“Things are f*cked a lot of the time, but you gotta keep looking for the light at the end of the tunnel – even if you do hope it’s not an oncoming train!” – Cal Kramer, The Southern River Band
For the casual observer, Perth’s Southern River Band, and indeed their livewire front man Callum Kramer may come across as being cut from that all too familiar cloth, a band on the make touting guitar flash, party riffs and a keen handle of self-deprecation. Great below the belt, but nothing above the shoulders. Dig a little deeper perhaps, and in particular on their 2nd full length Rumour & Innuendo and you may discover there are hidden leagues to fathom.
“There’s doom and gloom everywhere,” the lead singer asserts. “That’s what they put out there to get you to click on and unless you question it, then it’s just so easy to get caught up in it.”
While the 8 tracks represented on the fully independent 2nd release tick all of the boxes of a party hard, guitar swinging outfit – heavy riffs and breakneck licks, welded to anthemic sing-along refrains – there is also a growing conscience, developing as key player and creative Kramer transitions through the weightier half of his 20’s.
“Rumour & Innuendo is basically a way of saying people talk sh*t,” he states. “In this day of the internet it’s kinda hard to figure out what’s real a lot of the time. People are really quick to throw off their ill-informed opinion, the loudest are usually the ones that don’t have anything really important to say or are completely wrong.”
Noticeable on Rumour & Innuendo is that rather than rely on their “gotta see ‘em live” reputation, simply powering through a recorded version of their oiled live set, The Southern River Band have approached this new album as an alternate extension of the band. Considered, crafted and wrapped in a high sharp sheen of production. It’s an album the chronicles the turbulent period which saw the group’s entire line-up change after the release of their debut Live At The Pleasure Dome in 2016.
“We wanted to really step up and show were not just a live band,” the singer affirms. “We wanted people want to put it on and listen to it without saying you have to see them live. We want it to be the soundtrack to their lives, and to our lives, you know?”
Rumour & Innuendo was recorded at Rada Studio’s in Perth with in-demand Perth producer and the band’ 2nd guitarist Dan Carroll, who Kramer refers to “an absolute wizard in all facets of life.” Working under Carroll’s guidance whose considerable credits also include The Floors, Grace Barbe, Ruby Boots and The Kill Devil Hills, Kramer took the chance to expand his studio knowledge while working through the at times fragmented process of capturing the tracks for the album.
“Dan’s doing everything that’s good coming out of Perth,” Kramer adds. “He just did Carla Geneve’s most recent stuff and he plays guitar for us too, which is a massive hand having a wizard behind the desk and on the guitar.”
On record full of highlights that straddle the divides between power pop, brawny blues-rock and tasteful country tinged reflection, Kramer believes The Southern River Band’s points of reference stretch much wider than people may assume, stating that consideration of everything from “Dean Martin to Iron Maiden,” informs the sound of the band.
“To me these days the term rock n roll has been bastardised by people that don’t understand it, he argues. “Drawing on all the years of music, you don’t have to just pigeon hole yourself. There’s so much to be inspired by. It can be anything, as long as it’s coming from a place of legitimacy.”
Zeroing in on a few personal favourites, Callum Kramer offers some author insights into some of the key tracks that define the album:
Chimney – “is a flat out, pumping rock n roll song that I think any UFC fighter or wrestler should be using as their entrance music. It’s a story of a guy that I used to work with that sadly went through a few troubles with the old crystal meth. It’s actually a song of hope for any drug addicts out there.”
Second Best – “We’ve all been keen on someone and you think you’re getting somewhere, then you’re sort of left in the dust, whether it be with a person, or with a job or whatever. I’m speaking personally here, I have never been much good at second best, and I don’t really plan on being second best if I can help it.”
Playing To Win – “Not the John Farnham song of the same name, I think in this day and age everyone needs a bit of a kick in the arse every now and then. Everyone is struggling in one way or another and this song is the literal turn around to give em the fucking finger and fucking push on. Fuck you, here we go!”
Tinderella – “That’s just diving into the world of the internet man, written with the tongue firmly planted in cheek. The way the internet is and how things can get. Not everyone is as they seem on the internet!”
Little Victories – “Closes the album, and this to me is the one that is quite contemplative and again about finding the small things in life when everything else seems fucked. Which most of the time there’s good reason for you to believe that it actually is, but fuck the bigger picture, it’s about finding the small things and finding the little victories.”
In closing Kramer is keen to add, “I think that rock n roll is a legitimate fuck you. That’s what rock and roll is. You see all these rappers that come out and they’re like ‘fuck you,’ that’s rock and roll to me! We’re gonna do what we’re gonna do, and that’s legitimate. That to me is what rock n roll is. And obviously it helps if there’s some guitars involved…”
The Southern River Band Rumour and Innuendo National Tour
Thursday October 10th – Crown & Anchor, Adelaide Friday October 11th – Sly Fox, Sydney Saturday October 12th – The Espy, Melbourne Thursday October 17th – Milk Factory, Brisbane Friday October 18th – The Northern, Byron Bay Saturday October 19th – SolBar, Sunshine Coast Friday October 25th – Freo Social, Perth Saturday October 26th – The River, Margaret River