The multi-cultural singer/songwriter/musician from Down Under is back with an exciting new EP titled ‘Insatiable’. Recently signed to Musik and Film Records & Musik Radio Promotions, Rhett May looks to make a huge SPLASH with his brand new release. The EP features five fantastic tracks and the first single to be released to radio stations worldwide is “Cocktails and Cannabis”. Turns out that no drinking OR smoking was involved during the making of this song as music is the only high for Rhett. Actually, May hopes to bring back some of the “passion and excitement” that he feels is lost in today’s music and I say good riddance to substance-free tunes & unoriginal acts and material! With decades of experience under his belt and one heck of a musical palette, Rhett May is sure gonna give it one hell of a try! Go Rhett…GO!
2J Rae: So we go back to your first EP ‘Calcutta Boy’ in 2009 after a 30-year absence from music, then jump ahead four years with the release of ‘Cute Calcutta Boy’ AND now a new EP called ‘Insatiable’ with “Cocktails and Cannabis” being the first radio release. First I have to ask Rhett what made you wait 30 years to get back in the game and record ‘Calcutta Boy’? Next, what are the major differences between ‘Calcutta Boy’ AND ‘Cute Calcutta Boy’ and why is one “cute” and one not? Finally, stepping into the present time you now have a brand new recording titled ‘Insatiable’ that features the track “Cocktails and Cannabis” with no signs of any “Calcutta Boys” or “Cute Calcutta Boys” on the set. Was that the intention all along and was the transition from the previous two releases to the current five-track EP a difficult or easy one?
Since the band Lucifer split in 1979 I moved into corporate life to make a living and support my family…but the music was always bubbling away subterraneous within my soul and psyche.
It got to the point where I couldn’t see anyone perform live without feeling crazy low!! Suppressing my love for music, my creativity and performing live was slowly driving me insane…without me realizing it.
I flew over for a party in Perth…Tom our guitarist had a milestone birthday…and unknown to me, we were the band for the night….after nearly 30 years….the buzz returned and the door to the dungeon was unlocked…the beast was unleashed and now all hell’s broken loose…I can’t stop writing and composing and recording in my basement studio at home….till all hours of the morning.
The EP ‘Calcutta Boy’ was simply the name of my first EP…people referred to me as the boy from Calcutta…so I called it ‘Calcutta Boy’.
“Cute Calcutta Boy” was a song I wrote later on….about my memories and my early days on the streets of Calcutta….the nightclubs…restaurants…and the girls that were so delicious….the hormonal days of my youth !!
“Cute Calcutta Boy”…although released as a single in January this year, is a song off another EP (‘Fast Cars and Sitars’) that’s an ongoing project, which I’m doing with my childhood buddy ‘Jimbo’ Payne in Perth….we’ve played together since we were 15 years old…so he understands exactly what I’m doing…to the point that it’s quite scary !!
It’s been a slow process with this one…four songs done….another two to go…it’s got more of an Indian influence to it….but more about this at another space in time.
The transition to ‘Insatiable’ wasn’t hard at all…the influence of Stephen and Terry from Musik and Film gave the five songs a raw and exciting edge….I’d been out of the mainstream for so long…I asked them to choose the five songs they felt would help get me back into the sound of today…whatever that was !!
Being so close to my own writing, I felt that someone with the knowledge, feel and expertise of what was happening in the current music scene could make a difference and compliment what I was creating.
I had a list of probably 40 or 50 songs for Stephen and Terry to choose from…
Four of the five songs chosen, I’d written since my ‘rebirth’ in 2008…the fifth “Jenny” was the very first song I’d written back in my Beatle influenced days of 1969…it was during the days of Prodigy that I got together with our guitarist Michael Bradford in Prodigy… put it together in 1972 and started playing it on stage.
I happened to mention it to Stephen…as an aside….and when they heard it they went “WOW”….we love its simplicity….we wanna do it.”
2J Rae: With your latest installment you were able to get involved with the fine people over at Musik & Film and Musik Radio Promotions where the top-notch production team produced & co-wrote ‘Insatiable’ and played on the EP as well. So I have to ask Rhett what was it like working with such distinguished professionals in the music business? Having platinum producers on your side I’m sure affected the outcome of the EP in a BIG way and so I’d be curious to know what you personally thought of Musik and Film’s involvement & take on ‘Insatiable’? What was it like hearing the final result once all five songs on the EP were recorded and set in stone?
