Unique sound travels to western Victoria
An unusual name and a throwback sound that thrusts banjo into the new decade are just two of the reasons you have to see the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats play live.
This five-piece brings their raw and gritty version of bluegrass to stages big and small. It’s all about a high energy live show and will have you singing and dancing along with so much gusto that you’d better have a drink in hand just to keep you going.
A combination of banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, double bass and washboard come together to mix bluegrass with high intensity rock ‘n’ roll flavour, something that will keep audiences pleasantly surprised.
Chris Wichmann, affectionally known as Wishy, explains how the Mornington Peninsula band formed.
“A bunch of us used to go play music outdoors on the weekends,” Wishy explains.
“Our favourite and most recurring spot being an old quarry in Mount Eliza which had been filled in with water and was now a lush nature reserve.
“A few instruments emerged because of the requirement for acoustic and portable instruments such as piano, to piano accordion, bass to double bass, and of course electric guitar to banjo.
“Then banjo was definitely catalyst for a change in direction towards bluegrass and old timey music, but we never strayed too far from our rock, blues and punk origins.”
This was when the out-of-the-box band name really started to form.
“On the day we decided we didn’t sound half bad and that we might start a band, we were down at the Quarry in Mount Eliza,” Wishy remembers.
“A friend arrived who hadn’t slept the night before and inexplicably decided to pick up a dead rat he had found on the path to the quarry.
“We toasted respect to the dead rat, and the name seemed pretty obvious, Quarry Mountain Dead Rats.”
The band has been a part of many big festival line-ups, including Falls Festival, St Kilda Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and has been a part of the Grampians Grape Escape in previous years.
Wishy says the band’s influence is highly varied.
“Blues, rock, punk, metal, country, old timey, bluegrass, folk, trad jazz, hip hop…. every genre has great and inspiring artists,” he says.
Quarry Mountain Dead Rats is part of the Grampians Grape Escape Sunday line-up, and Wishy says that the band is getting excited to bring its brand of music back to the region again.
“We love the Grampians, so jumped at the chance to play again,” he says.
“It has to be one of the best vistas from a stage in Australia, maybe the world.”
The Grampians Grape Escape is on May 2 and 3, Halls Gap.