John Phatorous has been at this for decades. He has not wavered. His love of rock’n’roll speaks to the truest sense of that ‘Mission From God’ - meaningful and occasionally meaningless and both of equal importance.
“Rock’n’roll is its own gift,” he says. “If you love it. Like many things in life.”
Phatorous’ softly-spoken and gentle nature is belied by an onstage presence that says, assuredly, ‘We mean business here. And if you do not, then I mean enough business for the both of us’.
He is the lead singer of Perth's The Volcanics, a real rock’n’roll band who dip their hats and indeed mix with the greats of the Australian realm. Only recently the band played with Radio Birdman and Died Pretty. The Volcanics were not simply the opening support, they belonged in that company…
“To state the obvious, it was great to play with Radio Birdman and Died Pretty,” Phatorous says. “We’re big fans of both. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to do that, to play with such amazing Australian bands.”
The Volcanics last album, 2015's Transmission, achieved a good deal of forward momentum for the band, both here and overseas. This does not equate to chart or arena success, but a playing ground that allows them to continue to record albums and play to people who share their unshakeable belief in the visceral power of rock’n’roll.
“Transmission helped us to basically continue evolving as a band and also to get to a lot more people, especially in Europe and the UK,” Phatorous notes. “It was great for the band; getting the opportunity to do things we haven’t done previously like the televised RockPalast Festival in Germany. It was lots of fun touring that album, playing some bigger shows overseas amongst some of the smaller places we played, which were no less fun.”
Recorded at Rada Studios and engineered by Jozef Grech, Oh Crash is The Volcanics’ newly-released fourth album. It’s a release that has more of a twin-focus of the then and now of the band, where previous releases played mainly to traditional strengths.
“It’s definitely both,” the singer considers, “conscious of the evolution, but way more in the current moment and working to be the best we can be now.”
“I think it was Pete’s (Ackland, bass) song Chain came first, or at least one of the early songs. He had it down quite early and was jumpin’ on it, dancing like a hungry, grizzly bear in the woods. He had good reason for that.”
Radio Birdman’s Rob Younger has again taken the production role for The Volcanics. It’s a relationship that is in itself a great ongoing collaboration.
“It’s been really great working with Rob on these last three albums,” Phatorous says. “Naturally, at the very start the first time we worked together, we all were kinda nervous. Shy, maybe. Awe, whatever… but the way he is and the way he goes about it, his natural personality makes everyone feel comfortable really quickly. We’ll always be in awe of him and always feel very lucky to work together.”
The Volcanics transcend scenes, airplay and flavours-of-the-moment. The art and the exercise is everything, whether home or aboard.
“We’re really looking forward to our next European tour in October - this time Spain and France - to play for the amazing people and lovers of rock’n’roll,” Phatouros says.
“With the new album, our plans are simply to tour as much as we can. To get to play for the people who want to come see us; hopefully do some new things and keep the fire, while writing new songs for our next album.”
The gift that keeps on giving indeed. Long may they roll.