Interview with Rusty Shackle

Rusty Shackle are a folk band consisting of Liam Collins, Scott McKeon, James McKeon, Baz Barwick and Owen Emmanuel. Having been a fan of theirs for a long while now, I was eager to interview them for Soundscape as soon as I started writing for the magazine, so I caught up with them before their show at Gwdihŵ to ask them a few questions.

As Liam and Scott were doing another interview, James, Baz and Owen kicked a deflated football about in the car park for a bit – I didn’t join in as I was worried I’d damage my Brothel Creepers! – before I presented them with a special cake I’d made for the band with their name on. And then we got the interview underway.

Thanks for agreeing to do this interview for Soundscape Magazine! For those of our readers who might not know who you are, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Liam (vocals/guitar): I’m Liam from Rusty Shackle.
Owen (drums): I’m Owen from Rusty Shackle.

Wait, is that all you’re going to be saying?
Liam: Well what else do you want us to say?

Well just tell us about the band and…
Liam: I’m Liam from Rusty Shackle.

You know what I mean!
Liam: Let Scott answer.
Scott (fiddle/banjo/vocals): We are Rusty Shackle and we are an acoustic folk and roll band!

You’ve recently been in the studio recording your second album, how did that go?
Scott: It’s gone really well! It’s all sorted now, so we’re just getting the final few mixes back. I’m really happy with it and I’d say I’m a lot happier with it than the first album. There’s a lot more tunes on it – it’s all killer no filler! It captures our live sound a lot better I think.

On the subject of live performances, one of the things I love about them is your wide variety of wacky covers. How did the idea for those all come about?
Baz (bass/mandolin/vocals): Because of an overwhelming sense of immaturity, basically!
(band laughs)
Hi, my name is Baz and I play the heartstrings of the nation.

Which cover would you say is your favourite to play?
Owen: Wild, Wild West.
Liam: Yeah, the unheard Wild, Wild West!
James (guitar/vocals): We absolutely love that one, but no one else does!
Scott: The thing was, we always play covers that are a bit daft – we never pick something that is an obvious cover. So we do something that you wouldn’t expect us to do and then we try and change it but we did Will Smith’s Wild, Wild West…and we’re never touching it again! In the practice it sounded amazing, but the first gig we did it at, it was a bit flat. So we just thought it was down to it being the first time playing it, so we tried it one more time for luck and we’ve never touched it again!

And finally before I get onto the more “interesting” questions you wanted me to ask, how did the idea for “Me And My Rusty T” come about?
Owen: Somebody else started that, didn’t they?
Liam: Yeah, people kept sending photos of themselves wearing our shirts, and then someone started running a competition but then never actually did it! So we just thought we’d steal the idea!

On your youtube channel there’s a hilarious video of you leaving Baz behind at a service station. Are you a band that often plays practical jokes on each other and if so, what’s the best one you’ve done?
Liam: We’re quite mean to each other, aren’t we?
James: That’s probably the best one, isn’t it?
Owen: Definitely.
James: And because it was on film, you’re not going to forget it, are you?
Scott: It wasn’t like we hid round the corner though – we drove for a good few miles down the road and we just left him!
Owen: We were already late for soundcheck!
Baz: We didn’t have time to do that!
Liam: I was like “I’ll just hide round the corner”, thinking all the time that he’s gonna see us driving off. I thought he’d be queuing up and watching us out the window, and he’d come round and see me but he didn’t and I couldn’t believe it! And I was like “he must be thick!” Sorry, mate! We were like 20 yards away – how did he not hear us start the engine and drive off?
James: I’ve got another good one. It wasn’t really a practical joke but when we played the Acoustic Festival Of Great Britain, Owen fell in a river! Me and Baz were there, both of us a bit drunk, and I was like “should we help him out?” and he just goes “nah, he’ll be alright!” And then we just walked off! He could have drowned…but we just walked off.

What’s your favourite dance move? 
Scott: We’ve got a new one, actually!

If you could have absolutely anything on your rider, what would it be?
Liam: A paddling pool full of champagne.
Scott: Nah, we wouldn’t…
Liam: A paddling pool full of Maltesers?
James: Yeah!
Liam: Have you tried that new chocolate bar-
Scott: A bar of Malteser?
Liam: No, even better than that! It’s got that exploding candy and jelly tots and stuff inside the chocolate!
Scott: You know what? I went to the shop the other night to buy that and I couldn’t get it, so I bought a bar of Dairy Milk and some Tangfastics and ate them at the same time. I’m not even joking, I actually did that! It wasn’t as good, but…I’m sorry, what was the question?
Owen: Rider!
Scott: Oh yeah! Well loads of that.
Liam: No, just one bar of that. “One chunk each, boys!”
James: Can I have a chocolate milkshake?
Liam: Yeah, a vat of chocolate milkshake.
Baz: And a couple of hundred quid’s worth of heroin as well!
Liam: Diet coke, yeah?
Baz: Oh! I said heroin, I actually meant diet coke.

