Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Johnny McKelvey Of The Rumjacks

Photo courtesy of Earshot Media.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

2021 has been quite the productive year for The Rumjacks, as the Celtic punks ushered in a new era with the release of their fifth studio album ‘Hestia’ in March, highly praised for chant-along singles like “Light In My Shadow,” “Hestia” and “Sainted Millions” and resulted in over 2 million streams within its first month.

Most recently, the group put out their latest single “One For The Road” and announced a new 8-track EP ‘Brass For Gold,’ would be slated for release on Feb. 11, 2022 and sonically, will focus on their ska/hard rock influences.

The Rumjacks are vocalist Mike Rivkees, bassist Johnny McKelvey, guitarist Gabe Whitbourne, drummer Pietro Della Sala and Adam Kenny on bouzouki/mandolin, their diverse backgrounds (American, Australia, Italian, Irish) effortlessly bleed into the music and anybody who needs evidence of that can watch one of their live videos.

The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with McKelvey about their new music and more.

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately? 

Johnny McKelvey – For a while, it was trying to not go crazy from not being to tour! We love touring so much and this had been the longest since we started with out playing a show. Couldn’t wait for it all to start back up.

Music Bugle – What was your goal for your record ‘Hestia’? 

Johnny McKelvey – To put out a strong and exciting album. I think we did this. We knew this new release would be a big one and were so happy while recording ‘Hestia.’ We really wanted our loyal fans to enjoy this as much as the others and for some new fans to get on board. 

Music Bugle – How did you decide the band name? 

Johnny McKelvey – Band name was just us sitting about at a pub in the Blue Mountains trying to get a name together as soon as possible before the first shows and we all like rum, so I am sure it spawned from there. 

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music? 

Johnny McKelvey – I think it’s great for hitting the right spots in any mood. Some fun ones in there when needed, more emotive songs, absolute flat-out belters, etc.. All pretty listenable, I guess. 

Music Bugle – What do you attribute your streaming success to?

Johnny McKelvey – Strong fanbase! Putting out good songs and doing it often also helps. Fans are super loyal and when you feed that fire, they don’t go anywhere. We are super lucky that anyone who listens to us helps and continues to buy/stream/purchase our music.

Music Bugle – Which of your music videos is your favorite?

Johnny McKelvey – Probably “Light in My Shadow.” Simple clip we shot in a day around Milan. No real reason, was just fun and the clip is straight-forward and shot well. Don’t need to overcomplicate it sometimes. 

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory involving music? 

Johnny McKelvey – I’d say playing Woodstock in Poland. There was just under half a million people there and was pretty mind-blowing to be playing to a crowd of that size.

Music Bugle – Of all the shows you’ve played, which ones stand out the most to you?

Johnny McKelvey – Would have to be Woodstock Poland, again. Really was such a mind-blowing experience.

Music Bugle – Where are some places you’d love to travel to that you haven’t been to yet?

Johnny McKelvey – South America! We are working on trying to get there at some point on 2022 and it looks like there some amazing places through all of South America. Would love to get there one day.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Johnny McKelvey – Mostly the lack of touring. We would normally tour about 9 months a year, so this was very strange for us to not play for so long. Not being able to see the others in the band or friends around the world was also super hard, but hopefully this can all happen again soon!

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