The Rumble Strips, country boys at heart
Rumbles vs Ronson
By Laura Joint
Rumble Strips drummer Matt Wheeler talks to BBC Devon about recording with Mark Ronson, touring the US and UK, partying, and forgetting where he is!
It's 11.15 on a lovely sunny morning in March and it seems a safe enough time to ring The Rumble Strips.
The really good news is that drummer Matt Wheeler has his mobile switched on and after two rings he answers it: "Hello, Matt," he says cheerily.
The bad news is that he was asleep until his phone rang. The Tavistock band are in the middle of a lengthy UK tour and they had a gig the night before.
"I don't know where I am - I've forgotten. Up north somewhere," says Matt. "We had a bit of a late one last night - you'd better give me five minutes."
Matt with BBC Spotlight's Emily Wood
Five minutes later, we try again: "Ah, I've remembered where we are now. We're in Newcastle. I'm down by the quay and it's very nice."
It's a hectic time for the Rumble Strips, whose new album, Welcome to the Walk Alone, is due out in early summer 2009. It's produced and mixed by Mark Ronson, and the group spent a month working with him in New York.
After a US tour, they returned home and headed off on a 21-gig UK tour.
"We are having great fun," says Matt. "I don't have to think about anything. I just wake up in the morning and the only thing to worry about is where to have breakfast. And that's me sorted!
"That's what I'm doing now - walking along the quay at Newcastle, looking for somewhere to have breakfast. I'm a little bit hungover but it's not too bad - after a few nights in a row, you don't notice it really. We've got the day off today, and we're playing in Sheffield tomorrow."
The Rumble Strips grew up together so have known each other for years. They are Matt; singer, guitarist and principle songwriter Charlie Waller; Tom Gorbutt on sax and bass; Henry Clark on keyboards and trumpet; and Sam Mansbridge on bass and vocals.
The band are hoping 2009 will be their big breakthrough year. In a BBC poll in 2007, they were tipped as one of the groups to look out for.
They are signed to Island Records and released their debut album, Girls and Weather, in 2008. Their sound was immediately likened to Dexys Midnight Runners, but Matt says their music has developed over the past two years.
The Rumbles at a live gig in Tavistock
"With Mark's (Ronson) help, hopefully 2009 will be our year," says Matt. "It's a big chance for us so you never know.
"Our earlier songs were primarily to get people dancing. To me, the new songs sound great. They are more mature and slower. There are a few ballads as well. I think they are easier to just sit and listen to.
"Mark has mixed all the tracks except one. He's doing the mixing with Rich Costey, who's also a really well known mixer."
The first single from the album is called London, and will be available as a free download from their website. The first official single is set for release in June, but Matt says: "We don't know what it will be yet."
After spending so much time on the road, the boys are heading back to Devon for a gig at The Cavern Club in Exeter on 2 April 2009.
"I haven't been back for ages," confesses Matt. "But Tom goes down all the time.
"My parents have just moved to a different village - oh, what's it called again? Oh, how embarrassing, I can't remember where they live! It's in West Devon, and it will come to me later."
Find out more about Matt and The Rumble Strips by visiting their websites which are linked from this page. There is also footage of the band in New York on YouTube - see the links on the top right of this page.
last updated: 17/03/2009 at 16:51