The UV Race’s Marcus Rechsteiner: “I just take my clothes off”

Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

Melbourne band The UV Race bring a lot of fun and joy to people’s lives with their humorous, clever, raw punk rock. Vocalist Marcus Rechsteiner is a sweetheart and as genuine as they come. We chatted with him on the one year anniversary of their LP Made In China (out on Aarght! Records).

How’s your day been?

MARCUS RECHSTEINER: Good. I’ve been at work.

What do you do for work?

MR: I work with people with disabilities.

Nice. How did you get into that line of work?

MR: A long time ago I started volunteering.

What inspired you to do that?

MR: Because I had no work [laughs]. I had a family friend that was teaching music at a disability organisation in Warragul where I grew up. I volunteered. She ran music classes and was paid, I just volunteered. Then I started volunteering at the local pool helping people go swimming and then the organisation that used the pool, I started working for them.

So now you get paid!

MR: Yeah [laughs]. It’s really good.

How have you been going with everything that’s happening right now in the world with the lockdowns and isolation?

MR: I’m getting used to it. I was looking forward to some things that can’t happen now but health is more important. I was going to go see Eddy Current [Suppression Ring] and I was going to go to Jerkfest; hopefully they can happen at a later date.

Is there anything that you do when you’re feeling stressed or down or overwhelmed to cheer yourself up?

MR: [Laughs] Not really, I just talk to friends or watch TV. I live by myself so it’s nice having my own space.

What have you been watching lately?

MR: I don’t have any internet so it’s just free-to-air TV. I usually just watch 7Mate or Channel 9 has their own version of 7Mate. I like car shows and American Pickers.

Recently, you came back to Instagram after a break; what made you take a break in the first place?

MR: I had it around 2011 and there was a lot of sepia-toned photos at the time and people going crazy on the filters and felt it was a bit misleading. People would take photos of that day and then putting the sepia-tone on it so it looked like the photo was thirty years old! It really annoyed me but apparently that was just a craze at the time and only lasted a few months and then went on to something else. It really annoyed me at the time though so I got off it. I felt all the filters are misleading, like Photoshopping photos, which some people love; I don’t like it.

With all this staying at home and no gigs one of my bandmates in Luxury asked me to get it so we can do a live performance, which hasn’t happened yet. I mainly got it to do performances on it. [You can follow Marcus here].

Is having connection with people a reason you like being in a band?

MR: It’s a great way to meet people, yeah. I got friends all over the world and that’s through music. It’s a really good icebreaker, you play a gig and then people come up and talk to you after, whereas if I just went into a bar or a gig without playing,= I find it a lot harder to connect with people. It’s a great way to get to know people. Most of my friends are in Melbourne that I met from music.

How did you first start singing?

MR: [Laughs] Well I can’t play any instruments so that was the only option I had really. Al [Montfort] and I went to high school together, we grew up together and have known each other for about twenty years. We were in the same class in Year 7 to Year 12, we started high school together in 1999. He was always into music, he was into pop punk music and I got into it as well. He started playing in Straightjacket Nation when he was 17. We had always talked about being in a band together but it didn’t really happen until 2007.

Is there an instrument you wish you could play?

MR: A guitar is pretty cool [laughs]. Doing a mad solo would be pretty fun! There’s not really something I wish I could play. If you have an instrument and sing it’s hard and when I sing I like to put a lot into dancing and interaction—I feel that’s my instrument. It also always lets my bandmates focus on their thing while I’m doing my thing out the front. It works out well. I’ve just been trying to learn how to play a washboard. Jake Ausmuteants-and-lots-of-other-bands gave it to me a couple of weeks ago! I’m planning on doing a country band with a friend of mine so I’ve been practising the washboard, it keeps me entertained.

That’s awesome! I remember when I was a little kid and I’d go visit my grandma and she had a washboard in her laundry room that she actually used to wash clothes with like in olden times!

MR: [Laughs]. That’s awesome!

Before UV Race how did you express yourself creatively?

MR: I probably didn’t. I didn’t realise how important it was until I joined the band and I really enjoyed it. If we haven’t played for a month or two, I’d be really keen to get on stage and express myself, it’s a good release. I don’t think I would have ever been in a band if it wasn’t for being friends with Al. None of my family are really into music. Our friendship has really brought that out for me.

Awww that’s so lovely. Do you ever feel nervous before you play?

