'Musicians with Disabilities Rock Out in "Rudely Interrupted"

"Lead singer Rory Burnside has no patience for distraction, a trait which led to his hot Australian indie-style band’s name. But patience isn’t the only thing Rory lacks. He was born without eyes, and has a cleft palate and lip in addition to Asperger syndrome.

But what he’s missing in sight, he makes up for in hearing. Rory has absolutely perfect pitch, and he can instantly name any note that is played. His dad is a record producer, so he grew up around music. But it’s his devoted mom who put a law degree on hold to help Rory get a diploma in music performance.

“She’s always there when I’m going through hard times,” Rory says. “She’s gorgeous. She means the world (to me). How she hasn’t murdered me with what I’ve put her through in 22 years, I will never know.”

Band Members Have Range of Disabilities

Five of the six members of this Melbourne group that’s dominating airwaves Down Under have disability in common. Drummer Josh is autistic, Marcus on synthesizer has Asperger’s and is hearing impaired, and bassist Sam has Down syndrome just like Constance, who serves as a human metronome on tambourine and bass while legally blind. Apart from their disabilities, what they have in common is a desire to express themselves through music.

The band’s manager, guitarist and backup vocalist Rohan Brooks (who once toured the U.S. with Sloan and Jet) admits that he was “just crazy enough to form the band.” He met Rory at a barbecue a friend was having. The other Rudely Interrupted members attended the disability day service where Rohan was working as a music therapist.

The 36-year-old guitarist admits that it was three months before the group could play a note together. There were tantrums at the beginning, and days when each member stomped out of rehearsal. But now six hours is usually enough time for the band to hammer out all the parts of a song.

“Every gig is kind of emotional,” Rohan says. “When the guys get up on stage you can tell something’s not quite right, but then once we start playing everybody just gets right into it. There’s a lot of tears at our gigs – tears of joy.”

“The Rudies” Garner Praise

“Don’t Break My Heart” is the band’s breakout single and music video that has generated a growing fan base in their native country and around the world. “The Rudies,” as the band is affectionately known by their loyal listeners, have evolved from playing the Aussie underground to performing for a packed house at UN’s global headquarters in New York. Sold-out shows in NYC, Canada and Great Britain followed.

Praise for the band has come from many quarters. Sydney’s The Age Good Weekend Magazine wrote: “Their music is some of the most energetic and genuine to emerge from the Australian rock ‘n’ roll underground in recent times. Their songs lift the band above the realm of novelty and give them a cultural cachet in the image-obsessed world of indie rock.”

Eye Weekly Canada gushed, “With a recorded output of only four songs, Rudely Interrupted manage to out-anthem The Killers, while injecting disaffected confidence into their tunes.” And Vice TV praises the “extremely well-crafted music by a bunch of guys who happen to be saddled with slightly wonky sets of genes,” while labeling their lead single “mercilessly infectious.”

With a rockumentary of their United Nations tour in the can and a new album, Tragedy of the Commons, recorded, the future looks bright for the Rudies. The band is booked for a tour of Australia in 2009, then jets to the U.S. in 2010 for a series of gigs ending with the prestigious International VSA arts Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC." (Debbie Marsh, Disaboom)

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