HomeInterviewsSXSW Artist Spotlight: Red Rum Club

SXSW Artist Spotlight: Red Rum Club

Last week, 360°Sound had a chance to hop on a Zoom call with UK indie rock band Red Rum Club. Speaking in a congenial Scouse accent from their new warehouse recording studio in Liverpool’s Docklands, lead singer Fran Doran, guitarist Mike McDermott, and drummer Neil Lawson expressed their excitement to return to Austin, Texas for SXSW. Last year, the trumpet-infused sextet made its stateside debut.

Since forming in 2016, Red Rum Club’s career has been on a steady climb, selling out large venues in their native Liverpool and releasing three full-length studio albums. Their most recent LP, 2021’s How to Steal the World, peaked at #5 on the UK indie charts.

360°Sound: I was not familiar with Red Rum Club until the other day. I got an email describing your music as “Mariachi Merseybeat,” so I was intrigued.

Mike McDermott: That must be a mistake, ya know? We’re the hip-hoppers.

Fran Doran: We’re not quite like anything else. A lot of people have tried to describe us before. I don’t think many people have really come close. “Mariachi Merseybeat” is probably the only thing that sorta gets near.

The six of us are making a big loud noise when we play, especially live. There’s a lot of singing along and dancing. I think it’s something you’ve gotta experience. You have to be there, sorta thing.

From the videos I saw it looked like your shows are very energetic.

Doran: It’s a bit of a party. I always say even if you’re not a fan of our music still just come for, like a sort of release. You can have a beer in your hand and make an idiot of yourself because us six are doing it on stage anyway.

You recently tweeted, “we’re writing songs.” What does songwriting look like for Red Rum Club?

Doran: Well, it’s usually 90 percent arguing and like 5 percent work and the other 5 percent is drinking coffee and making teas. It seems like a good long while ago since we wrote some new music. We brought some singles out at the end of last year, but we’re always striving to write albums and have a collection of work, a body of songs, that we can put out as a big vinyl.

Maybe from the outside it seems a bit quiet, but we’re busier than ever. We’re in our brand-new studio every single day, trying our best to write the next hit. Or our first hit should I say.

How did you come up with the band name? The first thing I thought of was the “Red Rum” scene from The Shining.

Doran: You got the nail on the head there. That’s what it was. We were watching some cool films that you’d like your music to be on, and [guitarist] Tom [Williams] come in and said, “What about Red Rum?” Because it’s kind of a cool concept.

Also, the most famous racehorse in British history was a horse called Red Rum. That was from Liverpool, trained along the beach where we all live. It just sort of all worked together. The local connection as well as it being quite a cool name.

I understand that y’all are big Quentin Tarantino fans, and spaghetti westerns were an influence. Tell us about the films you like and how the scores of those films influenced you.

Doran: It was the fact that we got the name from The Shining. We would all talk about films. We’re all quite passionate film fans. When Joe [Corby] came along with the trumpet, it made our music sort of fit that world a little bit more. And then we just ran with it. It sort of became a happy accident.

The trumpet wasn’t the plan from the start?

Doran: No, he was an imposter [laughs].

Do you ever have a horn section at your shows or just the one trumpet?

Neil Lawson: One is enough. One is more than enough.

Are you being encouraged to get your music on TikTok?

McDermott: Yeah, we feel like granddads trying to work it and log in.

Doran: It seems like the only way to break in at the minute. It seems like the music industry that’s all they talk about. That’s the only way young people listen to new music. We are pushed into it by everyone. We want to stay ourselves and do it genuinely in our way.

McDermott: Growing up, I think we were kind of force-fed music by our parents. We were quite lucky in that sense because we were force-fed some pretty good music. I wonder maybe if Gen Z, is it the same kind of generational thing with parents introducing their children to music they like or bands they’ve grown up with? Or is it just completely “This song is trending on TikTok so I like it now” type thing?

Doran: I think it’s a psychological thing as well. The attention span is just a lot shorter because you’ve got 15 apps as well as Netflix as well as television as well as the next dating app. Everyone is fighting for attention, and it’s all there within finger touching distance. You’ve just got to be persistent with it and good at it. If you have a good song, it probably will catch people straight away.

It’s cool that you’ve had some vinyl releases. Having a physical format, like CD or vinyl, is still a big part of being a working band today, huh?

McDermott: Yeah, it’s massive for us.

Doran: Those physical things make people hold ya closer a little bit. When you get the CD, you’re no longer just a thing that you press on Spotify or the thing you listen to in the car. I think they buy into you a little bit more. That Christmas card feeling of the physical thing is the connection between you and them.

When you came last year for SXSW what did you think of Austin and the United States?

Lawson: We love Austin. We can’t wait to get back.

Doran: You said that like you hated the rest of the U.S.

Lawson: I did.

McDermott: Salt Lake City, ugh. [thumbs down]

We’ve done two tours of America now. We had to go and get these P-1 Visas. It was pretty scary. We had to go to the U.S. embassy in London. Our guitar tech forgot his passport. We got over the first time and we did Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. Then we flew to SXSW.

Up until that point we’d been kinda here and there and everywhere. Then we got to Austin for SXSW, and we were there for nine days. We fell in love with Austin. We’ve very, very excited to be returning.

What are the plans for the band in the coming years?

Doran: We’ve got a big UK summer festival season. Hopefully some new music and another tour by the end of the year. And then back to America, whether it’s the end of the year or early next year. We’ll go and get our visas again, get a big bus, and hopefully have some tales to tell from going across your amazing country.

Lawson: Total world domination. That’s the year after.

Red Rum Club will be playing two sets at SXSW 2023:

Monday 13 March, 10:00 – 10:40 @ British Music Embassy at The Courtyard
Thursday 16 March, 1:05 – 1:45 @ Mohawk Indoor


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