Proudly hailing from Melbourne’s West, The Hackkets are a band made up of members with and without disability, brought together more than 10 years ago as part of FCAC’s ArtLife program and still going strong! The band originally focussed on covers, immersing themselves in the kind of universal classic hits Rock and Roll that wins over even the most hardened in-car sing-along scrooge, but since 2011 have channelled their love of such classics into their own reinvented AM radio fan-fiction.
Singers Stuart Flenley (guitar/vox), Peter Tolhurst (guitar/vox) and Victoria Cini (keys/vox), bring three distinctly different approaches to the songs they co-write in the band. Stuart merges his twin heroes Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra with sense of humour that invariably breaks through, while Victoria has crafted her own ‘Rock Chick’ persona through which she projects a rebel without a cause for the smart-phone generation. Peter’s songs explore the anxieties and frustration caused by miscommunication, being ignored, lack of pragmatism or changeable weather.
Rounding out the band are Dan Parsons, Zac Rush (Darling James, Dan Parsons) on guitars, Robin Waters (The Boat People, Machine Translations), long-time member and veteran of the live music circuit Joe Vella, and drummer Andrew Paganella. Of the drums, Andrew says, ‘we had an electric keyboard where you press one key and it plays a whole song but all the songs sounded like Italian songs; old fashioned songs. I chose drums because I want to get somewhere to make the crowd jump out. Once I switched to drums I stayed.’
2017 has seen the band emerge from a period of extended recording with a new single, ‘Speechless’, launched on home turf at The Reverence Hotel in April with fellow Melbournites half/cut, who also invited the Hackkets to join them in May for a show at Howler.
Most recently The Hackkets have been invited to contribute to The Lifted Brow compilation cassette alongside musicians from around Australia ‘unearthing and promoting wonderfully challenging, surprising and engaging work’ (Annabel Brady-brown, co-Editor). By the end of 2017 we will have a second soft release of a new single from a back catalogue of songs written over a prolific 18 months.
Other career highlights thus far include shows at the 2006 Melbourne festival with DJ Dexter, Club Wild, Etihad stadium, The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, a recording collaboration with Melbourne Cabaret darling Yana Alana.
1-4 The Hackkets at Reverence Hotel, 2017, Photos by Snehargho Ghosh