RAT!hammock are just stoked to have friends

It’s meant to be a thank you tune to people who are doing a better job at life than you are, but still hang out with you.”

Nestled neatly between lo-fi surfer-pop and-indie rock, Melburnians RAT!hammock don’t sound like anybody else. With an easy breezy vibe and friendship coursing through the group, the relationships are endearingly strong in a band so fresh off the mark. “I suppose it hasn’t been that long,” says vocalist and guitarist Jackson Phelan. “Though the band is new, the actual relationships with each other are pretty longstanding.

“For me it’s nice, it’s my songs and they call the shots in a way but then also, everyone has better ideas than me because of their own experiences. It’s nice to be able to have a bunch of friends who respect what I’ve done initially but are also happy to tell me if something can be way better than it is.”

Such is the dynamic of RAT!hammock that they’ve solidified themselves a reputation for being great in live shows. Now they're performing at the upcoming Sydney Road Street Party, smack-bang in the middle of their launch tour for new single ‘Power’. 

“The lineup is pretty massive,” he says of the event. “It’s a cool mix of bands we really like and didn’t think we’d ever play with. We’re [performing] between three or four of our friends’ acts as well, so that’s exciting for us in terms of the musical community. To watch our friends then watch some huge bands, that’ll be amazing.

“There’s always really bad banter from us, the songs are like, it’s strange if you just listen to what’s online because all the stuff that’s been released to date is our most poppy music, but live, it can get quite dark, quite heavy, but always mixed in with the three-minute pop bangers that most people would’ve heard from us.”

Three-minute pop bangers. That’s an excellent term to describe RAT!hammock’s sound. Single ‘Love You till I Die’, in comparison to ‘Power’, shows a maturity of sound, a development of sorts that rounds out the group nicely. ‘Power’ is to the point, without being preachy, and is incredibly fun to hear. It is RAT!hammock in full anthem mode, with Phelan’s chorus of “You use your power for good,” one of the most memorable the band has ever written.

“I used to play ['Power'] in my solo sets but then I dropped it because it was really poppy, but it never left me. I went back a few months ago to rewrite that song and fix it up to a point I could use it again. I must have re-written it five times but eventually, I didn’t use anything from the old songs I’d written. All of the new pieces that I put in there, I jammed them altogether to make ‘Power’. It was really weird, I’ve never really written like that before. Normally once it’s on paper it's dead, it’s over.

“I’d written thank you songs that always ended up like that, about how good it is to have friends. I definitely don’t mean it to be too gushy but I guess once this one was finished, I moved on. It’s meant to be a thank you tune to people who are doing a better job at life than you are, but still hang out with you, spending their time with you, and kicking your arse if you’re being a drop kick.”

Writing a song about friendship and the support you get from your people when you’re being a drop kick, as Phelan calls it, definitely makes for a good party song, one that’s going to fit into their Sydney Road set well and bring the party.

“Lots of the songs in the live set are super dark, so this one is super fun. I know some of the tunes on our last EP were our most 'us' but because we’d done so many new songs that were all heavy and dark, this is refreshing for us, and it’s a fun song to play live. It’s instantly gratifying.”

RAT!hammock will play at Penny Black on Sunday May 4 as part of Brunswick Music Festival’s Sydney Road Street Party.