“We wanted this album to be a big statement or a war cry."
RedHook are genre chameleons. On their debut album, Postcard From A Living Hell, the Sydney band experiment with rock and punk music as we know it, fusing together elements of electronic, nu-metal and hip-hop music.
All the songs on the album, from the heavy – Off With Your Head, Psych Vs. Psych, to the collaborative – Soju (featuring Sly Withers), Imposter (Yours Truly), and Inarticulate (The Faim), showcase RedHook as the explosive unit they are – a well-owned machine that only produces bangers.
Animated, punchy, high-contrast tunes of poppy electronics and post-hardcore beatdowns are balanced out by rage, desires, fantasy and real-life explorations in 32 minutes of RedHook.
Vocalist Emmy Mack said about the album upon its announcement, "It's been a long time coming, but we're so ridiculously excited to finally announce our debut album! This is something we've done purely for our fans. We have so much epic new music on the way that traverses the full spectrum of RedHook's colourful sonic universe, and we can't wait for it to smash you in the earholes."
Everything about RedHook is vibrant and glows with the kind of diverse, cathartic energy found in Wolf Alice’s Visions Of A Life. “First of all, it's really hard to articulate in words – it’s still surreal, but I'm just feeling… standard feeling is very overwhelmed with all the love and all of the all the good vibes,” Mack says on album release day (Friday, 21 April), a very busy day for any band releasing their debut album, but even more so when it’s an independent band like RedHook.
“It’s all very exciting and daunting, and it's just a relief to get it out there. Finally, it's out there now. It's in the universe's hands,” she says. Mack stands in the pantheon of music journalists turned singer (thanks to her jobs at Music Feeds and MTV Australia) with a distinctive musical identity, including Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys (Marvel UK, Smash Hits) and Hannah Jocelyn, who makes music as The Answers In Between (Pitchfork, Them).
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“It's funny, I feel like I have so much impostor syndrome because I write the songs, and then I have to help write the press releases for the songs,” Mack admits. Her two careers are intertwined, and they’re just different enough to come with their own separate hurdles.
She continues, “Sometimes I'm like, ‘How do I describe this in words?’ Like, I struggled so much. And then I'm like, ‘Am I a shit journalist? [Laughs], Why can't I describe my own music?’ But it can cloud things a little bit when you're trying to be a journalist or in PR mode and craft a press release when you're so close to the source material.”
Speaking of imposter syndrome, one of the highlights on Postcard From A Living Hell is RedHook’s collaborative track with Yours Truly, Imposter, where Mack and Yours Truly’s Mikaila Delgado trade lines in a joint break-up anthem. Imposter is about watching someone you love change into a completely different person before a heartbreaking trail of their past lies and deceptions unravel before your eyes.
“Love that segue,” Mack laughs then explains, “I can't even describe just how profound an experience that was for me – I adore Mikaila. She's an incredible human and such an amazing artist and such a powerful woman,” she begins. What was bizarre for both women was just how similar their stories were; Imposter turned into a completely different song than Mack had in mind.
“I wanted Mikaila on the song because we're friends and we love Yours Truly, and we just wanted to do a collab,” she adds. “But finding out that… it's a song I wrote about a particularly shitty breakup that I went through with someone who ended up being a manipulative, lying narcissist, which incites a lot of headfuckery and takes a lot to process. And Mikaila was going through literally the exact same situation in her own personal life – there were so many similarities!”
Both Mack and Delgado were going through it while working on Imposter, “So I would have been saying that it was empowering for me anyway because it's always empowering to write a song about something shit you're going through and take your power back and take control of your narrative, and process all that ugliness and all of those confusing emotions,” Mack explains.
“But to be able to do that with Mikaila was just so special. I say this a lot: Whenever we go through anything shit in our lives, it means so much to have a friend by your side who you can talk to who understands and supports you and knows what you're going through,” Mack adds. She had the privilege of having that experience, but doubly so through writing Imposter with her friend who was in the same boat. “It was so beautiful. What Mikaila brought to that song made me love it so much more. It's one of my favourite RedHook songs ever. One of my favourite things I've ever done.”
Mack is pretty good at talking about RedHook’s music when it’s just a casual chat between two people; that imposter syndrome dissipates during conversation. “That [variety on the album] was really important to us,” she shares, understanding that not releasing a straight-forward, cohesive album with every song sounding similar was a risk. “We never ever want to be predictable or be put into a box. We've rejected the box intentionally from the outset.
