Local band The Savage Rabbits talk to The Impartial Reporter about their major influences, their favourite songs to play and their biggest gig, to date.

Who are the members of your band and what instrument do they play? Who is the lead vocalist?

We’ve had a varied line-up over the years both on and off stage, but we’re currently Nathan Ternan (lead vocals), Francis McNally (guitar and occasional backing vocals), Brian Armstrong (bass) and Charles Knox (drums).

What’s the origin of your band’s name?

We have told a few origin stories over the years – it’s inspired by ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, or it’s based on a vicious pet bunny who lost his tail and was out for revenge.

But really it was just something that felt right one day.

How would you describe your sound?

Our sound varies quite a bit; we’ll play with stacked amps or go acoustic. Generally our songs have that classic combination of quiet versus loud, and the switch-up between distortion-driven angst and a more subtle melodic introspection.

Maybe our first album said it best, ‘Heavy Mellow’.

What genre/genres do you consider your music to be?

Genre is always a hard one to define for us, because the key elements are so subjective, and then you get in your own head about whether you meet them or not.

We would say we usually gravitate towards Grunge and Alt Rock, but you’re always influenced by what you listen, to so there’s hints of Metal, Punk and Trip-Hop in there too.

Who are your major influences?

Most bands that came out of Seattle in the ’90s: Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Mudhoney, to name a few, but also a few curveballs like The Pixies, Joe Bonamassa, Portishead and Opeth.

When did the band form?

This question definitely makes one feel old! We started making music under the moniker, ‘The Savage Rabbits’ in 2007.

It was just Francis and I (Nathan) then, and a little while later we managed to convince a few others to come hang out and make some noise.

When I say it now, it seems like it should be accompanied by old-timey music and sepia-toned photographs!

Fourteen years is decently a long time by anyone’s standards, but it’s a lot more in band years, I think.

When you realise you started the same year the iPhone was announced, it definitely hits different.

How long have you all known each other? How did you meet? Where are you all from?

In the arrangement we’re in now, three of us met in our bygone days in classrooms of the [Erne] Integrated College, probably around 17 or 18 years ago now.

All of us decided that making music felt like a lot more fun than whatever homework was on offer.

We met Brian a while later through the Fermanagh gig scene, and a general rule of thumb is when you play an instrument and hang out at gigs, you and your mates are going to end up in a band together sooner or later.

What gigs do you have coming up?

We had a gig coming up on January 15 in Charlie’s with a bunch of talented performers, all in aid of Cancer Connect NI, but that has now been postponed to later in the year.

What does 2022 hold for the band?

We’re always writing and we have a few new songs in the works that we’re hoping to get into the studio with.

What is the band’s favourite song to play and why?

We all love different songs for different reasons, but I think ‘No Surprises’ might be the one we’re most fond of. It’s heavy, energetic and lyrically cathartic.

But I can’t let this question go by without mentioning ‘No.7’, though.

It’s just a really cool song with lots of sonically interesting open space, and a really powerful finish.

What has been your biggest gig, to date?

Punx Picnic Festival in Letterkenny. We shared the bill with Skintown’s own, Mommas Slippers, and Setting off Sirens, along with other notable names like Running Riot, Inner Terrestrials and The Beat. The stories from that weekend are for a very different kind of article.

Any funny gig/rehearsal stories?

Funny now maybe, it was tragic at the time. At our last gig in Charlie’s, everything that could go wrong did, with the surprise finish of Francis’ amp exploding!

Do you write your own songs? What inspires your songwriting?

Yeah, we love to write together as a band; sometimes it happens in the moment starting from a riff we like, other times one of us has a fully formed idea and we build the song together.

Lyrics usually fall to me (Nathan) and they can sometimes be a way of working through emotions or just random things that come from the back of my brain when the music starts.

What would be your dream gig?

Other than supporting some of our heroes? We’d settle for anywhere with a good ole mosh pit right now! Hopefully, it won’t be too long til we can get back to that.

Best moment as a band so far?

Playing live is always great but nothing beats a gig where the crowd knows your songs and sings them back to you.

What is the most unusual venue you have played?

Probably a bar under a football stadium in Dublin, once we found it that is. We were close to playing an alleyway that night.

What is your ‘go-to’ encore song?

‘Baby doll’, or for gigs where it’s already in the set, ‘Baby Doll’ twice!

What’s the best thing about performing?

Just getting to play your music to a crowd – nothing gets the adrenaline going quite like it.

Any last words?

Keep an eye on our social media for new music coming soon.