EP Walkthrough: RedHook break down their explosive debut EP, Bad Decisions
One of Australia's finest newcomers in the rock world finally get to have their moment, and now, they walk us through its creation.
There's no real other way you can describe RedHook's last year, aside from saying that they've been crushing it. The Sydney-based alt-rock/punk trio have consistently gone from strength to strength since their debut back in 2018, fleshing out different tones underneath the RedHook musical umbrella - from the lightest to the heaviest of sounds - while building a live show that's become one of Australia's most electrifying, even if they couldn't really play too many gigs in the last 12 months.
Despite that unexpected hiccup, however, everything RedHook have done is gold. Last year's combination of Dead Walk and Cure 4 Psycho saw the group explore yet more uncharted territory, while Bad Decisions - the title track to their today-released debut EP, which we'll talk more about in a second - saw RedHook reach new heights, with a catchy pop-punk-rock-esque blend that had you screaming along to the cathartic vocals of frontwoman Emmy Mack: "Fucked up mess, feeling angry and depressed / I make bad decisions, I make bad decisions!"
It's a journey that today is encapsulated in the release of their debut EP Bad Decisions, which for the three-piece, feels as much like the end of a chapter as the start of an entire new one to come. Across the course of the EP's six songs, the band break down personal walls just as much as they break down musical boundaries, capturing their intimate and upfront songwriting through musical vessels that span across the heavier tapestry of sounds, from the more punk-esque right through to grunge-y alt-rock and teases of metal-like chaos.
"Bad Decisions feels like my Horcrux," says Emmy Mack on the EP, which comes ahead of a national tour launching the EP throughout May and beyond - more details here. "There’s a chunk of my soul trapped in here. I wrote most of these lyrics when my mental health was circling the drain. I was going through a challenging time where I couldn’t understand my own mind; I felt like a freak, like a fuck-up, like no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop hurting the people I cared about most. And I poured every last ounce of hatred, rage, confusion, frustration, depression and despair that I felt towards myself and the world around me into these six songs."
Bad Decisions reflects that, being a cathartic moment for the band as they channel their emotions into passionate and detailed punk that consistently hits with a heavier edge - if not musically, than personally. It's also an EP that seems to summarise the journey for RedHook thus far, leaving them looking forward to the future. "It feels huge to finally release our debut EP," says guitarist Craig Wilkinson. "The one silver lining of watching our entire 2020 schedule go up in flames was finally getting the chance to double down in the studio and give our fans what they’ve been asking for."
"Musically, we wanted to challenge ourselves and push our songwriting to fresh limits, cross-breeding our love of riffs and all things heavy with fresh sounds from the worlds of EDM, pop, hip-hop and more. I even got to go back to my high school jazz band roots and bust out a sax solo!"
There's a whole lot of sounds and a whole lot of stories in Bad Decisions, and as it launches RedHook into the stratosphere - or at least in terms of their career trajectory - it's a must-listen release that's sure to play a part in a greater journey to come from RedHook, one that we're incredibly exciting to see unveil itself. In the meantime, you can take a dive into the EP below, and underneath that, find their track-by-track walkthrough of the EP's themes and creation, broken down one track at a time.
I Don’t Keep Up
The weirdo boogie. A joyous celebration of oddness and outsiderdom and a playful jab at Kardashianised kulture.
The opening “weird apple” lyric actually inspired the EP’s artwork. It started forming in my head after I read this news story back during the first COVID lockdown. Because of all the panic buying, the big supermarkets had started to sell all the ugly, misshapen fruit that normally doesn’t ever make it onto the shelves. And I strangely found myself empathising really hard with all those weird apples & oranges. See, they’re just these unconventional, not very attractive mutant rejects that nobody knows quite what to do with, but by this unpredictable twist of fate they were finally allowed to sit on the shelf alongside all the normal ones.
Musically, I think this might also be the most bonkers song we’ve written to date... to me, it’s like this hard rock, hip-hop, disco Disney princess porn soundtrack with a funky sax solo (courtesy of Yass high school band alumnus, Craig Wilkinson).
Cure 4 Psycho
The survivor’s creed. Written from the perspective of a survivor raising a middle-finger to her would-be killer.
Writing this song also helped liberate me from an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship that I struggled for a long time to escape from. I’d seriously re-listen to the demo on repeat every time I caught myself feeling vulnerable and tempted by thoughts of going back. It’s dedicated to all survivors of abusive relationships. And I wanted to subvert the stereotype of the “psycho ex-girlfriend” using a slasher movie metaphor to empower victims to say - like the Scream queen Sidney Prescott herself - “not in my movie”.
The self-loathing anthem. Affectionately, the "Emmy Mack theme song". Every lyric drenched in truth, cheap tequila and probably a whole bunch of other stuff you wouldn’t want to shine a UV light on.
Big shoutout to all our mates in Yours Truly, FANGZ, The Dead Love, Down For Tomorrow, Grenade Jumper and The Last Martyr who performed gang vocals on this one to help give the chorus some extra girth.
Kamikaze (feat. Will King)
The heavy one. A chaotic ode to doomed love, hurtling blindly towards mutually assured destruction. This song was inspired by a very toxic, all-consuming relationship that was very nearly the death of me, and the conscious decisions I made early on to continue pursuing it despite all the red flags and danger signs, and a deep gut feeling that it would all inevitably go down in flames.
Featuring Windwaker prince Will King on guesties and a breakdown purpose-built for the pit.
The sad one. Reflections on a personality disorder. I cried when I wrote it. I cried when I recorded it. I still cry when I listen to it now and I’ll probably cry when I try to sing it live. It’s the sound of feeling like a totally hopeless and irredeemable fuck-up. Falling down onto your knees, tears pouring down your face, staring desperately up at the sky for answers, wishing upon all the stars in the galaxy for a way to make things feel OK.
This song is really special to me, it’s probably my favourite thing RedHook has ever written.
Your Heroes Are Bullshit
The existential crisis. This song is the volatile sound of my brain melting down and going numb as it contemplates a world where the people who inspire us most are increasingly unmasked as secret scumbags, our long-held perceptions of reality are constantly being shattered and re-shattered, and everything feels fake, manufactured and meaningless.
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