By Ryan Hook
EDMONTON – Punk rock is a flame that refuses to go out. Leading that charge in Edmonton is Real Sickies, a born and bred classic punk band in the same vein as Ramones or Teenage Head. Real Sickies is set to release two albums this year and sees no end in sight. From humble beginnings, the band really came together when Ben Disaster (Thick Lines, Ben Disaster) joined.
“I was the first singer of the band for a few songs, it didn’t go that great,” says guitarist Rob Lawless. “Me being a die-hard Ramones fan, it wasn’t happening as plain and simple and I wasn’t singing as well as I wanted. I called Ben and it all just came together. I wrote a lot of the songs and Ben came with an open mind.”
Real Sickies got comfortable with the new line-up and the tunes began to shape up. But comfort isn’t what punk is about.
“Ben had a spinal chord pinch so we took some time off,” explains Lawless. “He had surgery to the front of his throat. He was becoming paralyzed and couldn’t sing for a year, so there was this build up of material.”
Thankfully Disaster recovered and the two albums slated for release this summer are ready to “get people dancing.” Get Well Soon is a fun ode that captures ‘70s New York punk club music that has inspired them since they were children.
“Since the beginning, I’ve just loved the punk sound. And Ben’s of that time; he really captures that essence.”
Punk has defined not only the band, but also Lawless’ character.
“Punk was my first love. In a lot of ways it defined me. I always come back to it, especially when I write music.”
And while Punk is often seen as a throwback – a canon of youth and rebellion – Lawless ages gracefully alongside it.
“My kids influence my lifestyle a lot now. That’s getting old. There’s a younger crowd that do what we did, and we’ll be there for them, as well as the older punks. This is definitely the music that draws the picture of my life and still manages to capture it.”
It’s this attitude that inspired Lawless and Disaster to start a record label, This is POP! Records, which is a characteristically punk move itself.
“We teetered back and forth trying to put out these albums, but it just wasn’t working out. So we said ‘fuck it’ and decided to start our own label where we could put out our music, but also show people bands they have no idea about.”
Despite varying trials and tribulations, hustling through the grunt work has been a philosophy Real Sickies have stuck to, by making and releasing their own music videos and music. The power is in their hands, despite a sense of powerlessness early on.
“It feels fantastic to have the albums coming out. We’ll have a few good months here. We’re always buzzing to do more. We’re all very creative and relate to each other well, so it comes naturally.”
Real Sickies play Sled Island on June 22 at Ship & Anchor (Calgary). Their new album Get Well Soon comes out June 1 on This is Pop! Records. You can order the album on vinyl and digitally at https://realsickies.bandcamp.com/Get Well Soon, Real Sickies, Ship & Anchor, Sled Island, This is Pop! Records