BLACK ROCK BAND
Lively and proud, Black Rock Band from West Arnhem land have been entertaining audiences and inspiring communities around the country since their debut in 2015.
The band from the small community of Jabiru in the Northern Territory draws on their deep musical family history and incorporates traditional and contemporary sounds with a steady rock style, singing in both Kunwinjku and English. Their songs are a celebration of culture, connection to country, the fight for social justice and the future they want to create for the next generation of children.
“Most of our songs speak about people I see in my family, with my own eyes. I see them having hard times and it’s good for someone to speak about it – give my community a voice when they can never speak it out. Give them a voice to say ‘enough is enough’.”
- Richie Guymala (lead singer)
With songs like 'Struggle', 'Learning on Country' and their first recording 'Bininj Kunborrk', literally translating to Traditional Song and Dance, the band sing about their families’ cultural richness as well as contemporary social and political issues that reflect their experience as First Nations people. The single spread through the communities of Arnhem Land and has since been included on the Bush Bands 2017 compilation CD, featured on Triple J Unearthed, ICTV and played on radio stations across the country.
This single was featured on their debut album Struggle released in May 2018 by Wantok Musik. The album was recorded with Andy Baldwin at Subsonic Studios in Darwin, at Kapalga Outstation in Kakadu National Park and was mastered by Joe La Porta (Sterling Sound NY).
Since winning the Best Community Band at Barunga Festival in 2017 the band have grown a diverse fanbase through entrancing live shows. The band make regular Top End appearances including at Mayali Mulil Festival and Mahbilil Festival as well as festivals throughout Australia including MONA FOMA, Nannup Music Festival and Woodford Folk Festival. They were also part of the official BIGSOUND showcase program in 2019 with well attended and reviewed shows.
Their second album called Identity is due to be released in 2020, which was recorded in the Yarra Valley, Victoria in 2019. Despite this change of scene, Richie Guymala says “with this recording there’s a lot of connection back to home. Every time I’d do a track I’d close my eyes and picture myself back on country.”
This album is the result of Black Rock Band honing their sound while also collaborating with songwriters and musicians including Emma Donovan, Sam Teskey (The Teskey Brothers) and Jackson Phelan (Rat!hammock). The first single from the album is their rousing 'Red Black and Yellow'. The song is a comment on January 26 and has energized fans in concerts across Australia and set to be an anthem of solidarity and pride.