Following his debut album, Scum, and the seven track Civil Disorder, Rat Boy has teamed up with Tim Armstrong to produce new album Internationally Unknown. The 12-track collection will be released on January 25 via Parlophone and Armstrong’s Hellcat Records label. Rat Boy first found Armstrong’s punk/hip-hop band, The Transplants, in his father’s record collection, and subsequently delved into his back catalogue with Rancid and Operation Ivy. Rat Boy had repeatedly mentioned his admiration of Armstrong in interviews, which led to the L.A. punk veteran discovering the young Essex upstart.
Separated by 30 years of age and the Atlantic Ocean, Rat Boy and Armstrong sound like the very definition of an odd couple. But they immediately connected on their first phone call, through a shared love for mixing the visceral energy of punk with hip-hop beats. In many ways, it’s hardly surprising: both musicians share similar influences and often reflect on their upbringing in their lyrics.
The pair met at Armstrong’s Shiprec Studios where he had just finished producing The Interrupters’ latest album and immediately captured three demos on their first day together, with members of The Interrupters backing them on bass and drums. Not only did they have chemistry but they had a wealth of unorthodox creative ideas, such as chopping up live drums before filtering them through an old tape machine or Rat Boy playing Armstrong’s left-handed guitar upside down.
The momentum was such that the project was entirely written and recorded during three visits, which amounted to a total of two months’ work. Rat Boy’s live band joined him in Los Angeles, while other collaborators include former Aggrolites bassist J Bonner and The Interrupters’ vocalist Aimee Interrupter. John King of The Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Beck) also contributed production.
“I wanted to do this completely differently because Scum took so long, and I was learning the whole way through making it,” says Rat Boy. “I wanted to make something more personal and raw, which reflected me more. I was trying to find that sweet spot between hip-hop and punk, and Tim really understands that stuff. I’ve never really spoken to anyone else who love hip-hop and punk like I do.” The result is twelve tracks which amplify Rat Boy’s rabble-rousing riot act to a new level. He’s drawing on diverse influences which echo, at various points, The Clash, Beastie Boys, The Prodigy, Rebel MC, Green Day and Run DMC.
RAT BOY and his band will hit the road next month with The Dumb & Confused Tour. It will culminate with three themed London shows:
8th – Nottingham, Rock City
9th – Liverpool, Invisible Wind Factory
10th – Sheffield, Leadmill
11th – Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall
13th – Bristol, O2 Academy
16th – London, Bush Hall – playing tracks from the present and future.
17th – London, Electric Brixton – playing the ‘SCUM’ album in full.
18th – London, Electric Ballroom – setlist decided by a fan vote.