Sydney band Bootleg Rascal are rugged, raw and ready (to have a laugh)
The boys in Sydney band Bootleg Rascal are a slightly odd bunch. If you sit and observe them for just a few minutes, you’re bound to see something unsettling unfold, or hear a conversation that comes completely out of left field. Sitting down to have a chat with them before their show at Sydney’s Name This Bar last week, I am first hit by flying wire that front man Carlos is cutting with pliers. I’m then interrogated about my linguistic knowledge by bassist/keyboard player Scottie. And finally, I have drummer Jack, who “has a jellyfish for a haircut” (according to guitarist Jimmy), draw a portrait of Jimmy on my back. “You can go and get it tattooed on for real down the road later if you like.” Cheers for that Jack.
For these four boys, who started playing reggae influenced rock together less than a year ago, it seems music is sort of an excuse to avoid doing other ‘adult’ things. “We do have day jobs, but we try to avoid them as much as possible”, says Scottie. He cameo’s as a Mexican at a cantina in a Sydney pub. Jimmy say that he and Jack “go out and build stuff. I don’t actually know if people want it, we just do it and charge them for it.” Carlos, who’s parents are Chilean, works for his dad’s company. “It’s a drug mill thing, Chilean Mafia you know”, Jack butts in. “Yeah... and I babysit my sisters. One’s four and one’s seven.” Cute.
When it comes to playing the music they have a similarly no fuss kind of attitude. Jimmy started out with the band’s original singer Dan when they met through their now-manager, Neil. “We shared a burger at this strip club, he got sprayed with some water [...] and then yeah we started making songs”, Jimmy explains. Then Scottie and Jack came into it, “We’ve been teaching them to play their instruments ever since. They’re not too bad I guess.”
So how did Don Carlos suddenly end up front man?
“He was flipping burgers at Grill’d down the road. He was humming tunes in the background, and we just sort of thought maybe if we gave him a mohawk and took his apron off he might be good for it.”
“So they held you down and shaved your head?” I ask Carlos.
“Pretty much. At Woodford (Folk Festival). Neil (their manager) did actually. He pretty much hopped out of his tent and just did it.”
“He doesn’t have much hair” Scottie observes.
“Yeah it’s kind of like a bohawk- a back mohawk” Jack concludes.
With a name like Bootleg Rascal, they’ve got to have something dodgy going on right? “We’re not bad guys, we’re nice guys,” Jack states matter-of-factly. Carlos raises his eyebrows. There was this one time though, that their music inspired some strange shit. Scottie tells the story. “There was a dude at Woodford who came up and was like ‘I love you guys,’ and I was like ‘Cheers dude. Where are you from?’ and he was like ‘Oh I’m from Darwin’. And I was like hell that’s pretty mad that we’ve travelled out that far musically, I was pretty taken back. And he’s like ‘Yeah you guys are mad. We always listen to you guys when we just get loose and shit and yeah, you actually inspired us to steal a horse.’ And I was like ‘That’s sick’. So yeah, we inspired someone to steal a horse.”
I ask them how they feel about that. “I reckon if the horse wasn’t hurt, and everybody was happy at the end of the day then it’s ok.” Carlos says.
“Sort of like the man from Snowy River, or Ned Kelly or some shit,” Scottie adds. Different stories, but both involving horses, I get it.
So after discussing whether or not lead singers pick up the most (not true, Carlos doesn’t pull at all), whose are the most annoying habits (Jimmy’s farts and Jack making the others sick), what Jimmy’s physique is like (“Rugged, raw and ready” according to Jack), what they’re currently recording (the soundtrack to an interpretive dance film), and whether or not underwear is necessary (three of the four say no), we finally get to where their name really came from. A long winded, and much interrupted (with questions about dinner) story short, Bootleg Rascal were named by fellow Sydney band, and close mates, Sticky Fingers, who already had a song of the same name.
“We liked the idea of how they got their name from a Rolling Stones album. Not because they were really influenced by the stones, but because it was sitting on a table one day and they needed a name, so they got that. The Rolling Stones stole their album from Muddy Waters or something like that, I like the way it flowed down the line,” Jimmy explains.
“I actually thought it was from Jamiroquai” Scottie asks, puzzled. The others just look at him, and then back to me. I’m not the only one learning new things today.
Before I leave them to do soundcheck, I ask if they have any questions they want to ask.
Jack pipes up, “I’ve got a question I would love to know the answer to, see if I’m going to get laid tonight.” Jimmy looks at him, “Who are you asking?”
“Oh I’m just asking myself really.”
Unfortunately for Jack, my sources tell me the answer was ultimately no.
If you’d like to be drawn on, see Jack’s jellyfish haircut (or change the answer to his question), speak Spanish to Don Carlos, or just listen to their chilled out, and rather good music, they’ve got a couple more shows coming up in Sydney.
By Vicki Fletcher
Mona Vale Hotel
Saturday 25 January
With Tijuana Cartel and Ocean Alley
Tickets through http://tijuanacartel.com/
Beach Road Hotel, Bondi
FREE Saturday 1 February