If Hollywood decided to make a movie about Rusty Shackle, which actors would you want to play yourselves?
Scott: What a great question!
Baz: I want Ewan McGregor as me.
Liam: Arnold Schwarzenegger. But when he was younger.
James: Can I have Morgan Freeman?
Owen: George Clooney, for me.
Scott: He’s not really an actor, but can I have Ben Fogel?
Liam: What a great lineup!
James: I’m James McKeon. Yeah…I’d do the voiceover!
Liam (in the style of Arnie): Don’t get sucked down in zat cold hearted town, ja?

If you were given a full-page advert in a magazine and had to sell the band in six words or less, what would it say?
Scott: Well it would be big words if it was a full page!
Liam: Waste of space, if you ask me!
Baz: We will make you climax.
(Scott counts on fingers)
Scott: Shall we actually do a real answer?
James: …we are the saviours of music.
Liam: We are the warlords of folk!

I saw that one of you posted a tweet about a month ago, that said you “never understood the attraction of Oreos and you’d pick a fig biscuit over them”. I don’t care for Oreos either, but what’s so bad about a fig biscuit?
Scott: No, fig biscuits are good! I was saying I’d pick them over Oreos. Oreos are just massively overrated!
Baz: Have you had an Oreo ice cream?
Scott: Yeah, and it was crap!
Liam: It was amazing!!!
Baz: It’s the best ice cream I’ve tasted in my life.
Scott: You know what was good about it? It was an ice cream. Nothing to do with Oreos. They’re just like custard creams but a different colour!
Owen: And the biscuit’s like cardboard.
Scott: Yeah, it’s just a dreadful thing.
Liam: You opinion is wrong.
Scott: No, my opinion is right.
Liam: We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but yours is wrong!
James: So what are your thoughts on the fig roll?
Liam: They’re alright…but the best is always going to be a chocolate hob-nob. That is the ultimate, isn’t it?

So what are your favourite biscuits then?
Liam: Chocolate hob-nobs and chocolate digestives. And Oreos.
Scott: I’m not saying I like or dislike it, but does anyone remember BNs?
(everyone launches into the BN-BN song from the advert)
Scott: I can’t remember what it was like though!

It was a biscuit that had either chocolate or jam in the middle and it had a face on it!
Liam: Yeah, it did have a little face!

I hear you guys like a good curry. What’s your favourite?
Baz (pointing at James): King prawn mackalacka!
Liam (pointing at Baz): Chicken Maharaja.
Baz: Yup!
Scott: I always go for the special on whatever’s in there really. I do like a dupiaza though.
Liam: What’s the one they do in the Blue Cumin where it has chicken filled with lamb? Whatever that one’s called…I’ll have that one.
Owen: Chicken pathia for me, I think.
Liam: I knew you were gonna say that!
James: Can I have a real curry, rather than one you’ve made up?
Baz: Basically, he never eats anything that’s not just…out there! He’s made up his own curry, which is a prawn mackalacka! He can manage to find a paella in a Burger King.

And one final question – a band that I like called The Smoking Hearts have recently released their own signature hot sauce. If you could choose a food to endorse and put your name on, what would it be?
Liam: Prawn mackalacka.
James: We could have a Rusty Burger or something.
Owen: I was going to say that. A chilli burger with cheese and stuff.
Baz: It needs to be a product, more than a dish.
James: We all like garlic and onions, we’ve got to have that in it.
Scott: A garlic and onion milkshake!
Liam: So…shall we start off by frying garlic and onions – obviously – with some chilli but where do we go from there?
Scott: Definitely not Oreos next.
Liam: We’ll pop some king prawns in there. And whilst this is happening, Big ‘Mon *points to Owen* is cooking some pulled pork. What are you doing with the pulled pork, boy?
Owen: Popping them in the oven for a few hours, with apple juice.
Scott: Tell me more.
Liam: And your bit! Tell them what you’re doing, Scott! We’ve all got to add to this “dish”.
Owen: So far, we have onions and garlic frying.
Scott: Well I’ve just started prepping a cheesecake, so I’ve crumbled the biscuits…
Liam: Oreo biscuits, yeah?
Scott: No! Definitely not Oreo biscuits, never Oreo biscuits. Digestives. And then I’ll just be prepping the rest, we’ll go for a good strawberry cheesecake. Baz?
Bas: Well I’ll chuck some mint, ice, coke and rum together and I’ve got five Cuba Libres for the band!
Liam: Jimmy, are you going to finish off my prawn, chilli, garlic and onions, or is it going to be just that?
James: I’ll add some mackalacka to that! So what are we calling this?
Scott: King prawn mackalacka, with strawberry cheesecake and five Cuba Libres.
Liam: And pulled pork on top.
Scott: That’s what the “Rusty Shackle” is.
James: Are we going for a Rusty Shackle…? Yeah.
Liam: That’s a lot, isn’t it? It’ll cost £400!

And that’s it! Anything else you’d like to add?
Liam: We have an album coming out?

That’s already been mentioned!
James: And a single, The Bones.
Scott: Yeah, we filmed the video for that the other day.
Baz: We play music!
Liam: Yeah, we’re not just professional comedians.
(band laughs)

Rusty Shackle: Website|Facebook|Twitter

About Natalie Humphries 1854 Articles
Soundscape's editor, who is particularly fond of doom, black metal and folk (but will give anything a chance). Likes to travel to see bands abroad when she can. Contact: or @acidnat on twitter.

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