Red Ink are about to hit the road on the back of their storming new single ‘What My Friends Say’, taking in much of South East Australia in what is their biggest Australian tour to date. Hailing from Frankston on the very edge of Melbourne’s South, the band have been making serious inroads over the last year, drawing ever increasing crowds and along the way playing with the likes of Biffy Clyro, British India and Miami Horror. They’ve also graced a few festival stages of late, including Peats Ridge, Stereosonic, Playground Weekender and Portsea’s Hot BBQ. However, singer and guitarist John Jakubenko reveals to Jim Murray that although they love Frankston, they get their biggest crowds in inner city Melbourne and Sydney.

New single ‘What My Friends Say’ is a fiendishly catchy slice of pop rock, which appears heavily indebted to some particularly Australian influences of the same ilk, ranging from the Models to INXS, and perhaps even Icehouse? Jakubenko agrees. “Icehouse have very much shaped the way that Brendan plays his guitar. There’s so much in music—you can look at any decade, any band, in any country and you can find something to be inspired by. But we love the late 70’s, like all the way from like Skyhooks through to early INXS, even.”

However, that’s not to say they’re caught up in a time warp by any means. He declares “We kind of take input from everything. Our bass player has got the largest scope of musical influence—the rest of us kind of channel small pockets of music. But yeah, the Australian music is definitely what we’re kind of trying to put our finger on at the moment. This single is very much down that alley, but we’ve got a lot of stuff coming up that we’ve just been really recently that we’ve been getting really excited about that… you can just hear that… there’s something about Australia music … bands like Midnight Oil are clearly Australian. But then you’ve got other bands that have an Australian element to them that don’t sound “oi” you know… I love Midnight Oil, but they’re very Australian so…

Asking the kind of music that influenced him growing up, and the kinds of band posters he had on his bedroom walls as a teenager prompts a pause before he decides to let it all out. “I don’t want to answer this question” he laughs. “I’ve grown up loving pop music… so if you asked any of the other three boys they’d have really good answers… but I grew up loving Kylie Minogue … I love U2.”

Indeed, the chiming guitars of the Edge and the urgency of Bono’s vocals before U2’s output turned in to a big stinking pile in the late 90s can be heard on the single as well. Jabukenko agrees. “Yeah well War’s my favourite album.” Warming up to the inherent contradiction in the biggest band in the world’s output, he reflects “Yeah well the thing about U2 is, like, people go “Oh I love U2” or “I hate U2” and you’re like “Which U2?” ‘cause, there’s eight different U2s, you know, every album. But the early 80’s kind of stuff had a real attack to the guitar … it was almost punk rock, but it was appealing to mainstream. And that’s kind of where we like to sit, you know, we like that attitude.”