One of the things I love best about the Melbourne music scene is there are certain bands you look at and think yup, only in Melbourne would you see that. The Rebelles are one of those groups. 15 singers that sound like a classic all girl 60s group with a punk attitude and wearing matching outfits, tell me where else you gonna see that? Backed with a rocking four piece band, the Rebelles are truly a gem that everyone can find someone they enjoy. One of the many singers Kitty Rebelle took time to talk Spector, outfits and the awesomeness of girl groups.
Munster: The Rebelles are a pretty unique band, kinda an only in Melbourne band, how did it all come about?
Kitty: it was about ten years ago. Bob D Rebelle and Rhonda Rebelle who are two of our cofounders and creative brains behind the band got together and had this idea of an onstage representation of Phil Spectors Wall of sound and part of that is aving a huge vocal presence. We ave layered and lush harmonies. That’s where its came from and we/ve gotten together over time people ave come and gone but we/ve always had that girl group sound.
Munster: Its an amazing sound is it 15 singers in the band?
Kitty: yes but we also ave bench as well you can imagine getting people to gigs is a logistical thing. We ave 15 singers at anyone gig and a four piece band as well.
Munster: when recruiting a new member what do you look for, I take singing isn/t the only requirement?
Kitty: we do a lot of harmonies so vocal range is important but also personality is big part of the band as we bring girl group rebellion to the stage and you got ave personality a bit of fun gotta shake your hips. That’s part of what we look for in a new Rebelle when we/re on the hunt.
Munster: What process went into recording the LP you made last year?
Kitty: we recorded at Sound Park studio with Idge, would like to give him a big shout out as he played a great role in dealing with all the logistics. We record in section usually the band goes first so we ave a guide then we/ll get the singers in. Sometimes we/ll go in with a big group or go in sections. We believe bigger is better I guess we keep adding more to the band we had guest musos from the Ska Vendors and a few extra guitars and Rhonda playing organ and had more friends in the studio. Idge turned round during the recording and said “gosh the more we add to this the better it sounds” so we really took that to heat.
Munster: the band you ave on stage is made up of blokes was that intentional for balance?
Kitty: Yeah we ave had women in the band as well we had Stick Rebelle on drums and we had two blokes on drums we had Thumper of ex Bitter Sweet Kicks fame and we now ave Bam Bam. Its not by design but it has worked out great quite visually. The boys always look amazing in their sharp suits provides a nice bit of balance but we want that girl band sound on the vocals hence the girl singers.
Munster: you mentioned the Spector girl band sound which comes through but I also hear a touch of the Ramones and the Cramps.
Kitty: Yep absolutely. We love that punk energy so you know theres that beautiful harmonic sound fo the girl groups that we/ve talked about but we also love that rocky garage edge and with punk energy. Our new single 1 2 3 4 GO is a huge nod to the Ramones you can hear the influence in that in lyrics and sound.
Munster: So what process would go into a Rebelles song?
Kitty: its quite a collaborative process. People get together for a jam and work on a sound there liking. Some might workshop lyrics or a feel for the song, it is very collaborative, some might just add a line or two its is a very cohesive process that goes into making all these tracks.
Munster: so when it comes to the singers I like the fact theres no star, so is it kinda an all in effort or are there times when someone might sit out or take a backseat role?
Kitty: we never ave solos we do work very much as a group and being apart of that is the blend. You listen to all these girl group records and you hear these beautiful vocal blend in together and part of trying to recapture that on stage is always being very conscious of your fellow singers. And making sure your tones blend in and being conscious when your section has a lead or your backing. So we do a lot of that manually and it means being sensitive to what other band members are doing. It’s a really nice part of singing together.
Munster: Aside from the Rebelles what else ave you do musically?
Kitty: well my background I ave done some gospel singing, in the past I did musicals at school. Musically our influences in the Rebelles are really common and exploring trying to bring an edge and modernizes from our influence and ad a Melbourne edge. For example Spanish Fitzroy takes a lot of parts we like about Fitzroy with a garage taste into the modern Melbourne setting.
Munster: With so many members is it hard arranging gigs or studio time?
Kitty: not really its all worked out magically. Its one of the wonderful things bout this band. In smaller bands ive heard of conflict amounts band members but with us theres none of that here its all worked very nice.
Munster: the video for 1 2 3 4 GO was a great tour guide of Melbourne how did that come about?
Kitty: Yeah that was a classic example of the great collaborative process. It’s a bit of a story that plays out of a bunch of us trying to find our gig. We went out with a bunch of cameras and went to a bunch of different locations. I went to Luna Park that day we kinda snuck in and stood in front of the rides. It’s a great mini tour of Melbourne and it ends with us meeting at the same place for a gig.
Munster: With the costumes do you ave a standard designer you use?
Kitty: we come up with a design we/d like to see and we/ve been helped out by a few designers who make the costume to order. The visual element is a big part of what we do. The red and black the jet black hair and river of black eyeliner and red lipstick it’s a big part of what we bring to the stage and we/ve had a lot of great designers brining that to the stage.
Munster: What does the rest of the year hold?
Kitty: Bigger and better gigs aiming for a Christmas gig. You can find gigs at www. rebelles.com.au
Winabago club at the Sk Kilda RSL is our next gig on the 19th June, and arvo gig
We would like to do some festivals and we are made for a big stage we wanna do bigger and better.
Munster: And favorite Fall LP if there is one?
Kitty: sorry can/t help. What would you recommend to start?
Munster: Code Selfish is good start.
The Rebelles launch their new double A side single 1-2-3-4 Go! / Spanish Fitzroy at the Winnebago Lounge, upstairs of St Kilda RSL on Sunday 19th June. Free entry.