On stage, Rose Tattoo look like nothing on earth but Rose Tattoo.
They stand out from the mass of bands in satin pants like a raw steak in a vegetarian restaurant. All those words like raw, uncompromising, savage - they all apply, but they´re not enough. Rose Tattoo have something more than that.
It´s not only the way they look, although that´s damn riventing. Four tall, gaunt men with unnaturally spikey red hair and the fifth out front stocky and furiously shaven headed aren´t an average sight, even in the realm of Rock´n´Roll excesses. Kohled eyes smeared with sweat, black t-shirts chewed off at the shoulder sticking to their wet torsos, pants that were probably once jeans now so worn-in they´re only hanging onto their wearers out of mutual admiration …. Even that´s not all. Rose Tattoo are really tattooed; they all had tattoos of their own design before they decided to seal the band´s fate with their intricate and oddly beautiful rose tattoos, all based on the theme of a rose and rock´n´roll. Each has an equally intricate ring permanently drawn on one finger, and a pierced ear ring as well.
The band gives an impression of overwhelming masculinity, a totally urban, night time jungle maleness that if considered objectively, would be awe inspiring, making an audience afraid rather than irresistibly drawn to go along with the band. It has something to do with having more than a hint of humor. You get the feeling that if some rich dame accosted them in twenty yards of mink they´d look at her straight in the false eyelashed and say: "What mug shot all the rabbits for ya?".
All this, and nothing about their music yet. The music is what makes the looks work. If Rose Tattoo looked like that and didn´t deliver, they´d be ridiculous. As it is, they do deliver; in spades.
Their rock´n´roll pedigrees are excellent. Slide guitarist Peter Wellls spent time with Buffalo, a band of hardnosed rockers who missed out by being both just after and before their time. Ian Rilan played his Mack truck bass with Band Of Light. Singer Angry Anderson of the shaven head spent years with Buster Brown, as did drummer Dallas "Digger" Royal; the band was renowed for its maniacal intesity. Michael Cocks on second guitar is the youngest member, but in this context this youth means vitality rather that inexperience.
Together, they turn rose Tattoo into tough, hard driving, full on band that barely gives you time to breathe. Angry´s voice is a harsh roar capable of instant reversal into surprising sweetness. Ian Rilan´s bass and Digger´s drumming hurtle the sound along so fast and hard you expect to see steam rising from the bass. Sparks flying from the drumsticks. Michael Cocks guitar fills and runs are always more than just rhythm guitar; he provides the link in an already solid, complete three piece unit for Peter Wells to take off from, sending knife shrap slide slicing down your spine, creating that plummeting elevator sensation in your stomach. And Angry, standing with his legs spread wide, totally caught up, sings rage and fury in a voice like a clenched fist.
Rose Tattoo´s original material varies widely, from the realistic loving tang of "Sweet Rosetta" to the hard, life worn viciousness of "Astra Wally" and "Bad Boy for Love". They really shine covering the Stones´ "Streetfighter", sung a la Rose Tattoo: "What can a poor boy do `cept sing with Rose Tattoo". And it´s not just a bunch of nice middle class kids they´re convincing; Rose Tattoo have played in jails. The prisoners were impressed enough to ask them back; those guys aren´t going to take some naughty boy pose from a pack of phonies.
Rose Tattoo have a single together "Bad Boy for Love"/"Snow Queen" that´ll convince you better than any flat words on paper can. Rose Tattoo live will take you one higher - right out of your head.
"Rose Tattoo are currently so hot it all but scorches the tongue just saying the name." Gary Bushwell - Sounds Magazine
Such is the acclaim that Rose Tattoo have received in the few months that they´ve beeing britain. They arrived in april to play two sold out shows at London´s Marquee. Their first album "Rock´n´Roll Outlaw" had been reased throughout Europe during the second half of 1980 to favourable response but it wasn´t until january, 1981 that the LP was released in France, the things really started to move.
After six week the album had sold nearly 50.000 copies which gave the group a solid foundation to tour Europe on. After being turned downed by several UK recording companies, the album was finally released by Carreere UK in april which started the buzz going around about some outrageous Australian band covered in tattoos, with a five foot bald lead singer, but as a live act they were an unknown quantity, however any doubts that Rose Tattoo were just another Aussie band following in the way of AC/DC were allayed the moment the band took to the stage.
Angry Anderson described recently by being harrigan of Melody Maker as of the most charismatic front men in hardrock. He is without doubt in a class of his own when it comes to live performance. He struts about the stage living his name to the full excess and harrasing the audience and delivering songs with such forcefullness, that you cannot take your eyes of him for fear of missing something.
The bands music is totally uncompromising and the brilliance of Pete Wells slide guitar playing provides a unique soucre of new energy. The songs are based on real events and because of the nature of the bands respective backgrounds tend to tell of street gangs and scenes of violence the perfect example being the haunting bluesly ballad "Butcher and Fast Eddy", and also of the "nasty" image that the band have acquired with songs like "Nice Boys", "One of the Boys" and the album title track "Rock´n´Roll Outlaw".
Rose Tattoo were formed on december 31st, 1976 a meeting that has been described by both Angry and Pete Wells as a imagical moment. The two of them had been playing in bands at opposite ends of Australia, Angry in Melbourne and Pete in Sydney and both their bands had "bad boy" reputations. Both were trying to form bands that played the music they wanted, until fate threw them together and they discovered that what they were looking for was one another, they recruited Dallas "Digger" Royall on Drums, Geordie Leach on bass and Michael Cocks on guitar and have never looked back.
Rose Tattoo enjoyed considerable success in their native land with a top ten hit, "Bad Boy for Love". However, although physically enormous, Australia is still a small place in terms of success and having gone as far as they could. They decided to boaden their horizons and set sail for Europe. The first album was selling well and the band were achieving cult status. Within weeks of their arrival on British soil they were topping heavy rock charts doing a sell out tour of the UK and had an album and single in the national charts and were special guest on the massive rainbow tour.
Rose Tattoo´s second album "Assault and Battery" will be released on september 4the, a week after they play at this years Reading Festival.