Craig couldn’t believe how quickly it all happened.
“We released music in June and being able to go overseas and play a massive international festival within a year – who would’ve thought? It was crazy. It’s pretty cool that RedHook’s been able to tap into an international stream.”
BIGSOUND might be a different kind of festival, but being packed with industry folks, it’s got its own kind of pressures, Craig tells us.
“It’s hard to please the crowd I guess, but you’ve just got to get out there and smash it out out. I feel like we crushed the performance and we were all in really high spirits. Really looking forward to Crowbar Black on Thursday night too.”
Alex jumps in.
“Being our first BIGSOUND we didn’t know what to expect, but it still got wild!” He laughs.
We move onto what it’s like to play live originals in Sydney these days. The well-publicised legislation of recent times has somewhat restricted the scene, Alex tells us.
“A lot of venues have gone,” he says. “But because that’s happened, people have kind of come closer together and the community has become stronger. It’s a good and a bad thing. I think they’re starting to review the legislation.”
Craig explains further. “You go to a gig in Sydney and you’ll always see the same people supporting each others’ bands. It’s really cool. We’re all from different genres, we’re all in our own lanes but there’s kind of crossover, we all help each other out. It’s a positive movement happening in the Sydney scene at the moment.”
As for the dreams of the band, they’ve recently had to re-evaluate them, says Craig. But all for a good reason.
“We initially said that what we wanted to get out of it was to play Australian festivals and do an overseas tour and play an overseas festival, and within a year we’ve been able to tick all of those things off, so we’ve had to go back to the drawing board and say ‘what’s next?’
“Trying to get over to the US would be really cool, keep building ourselves up in UK and Europe as well, definitely new music as well.
“The start of the year has been crazy, and hopefully we’ll finish it off the same way.”
The mutants will be finishing off their Only Bones tour nationally over the next month or so, and then will head back up to Fortitude Valley for Halloween Hysteria in October. In the meantime, you can catch them on their socials.