Angela Saurine meets the founder of Bunny Racket ahead of the release of the band’s first recording in three years.

Andy Walker’s wife Poppy had the couple’s first “bunny in the oven” when he began thinking about starting a rock band that appealed across generations. A lot of his friends already had children, and the kids’ music scene terrified him. “I grew up listening to KISS records,” he says. It was 2014, and at the time, Andy was a member of stoner band Fort, who toured with groups like Grinspoon and Fu Manchu. He had just played the last show of a tour with the band’s idols, US band Kyuss, and was sitting with the group’s drummer Brant Bjork at legendary Melbourne establishment the Espy when the idea started to take shape. “Brant was telling me about how he was looking forward to going back home to LA to be with his wife and new baby,” Andy says. “It got me thinking about rock’n’roll and family life. I told him about my idea to make rock records which weren’t so much just made for kids but made for everybody including kids. I thought that family life shouldn’t just be dirty nappies, school lunches, soccer, and the ABC Kids channel. It should be full of wonder and excitement with a few sharp edges.”

Six months later, he and Brant were in a studio in California belting out Bunny Racket’s first album with Robby Krieger from The Doors. “Our producer in California played Robby our demo recordings, and he loved the idea and asked to join us in the studio,” Andy says. “A year later, he flew us back out and gave me the keys to his own studio to record Bunny Racket in Space.” Andy also works as a stonemason, and Robby then paid him to redo all the stonework on his house in Beverly Hills.

Bear and Bunny Photo Poppy Walker

These days, the band can often be seen performing songs like Jingle Jangle Jaguar, Koala Bear, and Rock’n’Roll Preschool at local events such as the Bangalow Billycart Derby, Mullum Laneway Festival, and Byron Bay Wildlife Sanctuary fundraisers. “We have been the first live show for so many kids out there, and I am really proud of that,” Andy says. “We’ve either set them on a life of rock’n’roll bliss or we’ve sent them home crying. Either way, we have made an impact.”

Members of the three-piece band have changed over the years but have included Boom Boom Bunny (Hamish Rosser of The Vines and Wolfmother fame), Harepai Richmond (The Whitlams drummer Terepai Richmond), Brewery Bunny (Common People’s Jay Kempnich), Wizard Bunny (Bob Nekrasov from negative metal band Rebel Wizard), Space Bunny (Goons of Doom guitarist Tim Cooney), Rat Bunny (George Moran from the Carousel Club), and Dave ‘Bunny’ Jackson (former owner of The Retro Shop in Bangalow). “Our ties go deep here in Bangalow,” Andy says. “We all live in or around this town, and any chance for a Bangalow rock’n’roll show we’ll take it.”

The band has four studio albums to date — Bunny Rumble, Rock’n’Roll Animals, Hoppy Holidays, and Bunny Racket in Space. They are set to release their first CD in three years, Bunny Racket Power, in July. “Power is a straight-up rock record dedicated to kids’ empowerment, freedom, and creativity,” Andy says. “I guess that the Bunny Racket sound has evolved and grown with the families involved in the project. Some of the little bunnies aren’t so little anymore, but the key elements are still there in all the songs like Rainbow Power, We Are the Kids, and Keep the Parents Weird. It’s a really fun record.”

The release is set to keep the band busy for a while, and Andy is hoping it will also help them make a mark on the international stage. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the band had to cancel a 14-date tour of California, Oregon, and Washington in the US. “It was a bit of a dream run, but we managed to save our visa and flight money and built our own studio here in Bangalow,” Andy says. “It’s probably the best thing that we have ever done. Myxomatosis is actually more of a fear of ours, but so far we have been lucky.”

The group is also working on a Bunny Racket animated series. Andy says Bunny Racket is the best gig ever. “Kids really are an honest audience,” he says. “If they feel like dancing, they dance. If they feel like jumping, they jump. If they feel like screaming, they scream. A Bunny Racket gig is a licence to go a little wild. I get to travel, create, and perform with some of my best friends. And we get to meet the Bunny Racketeer families the world over. We also get to rock the stage and be back at home in the burrow before Big Dog goes to bed. After playing late-night shows for years, that really is a treat!”

Bunny Racket will release Bunny Racket Power with a performance at Howl & Moan Records in Byron Bay at 10am on 6 July.

Feature image: Bunny Racket at Broken Head  Photo Kate Holmes Photography

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