I feel I built a rapport with Stephen from day one….very easy going and likeable guy…and nothing was too hard…we shared some stories that are insane and I guess we come from a similar background in music…a similar era…the classic rock ’When the van is rockin’ don’t come knockin’ era…and the influences very much gel.
Their interpretations and ideas did surprise me at times…but I listened and absorbed and came away with a sense of excitement that Stephen and Terry….. that someone like Musik and Film were actually interested enough to take the time in listening to my songs, tearing them apart…positively…and then helping me put them back together in ways that I hadn’t considered.
I think that they’ve taught me a number of things…and I’m grateful …I’m always learning and will certainly incorporate some of their fundamentals moving forward.
I love the rawness and the naturalness they’ve brought out particularly on the second track “Insatiable”. It’s emotive and raw and passionate…”forget trying to make your voice sound good…just let your emotions run”…so said Stephen…..let it blend with the exciting acoustic guitars.
The whole idea was to have five songs that were entirely different from each other:
1…”Cocktails and Cannabis”….rock groove
2…”Insatiable”…….Acoustic and melancholy
5…”My Baby’s Got Style”…..Jazz/Rock
2J Rae: Your first song off of the new EP is called “Cocktails and Cannabis” and this track will be submitted to radio stations worldwide by Musik Radio Promotions. What is the meaning behind the song itself and I’m dyin’ to know if there was any drinking or smoking involved during the making of this number?
The song was initially about a lady whom I had the pleasure of knowing…..and was called Cocktails and Cannibals
She had a propensity to overindulge in mind altering substances…but also loved cocktails of all types. She also had an addiction to getting hungry…and aggressively oral….. from a sexual perspective… it was a lotta fun…but could get embarrassing in public occasionally.
We turned the lyric around a little…and hence “Cocktails and Cannabis”
Drinking and smoking???
What happens in Vegas….stays in Vegas…as they say!!!
2J Rae: I see that you have a deep musical background that dates back to the 60s & early 70s playing with bands such as: The Wooly Bullys/The Flint Stones & Shakespeare Sarani/Prodigy/Lucifer. Take us back in time Rhett and tell us what it was like playing back then VS. what the feeling is like today when you play?
Those were the days of experimenting with everything….everything was fresh…new….there were no boundaries and there was some weird stuff happening…on all levels!!
Music…Girls…sex….drugs…fashion…opening my front door and finding girls asleep on my front doorstep…following me into buildings…commenting on the things…demanding ….showing and teaching….spontaneous ….creating lyrics…harmonizing…riffs….ragas….rhythms…everything was carefree all we lived for was music…dedicated to getting up and delivering raw attitude and music….nothing got me higher than music….strutting around and singing…until I could barely whisper at the end of the night.
People…artistes were genuine….people who worked in the industry genuinely got off on the music….managers…record company executives…advertising people…the fans….they lived for the music as much as…if not more than the artistes…the bands. The emotion and the passion that was created and passed on was real….it was not contrived or canned.
It’s different today….I understand that music is business today….and it’s a good thing!!
But it lacks the excitement and the passion and the understanding about what the artiste…the band goes through to produce that piece of music…the very song that they are using to make money off of!!
Somewhere along the track….the people who genuinely love and have a passionate fervor for the artiste, have been replaced by people…executives…AR types…. who are great at what they do…but the PASSION IS MISSING….and so is the excitement…the BUZZ !!!
2J Rae: I know, for a fact, that Rock ‘N’ Roll played a huge part in your life especially during the 60s era but that you also have a love for Indian music. Reason being is because you were born in Calcutta and then later moved to Australia. Would you mind telling the readers who may not be familiar with Indian-styled music what it’s all about and how you personally incorporate this style into your own music?
I was lucky to grow up surrounded by a constant background of Indian ragas, tablas, the hypnotizing drone of sitars, rhythms of all complexities, voices and instruments harmonizing and weaving through my existence…from doorways of shops…houses…parades and processions…festivals….weddings….celebrations of any and every kind were out in the public and shared with everyone at all times day and night….subconsciously permeating, embedding, digging into my mind, my body, my senses. Moving…a living, breathing river of humanity…of musical notes and rhythms that became part of me….and if you were accepting as I was…..you absorbed and wallowed in its influences…it became part of my everyday…it helped and still does…with ideas, harmonies, melodies, lyrical twists that form what I am today !!
2J Rae: I’d also like to know what made you make the move from your homeland of India to Australia?
