RUSTY (ELECTRIC MARY): “We’ve Kept It Together And That’s A Celebration In Itself”

Electric Mary (Live at Mennecy Metal Fest, France, September 9, 2023)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

The Australian veterans of Rock N Roll Electric Mary are currently touring Europe and MER reviewer, Séverine Peraldino, got time to chat with frontman Rusty at the Mennecy Metal Fest, after their show! Read on to learn more about the band and their struggle to keep Rock N’ Roll alive.

In between COVID cancellations, personal reasons…It’s been quite a while since you’ve been able to play in France, even in Europe. So how are you doing?

I’m very good. It’s been four years. We were meant to come last year. Unfortunately, Pete’s dad got sick and then passed away. So family comes first. But we’re here now. It doesn’t matter what was before is not now. And what happens tomorrow, we don’t know. So we’re here today. We played a great rock show. We had fun. And it was very hot.

Since the last time you played, there have been loads of things going on over the planet. Did you feel that the audience has changed?

Oh, yeah! People in Australia are more willing now to stand up to higher people and say no. Because where I live in Melbourne, we were the most locked-down city in the world. Luckily for me, I live in a place which is called regional, which is like the countryside. So we could move around. But we couldn’t go into the city. So if I lived in Mennecy that’s how you say it, we couldn’t drive to Paris. We were forbidden. So we had to stay here. But we could move around here. It was very difficult. Because where I live, not many other people live. But it’s over now. We’re here! We’re ready to roll!

Do you feel that with this change, the audience is more ready to support the band, since they became more aware of all the difficulties in the music industry after the crisis?

I think it’s getting better now. We’ve played two shows, one in Nantes and one here. I can only go on about what’s happening to me in Australia. When we came out of lockdown, we thought that everyone was just going to come out. They didn’t. They stayed home. Because they were still scared. maybe younger people didn’t care. They were just, you know, frivolous. A little bit older, 30 and up went like “meh”, which also coincides with people staying home, working from home. They don’t go to the city anymore.

This European tour is an anniversary tour. With anniversaries, setlist is always a big issue. So, how did you choose the songs to play (for your headlining shows or for festivals?

We pretty much play as many songs as we can. And then for the festivals when we have to make it shorter, there are certain songs that we always play, “Let Me Out,” ” Gasoline and Guns,”  “No One Does It Better Than Me.” And songs come in and out of the set. We usually play around 23. I think we played 16 today. So it’s not too bad. I mean, somebody’s always going to miss out on their favourite song. It’s the case with everybody. Imagine if The Beatles played. What would they do? They’d have to play for seven hours.

As a band, you’ve hit some rough patches over the years, but still, 20 is cause for celebration. So what would you celebrate the most?

Just really the fact that we’ve kept it together because it’s not easy for a band like ours, which is self-managed, self-financed. to come to Europe as much as we can is hard. Money is pushing it hard. Just the fact that we kept it together. There’s many times we could have said, let’s not worry now. But we’ve kept it together. And that’s a celebration in itself.

If we dive into your discography a bit, about your most recent full album release, Mother, in 2019. The songs were slower than on previous albums, with different moods and kind of a melancholy. How do you reflect on the album now, a few years after?

When we did Down to the Bone, it was about 2009, we had a certain band figure of how we were doing it. And then by the time 2017 came along, when we first started writing for Mother, we all sat around together and worked for a good solid two weeks, working on the songs and how we were going to do them.  Different people had different influences inside the songs. It’s really a band collaboration. That is probably the most band-thing we’ve ever done.

Alex Raunjack (bass player just popped for a second in the room to say hi): To be honest, his words on Mother are the best words he ever wrote. His words were real from the heart on that record. It was beautiful!

About the themes of the songs: you always talk about, hardship, love, how do you articulate the music and the lyrics? What comes first when you write the songs?

Music, always the music! And, you know, usually, if I’ve got an idea, I just sit around the guitar and play until something takes my fancy. And it goes from there. Lyrics will change all the way up to the last day. Because one of my rules is, would I want to sing those lyrics in 10 years’ time? And would I want to sing that melody in 10 years’ time? And if it’s a yes, then it stays. Sometimes it changes. It’s just how I, how you feel in time.

Over the last few months, you’ve released a couple of new songs: “The Dealer” “The King of Rock N’ Roll” and “Three Days Gone”. There’s a sort of common theme in it that I think is linked with the title of the tour. Rock and Roll, The Way It Used to Taste. It’s like you are putting a positive spin on the phrase, “It was better before”. How do you feel about this?

Well, that’s what it is, the way it used to taste. I really think we were a little bit more 70s on those last few songs. Alex wrote “Three Days Gone”, the music. I wrote the lyrics and the melody. He wrote all the music. He produced it. We messed around with “The King Of Rock N’ Roll” for a while. It originally was written about Bon Scott. Because in Australia, he’s the king of frontmen. But then, I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t know him. And I didn’t know enough about him to write a song based around him. But it’s still “The King of Rock N’ Roll.” So it’s just a made-up person, but it’s still about the same thing. It’s probably more about a few other singers I know molded into one, and maybe a little bit about me. When we first started Electric Mary, when I first started Electric Mary, I had a big influence on who played what and what was played. That doesn’t really happen anymore.

With Electric Mary right now, you’re doing it all by yourself. What is your view on the industry of music today? 

(laughs)Nobody cares. We’re too old! And that’s why we just keep doing it. We do what we like and what we want to do. Hey, if someone came with $100,000 to help us out, that would be lovely! What sort of record company would pick us up though?  So there’s nothing against anybody or anything.  Sure, we’d like to do things bigger if we could, but we only come across who we come across. Timothy Drury used to play the keyboard in White Snake. He was the one who brought us here first. If it wasn’t for him, you and I wouldn’t be talking, because we wouldn’t have come to France. We supported White Snake, and it was because of him. He loved us, and he said, I’m gonna help you. But he left White Snake, or I’m not sure. He’s a hugely important person in our existence.

Before releasing Mother, you released a pretty good video, filmed with a drone, of the song “Woman.” How did this project come to life?

Alex did that. Alex had the vision in his mind, and he got the drone operator, she filmed it all, and Alex directed it and then cut it up. Easy! It was a fairly cheap video to make surprisingly, but it looks great, people liked that.

Could we expect someday, even if it’s not really fashionable anymore, a DVD of a show? 

The thing is, we still want to do it as good as somebody else. So to do that, we have to raise money. Alex can still direct it and cut it and all that stuff, but you can’t do it for $100. You’ve got to put it together properly. More than logistics, It’s all about the cash.

Do you have any other project besides Electric Mary that you’d like to talk about?

The other boys have a few things. Alex has had a band, Dirt River Radio. Brett’s just making his own album. He had the drummer from Stevie Ray Vaughan play on his record. But no, I don’t have time for that. Why would I want to? I’m in my favourite band!

Where can we see Electric Mary live? 

We’re in France and Spain and the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, and Sweden. If you go to our website, you will see where we’re playing. But we’re in Europe for the next seven weeks and we’ll be driving around. And if you see us on the side of the road, be friendly. Bring us a sandwich!


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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