(L-R): Amr Zaid, Andrew Polin, Simon Day
|Origin||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|Years active||1985–1998 , 2006 –present|
|Associated acts||Danger Mouse|
Ratcat are an Australian indie rock band which were formed in 1985 and are fronted by mainstay vocalist and guitarist, Simon Day. Their combination of indie pop song writing and energetic punk-style guitar won them fans from both the indie and skate-punk communities. They found mainstream success with their extended play, Tingles (October 1990), album Blind Love (June 1991) and the single, "Don't Go Now" (April), which all reached No. 1 on the ARIA Charts during 1991. The band released two subsequent albums, however they did not match the earlier chart success. Ratcat ceased regular live shows in the late 1990s, however they have continued to play sporadic shows since that time.
Ratcat were formed in 1985 in Sydney by Simon Day on lead guitar and lead vocals, Victor Levi on bass guitar and Trevor Wintle on drums. Both Day and Levi had been members of a garage band, Danger Mouse. Ratcat "built-up a strong live following by playing the local haunts of the Sydney skate-punk scene alongside the likes of Massappeal, The Hellmenn, The Hard-ons and Happy Hate Me Nots."
The group signed to Waterfront Records, where they released a self-titled six-track extended play in December 1987, which "contained four of the band's self-penned stage favourites plus a cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells 1960s bubblegum apotheosis 'I Think We're Alone Now'." It was followed by two singles, "I Think I Love You" (August 1988) and "Baby's Got a Gun" (December).
Their debut album, This Nightmare, appeared in July 1989. By that time the line-up was Day, John McAteer on bass guitar and Andrew Polin on drums. According to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, the album "contained a treasure-trove of witty, effervescent Day-penned tracks like 'Go Go', 'True Lust', 'Baby's Got a Gun' and 'The Killing Joke', plus a cover of UK band The Darling Buds' 'If I Said'."
Their second EP, Killing Joke (July 1989), and another single, "Saying Goodbye" (March 1990), followed before they left Waterfront. Amr Zaid replaced McAteer on bass guitar and backing vocals. Alister of Tharunka felt "Saying Goodbye" was "quite refreshing, both in the areas of its mixing and melody, despite decidedly average vocals." During February 1990 they supported gigs by English group, Buzzcocks, alongside fellow Australians, Falling Joys.
In mid-1990 Ratcat signed a "lucrative deal" with the rooArt label, distributed by PolyGram. Their first release for that label was the track, "You Get Me By", for the various artists' compilation album, Youngblood II. It was followed by the group's six-track EP, Tingles, on 14 October 1990, which was produced by Nick Mainsbridge (Tall Tales and True, Martha's Vineyard).
McFarlane noticed that "almost immediately the frisky 'That Ain't Bad' scored mainstream radio support." That track, combined with their cartoon-like artwork (which featured heavily on their releases and in their videos), saw Tingles reach No. 1 on ARIA Alternative Singles Chart and, in May 1991, the EP was a number-one hit on the ARIA Singles Chart for two weeks. "That Ain't Bad", the lead track, was Day's "simple attempt to mix noisy guitars and the words 'I love you' together in a song without one contradicting the other." The Canberra Times reviewer opined that it "has had the airplay, but it is not the best track. 'Don't Go in the Water', a dire little track, and 'Getting Away (From This World)', with it hackneyed but fairly successful insertion of sound from the Challenger shuttle disaster, are both excellent tracks."
According to Australian Musician Magazine staff writer, Ratcat were the first alternative band to go mainstream – they provided one of the Top 50 Most Significant Moments in Australian Pop/Rock History. The band's second album, Blind Love (1 June 1991), and its lead single "Don't Go Now" (April) both reached No. 1 on their respective ARIA charts. For recording, at Paradise Studios, Day, Polin and Zaid were joined by Robyn St. Clare (of the Hummingbirds) and Margaret Urlich on backing vocals; they were produced by Mainsbridge, again. Zaid told Charles Miranda of The Canberra Times that their chart success was "really weird it happened so quickly it's sort of difficult for us to understand what has happened. And it does put pressure on us to come up with the goods. We have to look at what we've done [... but not] perform to any sort of dictated standard by what we've achieved."
The group supported fellow Australian group, INXS, on the latter's local tour in April and May 1991 and followed by headlining their own Invasion of the Dinosaur Killers Tour in June. Their next single, "Baby Baby", was issued in July which reached No. 21. In September they started a four-month tour across the United Kingdom, continental Europe and the United States. They backed various head-liners including Ride, Iggy Pop, Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub, Violent Femmes and the Wonder Stuff. Polin described how "We were playing to full houses a lot of the way around... Admittedly, in London about a third of the audiences were Australians but we have sold about 17,000 copies of our album over there."
