Meet Bec Callander, lead singer and guitarist for punk rock powerhouse band RACKETT. "My favourite place to be is on stage with my band, under the lights, with a microphone in my hand."
Noisy, raw, with buckets of attitude, Sydney-based punk rock foursome RACKETT have been ones to watch since they formed last year. Described by critics as tight, focused and celebrated for their gripping live shows, RACKETT could well be the new face of a fresh movement of women in alternative rock. Featuring Bec Callander on vocals and rhythm guitar, Kat Ayala on lead guitar, Ally Gavin on bass, and Astrid Holz on drums, RACKETT have released just three singles, but for an outfit that only began in 2016, this all-women, all-power band is making a big impact.
Their latest single Prey is punchy and oozing with sultry sass, a switch from the raw head-banging beats of their previous singles BATS and Ready or Not but brimming with the same confidence and assuredness fans have come to expect from RACKETT.
To date, RACKETT have impressively supported American band Bleached and U.K. rock icons The Darkness, as well as featured on bills with Aussie alternative rock bands including The Bennies, Sticky Fingers, Stonefield, DZ Deathrays and Abbe May. Not the type to be shy of a male dominated line up, lead singer Bec told Music Love that their audiences are fair and never discriminating as RACKETT brings their feminine edge and adventurous imagination to unsuspecting crowds.
At live shows, RACKETT will arrest your attention, and are a surprise for all the senses. A quick case in point, at Jack River’s Electric Lady festival last month (featuring Alex Lahey, Gretta Ray, Ali Barter, Bec Sandridge and Bodytype) lead singer Bec shaved her head live on stage, bringing a visual gut-punch to their already rocking show.
Bec spent some time with Music Love to talk about their spirited-antics, how RACKETT found each other, and what the future holds.
What does music mean to you?
Music to me, means healing. It is the portal to the future and the past.
Has music always been a part of your life?
To me, life is a soundtrack made up of everything around us: the birds, the wind, the TV, traffic, talking, building, etc. I consider this music, so in this sense, music is everywhere and has been a part of my life for my entire existence. It is the distant radio playing or phone ringing in the background or the wailing of our mothers as we enter the world. Maybe even before that there was music in womb? I don't remember.
You’ve each been involved in music projects before RACKETT. How did you come together?
I had a warehouse, and I would advertise 'weekly girl jams' in the paper and on the internet just for fun. Some nights up to twelve girls would show up with a range of instruments like flutes, acoustic guitars, keyboards, recorders or just poems they'd written and we'd make a band. Some of them went on to form the band, RACKETT. Some of the other members I saw at local gigs, playing in other bands. We all met on the music scene, and we've come together at different stages of the journey, but we all have similar beliefs and one common goal that glues us together.
You describe RACKETT as the “love child of Black Sabbath and the Spice Girls". Tell us more.
RACKETT mutually embodies the wholesome, feminine, playful spirit of the Spice Girls and the outcast, outspoken, brutish spirit of Black Sabbath. We like to be two things at once.
How do you mesh RACKETT’s edge and attitude with femininity when you are performing live?
We don't. We just play our music. Being that we're pretty girls - that is a juxtaposition in itself.
Your lyrics are fun and provocative. Which band member pens RACKETT's lyrics?
RACKETT is not only a musical sensation, you’re also a very visual band. How important is this to you as a group?
We come from theatrical, musical theatre, dance and performance art backgrounds. We want our audiences to be entertained. We want their full attention. We want them to be present. To get their attention we might turn up in something outrageous or just in garbage bags, shave our heads onstage, roll around on the floor, throw toilet paper, anything to get them thinking about themselves and how we are provoking them. Anything to get them off their phones and interacting with us. A good performance relies on an interactive crowd.
RACKETT recently played as part of a powerful all-female concert Electric Lady. What made you decide to incorporate your hair as part of this particular performance?
I decided to shave my head because my hair was dead. I had been bleaching it, painting my scalp in chemicals for a long time, maintaining this 'barbie-doll' image. I wanted to crucify this image and I wanted to do this with my fans.
Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
The band. Ally (bassist) is the ultimate peace-keeper. I've never met someone that can be so self-sacrificing to other peoples needs, whilst so resilient and committed to her goals. When Ally first joined the band she was so determined to play even though she was in great pain after falling off a balcony, she just got on with it. Highly musical, with the voice and face of an angel, she is the band's musical compass. Kat (lead guitarist) - what a shredder! She always delivers her viewpoint in a direct and non-threatening manner. Kat gets the job done and does it whilst looking effortlessly gorgeous. Astrid (on drums) is the most resourceful person I've worked with, in a band. There is no problem that cannot be solved when it comes to Astrid. Strong, hard-hitting, thorough and dependable. She is also very beautiful but is more interested in looking at the mixing desk than looking at herself in the mirror. I've worked with many musicians and my band is the best.
RACKETT’s aim is to surprise audiences. Tell us the most surprising thing that happened to you this week.
I'm alive! Ally and I both got very sick during those Electric Lady shows, we were shaking with fevers and we both thought these might be our last shows. Kat and Astrid nursed us before and after the shows.
When you’re not performing, writing or recording, what do you do with your time?
I work in community healthcare, so I spend a lot of time in the shower with strangers, providing basic personal care for them. I also like to tap dance, write poetry and watch people.
What is your favourite place in Australia?
My favourite place to be is on stage with my band, under the lights, with a microphone in my hand.
What will RACKETT be up to next?
We've just released one of our favourite tracks Prey and will be releasing the video clip in a few weeks. The clip will blow your mind, it's very strange. After that, we'll release the rest of the EP and go on tour. We'll be recording some new music next week too and playing some local shows.