The mark of a true critic is their ability to pigeonhole even the most outlandish of artists into one neat, all-encompassing genre label (often to the artist’s chagrin). But even for the strongest music snobs amongst us, Rackett are a tough band to nail down. The aptly named Sydney quartet have been described as everything from punk rock to indie pop and psychedelic fuzz—though, as it turns out, the most accurate tag might be a lot more simple.
“I just think we’re pop,” says Bec Callander, the band’s notedly outspoken lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. “I’ve been resisting that label for a while by doing all of these other genres, but really, pop gives you the ability to do all of those things anyway. I’ve been listening to a lot of different artists—moving away from garage rock and towards bands with a higher quality of production, and I’ve been seeing that there’s still so much creative flexibility in pop. It’s not strictly candy floss stuff: pop music is The Rolling Stones, it’s The Black Keys, it’s The White Stripes—that’s pop music.”
Callander is quick to point out that although we shouldn’t expect a dubstep-country-funk Rackett song any time soon, absolutely nothing is off the table when it comes to their potential. “There are no rules in Rackett,” the frontwoman says. “We have a code of ethics in the band, and we have an agreement between us that we’ll always deliver the best show possible to our fans, but that’s where the rulebook ends.”
Rackett’s live shows are a true testament to their vast and varied scope of talents. Costumes, narratives and artistically layered sound mixes are cornerstones of even their lowkey pub jaunts, and come August, they’ll be showing it off at the Melbourne Guitar Show alongside icons like Albert Lee, Phil Manning and Nick Charles. It’s an opportunity most bands would foam at the mouth over being offered, and the gravity isn’t lost on Callander.
“By nature, the girls and I are always interested in the latest technology and the latest equipment we can use to improve our performances,” she beams. “Y’know, Kat [Ayala, lead guitar] is a complete guitar nerd. We were going to go to the Melbourne Guitar Show anyway, so to be asked to play is amazing. We’re excited to see what’s new, what guitars and pedals are on the market and what’s been tried and tested and stands the test of time. We’re always looking for new ways to create new sounds, so we’re stoked.”
The standout cut of their current live set is recent single 'Space Cadet' – a song that shines with bright, searing guitar solos and crackly, cantering drums. Callander describes it to us as “an intergalactic journey from planet to planet” wherein the instrumental sections represent the stages of an astronaut’s adventure.
“Ally’s [Gavin, bass] section is where you’d just be floating through space,” she says, “And then Kat’s guitar solos are all engines go, lift off. We wanted to create the experience of space travel through sound, with all its ups and downs. It’s also a metaphor for, dare I say, when you take illicit substances—the highs and the comedowns.”
'Space Cadet' arrives as Rackett’s second tune for 2018, following the groovy and upbeat 'Alive'. Releases have been staggered casually thus far, but that’s all soon to change with Callander teasing a new single set to drop later in August.
“It’s actually a track that came about three years ago when I was playing in a punk band in Melbourne,” she says. “The idea only just came back to me in the last couple of months, so we’ll be dropping that soon, and then we hope to release another single every month up until January. After that, we’ll be doing a series of all-ages fundraising shows to create an album. So hopefully the debut album will be out around the middle of next year.”
Keeping in line with the idiosyncratic storytelling of 'Space Cadet', Callander says a full-length Rackett concept album is a very likely possibility. “I’ve been fantasising about an album that focuses on humanity for a while,” she notes. “I’m an animal rights activist and I’m an activist for equality, and I guess I’m just waiting for people to accept us at face value from as far and wide as we can before we move forward with something like that—just to prepare them for it.”
Rackett are currently on tour around Australia. They will perform as a part of the Melbourne Guitar Show on Saturday August 4 and Sunday August 5.