My parents decided that it was time they moved the family to a more modern lifestyle, thinking about the future of their six children…I was the eldest and I guess it was an exciting time to experience all that we’d seen in the movies….sun…sand…blonde girls….rock’n’roll….
Traditional values were changing and my extended family was spread far and wide in England and in Australia.
My mother’s brother had come to Australia in 1965 and he kept raving about the lifestyle…so we up and left Calcutta in 1969.
Very sad…but it was also very exciting. A new country…a new culture and new experiences.
There is a saying “Change is opportunity”….so that’s exactly what I set my mind on.
But you can never change the influences that are part of your formative years.
2J Rae: I couldn’t help but notice that back in the day you had the honor to open up for legends Freddie Mercury & Brian May and even the iconic band Queen itself! How did this golden opportunity come about and what was that whole experience like for you? Did you ever have the chance to really talk to or get to know Freddie Mercury or Brian May?
We were Lucifer…a hard rock band…think…Deep Purple…Uriah Heep…Zeppelin….Queen….Rolling Stones.
Five part vocals and a driving…grooving sound…the most popular travelling…touring band around and I guess it was a gig that sort of suited who we were…our style of music….perfect opening act for Queen.
A few words with Freddie (Freddie was Anglo-Indian by the way) and Brian May….I think Roger Taylor was also in the discussion…It wasn’t deep and meaningful…around twenty minutes or so…we had just finished….they were just about to go on…and we had to leave as soon as the gig finished, so couldn’t hang around for the after party…we were leaving that night for an extensive road tour of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney!!
2J Rae: I also read online that your former band The Flint Stones had a single titled “Be Mine (Happy By My Side)” that got the attention of both George Harrison (RIP) & Apple Records! I’m sure the readers, including myself, would love to hear more about this fascinating story! What was it about that particular tune that attracted the likes of the late, great George Harrison & Apple Records? Did you ever have a chance to speak with and get to know George Harrison or anyone else at Apple Records?
We were signed to ‘His Majesty’s Voice’ in India….the tapes were sent to Apple Records and we got a call from the HMV guys saying that George Harrison from Apple had written and was interested in us as a band….asking if we could come over to London. There were discussions and the interest continued during their/our sojourn to Rishikish while they were in their Transcendental Meditation phase….unfortunately nothing came of it for one reason or another…..and we came over to Australia.
I’ve still got one of the Apple letters somewhere…might be worth something today???
2J Rae: How have you evolved as an artist & musician over the years? How are you feeling these days?
Because I’ve lived and breathed music since I was a toddler….listening to my father play his old 78s of The Inkspots, Platters, Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Pat Boone…then onto Elvis, Ricky Martin, Fabian, Cliff Richard, The Beatles…Mersey sound….Yardbirds,,,Cream….the American bands…Steppenwolf…Hendrix…Doors….Purple…Sabbath…Stones…Country Rock…Punk…Disco…Funk…Ska…Reggae…Heavy Metal….Trash Metal…..Electro….Hip Hop…Rap…etc…etc….
The fifties…Sixties…Seventies….right through to the 2000s…..I’ve been through all the momentous memorable eras….flower power…San Francisco….WOW….the influences have been immense and completely mind blowing.
Here I am on the other side of this unbelievable six decades of music….and I’m down to writing very simple ‘Love Songs with an Edge…that go round and round inside your head ‘
Aha…but I also write very passionate and vital social conscience songs about the mistreatment of children and women in our community….of disabled people….economic and racial issues.
2J Rae: With Musik Radio Promotions promoting your current single “Cocktails and Cannabis” how much success have you had thus far with getting this track spun on radio stations across the map? And may I ask what the next single will be off of ‘Insatiable’? Moving forward, what sort of expectations do you have for Musik & Film/Musik Radio Promotions and what does the future hold in regards to your working relationship with the company?
There are five songs on the EP…starting with “Cocktails and Cannabis”…each will be released as a single in its own right….that’s the plan.
We’re spending a lot of time on the artwork…..to make it special…that ‘WOW’ factor…as we’ll also be producing a collector edition of a 7” vinyl picture disc.
Regarding Stephen, Terry and the rest of the guys at Musik and Film….I know we’ve built a strong rapport…so I have every faith in their promotional ability and I know that they will give it their ALL and their BEST to push this because they believe in it as much as I do.
We will definitely work together once this project has run its course….and I know that whatever we do together will be successful!!
But I’m not looking at future projects right now…I’m looking forward to generating worldwide excitement with my new EP ‘Insatiable’.
By 2J Rae