Sydney celt-punk band The Rumjacks are again the centre of controversy stemming from singer Frankie McLaughlin‘s 2012 conviction and jail sentence for domestic assault charges, with venues across the nation either cancelling or refusing to acknowledge bookings taken as part of the group’s planned, extensive Australian tour.
In early August, the band announced a 5-month tour of the nation, taking in 35 dates across every state and territory.
Back in 2012, McLaughlin was arrested, charged, and subsequently convicted of a string of assaults perpetrated on a former partner. On April 5th of that year he was sentenced to 16 months in prison, forcing the band to go on an immediate hiatus.
At the time, the remaining members of the band issued a short, very abrupt statement on the matter.
“In light of recent events concerning band member Frankie, we have decided to take an indefinite break. As a result all upcoming gigs and recording plans have been cancelled.
We refute any suggestion that we condone domestic violence. It is an abhorrent crime and its perpetrators should be dealt with under the full extent of the law.
We thank all of our fans worldwide for their support over the years.”
Following the announcement of this recent tour, concerned punters upset at the apparent widespread support for a band with a convicted domestic abuser have voiced concerns with the venues the band is advertised to play at, with social media posts being shared countless times.
It would appear that the band’s bookers, The Harbour Agency, either concealed or weren’t forthcoming with information regarding McLaughlin’s conviction, leading to many venues unknowingly taking the gigs.
Since news of McLaughlin’s conviction re-emerged, several venues have either outright cancelled the shows, or have stated that the contracts in place now prevent them from doing so.
We can confirm that the Hamilton Station Hotel in Newcastle outright denied the band in a gig in the first place, despite the hotel’s name appearing on their tour poster. The Reverence Hotel in Footscray summarily cancelled the band’s booking after learning of McLaughlin’s history with domestic violence. The Marlin Hotel in Ulladulla is between a rock and contractually obligated hard place, and was not aware (or was not made aware) of the group’s history prior to accepting the show. And other venues such as Rad Bar in Wollongong and The Foundry in Brisbane have been made aware of the information and are reviewing the gig with booking staff with a view to cancelling the shows.
However many others are, for the time being, retaining booked dates, including notable venues such as Cherry Bar in Melbourne (who are hosting the band as advertised headliners for their Melbourne Cup Day Eve show), The Factory Theatre in Sydney and The Republic Bar in Hobart.
Our initial report identified Enigma Bar in Adelaide as a venue which continued to host The Rumjacks. We have been informed that this is no longer the case.
Since McLaughlin’s release from prison, the band has made little-to-no public statement on his conviction, save for one interview where they briefly claimed to have had “good discussions” with the dormant White Ribbon-aligned group #notON.
The Harbour Agency, meanwhile, trumpets the group as band whose “live shows have become legendary, their records lauded, their ethos and commitment second to none. They’ve put in the hard yards, and they’re not done yet – this will be their year, the year of The Rumjacks.“
Photo: The Rumjacks/Facebook.
Domestic violence is never acceptable. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, calls can be made 24 hours a day on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line, or to Lifeline on 131 114.