Bands that tend to stick around are the ones that, naturally, just through the sheer act of making themselves available, grow into something resembling an auxiliary family. This is what Celtic-punk group the Rumjacks have managed to do through a grueling schedule of tours and a consistent body of work.
When I had the opportunity to speak for the Alt77 podcast to Johnny McKelvey, bass player and founding member of the group, the aim of the Rumjacks became evident. Here is a band that scored a monster hit as their first single, and who have been working harder every year since then.
The formula that the Rumjacks had so hard worked to refine became obsolete for the very first time last year. The pandemic hit everyone. Musicians used to earning their living, especially, through playing concerts, were particularly affected.
There was one silver lining, as McKelvey, explains. The Rumjacks were able to reconvene and plan their new album, Hestia, more carefully than they had been able to do in a while.
The result is a record that, more than ever, touches on issues of loyalty, camaraderie, and family. Hestia also proved to be a dangerous crisis avoided by the group. Mike Rivkees stepped into the singer role, that for so long had been occupied by charismatic Frankie McLaughlin. As McKelvey says the chemistry between the group and Rivkees was instant. Their common love of Celtic music provided the foundation on which the Rumjacks built their new songwriting partnership.
If you’ve ever wondered about how An Irish Pub Song came to be, how the Rumjacks have managed their careers, who would headline their ideal Celtic-punk festival, and just McKelvey expects from his beloved Everton, this might just be the interview where you find all of these things out.