MR: I just get excited now! When I first started I was pretty nervous. At our third show we had James [Vinciguerra] from Total Control drumming ‘cause Dan [Stewart] was bringing out bands and doing stuff with another band at the time. When James drummed for us he was drumming faster than Dan usually would, I was shaking my head not very happy, and people in the crowd said they were having a great time and loved it but they could tell I wasn’t into it because I kept shaking my head. I was like, ah, ok, I have to hide my emotions a little bit more. Even if I’m not feeling the best I try not to let on because I’ve had experience where I’ve watched other bands and you can see someone is in a down mood and you’re enjoying the music but they’re bringing you down. Most of the time I’m having a good time anyway.

Do you ever find it hard to hide your emotions? You seem like a real honest, wear your heart-on-your-sleeve kind of guy.

MR: I am! I try channelling what I’m feeling into the performance and get it out on stage. When I first started… I don’t want to say I went over the top but, I guess I didn’t really know what I was feeling at the time; now that I’m a bit older I can actually recognise my emotions and be a bit more in check with them.

So maybe you’ll do more dancing on stage to get things out?

MR: Yeah! Or sing a bit harder [laughs].

I’ve heard you have a good memory; do you remember what happened one year ago today?

MR: Hmmm….. [laughs] no.

You released your Made In China LP!

MR: Nah, I didn’t remember, that’s crazy! I didn’t even realise that. That record had been recorded three or four years before that. When it finally came out I kind of felt disconnected from it. Not in a bad way though, it was just strange that it was finally out. We’ve slowed down a bit though with bandmates having babies and us all being in our thirties now. It’s crazy it’s been one year since it came out!

What do you remember from recording it?

MR: Not a whole heap [laughs]. We had a few people we did the recording with, we recorded it with a guy called Texas Tom and then Mikey [Young] did some stuff and Al. I don’t particularly like recording that much, I find it a bit hard. I don’t really focus that much, like my memory doesn’t focus that much.

You like playing live better?

MR: Oh much more! Yes! I find it a lot easier when people are in front of me and I’m on a stage. When it’s just me and I have to nail every word in the right spot, I just don’t really enjoy it that much.

Is there any songs on the album that are significant for you?

MR: ‘Belfast Belle’ [‘Irish Girl’] that was about my girlfriend at the time, we’re not together anymore. It’s the first and only proper love song that I’ve done in The UV Race.

I really like the song ‘Fairly Free’ that’s one of my favourite songs. Al and I wrote that together. It’s kind of about having a good time, you always know that it’s either going to end or you’re still constrained by society’s perception of things and how you really need to act; you could be getting a bit loose but you know there could be consequences down the track. It’s basically about how no one can ever truly be free, that doesn’t really exist.

What’s the song ‘Why Die’ about?

MR: I actually forget that song [laughs]. A few people have mentioned that song to me and I try to place it but I totally lose it. I think I know it, I actually really struggle with that one.

What’s your favourite songs to play live?

MR: I really like ‘Raw Balls’! I like ‘I’m A Pig’ too and ‘Burn That Cat’. I like our songs with lots of energy.

I haven’t got to see you play live yet but from what I’ve heard and seen in videos online, UV Race shows can get pretty wild and people come to shows wanting to see you go crazy; do you always give them what they want or sometimes want to do something else?

MR: Usually, it depends on how hot the room is. If it’s really hot I just take my clothes off [laughs]. Sometimes it’s hard though because if you’ve done something in the past people expect that. It also depends on how the crowd are, if they get into it, I get into it more. I find that when we play places outside of Melbourne like say in Brisbane, people get a little crazier there because they don’t have as many opportunities. Even in Sydney people get into it more. I feel like Melbourne is a little spoilt sometimes, because of how many bands and venues there are.

So getting naked on stage is a comfort thing ‘cause a room is too hot?

MR: [Laughs] Sometimes. Sometimes it’s an attention thing too.

You wear some pretty cool costumes too?

MR: I haven’t worn too many lately though, I haven’t been that organised. I used to have friends that would make me some. I want to get back into wearing them. Last year we had a spy themed gig, but I couldn’t find any spy outfits. I wanted to be Austin Powers but I couldn’t find any outfits big enough for me so I ended up going as the wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage! Everyone was wearing berets and trenchcoats and I’m in this jacket with crazy threads on it and wearing a cowboy hat—that was fun!

All photos courtesy of The UV Race Facebook.

Who are the musicians you admire?

MR: I really like Dee Dee Ramone because he was the coolest Ramone, he was the cheeky one. I like the brats! I like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, I feel he’s the best of the Wu-Tang Clan, he makes sense but he doesn’t make any sense [laughs]. We he raps he kind of makes sense but it doesn’t, he does it really well. I don’t have many others.

Do you have a favourite UV Race-related story?

