Black Rock Band hail from the West Arnhem region in the Northern Territory’s Top End.
Drawing on deep musical family history they incorporate traditional and contemporary sounds with a steady rock style, singing in both Kunwinjku and English.
With songs like Struggle, Learning on Country and their first recording Bininj Kunborrk literally translating to Traditional Song and Dance - the band sing about their families’ cultural richness as well as contemporary social and political issues that reflect their experience as First Nations people.
Their songs are a celebration of culture, connection to country, the fight for social justice and the future they want to create for the next generation of children.
In 2016 Andy Baldwin (Rola Pola Studios, USA) witnessed the band’s performance at Barunga Festival and was so impressed he offered to record Bininj Kunborrk. The single spread like wild fire through the Communities of Arnhem Land has since been included on the Bush Bands 2017 compilation, featured on Triple J Unearthed, ICTV and played on many radio stations across the country.
Since their inclusion in the Music NT Bush Band Bash program Block Rock Band’s body of work has continued to grow; following the release of their first and second singles with accompanying film clips. In May 2018 the band released their debut album entitled ‘Struggle’ with David Bridie’s Wantok Music Foundation. The album was recorded with Andy Baldwin at Subsonic Studio’s in Darwin and Kapalga Outstation in Kakadu National Park and was mastered by Joe La Porta Sterling Sound NY.
Live crowds are entranced by their on-stage style, as the boys picked up Best Community Band at Barunga Festival 2017, played to a sold-out crowd in Melbourne’s Spiegel Tent alongside artist Yirrmal Marika (Yirrkala) and contemporary folk outfit The Mae Trio. They make regular Top End appearances including Mayali Festival and Mahbilil Festival and earlier this year performed to large audiences at MONA FOMA Festival TAS, the Nannup Music Festival, WA and a South East Coast tour launching their album in Sydney and Melbourne.
The band recently undertook a Cultural Artist in Residency progam with the prestigious St Ignatius Riverview College Sydney, took out the Rock category in the 2018 NT song of the Year Awards, been named finalists in the 2018 National Indigenous Music Awards and have been invited to join the WA Arts 2018 Sandtracks Tour.
“The music that I sing about, I think of it as a message and a reminder for people, what’s happening in the real world. Not only about the rich and famous, it’s about the poor too.”
- Richie Guymala (lead singer)
“Most of our songs speak about people I see in my family, with my own eyes. I see them having hard times and it’s good for someone to speak about it – give my community a voice when they can never speak it out. Give them a voice to say “enough is enough”.”
- Richie Guymala (lead singer)
“my old man would sing for all us brothers every night and we would dance because we like singing and dancing. He said ‘If something happens to me you need to take this’. He passed away now, he gave me that culture, I keep it in my head.”
- Graham Rostron (lead guitar)