The name Rancid Eddie has likely come up in your feeds some way or another in the last couple of weeks. The Melbourne band, which exploded into the limelight with a backyard-filmed track going wild on TikTok in September, has drawn criticism from many in the Australian music community for its lyrics, and one of the band members appearing to double down on some problematic beliefs and comments.
Emerging from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburb of Glen Waverley, the five-piece started gaining traction on TikTok after they began sharing their backyard jam sessions in January.
Though they are yet to release a full record, Rancid Eddie have been gaining momentum largely through TikTok. One of their tracks, ‘Dry‘, catapulted the band into more mainstream success, and was featured in the last two weeks by both Spotify and Triple J.
Rancid Eddie’s sudden thrust into the spotlight has resulted in people uncovering more about the band and their content on TikTok, which have been said to depict themes of gross misogyny, violence, and messaging that perpetuates the degradation of women.
Newcastle musician Kira Puru began sharing critiques of the band and its work on October 1st, initially tweeting about the lyrics in ‘Dry‘, suggesting that it hints at normalising behaviours typical to abusive relationships.
“Here’s the lyrics to the song @SpotifyAU has picked for top spot on NMF this week,” she wrote.
The song’s lyrics depict the protagonist falling out of love with their partner, claiming that they “can’t get it up when I’m all out of love”, and that they’re “always drunk cause I hate you so damn much”. The song’s lyrics also describe how they find sex isn’t pleasurable “when the feeling is dry”, and finds the experience “boring” when they see their partner’s face.
— Kira Puru (@kirapuru) October 1, 2021
It doesn’t matter what the song’s about or whether the band identify as misogynists. The lyric ‘I’m always drunk ‘cuz I hate you’ unapologetically hints at the type of behaviour that anyone who has been in an abusive relo knows well and shouldn’t be normalised let alone promoted.
— Kira Puru (@kirapuru) October 1, 2021
The band’s Instagram account was found to be replying to people criticising their lyrics – namely published songs where they call women “sluts” and “cum rags”. In now-deleted comments that are being shared around social media, one member of the band allegedly doubled down on these problematic views, and resorted to homophobic slurs.
just when i thought r*ncid edd*e couldn’t get any worse pic.twitter.com/O7BqCT9mvD
— rubz. (@rubygboland) October 3, 2021
As conversations about Rancid Eddie’s lyrics began heating up online, singer Jessy Kelly appeared to defend the more offensive lyrics.
“‘She’s just a cum rag for his ball bag’ – this song is about a mate of mine who was in love with a bloke that was only her for sex,” he allegedly told Aussie musician Nancie Schipper, in screenshots she shared to Twitter.
“‘I wanna punch some cunt and fuck some slut’, the whole songs (sic) a caricature of a lads (sic) night out – it’s not even about sex or relationships, it’s about hedonism.
“The phrase just sounded exactly like something ya’d here (sic) the typical club-rat say, and so I thought it was a good representation of home. [Which] now harbours degrading attitudes toward women, so I’d just look at that as an honest depiction of Aussie club life.”
Jessy also said that the lyrics are “in no way means” the band endorses the degradation of women, but it does beg the question: if the band doesn’t support that kind of behaviour, then why use lyrics and language that normalises it?
In regards to the alleged offensive comments the band’s account posted on Instagram, according to another screenshot seen by PEDESTRIAN.TV, Jessy said he had made them on a “drunken Insta spree”, which the rest of the band saw as out of line and were apparently deleted.
“While I still don’t give a fuck,” Jessy said. “I’ll admit to using ‘poof’ like people use ‘wanker’.”
He also allegedly defended promotional photos featuring a band member licking a boomerang. (The band’s banner image has since been removed from Spotify.)
this is a closeup of the photo on their official spotify page yesterday, which has now been changed but still on their IG. pic.twitter.com/1o02LMfGVe
— Jack Colwell (@jackcolwell_) October 1, 2021
The image has been seen as deeply disrespectful to First Nations communities, and when questioned on the subject, Jessy allegedly told Nancie that people should “cry me a fucking swimming pool” and that it was “just a souvenir someone got on their road trip”.
At the time of writing, Rancid Eddie had a string of shows booked for an upcoming tour, with many of them sold out. After the band’s lyrics and Jessy’s alleged behaviour were uncovered and damned by the wider community, venues across Brisbane and Wollongong began cancelling shows, and pressure is mounting for other venues to follow suit.
Brisbane booking agency Interstellar Music said it made the “easy decision” to cancel one of the band’s Brisbane shows following the backlash, citing their “unacceptable behaviour” as the reason for the canned gig.
“Their actions and words have no place in this world,” the agency said in a statement. “And we will always strive for our gigs to be safe places for women.”
Last weekend, Rancid Eddie addressed the controversy in an Instagram post, saying they “oppose hatred or violence of any kind against women”.
“We want to be very clear that although we explore the dark sides of relationships in our lyrics (and we understand these lyrics can be problematic for some), we oppose hatred or violence of any kind against women,” the band wrote.
“Men who abuse women are pathetic and we don’t tolerate it.”
The band went on to say they had taken down some videos that “went too far for some people” but doubled down on ‘Dry‘ not being one of those songs that crossed a line.
Void of any kind of apology for their behaviour and content, industry figures like Montaigne, Alice Skye, and Triple J presenter Lucy Smith responded to the statement, noting that men who abuse women “don’t exist in a vacuum”, and having a popular song “means assuming public responsibility” for it.
i just think people with the power to make or break acts like rancid eddie should take a moment to think about the brand of this music, how platforming it justifies it and makes it “cool”, and what that means for australian society, which is still stuck in toxic patriarchy
— Montaigne (@actualmontaigne) October 2, 2021
We have also reached out to the band for further statement.
In the interview with Nancie, Jessy allegedly said that the band isn’t seeking to be role models and that they “just make music”. But once your work is gaining momentum and prominence – whether it’s how you earn a crust or a passion project in your downtime – there’s an inherent responsibility of being a role model to the people who interact with your art.
As Montaigne said in reply to the band’s address, being a role model isn’t something that’s sought out, it’s something that you’re tasked with when you step into popularity. It’s what you do with the privilege of popularity that you’ll be remembered for: fuck it up, and you’re biting the hand that feeds before it’s handed anything over.
And as for writing songs about hedonism – there are so many more ways to write about it that doesn’t degrade women, or perpetuate the idea that treating others badly is acceptable. To be honest, for anyone to resort to calling women “sluts” and “cum rags” in songs is nothing more than lazy writing.
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If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
If you’d like to talk about the issues raised in this story, you can call the QLife LGBTIpeer support hotline on 1800 184 527 or chat online.
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You can also report instances of racism or discrimination to the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419 orlodge a complaint online.Image: Instagram / @rancideddie