Hank’s Jalopy Demons’ [HJDs] newest release, Music on the Upbeat, described as a “wild album”, is loaded mainly with original tracks that have been called “period perfect”, with “creepy and amazing” lyrics. [See DJ Wildgoner, UK’s review here]. Thus, while staying true to the rockabilly genre, I did my best to deal with the material creatively. This seemed to have been effective since, after HJDs performance at the acclaimed Rockabilly Rave in England, the album was picked up straight away by the renowned Berlin label Rhythm Bomb Records. After the initial release of the CD in Europe last year, the response was so enthusiastic there that a vinyl pressing has been issued in the last month, for international distribution.
Which of your songs resonate most strongly and why?
People seem to get a kick out of the song “Warm and Close”, which is about, well, a stock topic of popular music – “making love”! This may be because it has energy with an up beat tempo and arrangement, whilst being in a minor key; which resonates with people’s more tender feelings. Alternatively, a song off our first album I’m Going Straight called “I dig you baby” has always been a crowd favourite, with the contrast between a well performed 2/4 Merle Travis finger picking style and a necrophilia themed narrative.
Tell us a quick, on the road, anecdote.
I was throwing rocks at the first floor window outside the pub where we were staying on tour in Sydney, standing in the middle of the road, as dawn was rising. You see, the door was locked and I had been painting the town red, but the Jalopy Demons had gone back earlier. Well, of course, when a cop car came around the corner, I had to do some quick talking which is pretty hard to do when you’ve been drinking all night. After fast talking – no money was exchanged – I got out of that scrape without being cuffed, but the band sure had a good laugh at my expense.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Lately, I have been using the Jack Kerouac method – because I’m beat. That means getting on the metaphorical typewriter and letting the juices flow. Then, on another day, I can try to fashion them into a musical structure, based on the original raw impromptu verse. This works well with coming up with the best feel for these lyrics – should it be up tempo, should it be in a major or minor key, what kind of groove should it have to suit the meaning? Dig?
Which song do you wish you wrote?
Of course, there’s the pecuniary thing – any song writer would like to have written any multi-million dollar hit to live off. Yet, from a creative point of view, I would love to have written Очичёрные, the famous gypsy tune “Dark Eyes”, which is not only beautiful, but has crossed into all musical genres. The same goes for Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance”.
What’s next for you?
The next achievement that I’m looking forward to is performing at the Spotted Mallard, which has become one of Melbourne’s best rockin’ and roots venues in my opinion. After that, I guess I’ll just keep writing more tunes and playing – and let life’s ride take me where unpredictable fate flows.
What’s your scene?
For many moons I supposed I would have said “the rockabilly scene”, but I and it have changed irrevocably. On the one hand, I’m sorry to report that many “rockabilly” bands seem far from either knowledgeable about or willing to play authentic rockabilly, which is easy to define if you take the time to listen to its best examples. On the other hand, my musical taste has expanded to the point that limiting myself to “a scene” would mean to stunt my experience.
Hank Ferguson is a notorious Rock-a/Hill-billy singer, previously convicted for crimes against musical taste with the “Starliners” (1991-2002); specializing in vocal gymnastics and six-stringed acoustic guitar. Dave Cantrell – Highly dangerous! Previous convictions include musical assault with electric guitar, vocals, steel guitar, trumpet and saxophone. Said assaults occurred between 1984 and 2011 on behalf of such bands as the “Stringbusters”, the “Straight 8s” and the “Starliners”. Til (Snappy) Vex – Convicted of grievous bodily harm against numerous bull fiddles, electric basses and amplifiers over the last two decades. Connections with wild combinations include the highly sought after “Black Slacks”, “Rockin’ Bandits”, the “Roadsters” and “Straight 8s”. Andrew Lindsay – known as “Mr. Rhythm” in hip circles; has served time most of his adult life for the supply of specialist drumming in such outfits as the “Roadsters”, the “Dancehall Racketeers”, the “Moonie Valley Drifters”, the “Starliners” and “Benny & the Flybyniters” between 1986 and 2012.
So many great rockabilly bands have sprouted up over the globe since the style first took root in the ’50s. Hank’s Jalopy Demons are proud to be a part of such a tornado of musical wildness and take their inspiration from the countless masters of this genre over the past 60 years. In fact, what may make Hank’s Jalopy Demons a hip band is their total immersion in this music, as well as their energetic enthusiasm for playing rockabilly the best they can – trying to emulate the best, while creating their own unique authentic interpretation.
Hank’s Jalopy Demonsplay this Friday 8th January at The Spotted Mallard.