“We wanted this album to be a big statement or a war cry, I guess. But, yeah, I guess the downside of that is depending on people's musical taste, there'll be songs on the album that you like more than others and I've already seen that.” But part of what makes RedHook RedHook is their willingness to experiment and push those boundaries.
All over Postcard Of A Living Hell, the band have created an album where every song has its own personality and characteristics, making up a fascinating body of work. “I think the thing that unites all the music is my lyrics, it's just me vomiting my heart and soul into these songs,” Mack states with a chuckle. RedHook’s songwriting sensibilities revolve around big hooks that you can sing along to, “And yeah, so if you're a fan of songs like that, then hopefully, you'll like the whole record.”
This May, RedHook are taking Postcard From A Living Hell on an expansive national headline tour with Bad/Love, Belle Haven and Grenade Jumper. After the triumphant run, RedHook are slated to play the Hobart and Victorian dates of Unify: Off The Record. For fans who have never seen the band before, you’re in for a unique treat.
“Oh my gosh, if you haven’t seen us before, you’re in for a roller coaster,” Mack laughs, but the essential element of a RedHook show is creating as many memorable experiences as possible; what the Jabberwocky singer calls “The most bonkers shit we can think of,” including pillow fights in the mosh pit, “Saxophone circle pits [standard practice at RedHook shows], and surprise collabs.
“We love getting as many mates up on stage as we can to share in the fun. We’re big proponents of the more the merrier. So it's going to be chaotic, cathartic, you're going to dance, you get a mosh, and you might cry,” Mack shares. RedHook’s wild live shows also converted Smashing Pumpkins fans who hadn’t seen the Sydneysiders before at recent “incredible” The World Is A Vampire shows.
Mack explains, “It really was a festival vibe, even with the wrestling which adds this really quirky element [laughs]. Jane's Addiction are amazing. Amyl And The Sniffers are amazing, Battlesnake are amazing, and of course the Pumpkins… they've gotten even better, they are just so good. They’re just what you'd expect – they're fucking world-class icons. It’s still so surreal, if you told me I’d get on the same stage as the Smashing Pumpkins, it's one of those things that I could never in my wildest dreams have ever considered would happen to me.
“So, yeah, we feel so lucky and grateful and privileged. And I got to meet Billy Corgan,” Mack exclaims, “And he was so nice. It was just so lovely. I got to hang out with Amy from Amyl, and she's the biggest legend.”
A debut album is finally out in the world, and the band have toured alongside The Smashing Pumpkins, Unify: Off The Record, is coming up and they're hitting the Download Festival stage at Donington Park next month, is there anything RedHook can’t do? “I just really hope that if you like heavy music or just music in general, you listen to the album. It would mean a lot to us,” Mack states.
She adds, “You know, we're an independent band. It was a big decision to release this debut album as an independent band because we're trying to punch well above our weight here. But yeah, it would mean the world to us if you give it a listen. If you like it, hopefully, come hang out with us on tour because it's gonna be a bloody fun time.”
POSTCARD FROM A LIVING HELL TOUR 2023
With special guests
Bad/Love, Belle Haven and Grenade Jumper
THU 4 MAY | SOLBAR, MAROOCHYDORE QLD
FRI 5 MAY | THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE QLD
SAT 6 MAY | BURLEIGH BAZAAR, BURLEIGH HEADS QLD
THU 11 MAY | PRINCE OF WALES HOTEL, BUNBURY WA
FRI 12 MAY | AMPLIFIER, PERTH WA
SAT 13 MAY | ENIGMA BAR, ADELAIDE SA
FRI 19 MAY | UC HUB, CANBERRA ACT
SAT 20 MAY | THE CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC
THU 25 MAY | LA LA LA'S, WOLLONGONG NSW
FRI 26 MAY | THE CAMBRIDGE, NEWCASTLE NSW
SAT 27 MAY | CROWBAR, SYDNEY NSW
UNIFY: OFF THE RECORD
1 June - Odeon Theatre, Hobart TAS
w/ Alpha Wolf, In Hearts Wake, Void Of Vision
Redhook, Offset Vision
2 June - The Pier, Frankston VIC
w/ Northlane, In Hearts Wake, Make The Suffer
Redhook, Fit For An Autopsy, Ocean Sleeper
Mirrors, Chasing Ghosts, Banks Arcade, Future Static