“I’ve ended up in a bottomless pit of like, reorganising arts and crafts,” explains Rackett’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Rebecca Callander. Certainly it’s not the Saturday night you might expect from a lyricist who belts out lines like “give me one of those white lines, I’m so fucking bored I wanna fuck with my time / Don’t you leave me to my own devices, I could become a k-k-killer” on the thumping title track of her band’s debut EP, Ready Or Not.
Since starting out in 2016, the Sydney four-piece powerhouse have gained a reputation for thrilling live shows, a technically proficient and powerful sound, and a DIY hyper-femme aesthetic. Last week, they released their diverse and overstuffed trashy pop EP, packaged by mi-wallet, a local designer who used pages of the BRAG to create custom, handmade sleeves. “That’s something I’m really stoked about. Each one is going to be completely unique,” says Callander.
Starting out as voice memos, the tracks were workshopped with the band for over a year before being brought to producer Dave Hammer of Def Wolf Studios in Alexandria. “We write country ballads, we write psychedelic 10-minute crap songs… As long as it’s good music we’re happy to explore all different styles … [the tracks] went through numerous transitions, then we took all of those versions to Dave Hammer, our producer, and he refined it all,” says Callander. “He basically polished the turd.”
Being bad for me now is disturbing the social etiquette. It’s kind of saying something when you shouldn’t say something.
The result is Ready Or Not, a five-track debut that serves as an expression of the band’s relentless refusal to become the softly spoken, well-behaved 20 to 30-something year old women they’re expected to be. The songwriting on Ready Or Not is primitive, thrashing and unapologetic; it’s infused with howls, heavy breaths and sharp, full riffs that compliment their loose shows.
Rackett have opted for a predominately trashy pop sound due to “a slight resistance to be good,” says Callander. “Giving in entirely to pop music right now feels too goody-two-shoes. I guess that reflects our personalities. We’re past the real trashy stage of our lives, partying hard and being self-destructive, but we’re not entirely in the clear—we’ve got a bit to work through, personally.”
The title track ‘Ready Or Not’ is an ode to being bad, which is evocative of a theme that runs throughout the record. “I wrote that song two years ago, so looking back on that now that, I just kind of laugh to myself because it’s not really me anymore,” explains Callander. “I still have that attitude, just it’s not in a form of taking drugs and getting super fucked-up. Being bad for me now is disturbing the social etiquette. It’s kind of saying something when you shouldn’t say something.”
That element of social disturbance is particularly present in the evocative music video for ‘Prey’, directed by Mathilde Nacquet, a slower, lighter number that shows off the band’s sonic diversity. “There’s a lot of other things that I really want to speak up about, that I recognise as disturbing and they’re not maybe what you’d expect. I’m all for animal rights and having a vegan lifestyle, so that’s kind of my rebellion at the moment.
“I was at the library in Newtown looking through an encyclopaedia and I came across all these really outrageous animals,” Callander continues. “With that fish with the light on its head [anglerfish], the female is the dominant one of the species and the male is super tiny. He attaches himself to her and he eats himself until there’s nothing left but a pair of nuts — and that’s his life!”
Inspired by the biodiversity of our earth’s wildlife and their evolutionary advantages, Callander explored the idea of being tricked, fooled and victimised by the opposite sex. “A guy or something will hunt [you] down and fill you with all of these stories and praise your existence and then never talk to you again. And it’s just bizarre behaviour. [I was] using the animal’s behaviour as a metaphor to describe how strange we are.”
I have a really good voice, I’m a creative writer, I am a performer, I love being onstage.
Elsewhere on the debut, the song ‘Your Son’ calls out the strange behaviour of an ex-roommate who stole and obliterated Callander’s car, boasting lyrics like “Your son is a con, your son is a bad one / and I wonder where he got it from”. “I do tend to attract a lot of drama and a lot of crazy people,” explains Callander. “So there must be something crazy within me that they’re attracted to as well.”
Having been onstage her entire life — she did tap, jazz and ballet from ages two to 16 and has studied acting at NIDA — making music was the next logical step for Callander. “I think making music is the best use of my skill set. I have a really good voice, I’m a creative writer, I am a performer, I love being onstage.”
Callander has gone out of her way to surprise audiences and her band before, and she has a penchant for showstopping feats – most notably when she shaved her head onstage during her band’s set at Electric Lady at the Metro in June.
One can expect their forthcoming tour with Killing Heidi and EP launch shows are set to be a big deal for their audiences, then. “We will sweat, bleed, cry, scream. We will give them 100 per cent of ourselves for those 30 minutes. I guess our only slogan is that we’ll give them everything, everything we have.” Callander laughs. “Just don’t tell anybody I’m staying in tonight with my sewing machine and my cat.”
Rackett play The Chippo Hotel on Saturday September 23.