The Worldwide Adventures of The Resignators

Although they are based out of Melbourne, Australia, The Resignators have been all over the globe, performing their super infectious brand of ska-punk.  Their worldwide adventures have included an unfortunate incident of being deported at Heathrow Airport in London – more info on that one below.  Their latest effort is entitled See You In Hell, now available in the States from the Union Label Group.  When The Resignators arrive to play, a party of grand proportions is bound to commence.  We recently interviewed on of the members, who incidentally is originally from Richmond, VA.  Read on…

Introduce youself, tell me what you do in The Resignators, and how long the band has been together.
G’day mates! Steve Douglas here, guitarist for The Resignators. I joined the band about a year ago, but The Resignators have been together for six years, going on seven. Being a 7 piece band, there have been many line-up changes throughout the history of the band. When I heard The Resignators were looking for a new guitarist, I jumped at the chance, because I loved the songs, and the combination of ska, punk, and rockabilly is right up my alley. As a guitarist it is great to have a horn section and organ to help support the songs.

Where is the band based out of and what is the music scene like there?
The band is based out of Melbourne, Australia, which is one of the best music scenes in the world. We have lots of bands, lots of venues, lots of overseas bands that love to tour here. Stacy (organ) and I live in the country outside Melbourne, in a little town called Daylesford, which has a nice little scene, too. Lots of artists and musicians move here to get out of the city, because it is still close enough to head into the “Big Smoke” for gigs. I am the only American in the band, I moved down under 6 years ago after playing a music festival here. The rest of the band is spread out all over Melbourne and surrounds.

How did your tour in the US go and what were some of the highlights?
Our last 2 tours (and upcoming tour in July) were actually in Canada, as opposed to the USA, and they were great tours, especially the last one when we did shows with label-mates The Dreadnoughts and The Planet Smashers. We love Canadian and Québécois crowds! The band did go to SXSW and did some USA shows 2 years ago, and we hope to get back soon. I came out of the Richmond, VA music scene playing in bands like GWAR, Death Piggy, and Mudd Helmut, so I would really like like to get back to the USA and tour and see friends in cities I have played before. I think all the Aussies were pretty amazed by how cheap things are in USA and Canada. We pay a lot more for everything in Australia. For me it is “coming home”. and I love it!

Why were you not so lucky at London’s Heathrow airport and wound up being deported?
Haha! That was before I joined the band, but there were Visa issues and several members got instantly deported, not exactly what you want when you are jet-lagged and hungover. The band has since learned to get all immigration issues well-planned in advance. A couple of ex-members were pretty humiliated by strip searches on that trip.

How does See You In Hell compare to the material you did on Offbeat Time?
I think Francis’ voice has really gotten better and better over the years, and Alex Guigerre’s production at Indygene Studios in Montreal was dead on. New members have contributed to the quality as well. Jono James’ trombone really brought the tracks alive. Drum and bass sounds are bigger and better, and overall “See You in Hell” is just a bit more professional sounding. That being said, there are great songs on Offbeat Time, and we still do a lot of them live.

Where did you get the ideas for some of your lyrics? Please cite two songs in particular and what inspired the lyrics.
Most of the lyrics just express a lot of the feelings that the band members have. Lyrics deal with love, loss of love, friendship, loss of friendship, family issues (“Sins of the Father“). Some are more serious, some more fun. “Trainrobbaz” is the first original ska song about cowboys, we think.

What could one expect from a live The Resignators show?
High energy, first and foremost! When we hit the stage we explode; anything can happen, but it is going to be exciting and full of motion and emotion. The beautiful thing about a seven piece band is that it can sound huge. We like to use a lot of dynamics within songs and within sets to put a crowd in the same mood we are in, and when we are onstage, we are in a great mood, so that transfers to the audience! Lots of onstage dancing helps get crowds moving, too.

Has The Resignators ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
Not yet. But, of course we would love to! Unfortunately Visas for all the Australians would be expensive (not for me as an American) so we will have to wait until we have a great tour and some support with the expenses of touring. Touring out of Australia is very costly for a big band. There is some government funding here to help musicians get overseas, so we would probably have to do it that way. We fly through L.A. every time we come to Canada, so there is a good chance it could happen eventually.

What is an Australian beer you could heartily recommend and do you like American beer at all?
There are some great Aussie beers. I like the Abbotsford Stout, Coopers, Cascade (Tasmania), and there are also many boutique craft beers coming up now. Holgate, White Rabbit, Little Creatures, etc. are great ones. Victoria (our state) had more beers than any other in a recent poll of the Top 100 Aussie Craft Beers. We also have heaps of great inexpensive wines in Australia I personally love Horvat’s Shiraz wines, made by a friend, just down the street. We have ciders here, too, but prefer the Quebec ciders, they have some great ones. As far as American beers, I prefer the smaller craft beers there as well, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Breckenridge, etc. That being said many of my early punk rock bands lived on PBR and Black Label. We do like to find and taste good locally made beverages and food while on tour.

Who did the artwork on See You In Hell and how much input did you have on it?
We commissioned a great graphic designer out of Sydney, Annie Walter, for all the “See You in Hell” art. Francis just sent her the title track and told her to use a pallet of red, green and yellow, and she came up with the zombies reaching out of the grave (or hell) with instruments in hand. We prefer a more colourful look to the limited black and white of two-tone era ska. We are just a more colourful band!

What advice would you give a new band about to go on tour for the very first time?
Be prepared for anything and everything. Eat well and sleep well, because staying healthy makes for a better show. Travel light, especially if you are in a big band, suitcases can add up and take up a lot of room in the van. Take heaps of merch, it helps feed everyone down the line. Try and get along and remember everyone is a bit stressed out when traveling, so try and communicate and don’t let personal problems escalate. As far as funding, check out government grants, crowd-funding, etc. Most of all keep in touch with your fans, get their contacts and continually communicate with them. Social networks have made that so much easier these days. We love our fans! We are currently raising funds for a van for our Canadian tour in July on www.pozible.com, a crowd-funding site, that lets fans support us directly with pledges.

Any final words of wisdom?
For musicians: never give up! Work hard to be the best you can. If you want to get somewhere in the music business, you need to wake up everyday, asking yourself, “What can I do for the band today?” For punters or fans: support your local scene and touring bands. Buy their T-shirts or CDs (or purchase downloads), support your indie record store (they are a dying breed). It is a hard row to hoe being in a band, and fan support is the only thing that keeps music alive in the end. Since people are not buying CDs as much anymore, fans need to help bands in other ways.

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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