Upon their return to Australian, in December, they issued an eight-track live album, Ratcat Alive. Marc Scully replaced Zaid on bass guitar in mid-1992. Their third studio album, Insideout (November 1992) also produced by Mainsbridge, provided three singles, "Candyman" (May 1992), "Holiday" (October) and "The World (in a Wrapper)" (May 1993). It had been recorded from March to May 1992 at Rhinoceros Studios, with Day providing vocals, guitar and bass guitar; and Polin on vocals, drums and percussion. McFarlane opined that these releases "were unable to repeat the spectacular success of their predecessors but kept Ratcat in the public eye."
In 1993 they recorded two more EPs, Rain (1994), which was produced by Tony Cohen, and The Smiler (August 1995), and an album Easy Rider. The band sporadically played live shows over the next few years and Easy Rider was eventually released in July 1997.
Ratcat reformed in 1998 to play at the Homebake Festival with a new bass guitarist, Nic Dalton (ex-The Plunderers, Sneeze, The Lemonheads, among others). They also collaborated with John Paul Young – who supplied backing vocals – on a cover version of his earlier single, "I Hate the Music" (September 1998). It was included on the soundtrack for the feature film, Occasional Coarse Language (November 1998). The group disbanded in 1998, during their career much of the artwork was provided by Simon Day.
The group played a few shows in 2002 including a spot at the Big Day Out, and in 2006 they were a support act on the Psychedelic Furs Australian tour. They did a further gig at The Jack Daniel's music awards and played, in early June 2006, at the Come Together festival at Luna Park. In 2011 they performed a show at The Factory, Marrickville, to mark the 20th anniversary of 'Blind Love.
A 2010 TV ad for Bonds' brassieres featured a cover version of Ratcat's "That Ain't Bad", Day made a brief appearance. He has also appeared with Sydney bands including the Art, and the Glimmer (formerly the Mansons). In 2011 Ratcat were confirmed for Sydney's Homebake festival, subtitled "The Classic Edition".
- Simon Day – vocals, guitar, bass guitar, main songwriter (1985–present)
- Trevor Wintle – drums (1986–1987)
- Andrew Polin – drums (1985–1986, 1987–2011)
- Victor Levi – bass guitar (1985–1988)
- Cathy Webb – bass guitar (1988)
- John McAteer – bass guitar (1988–1989)
- Amr Zaid – bass guitar, backing vocals (1989–1992)
- Marc Scully – bass guitar (1992–1996)
- Nic Dalton – bass guitar (1998–present)
- Reuben Alexander - drums (?2014-present)
- This Nightmare (July 1989)
- Blind Love (1 June 1991) AUS: No. 1
- Ratcat Alive (live album, December 1991) (Recorded live in June 1991 at the Metro Club, Melbourne)
- Insideout (November 1992)
- Easy Rider (July 1997)
- Ratcat (1987)
- I Love Ratcat to Death (1989)
- Tingles (October 1990) AUS: No. 1
- Rain (1994)
- The Smiler (August 1995)
- Laughing Bag and Other Funny Stories (July 1997)
- "I Think I Love You" (August 1988)
- "Baby's Got a Gun" (December 1988)
- "Saying Goodbye" (1989)
- "Don't Go Now" (1991) AUS: No. 1
- "Baby Baby" (July 1991) AUS: No. 21
- "Candyman" (1992) AUS: No. 38
- "Holiday" (1992) AUS: No. 41
- "The World (In a Wrapper)" (1993)
- "I Hate the Music" (by Ratcat and John Paul Young) (September 1998)
- McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Ratcat'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 30 September 2004.
- Holmgren, Magnus. "Ratcat". Australian Rock Database. Passagen.se (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 5 August 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- Alister (9 April 1990). "Ratcat: 'Saying Goodbye'". Tharunka. 36 (4). p. 27. Retrieved 4 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Wong, Kean (1 February 1990). "Showtime: Back for the First Time". The Canberra Times. 64 (20,018). p. 21. Retrieved 4 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Hung, Steffen. "Ratcat – Tingles EP". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- Australian Musician staff writers (19 June 2007). "The 50 Most Significant Moments in Australian Pop/Rock History". Australian Musician Magazine. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "Hybrid Flowers are up with the best of them". The Canberra Times. 65 (20,361). 10 January 1991. p. 12. Retrieved 4 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Hung, Steffen. "Discography Ratcat". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- Ratcat (1991), Blind love, rooArt, retrieved 4 September 2016
- Miranda, Charles (27 June 1991). "Ratcat from Alley to Rooftop". The Canberra Times. p. 13. Retrieved 4 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Ratcat woo army of fans in Europe". The Canberra Times. 66 (20,690). Australian Associated Press (AAP). 5 December 1991. p. 20. Retrieved 4 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Insideout (liner notes). Ratcat. rooArt. 1992. 4509-93600-2.