With their new album ‘Letters From The Road Less Travelled‘ now released, and launched over the weekend in Melbourne, The Ramshackle Army are now set to take the album on the road over the coming months. This week, Gaz from the band took the time to answer our On The Record questions giving us an insight into their debut full length. Expand this post to take a read of his answers and stream the album. Grab a copy on CD or digitally [Here].

—- Listen while you read —-


Tell us about the release title..
This is our debut album entitled “Letters From The Road Less Travelled” and is our first major release since our debut EP “Life Lessons and Drunken Sessions” all the way back in 2011. The album title and title track really come about because there is a journey or travel theme which runs through the tracks. The lyrics of Road Less Travelled (the song) are referencing our trip over to the US with Dropkick Murphys and pay homage to the mates we made over there by sneaking in a few band name references (Hoist The Colours, Lexington Field, Charms City Saints). There has been plenty of song writing fodder in these sort of experiences because the shows and journey were very surreal. Something we didn’t ever expect and as a group of nobodies from Melbourne, felt a bit fish out of water. In addition to our own stories, like Road Less, and Broken White Lines (about trips up and down the Hume on tour) there are those written more about Australiana Heritage in the 3rd person, and of course with any band in the Celt punk world there’s a song or two about drinking.

Tell us about the artwork..
We definitely lucked out with this. About a year and a half ago we were invited to play the first Drunken Moon Festival being run by James Grim of Brothers Grim and The Blue Murders. He then became a close friend of the band, and someone we could pick the brain of or just share a beer with. As well as being an amazing frontman he is a massively talented artist so over a beer at a pub one Friday night we told him about the album, the lyrics and the overall concept and left it to him. The art features a ship on rough seas as the “conceptual journey” with man overboard and message in a bottle to signify the telling of the story. The font through the album is a handwritten “scrawl” to continue the old school letter theme.

What format/s will it be released on and how will it be packaged?
The album is being released on digipak and digitally first off and will be released in limited edition vinyl in the coming months.

Who will it be released through, and when?
For this album we have signed on to East Grand Record Company out of Lansing in Michigan and it came out Feb 18th. They have been amazingly supportive thus far and have given this little band from the other side of the world, any assistance we could possibly need. Getting something happening in the US was an important step for us as we needed to build on the audience we started to access in 2012. There is also a much bigger audience for Celtic punk in the US where it is its own “scene” and not as “nichey” as it is here. Other bands on the label include Continental (Rick Barton ex Dropkick Murphys band), Celt punks The Tosspints and Rebel Spies (featuring members of Suicide Machines). Through Europe we have secured a deal with Heptown Records from Sweden, who are the current label of SIR REG, one of Europe’s biggest Celt Punk bands. The European release is slightly later than the rest of the world and will be in time for St Pats.

Tell us about the studio and why you chose to record there?
We recorded at a studio called Head Gap in Preston. This is more related to the Engineer Loki Lockwood who we recorded with, but one of the main reasons for this studio with their analogue tape setup. We tried a number of different things during this process, some were great and some we wouldn’t do again. Each though we think grew us as a band and will take with us next time. Recording to tape was definitely a different experience for us, and we did the whole thing without any drum replacement or click tracks. For us we wanted to try to get a raw analogue and natural sound.

Tell us about the producer / engineer and why you chose to record with them?
Loki Lockwood is an oldschool and experienced Engineer who has worked through the industry for many years. Loki is not a punk engineer and is more of a rock producer, which we knew would change the result and sound. Loki had been working out of Atlantis before it was sold and had worked on successful releases for Brothers Grim and The Blue Murders as well as Graveyard Train.


Did you go into the writing process with a clear direction in mind?
Not really, to be honest. A lot of these songs have gathered over the last 2 years since ‘Life Lessons…’ and because of this there a range of sounds and styles. One of the positive things coming out of the reviews so far is that they are surprised at some of the variety of songs from more rock, to the stripped back and the traditional Celt punk. I think when some people here “Celt punk” there is a preconceived idea about what they’re going to get. We’ve never wanted to be a trad band who happen to have some distorted guitars, and a lot of the songs are a reflection on what we were listening to at the time. We hope that because of this, there’s a bit of something in this album for everyone.