MR: Ummm… there’s one I can tell you but you probably shouldn’t put it in the interview [laughs]. I love it but it’s a little bit wrong, I’ll tell you though… [Marcus tells me but I’m not publishing it to respect his wishes].

I read somewhere that you did a show in conjunction with an art gallery exhibition and the theme was ‘time’ and you sang songs about time like Cindy Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’?

MR: Guy Blackman and I did a duo together, it was called Guy & Marcus Blackman Experimentation Project. Joel from Liquid Architecture was doing this thing where he did this bus thing where he got a group of people out to a gallery. Part of that was to do with the concept of time and doing karaoke on the bus so that’s what I did.

I know The UV Race always like to challenge yourselves creatively; are you working on anything now?

MR: Not as we speak. We’re still trying to finish the sequel to The UV Race movie. We’re trying to get that done and record the soundtrack for that. We still have some songs we need to record for that.

How’s it all going?

MR: [Laughs] Slow. We’re not spending that much time together though. It’ll get done. It was filmed a fair while ago. The sequel is a bit crazier because it’s set in space. The first one is kind of like Blues Brothers, I’m trying to get the band back together after blowing our recording money gambling. We break up and it’s set five years after that where I’m trying to get everyone back together but they’re doing different things. In the sequel we’re in space and crazy space stuff happens. [Laughs] It’ll be fun to see the final product.

I can’t wait to hear the music that will accompany you guys in space.

MR: It’s a bit more synth-y as you would expect.

Do you have a dream project you’d like to bring to fruition one day?

MR: [Laughs] No, not really. I’m doing what I like at the moment.

You mentioned the country project…

MR: That’s a bit of fun with my friend Eileen. I’m in another band called, Luxury.

What’s Luxury sound like?

MR: [Laughs] It’s hard to describe. It’s a bit rocky and bluesy. Lots of guitar solos. It’s fun and upbeat. It’s humorous, I sing about not typical subjects; we have a song about ghost love, we have a song about Narwhal the whale. It’s a little bit sillier.

What do you get from songwriting?

MR: Self-expression, expressing how I feel. I love making people laugh and people think. I like to think that I have a different way of writing lyrics to how other people do, I like sharing that with people.

How do you write? Do you have a notebook to write down ideas?

MR: Sometimes. Mostly I use an iPhone now and put it in my notes, that way I can copy and paste to and send it to everyone else.

What’s the last song you wrote?

MR: Some stuff for the country project I’m doing. I haven’t written much UV stuff lately. A song I wrote for Luxury recently is a song ‘Single And Eating Pringles’ about not wanting to change and to make myself more available… I could lose weight but then I could eat Pringles, so I chose the Pringles [laughs].

What’s one of your favourite things to do?

MR: I like going on adventures with friends. I like doing things I’ve never done before or going to places I never have before. I love to travel, that’s probably my favourite thing to do.

Where was the last place you went before everything got locked down?

MR: I went with a friend and her son to a billy cart race! That was fun. That was in the Dandenong, they shut off the main street and kids raced their billy carts down there.

That’s pretty cool. Did you ever do stuff like that when you were a kid?

MR: I grew up on a farm. I had “paddock bombs” and motorbikes when I was a teenager and used to muck around with my friends. I had a pretty adventurous childhood doing things with my dad on the farm.

What was it like growing up in the country?

MR: It was good, I liked it a lot!

How do you find it when you go to the city being in an urban environment?

MR: Right now I live in the middle of the ‘burbs because Melbourne is so big. I live 45 minutes from the city but an hour from where I grew up in Warragul. I have to get out into the countryside every couple of weeks just to recharge. I just have to see green grass, I don’t like starring at buildings all year round.

Do you ever find you get too much stimulation being in the city?

MR: Sometimes. I usually try to find a quiet spot. I have a bar I go to in the city that my friends work at that can be quite quiet, it’s pretty chill. You can find places that aren’t so busy.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

MR: I have another story I could tell you that you can print that’s UV Race-related. In 2011 UV Race was touring on the Big Day Out festival. We were on a side-stage called Lilypad, they’d have weird entertainment and bands play.  They had an area where there were inflatable pools setup and there was a rainbow archway, we were all hanging out in the pool and the singer for Rammstein walks up and we’re like, “Come in the pool! Come in the pool!” [laughs]. He looks at us and says [Marcus puts of a German accent] “Maybe later” and he hit the rainbow archway with his hand and he walked off. That’s one of my favourite stories. They were scary! They were very intimidating.

Vid by Tim O’Driscoll.

Please check out: THE UV RACE. The UV Race on Facebook. Made In China via Aarght Records.

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