INTERVIEW: Rat Boy | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Considering his cheeky chappy stage persona, I’m pleasantly surprised at how polite and soft-spoken Jordan Cardy (aka Rat Boy) is during our phone conversation. Much like the delightfully abstract lyrics to his oft-rambunctious pop-punk anthems, the 21-year old Essex native comes across as effortlessly engaging and immensely relatable, yet ever so slightly elusive.  

On the eve of his biggest headlining tour to date, which pulls into Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Thursday 8th February, we discuss new releases, pre-gig routines, and how he feels about being labelled a voice of Generation Y:

 

IKENNA OFFOR: How’s it going, man?
JORDAN CARDY: I’m good, thank you.

IO: I hear you recently got back from the States… Was that for business or pleasure?
JC: Yeah, I was just in Los Angeles, like, two days ago. And it was a business trip.

IO: Where did you play?
JC: I wasn’t playing any shows, actually. I run a clothing brand called Scum, so I was out there doing some skate-related stuff.

IO: Who’re you in business with?
JC: This particular deal is with a brand called Hook-Ups. I’m also cooking up some stuff with Welcome Skateboards, as well.

IO: Get in! Nothing like cashing in on your passions, ey?
JC: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s the idea!

IO: What genre of music do you listen to the most?
JC: Mostly hip-hop, to be honest.

IO: Who are some of your favourite artists?
JC: Beastie Boys, The Pharcyde… Y’know, all of the good stuff!

IO: So, I take it you’re a big fan of all things 90s, then?
JC: Yeah, I’ve always been massively influenced by 90s music and skate culture.

IO: What is it about that era that appeals to you?
JC: There’s just something about the vibes from back then.

IO: Your signature sound is a raucous yet cohesive blend of hip-hop, ska and punk influences. Talk about how you developed it…
JC: Mostly by messing around, really. I had a load of hip-hop drum breaks on my computer, which I’d play live bass and guitar over, or mix in weird sound effects, just to see what happened.

IO: So, you’re a bit of an obsessive tinkerer?
JC: I’m not that bad! (laughs) But, yeah, I do tinker.

IO: Tell me about your creative process… Which do you come up with first, lyrics or melodies?
JC: Lyrics. I mostly jot down random ideas on my phone, but sometimes I’ll go through newspaper headlines and write stuff around what I find.

IO: You call out Theresa May rather scathingly on Boiling Point, and Revoution is all about post-Brexit frustration – do you consider yourself a political person?
JC: Yeah, you could say that. If I’m pissed off about a political issue, I’ll definitely talk about it in my music.

IO: You had a big year in 2017 – your debut album, Scum, received a heap load of critical acclaim, and Kendrick Lamar sampled your song Knock, Knock, Knock. Besides those two obvious instances, what were your personal highlights?
JC: The whole year was pretty trippy, to be honest! But finally releasing the album and playing the main stage at Reading Festival were my personal highlights.

IO: The Reading Festival crowd numbers are easily in the tens of thousands – what’s it like having that many people sing your songs back at you?
JC: (Laughs) It’s honestly so weird, man! Take Sportswear, for instance. I can still remember making that song in my bedroom! So, it kinda trips me out when people I don’t know are shouting the lyrics back at me.

IO: What’s your favourite song to play live, and why?
JC: Knock, Knock, Knock, because it’s got a real kick to it. And no matter where we’re playing, the crowd always knows all the words.

IO: Do you and the band have any pre-gig routines?
JC: We mostly just jump around the dressing room, and push each other about to get psyched up. We don’t drink before going onstage though.

IO: Has that always been the case, or was it something you found didn’t work for you?
JC: I once threw up just before a gig, then thought to myself, “Maybe I shouldn’t do that anymore” (laughs). I mean, it was hard at first, ‘cos I’d get really nervous before going onstage. But, I’ve found that I mess up less when I’m sober.

IO: What’s the weirdest item on your backstage rider?
JC: Jagermeister for after the gig, and sausage rolls, maybe. It’s pretty boring, our rider.

IO: Thanks to all the critical acclaim for Scum, you’ve been widely touted as a voice of your generation. Do you feel any pressure to live up to that label?
JC: (Laughs) That’s honestly such a weird thing for people to say. I just make music, y’know? I guess it’s cool that they say that, but it’s also weird.

IO: You’ve also developed good rapports with O.G rockers like Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Tim Armstrong along the way. How did those relationships come about?
JC: I just reached out to them and asked if they’d listen to my music. It’s still trippy though, ‘cos I’m such a huge fan of theirs.

IO: What does 2018 hold for Rat Boy?
JC: We’re about to kick off our biggest tour to date, so I’m excited for that! I’ve also been sitting on a load of new music that I’d like to put out, as well as a few videos. All I released last year was two singles and the album, so now I’ve got all this new stuff that’s ready to go.

IO: Any release dates in the near future?
JC: I’ve got a mini-LP, called Civil Disorder, that’s coming out on the 25th of January.

IO: Have you got any collaborations in the works?
JC: Yeah, I was recently in Canada, and worked with quite a few hip-hop producers out there. But I can’t say anymore than that just yet.

IO: Would one of those producers perchance happen to be Kaytranada?
JC: (Laughs) Good guess, man! Yeah, I did some stuff with him. He’s sick!

IO: I take it you’re already cooking up album two, then?
JC: I think I’ve got that pretty much written, to be honest. Again, I can’t really say too much about it just yet. But, besides the mini-LP, I’ve also got a digital release coming in a few months time. I’d also like to do a covers album.

IO: What sort of covers?
JC: I’d like to take some stuff from The Ruts, Ghost Town and Bad Brains, and mix them with hip-hop drumbeats. Just to see what happens.

IO: On that note, what producers do you look up to?
JC: Frank Dukes, Kaytranada, Mario C and Mark Ronson, to name a few.

IO: Is touring the States also on the cards in 2018?
JC: I’d really like to, ‘cos we’ve never played out there. I’m chatting to a few people at the moment though, so we’ll see what happens.

IO: You play Newcastle’s O2 Academy next month – what can your Geordie fans look forward to?
JC: I’ll be playing a couple of unreleased songs, and I’ve also got some new Scum merch clothing items. There’ll also be CDs of [the new mini-LP] Civil Disorder, which you can only get at the shows.

IO: To end on a totally generic note: if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
JC: MF Doom. I think that’d be pretty mad!

 

Rat Boy plays Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Wednesday 8th February.

 

 

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