Jelly Tub Rollers Q & A
By Crimson Cat
The Jelly Tub Rollers started as a band busking in the streets of Melbourne in 2008. Whose idea was it to do this?
Newly arrived in Melbourne, bandleader Darcy McNulty had been walking through the city, saxophone in hand, when he stopped to listen to Elise Winterflood slapping out trad-style double bass along with some friends on banjo and clarinet. On the enthusiastic recommendation (even coercion) of a fellow onlooker, Darcy joined the jam, and thus the beginnings of the band later to become known as the Jelly Tub Rollers were born.
Just who was that unknown onlooker? And did he foretell the part he was to play in the band’s formation? In a way, the Jelly Tub Rollers was his idea.
How did the band get together?
After Darcy and Elise met and began busking together, history repeated itself when guitarist Matt Witney approached the band on the footpath of a bustling Melbourne street keen to play. Matt had known Darcy when living in Brisbane and, like Darcy, had been drawn south with a head full of songs and a heart full of promise. In their first jam, their muses gelled (pun intended) and Matt became an integral part of the band’s thigh-slappin’ boho sound.
Likewise, drummer Dom “Hardwhacker” Hede had collaborated with Darcy in iconic Brisbane Afro-funk outfits Kafka and Kooii, and had no need to think twice when Darcy asked him to roll with him once again, jelly-style.
Later that year trombonist Bryce Gilhome saw the band perform whilst dealing poker at a friend’s warehouse and part-time speakeasy. Seeing it as the best kind of reason to lay down his cards, dust off his trombone and play, Bryce jammed with Darcy after closing time and on Darcy’s invitation became an official Roller shortly thereafter.
What helped inspire the band name was when a listener donated a tub of jelly instead of spare change. What was going through your minds at the time?
Upon reflection, Elise says that what struck her most was that it was green. Why green? Does no-one like green enough to eat it themselves? Darcy says that at the time, he had his eyes closed mid-solo and can’t be certain as to how the jelly appeared in his opened saxophone case. He later described the jelly donor in his song “Roll Jelly Roll” as a cute black-haired girl but confesses that for all he knows it could have been “some creepy dude”.
When and where was your big break?
Being invited to play for the 2010 Stonnington Jazz Festival!
We were thrilled to play at Falls Festival at Lorne last year, along with many amazing acts.
You have also adopted Thomas the Tap Engine (Thomas Walderton) as part of band now, how did you meet him?
Darcy first saw Thomas dance at Northcote’s Open Studio with local band of gypsies Rapskallion. When the venue closed the crowd moved outside, and Darcy and Thomas jammed amidst a writhing street party that showed no signs of ever slowing down. After that, Darcy poached Thomas from Rapskallion and we’ve been looking over our shoulders ever since.
Who came up with his genius of a stage name?
What song mostly gets Thomas and the crowd dancing?
Easy – the “Thomas the Tap Engine Theme”! It’s our arrangement of a well-known children’s television show theme (which we won’t name for copyright reasons), played over the chords to Duke Ellingon’s “Take The A-Train”.
Who would you say is the greatest influence for your music?
There are many flavours in our trad-punk sound, most notably Fats Waller, The Pogues and Jelly Roll Morton (of course). Oh and another important influence is the band rider!
Are there any plans to bring your music interstate?
We would love to tour interstate, especially the sunshine state, and we are aiming for Woodford Folk Festival at the end of the year.
Will you be watching any other bands performing for The Stonnington Jazz Festival?
Yes, we’re looking forward to Vince Jones, Bernie McGann and others, and if we weren’t playing 28th May we’d go see Ted Vining and Zac Hurren! Then we’d go to our gig afterwards.
Stonnington Jazz presents Jelly Tub Rollers on May 28th at Red Bennies