Were you listening to anything in particular during the writing / recording process that influenced the songs at all?
There are a number of “stalwarts” of our scene that will always be on the playlist somewhere. The usual suspects like The Pogues and Dropkicks, even if in the background, but particularly we’ve been listening to the likes of Street Dogs and Flatfoot 56, both from the States. Apart from that we’ve all got some independent tastes, from street punk on one end of the spectrum to funk and soul on the other and everything in between. Some of these elements may directly affect the writing and some may more indirectly affect a riff that might be brought to the table. We’ve also played a lot of shows with Celtic, punk, folk and rock bands over the last couple of years. I’m sure I don’t need to tell Bombshell how rad the local music scene is, and we’d be lying if we said that some influence from the locals we’ve been blown away by, hasn’t creeped in there.

Were there any albums you were referencing to aim for a certain type of sound production wise?
We picked Loki because we knew his sound and what come through on the Spooky Records (his label) releases. Because of this we knew to an extent what sound we were going to get. The production is along the lines of something that can be found on Graveyard Trains albums, which might not be so familiar to Bombshell readers but I recommend you check out.

How long did you spend in the studio recording?
We spent about 7 days studio time on tracking 12 songs. We then mixed at Loki’s house which gave us the flexibility to play with things when we were available a few hours at a time.

Tell us a little about the recording process the band used?
This was completely different to things we’d previously done. Working with Sam Johnson at 3 Phase Studios had been something we were used to, but we kind of wanted to step out of our comfort zone. Putting it to tape and having the drums bass and main guitar all done live put a bit of a different type of pressure on you. Its definitely a bit of a less produced and less abrasive open rock sound, vs our previous punk releases, and sets the scene for the next one to be balls to the wall.

Was this any different to previous processes you have used?
With the lead instruments we have, particularly a jump between fiddle, banjo, mando and guitar all taking their space in the mix, there needs to be balance. We’d previously done independent instruments with click track to assist in the changes. Having the bass, drums and guitar all tracked together and with no click meant we had to know our stuff, and take particular notice of each other. That also helped us grow as a band particularly as it was the first recording effort with Josh on Banjo/Mando.

Any guests involved? if so, who.. and what did they do?
We had a couple of blokes stop by. The first is Wez from Melbourne Pirate Punks Sforzando called in to add some piano accordion. He played the album intro as well as adding some depth to some of the folkier tracks. We also had Dave from Catgut Mary add some tin whistle to the folkier songs. The point of these were to add some light and shade between the trad sounds, and the more punk rock sounds.

Any particular equipment outside your usual live gear used in the process?
Besides trying out some different guitar tones and amps everything is pretty much as we would live. This kept that natural feeling and sound that we wanted to transfer to the record.

Any additional tracks recorded that didn’t make the cut but may see the light of day sometime?
At the same time as recording the album, we also did a cover of The Pogues – Boys From The County Hell, which we released as a B-Side to the Anchors Aweigh single (first off the album) back in November. Separate to the album project we’ve already been back in the studio, this time with Sam Johnson for a special North American Tribute Album we’ve been asked to contribute to. We’re pretty keen on hearing how that one’s going to turn out.

What track/s are you most looking forward to playing live?
As a fair amount have been around a while, we’ve probably been playing half the album already, but the ones we haven’t played are the real change of pace ones so I’m interested to see how they go down. They may become regulars, or they may be left as recorded “not in the set” tracks… that’s the bonus of experimentation!

How would you compare the final product to previous releases?
We notice a different tone a wider variety of sounds and more Aussie-ness to the vocals on this one. Some of these may sit well with people and some may not, but I’m sure we’ll find out. One thing we didn’t want to be and that can’t be said is that we’re a band that just rewrites the same album. I’m also hoping that for people who don’t get into some of the more trad stuff, that the banjo/mando/fiddle combination doesn’t put them off and they can find something in the album.

Anything else you want to say or about the release?
Buy it!!! But seriously, the fun we get from these recording is touring on them and playing live. We’ll be on the road through March and April.


THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY – ‘Letters From The Road Less Travelled
Available now! Grab it on CD or digitally [Here].
Fore tour dates, hit up the band’s page [Here].

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