If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to these guys perform, you’re in for a real treat and an unexpected one at that.
First starting out as a rockabilly band, the three Townsville boys – Michael Hegarty, Dean Gilboy and Shaun Butcher – have developed a musical genre that has been described as a mix of balls to the wall, in-your-face punk, toe-tapping pop and just enough hillbilly to make you realise you’re not in Kansas anymore.
With a name that has the word ‘koffin’ in it, you could only assume the music must be dark and heavy, perhaps even a little bit… deadly. “Initially, we were called the Rocker Fellas, that was a long, long time ago.
"But every man and his dog has used the ‘Rocker Fellas’ at some stage, so we were just looking for something a little bit different that was a little bit edgy and still used an element from the Rocker Fellas, so we kept the Rocker part of it and added the Koffin on the front of it,” Michael says.
Dean, the drummer of the band, and Michael, who sings and plays the guitar, have been playing music together for many years. One day while working at a music store in Townsville, they decided to get themselves into the action. “Initially, we started off with a different double bass player and we were doing really traditional kind of rockabilly,” Michael says.
“That bass player moved away to Melbourne and then we thought we’d like to keep it going, but we’d like to draw on a few of our other influences that is classic Australian rock: Midnight Oil, Screaming Jets, AC/DC and all that kind of stuff and throw that into it, a bit more of a harder edge.”
That’s when Shaun was recruited as the newest member and The Koffin Rockers were born. “Shaun actually hadn’t been a musician before, but he owned a double bass so that was a good start for him.
"He basically learnt how to play the double bass in the early days of us getting together and we’ve just progressed from there,” Michael says.
As well as performing their own music, Michael says they also enjoy doing covers of other bands.
However, others may not feel quite the same. “We played a punk show once and being a rockabilly-based band we played a Living End cover. One gentleman there was very, very upset and tried to rush the stage and punch us while we were playing, it was quite an amusing event,” Michael says.
Although the punter did not succeed in his attempt to show his disapproval of the performance, The Koffin Rockers used the incident as inspiration for their next photo shoot. “Just a little bit of fun really, we like to be a jovial bunch and have a little bit of fun… It shows that from time to time not everybody agrees with what we do and we're okay to be knocked around because of it,” Michael says.
The band will be performing at Rods & Rockabilly, showing off their ‘occabilly’ style and larrikin, in-your-face sense of humour. “It’s Australian rockabilly, good old, rock & roll, rockabilly in an Australian pub, lots of beers, Akubras, stubbie shorts… all the good stuff,” Michael says.
The Koffin Rockers play Rods & Rockabilly at Hamilton Hotel (Brisbane) 29 April. The band also play Cooly Rocks On (Gold Coast) 9-10 June.