Words: Isobel Armstrong
Their debut album Black Mary achieved massive local success despite the band’s fresh move to Perth and this year the boys have been rounding out an effervescent tour of the regular Perth live music haunts since their thunderous blues-rock endeavour began - Mojos, The Rosemount and even Amplifier to name a few. Within the local muso scene, Red Engine Caves is a household - or should I say, share-house - name.
And now, they’re back with a vengeance with fresh track, Purple Pam, set for release today.
Purple Pam was, according to band manager Alexander Miller, “recorded in John Butler's secret studio, hidden away right in the middle of Fremantle with his sound man Clancy Travers, mixed by Dave Parkin at Blackbird Studio and mastered by Simon Struthers at Forensic Audio Mastering.” That’s a formidable production team, indeed. Miller notes that looking retrospectively at Black Mary, Purple Pam and other new materials in the band’s upcoming album are set to reveal Red Engine Caves’ foray into “more powerful, old school Australian rock”, artfully inspired by the worship of Billy Thorpe, Malcom Young and company.
Those influences are certainly audible, this is not to say, however, that Purple Pam goes without distinctly modern touches and a distinct Caves’ twist. It opens with a Tarantino howl, follows through with a killer riff and a Bon Scott screech, and climaxes with a grungy, curling chorus. In a region currently dominated by psych-rock, this injection of hard rock and Chicago blues is sorely needed. I’m imagining a soundtrack at this point- it sounds to me like the kind of movie-music you get when someone steps out of a Mustang with a cigarette dangling from their jaw, or when they show a montage of the Vegas lights. At the same time, it still sounds like someone’s back table at a Freo house party, littered with VB longnecks and guitar picks and a crackled pouch of old mate Brian (or Cynthia). That’s the kind of simultaneous small town-big screen success you want to achieve. The kind Malcolm Young would be proud of.
Purple Pam launches tonight at the Rosemount Hotel. Have a listen to the track and get ready to belt out all the words come nightfall.