Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes, a nine-piece band from Melbourne, pack a whole lotta soul into a single performance. Christie Ots caught up with Clairy at Bluesfest to discuss the Rackette family, collaborations and capes.
With their debut album Baby Caught The Bus garnering praise both nationally and internationally their highly visual performances are captivating. The band was formed from an idea that Clairy had five years ago.
“I wanted to put on a stage show that was really participatory for audiences,” she explains. “Something that embodied that 1960’s television hysteria of shows like The Beat, where musicians are wildly losing themselves and audiences are being carried with them.”
That is exactly what you get with this band, with songs like Whatta Man sending the crowds into wild gyrating frenzies and bringing to mind the days of swing dancing and jive.
Consisting of Clairy Browne and backed by Camilla McKewen, Loretta Miller and Ruby Jones along with Darcy McNulty (saxophone), Peter Bee (guitar), Jules Pascoe (bass), Gabriel Strangio (keyboards) and Nick Martyn, this band really is a family, and they have a busy year ahead with writing and recording material for their sophomore release.
“We don’t want to release anything until it’s absolutely perfect. There is a lot of pressure on us for the second album. We have a lot of material, almost thirty songs, and are still writing,” Clairy explains.
However their live performance has evolved since they were formed; with influences from life, art and film helping.
“The aesthetic is very important to us, as well as the music needing to be meaningful, so it has grown and changed; however fundamentally what we do it still this beautiful cathartic journey that is predominantly soul. We try to tell stories that take people to the highest highs and the depths of sorrow and that’s important.”
Being known for their evocative live shows and choreographed performance means that a lot of work goes into making sure that their set continues to grow and what the audience experienced at Bluesfest was unlike anything the band has done previously.
Clairy joked with the crowd regarding a beautiful cape that she was wearing, asking them if they were jealous. However despite her engaging on stage persona, she still gets a little world weary, and would love it if her cape were imbued with invisibility.
“I’ve always wanted to be invisible, not on stage, but it is a fantasy of mine to be able to disappear in moments,” Clairy says laughing. “You could get away with bizarre and naughty things and then reveal yourself. I’m sure there’s way cooler superpowers than a disappearing act, but sometimes I just want to disappear.”
With the band’s astonishing live shows and fantastic quirk I don’t think this is something that will happen for a long time.
Embodying that fun and energetic vibe of the 60’s, the band released a 7” split single with fellow MebourniansSaskwatch who they toured with in 2012. This, coupled with music video for Love Letter, and their live shows cements them as a band that is definitely a throwback to an era where the vibrancy of music shone, much like Clairy herself.
Photo: Gina Martin