It’s the first night of Red Rum Club’s tour and tickets to Sheffield’s O2 Academy have already sold out. Town Info were given the opportunity to catch up with the band following their sound check as they prepare for one of their biggest gigs outside of Liverpool.
All dressed in black and without a glimmer of nerves to be seen, the band warmly introduce themselves with a confidence that leads us to believe they have done this a thousand times before.
So how long have the band been together?
‘Too Long’ Francis answers with a grin before pausing to give the question some serious thought.
‘As Red Rum Club we’ve been together about 3 years.’
The rest of the band start laughing and tell him he has in fact been saying that for the last 4 years.
“Ok, we got serious about 3 years ago. But before then we were just all local lads, playing in different bands.. just messing about for 12 years.. but we got quite good then..”
They may only be promoting their debut album, but it’s been a busy couple of years for Red Rum Club. With gigs in Glasgow, the Isle of White, London and Glastonbury Festival. The band even tell us about their ‘Soju fuelled’ trip to play at Zanadri Fest Seoul South Korea this time last year. Whilst the guys don’t tell us exactly what happened in South Korea, I can’t help but laugh when I hear someone mention that ‘Joe thought the toilet was Si’s suitcase…’
Whilst Red Rum Club may have left their alter egos in South Korea, opening the tour in Sheffield is like a home coming to the band who fondly refer to the city as their second home.
‘We’ve definitely seen the benefits of coming away and playing outside of Liverpool. When you come home, they take to you a little bit more’.
With the gig just hours away we ask if the nerves are beginning to set in. Not only is it the opening night of their tour but the band will also be shooting a video and promoting their debut album ‘Matador’. They introduce us to ‘camera man Sam’ and Jim the ‘Merch Guy’.
‘We’ve got a few new songs we’ll be playing tonight which no one has heard, so we’re dreading them ones. We’re a bit nervous but it’s exciting playing something new’.
When I found out we would be reviewing Red Rum Club a couple of thoughts came to mind. The first one being the name.
Even if you aren’t familiar with Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’, It can’t be ignored that Red Rum backwards spells Murder. It’s a strikingly dark contrast to the playful melodies usually associated with Merseyside bands. From the endearing harmonies of ‘The Coral’ to the acoustically driven 60’s sound of ‘The La’s’. We ask the band if they felt there was added pressure coming from the place voted as ‘the UK’s Most Musical City’.
‘People measure you differently don’t they? If you’re a good band from Liverpool people assume you know your music.. there is that added pressure’.
So how would Red Rum Club like to be perceived? What would they like us to write about them?
‘Sexy and Violent’ Mike grins, before quickly adding ‘..not sexually violent!’
‘I’d like you to call me thin’ .. Simon adds, ‘All thin, no fat.. Zero percent body fat’
‘BMI looking good’
As the lights go down in the Academy, you can feel the excitement echo from the crowd as they sing along to local 80’s legend’s The Human League’s ‘Together in Electric Dreams’.
Whilst I didn’t know it at the time, Red Rum Club choose to open the set with what will soon become my favourite song of theirs, ‘Honey’. An iconic trumpet intro from Joe Corby boldly declares the song their own; effortlessly transitioning into an infectiously catchy chorus in an unapologetic 40 seconds.
If ‘Honey’ wasn’t enough to grab your attention the Band push the crowd to the brink with a trio of equally addictive and original sounding tracks ‘Casanova’, ‘Calexico’ and ‘Hung Up’. We are only four songs in and I’m already checking my pockets to see if I brought enough cash with me to buy an album from Jim the merch guy.
‘TV Said So’ is a sweet pop song but feels a little out of place amongst such a solid and powerful set list. The song is well received by the crowd though who eagerly embrace each song as though it’s their last.
Whilst Red Rum Club admire the music of other bands from the Liverpool music scene, you can tell a lot about a band’s influences by their favourite songs. We ask them if they could have written one song by another band what would it be?
Without a moment of hesitation and barely before I finish asking the question Francis gives us his answer, ‘Sweet Caroline’.
It’s not quite the answer I was expecting but it’s enough to encourage the rest of the band to chip in with a diverse variety of different answers. From Toto’s ‘Africa’ and Eifel 65’s ‘I’m Blue’ to Beethoven’s 5th; the guys finally agree on the highest earning song of all time ‘Happy Birthday’, before debating whether the iconic number was in fact written by an American family, sold to the public domain or bought by Stevie Wonder. Red Rum Club are undeniably hilarious and have us laughing throughout the interview, but we insist on a serious answer.
‘Sweet Caroline’ says Francis.
‘Nobody gets out alive’ kick starts the second half of the set with no sign of slowing down. It’s at this moment I realise that Red Rum Club are a band that I’ll be listening to long after this article is published.
As the band perform ‘Remedy’ it dawns on me that I may have jumped the gun on declaring ‘Honey’ as my favourite song. It’s the love song every girl wishes was about them; lyrically seductive and dark whilst still retaining a powerful ambience that captivates a live audience.
‘Matador’ is electric and whilst their Liverpool roots cannot be ignored, there’s a distinct uniqueness that separates Red Rum Club from the steady stream of Merseyside bands that came before them. A fiery energy and absorbing presence that can be likened to the defiant emergence of an early Kings of Leon.
I may be hearing most of these songs for the first time but there’s a distinct familiarity to Red Rum Club’s sound that draws you in.
During the last decade I have been lucky enough to see hundreds of bands at many different stages of their career. From the newly formed bands to the ‘one hit wonders’ and bands that have become so legendary even they struggle to live up to their own hype.
Sometimes however, (if you’re really lucky) you will stumble across something special and worth taking note of.
A band who after 12 years of ‘messing around’ find themselves in the right place at the right time. With a dedicated and fast-growing fan base, just the right combination of confidence and charm backed up by an original sound and effortlessly cool debut album.
A band that can astound and engage a crowd with an authentically profound performance and the ability to transform a drizzly Thursday night in Sheffield into one of the best new bands I’ve seen in years.
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Written By: Samantha Swindlehurst
Event Photography By: Neil Swindlehurst