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:: Spotlight :: It’s Those Bloody McKennas Again...

By: Adrian Ringin

Fresh from a Queensland tour and loaded with some new songs they are itching to unleash, folk-rockers Those Bloody McKennas are back in Melbourne, and ready to kick out the jams.

Along with the brand new material, the group will feature material from their most recent EP, “Time & Tide”. The title track is probably the band's most powerful and evocative work to date. Phill McKenna wrote the song after reading the story of the Siev X, a refugee ship which sank just prior to the 2001 election, with great loss of life: “Its really important to tell these stories. The thing about the Siev X is that it hasn’t really been that well known in the community, so it’s important to make the issue come out.”

The McKennas have been performing their catchy mix of frenzied instrumentals, calm folk numbers and straight-out rock for around six years, and have played at a variety of venues all over Australia, from inner-city pubs, to folk festivals, regional centres to the beach at Byron Bay. Currently standing at three brothers (Phill, Ant and Danny McKenna) and two honorary McKennas (Clare Kildea and Bill Skermer), the band recently made their first music clip. Shot at Terra Firma in Northcote, the clip to the ‘Grace Emily Jam’ should be coming to a Friday night Rage screening before too long.

In the Rock Against Howard shows last year, Phill and Clare played ‘Time and Tide’ with senator Andrew Bartlett, then-leader of the Australian Democrats. It wound up being a powerful experience, and good to be involved with, but when Bartlett phoned him up to ask about performing the song, Phill couldn’t believe it - “its not every day that the leader of an Australian political party calls you up - I thought it was one of my mates taking the piss!”

On a related topic, when it comes to taking the piss, no one does it better than TISM. A few years ago, preparing for a gig at the Evelyn Hotel, The McKennas turned up to their sound check to find TISM, sans masks, performing a sound check. TISM had decided to take over the gig as a stunt, which they proceeded to do, afterwards denying that they had done anything of the kind. “We were TISMed” says Phill.

On a more sombre note, the group will be playing at the SievX memorial event in Canberra on October 19 marking four years since the tragedy. “Sometimes it’s just about keeping the issue alive”, Phill states: “these times are very motivating.”

In the meantime, however, the band is ready to rock in Melbourne. “There’s always at least one really good gig on tour” muses Phill.

Don’t miss it.

Those Bloody McKennas Friday, August 19 at The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy, with MJ Taylor and Ash Grunwald, as well as every Sunday in August at The Morning Star Hotel in Williamstown from 2.00 - 5.00pm.

Time & Tide is out now through MGM.

For more information, visit