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Interview With RedHook Frontwoman Emmy Mack

Hello Emmy, how are you doing today?

Emmy: Oooof! Absolutely chaotic, dizzy, overwhelmed... Every day has been like a frantic game of whack-a-mole trying to keep on top of everything! But more than anything we’re just so, so, so incredibly grateful for each and every crazy moment!

Press shot for rising Australian hard rock band RedHook.
Photo courtesy of Kim Quint.

How has the reception been so far for Postcard From A Living Hell? Emmy: The response has honestly blown us away, we’ve been so overwhelmed by all the love! I don’t think there’s a single song off the LP that someone hasn’t named as their favourite, which makes me very, very happy!

Would you say that the eleven new tracks on your recently released debut album, Postcard From A Living Hell, are an evolution for the band? Emmy: Absolutely! We made a big effort to really challenge ourselves on this record, take risks and see how far we could push our sound in every direction. I think it’s some of our strongest songwriting to date.

The new tunes on the new album range everywhere from pop-punk to metalcore to alternative rock, with elements from anywhere from pop, metal, rap, jazz, and even electronic dance music. Every track has its own distinct sonic structure and all sound like an entirely different band. Do you contribute to having an eclectic list of influences that resulted in this or were you looking to break the mold of what “genre” is today? Emmy: You know I feel like people get so bogged down in the idea of genre, but we’ve intentionally never allowed ourselves to be pigeon-holed like that, and we wanted to smash that box open even harder on this record. Our musical influences are very diverse and varied, so I think that’s definitely a big part of it.

But it’s not really about saying “fuck genre” just for the sake of it - even though it is a lot of fun. I guess it’s more to do with keeping ourselves excited and engaged as songwriters and performers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with artists who fit neatly into an established genre box and do it well and enjoy what they do, but if I had to do that, I’d be bored shitless! Both onstage and in the studio. To me, it’s all about writing good songs. Whether it’s pop-punk or nu-metal or metalcore or something else entirely - it doesn’t really matter. Does the song make me feel something? Does it tell a story? They’re the most important questions I ask myself when I’m songwriting. It’s a bit like painting, we use whatever colour palette feels most appropriate to evoke the right emotion and tell the story in the most powerful way. The story behind "Jabberwocky" wouldn’t have translated to a pop-punk song, just like the lyrics of "Soju" would sound weird as hell if I was screaming them over a furious breakdown!

You collaborated with a number of artists on the debut album like Yours Truly, Sly Withers, and The Faim. How was it working on music with all these talented artists and how was it like bringing them into the fold of your creative methods? Emmy: Honestly, all the features on the LP made those songs astronomically better. Josh’s incredible vocals on "Inarticulate" still give me goosebumps every time and truly lifted that song from one I just liked to one I loved, Jono’s charismatic guest verse in "Soju" elevated the character of that song so much and made it even more of a crazy party. And I don’t even know where to start on the "Imposter" collab with Mikailia. That became so much more than just a song for me. It was a defining moment in our friendship and working on it together really helped us both process and heal from a lot of trauma and emotional abuse that we were both still recovering from. That song is infinitely more special to me because of Mikaila!

When thinking back on your career to this moment in time, what moments stick out to you as the most satisfying? Emmy: Ah, this year has been filled with so many incredible moments that I feel so beyond grateful for! I think one of the biggest ones would be the moment we found out that our debut album had debuted in the top ten of the Australian ARIA albums chart. We’ve always felt like underdogs in so many ways over here, not only because we’re playing a style of music that gets largely ignored and overlooked by the industry, but because we’re also doing it completely independently, against so many big label counterparts. So to get that result with our debut album was just so, so rewarding. Also returning to the UK to play Download Festival last month and having a crowd of thousands of people turn up and sing along was a huge moment!

What keeps you going musically? Emmy: The fans, hands down. All the people who’ve believed in us and who’ve supported us and whose lives have been positively impacted by our music. I want to keep doing this for them, at least until I run out of stories to tell!

After releasing a slew of singles and then an EP in 2021, when did you all decide it was time for a full-length versus say another EP?

Emmy: Again, the fans! [Laughs]. For real though, I would have been happy to just keep releasing singles but we had so many people on every social post we’d do, commenting things like “When’s the album coming?” “Album when?” and “Please give us an album,” so it would have been just plain rude to keep ignoring them!

Front to back, Postcard From A Living Hell is hit after hit. I’m sure there’s a few gems sitting in the “discard” pile, which just didn’t make the record at the end of the day. Is there any chance we could get a deluxe version of the record, featuring cuts, b-sides, or even acoustic versions? Emmy: Ooooh, I love that idea! And thank you so much for the kind words! Craig and I were talking about releasing some vocal-only versions of a few of the tracks, and I’d love to do acoustic versions of "Inarticulate" and "Imposter." This may surprise you, but we don’t really have any discards! We have a bunch of one-minute demos on the shelf that we didn’t get to see to fruition, one of them actually became "Gangrene," our recent collab with producer, PhaseOne. The only full song that we actually did leave off the album, we decided it was too good to not be a single and wanted to save it to release later down the track.

Do you have any particular favourite songs off the album to perform live that now you’ve had a few shows since the album’s release to really have that soak in? Like which new songs are connecting with the Australian audiences so far? Emmy: Oh, honestly, "Soju" has been going the fuck off! We first played it live at Good Things Festival back in December just after it’d been released, and honestly, we initially saw it as a bit of an energy killer! Being the least heavy song on the setlist, none of us were really looking forward to playing it all that much. But it’s done a complete 180! Picture hundreds of people with their middle fingers in the air, shouting along every word with us! I also really love playing "Postcard XO" because I get to really wail vocally on that one.

Quite a bit of this album touches upon some really heavy personal stuff that occurred in the past, it must’ve taken a lot of time to come up with the right words on what to say so openly in your music? Emmy: Yeah, absolutely. It usually takes me a while to process those experiences before I can find the right words to articulate how they made me feel. It can be a gruelling process, but once it all clicks, it’s the most rewarding feeling in the whole world. Like exorcizing a demon, I always feel so much lighter after.

Recently, you also released a single, “Gangrene” with the EDM artist PhaseOne, how was it working with him on that track? Emmy: Oh yes! Like I touched on, we had this little one-minute demo called "Gangrene" that we didn’t quite get time to work on for the album, but I really liked the vibe of it. It had this cool dark EDM thing going on. So when Phase hit us up to collab, we sent it to him and then he just pimped it! It was such a cool experience working with him, basically effortless. We just kept bouncing the track back and forth and making it better and badder!

Recently on social media, everyone has been talking about no mosh pitting at concerts, what are your overall thoughts on this debate, as people probably mosh at your shows? Emmy: There’s definitely a middle ground to be found here I think. The safety of our fans is so important to me, but so is the cathartic experience they get from moshing at our shows. The call to ban moshing completely is a little bit too Dirty Dancing for my liking. I guess it’s a bit like driving, there are dickheads on the road who cause accidents but that doesn’t mean we should ban everyone from being allowed to drive. We just need to make sure everyone follows the rules (mosh etiquette) - and have a zero-tolerance policy for the dickheads who break them!

Finally, besides the upcoming album release, do you have anything else planned in the near future? Emmy: We’ll definitely be releasing more music before the year is out! And we’re hoping we can afford to finally get over to the US before too long! It’s number one on the touring bucket list!

Thanks for the time, Emmy! Is there anything else you want to add before you go?

Emmy: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us and listen to the album. It means a lot!


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