Q&A’s: Hugo Stranger & The Rattlers + The Colourful Writer

Interview/Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer

Brisbane’s Spaghetti Western/Surf Rock/Blues band, Hugo Stranger & The Rattlers today release their latest musical offering with their new single, Mad Woman. With jangling Surf Rock style guitars and Blues style leads, lyrics penned to tell a tale of the love for and dreams about a woman who has heaven in her eyes and pouts her lips on cue but has a mad side too. The song is catchy as hell, Hugo and his Rattlers certainly know how to write a song that will stay with you, you’ll likely find yourself singing along to it in your head throughout the day.

Tune in to the new track HERE and read on to find out more about the new release and more about Hugo Stranger & The Rattlers in our Q&A with frontman, Tom Harrison.

Hugo Stranger & The Rattlers have a new song out today! (Friday 21/08/2020), called Mad Woman – tell me about the new song! What’s the story behind it? Will this one have a music video to go with it? 

I had that opening blues riff for a while and wrote the melody around that. I have always liked those great songs with woman in the title like Black Magic Woman, Evil Woman and wanted to take a crack and doing one.  There is potentially a video being made for it.

We are seeing so much new music coming out lately with a lot of musicians and bands having more time to write and let their creative side flow, have Hugo & The Rattlers been doing a lot of writing and jamming over the last few months? 

Yeah the lockdown has been quite positive for the band. When we could play live more we definitely spent most of the time rehearsing for the set and now we’ve had a lot of time to jam and work on a heaps of new tracks for the next album.  

In January this year, you released your debut single, By Your Side, which has a really clever music video to go along with it. It’s still one of my favourite tracks of yours. Tell me a bit about that song and the making of the music video? 

Again that track came all from the riff. Story wise I had the idea of a 60’s Pan Am pilot apologizing to his wife for being away so much. There’s lyrical nods in there to Dean Martin, so I felt I’d set the mood. As for the film clip, I got the idea from the movie ‘Lars and the real girl’ and pitched the idea to my brother who shot the video. He ran with that scheme and came up with a new story and twist. It turned out great. I love it. 

Then Hold On was the next single released, a little heavier and more blues rock than the last, tell me about this one? 

It was originally a half written folk tune that sat in my notebook for about a decade. When the band got together I was fishing around the old notebook for some lyrics and found that one and it fit. 

Where have you recorded your singles, who did you work with on mixing and mastering, etc? Are there plans for an EP or album in the near future? 

We’ve recorded everything at The Moon Room in Salisbury with Nell Forster, who Thomas (the lead guitarist) has been long time friends with. She’s been a dream to work with. Super patient with great ideas and incredibly patient. We have just finished our debut album with her and hopefully it should be released in a few months. 

You recently played as a two piece, Hugo Stranger & The Lone Rattler at The Triffid for their Cabin Fever Series. What was that like? Had you played The Triffid before? Such a great venue! 

It is a great venue. It was only the second time we’ve played as just a two piece as well so it’s definitely interesting! We play the songs much slower and moodier so it takes a bit of getting used to but Thomas is a fantastic guitarist so I just try to ride his coattail. 

You’ve got some other gigs coming up too, tell us about those? 

We’re going to play as the dynamic duo again at Sideshow in West End on the 29th of August and playing our first Ipswich show at Banshees Bar & Artspace September 12. 

I have been to a few gigs since Covid hit, the sitting down thing is very different but it’s really not that bad and I am grateful we have gigs at all! How are you finding playing sit down gigs? What is it like from your point of view up on stage? 

The whole scenario of bar staff in masks and everyone being seated at a table is a totally different experience but on the flipside I think the audience takes a bit more notice, it can feel a bit more like a performance than something you drink and talk over. 

How and when did Hugo Stanger & The Rattlers first get together? Where did the band name come from? 

I had this bassline for a song that would snow-ball into this idea of my perfect surf album. It had to start and end with an instrumental, have a big pop track, and doo wop track. Then I stole an idea from David Bowie who said he would write from a character’s perspective. I also didn’t want to use my name so I got the alias name from a comic book. I recorded it all in my bedroom so the quality is fairly horrible but it was good enough to show other people and get a band together from it. The Rattlers name is a nod to the great surf bands like Dick Dale & The Deltones or Link Wray and the Wray Men. 

How has the band evolved from the earlier days? 

We’ve had a couple of band member changes notably Daniel Platts the original drummer who recorded the album with us moved back to the states due to his visa expiring. However Thomas has been there since day one when he responded to my little gumtree ad and Ben Lane joining us on bass truly set the bands foundation. And we semi-recently nabbed local band The Shakeouts drummer Kyle Zenchyson, so it’s definitely evolved from my bedroom recordings. 

What’s next for Hugo and his Rattlers? Any big news we should know about? 

The release of our debut album will be the next big thing. We would all love to do a little coastal tour so fingers crossed the borders open up again soon and we can go back to some form of normalcy and enjoy more live music.  

Follow Hugo Stranger & The Rattlers:

Leave a Reply