Bandstand: Fermanagh band The Savage Rabbits still going strong 14 years later
Local band The Savage Rabbits talk to The Impartial Reporter about their main influences, their favorite songs to play and their biggest gig yet.
Who are the members of your band and what instrument do they play? Who is the lead singer?
We’ve had a varied line-up over the years, both on and off stage, but currently we’re Nathan Ternan (lead vocals), Francis McNally (guitar and occasional backing vocals), Brian Armstrong (bass), and Charles Knox (drums).
What is the origin of the name of your group?
We’ve told a few origin stories over the years – it’s inspired by “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, or it’s based on a vicious pet rabbit who lost his tail and wanted revenge.
But really, it was just something that felt good one day.
How would you describe your sound?
Our sound varies a bit; we’ll play with stacked amps or go acoustic. In general, our songs have this classic combination of quiet versus loud, and the alternation between distortion-driven angst and more subtle melodic introspection.
Perhaps our debut album said it best, ‘Heavy Mellow’.
What genre(s) do you consider your music to be?
Gender is always hard to define for us, because the key elements are so subjective, and then you wonder if you meet them or not.
We’d say we generally gravitate towards grunge and alternative rock, but you’re still influenced by what you listen to, so there are hints of metal, punk and trip-hop too.
What are your major influences?
Most of the bands that came out of Seattle in the 90s: Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Mudhoney, to name a few, but also some curveballs like The Pixies, Joe Bonamassa, Portishead and Opeth.
When did the group form?
This question definitely makes you feel old! We started making music as “The Savage Rabbits” in 2007.
It was just Francis and I (Nathan) then and a bit later we managed to convince a few others to come hang out and make some noise.
When I say it now, it seems to me that it should be accompanied by music from yesteryear and sepia photographs!
Fourteen years is a decently long time by anyone’s standards, but it’s a lot longer in band years, I think.
When you realize you started the same year the iPhone was announced, it definitely hits different.
How long have you all known each other? How did you meet? Where are you all from?
In the arrangement we find ourselves in now, three of us once met in classrooms of [Erne] Integrated College, probably 17 or 18 years ago now.
We all decided that making music was a lot more fun than the proposed homework.
We met Brian a bit later on the gig scene in Fermanagh, and a rule of thumb is that when you play an instrument and hang out at gigs, you and your friends are going to end up in a band together sooner or later. .
What gigs do you have coming up?
We had an upcoming concert on January 15th at Charlie’s with a talented group of artists, all to benefit Cancer Connect NI, but that has now been rescheduled for later in the year.
What does 2022 hold for the group?
We’re still writing and we have some new songs in the works that we hope to hit the studio with.
What is the band’s favorite song to play and why?
We all like different songs for different reasons, but I think “No Surprises” might be the one we like the most. It’s heavy, energetic and lyrically cathartic.
But I can’t let this question pass without mentioning “No.7”.
It’s just a really cool song with a lot of sonically interesting open spaces and a really powerful finish.
What has been your biggest gig to date?
Punx Picnic Festival in Letterkenny. We shared the bill with Mommas Slippers and Setting off Sirens from Skintown, as well as other notable names like Running Riot, Inner Terrestrials and The Beat. This weekend’s stories are for a very different type of article.
Any funny gig/rehearsal stories?
It may be funny now, it was tragic then. At our last show at Charlie’s, everything that could possibly go wrong happened, with the surprise finish of Francis’ amp exploding!
Do you write your own songs? What inspires your songwriting?
Yes, we like to write together as a group; sometimes it’s done on the spot from a riff that we like, other times one of us has a ready-made idea and we build the song together.
The lyrics usually come back to me (Nathan) and sometimes they can be a way of working on emotions or just random things that come from the back of my brain when the music starts.
What would be your dream gig?
Other than supporting some of our heroes? We’d settle for anywhere with a good old mosh pit right now! Hopefully we’ll get back to it soon.
Your best moment as a band so far?
Performing live is always great, but nothing beats a gig where the crowd knows your songs and sings them to you.
What is the most unusual room in which you have played?
Probably a bar under a football stadium in Dublin, once we found it. We were about to play in an alley that night.
What’s your favorite encore song?
‘Baby doll’, or for gigs where it’s already in the set, ‘Baby Doll’ twice!
What’s the best thing about performance?
Just playing your music in front of a crowd – nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like that.
One last word ?
Keep an eye on our social media for new music to come.