Rock Off MND returns for 2020

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Rock Off MND returns for 2020

On average, two people die each day from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in Australia. It can strike anyone, at any time and there is no known cure. The average life expectancy for a person diagnosed with MND is a mere two and a half years, with people progressively losing the use of their limbs and ability to speak, swallow and breathe, whilst their mind and senses usually remain intact.

MND is a devastating disease and currently has no known cause or cure, something that Rock Off MND hopes to change.

At the age of 53, local Geelong health worker Jenny Simko was fit, enjoying a life she dedicated to helping others, happily married for 30 years and a proud mother of three wonderful children. In August 2014, Jenny was given the devastating news that would change her life forever – a diagnosis of MND.

This is where Rock Off MND was born. Inspired by Jenny, this event was created together with her family and friends who were determined to raise as much money as possible with all funds raised being donated to vital MND research to help work towards finding a cure for this cruel disease.

“After Jen was diagnosed she thought that this is such a horrendous disease and there was very little research funding available back then. She just really wanted to do something to raise money to try and find a cure for this rotten disease,” says Peter Simko, Jenny’s husband, who one day hopes the world will be free of MND. “We’ve got a lot of friends who are musicians so our original thought was let’s just put on a little show locally somewhere where we might raise a little bit of money and have a bit of fun.”

That was six years ago now, and while Jenny sadly lost her fight in November 2015, her legacy has only flourished, with Rock Off MND becoming an annual event that continues to increase community awareness of MND, provide a platform for significant future growth, and of course, continue to raise money for vital MND research.

“We’re grateful for all the money that we can raise. We were just focused on the first event initially but we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to continue it on and we’ve now raised over $650,000,” Peter says.

MND is a very complex disease, but without research, a cure cannot be found. It’s for this reason that alongside raising funds for research, the ambition from Rock Off MND is to also fund MND research projects.

“The money raised across the past five events have funded eight Jenny Simko MND Research Grants for research conducted by Australian MND research institutions,” Peter explains. “At the end of the day, that’s really our main driver and our main focus. To not only to raise money for research but actually to be able to fund research grants. It’s very rewarding that the money is being put to such good use. You can actually see what it’s being used for.”

Taking place at Deakin’s Waterfront Campus year after year, the event has captured the attention from a number of homegrown acts and the music industry at large, with big names stepping up to help the event raise the necessary funds to help.

So far we’ve seen the likes of Jon Stevens, Pierce Brothers, Kate Ceberano, Maddy Jane, local songstress Imogen Brough, Ross Wilson, and the Peaceniks, Benny Walker, The Kite Machine, party band Madhouse, among many others.

“We’ve just been blessed, we’ve had some great headline acts. You look at Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens, Ross Wilson – they are all legends,” Peter says.

Going above and beyond for event #6, this year Dragon, MDRN Love and Melbourne party band Stereo Stars will be gracing the courtyard stage.

While Dragon are Australian pub rock royalty, it’s the appearance of MDRN LOVE that will be particularly special, having performed at the very first event in March 2015 under their former name of Revolution.

“We were lucky enough to perform there so we understand how special the night is, especially to people who are affected by Motor Neurone Disease, and having everyone coming together for a good cause is just so special,” says MDRN LOVE lead-vocalist and guitarist, Jack Harman.

“When they asked us to play this year, we were absolutely all for it. We are close family friends with the Simko’s and we grew up with them and were part of that whole thing so we understand how it affects families as well. For us, it’s just really special to be able to be a part of it.”

Formerly known by the name of Revolution, MDRN LOVE have wowed fans and established themselves over the past few years, boasting punchy guitar-driven rhythms, emotionally driven songwriting and hints of new-age synth.

The track ‘Breathe’ from their 2017 their self-titled debut EP was actually written for Jenny following her Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis, with the band being fortunate enough to perform for her at the first Rock Off MND event, making their upcoming performance particularly poignant.

“We really want to do a good job and help come together with everyone else for a very significant night in Motor Neurone Disease and hopefully raise some awareness and some money and kick this thing,” Jack reveals. “You can’t help but admire how much effort goes into this event and want to be a part of it however you can and that’s why we’re stoked to be asked to play.”

Re-emerging from their hibernation, the Geelong-based rockers have embraced a new chapter of their artistry, ready to tackle 2020 with new material and redefined focus on their direction.

“The last couple of months we’ve done a pretty massive overhaul on the band and our sound, so Rock Off MND is going to be one of the first opportunities to try everything out,” Jack says. “We’ve got more control with the direction we want to head now. We just took five minutes to see what was working and what wasn’t, and tried to put the best foot forward with this new material.

“In an over-saturated industry, you really do need material that’s a cut above the rest and we didn’t want to waste time putting out sub-par material. We just took our time to work on better songwriting and getting the right players in the room that could benefit the track and that went all the way down to studio engineers and producers. It’s exciting for us, but we didn’t want to rush anything.”

The local outfit have always shown their breadth and versatility in their past releases, and it seems that trend is set to continue with the new material we’re set to hear at the event, including ‘Shine On’, their first single in three years.

“It’s a 90s rock, Oasis vibe that we’ve gone on this track. It’s different for us but it felt really good to open up our mind to what can achieve and it’s given us an indication of where our sound is strongest. I don’t know what this means going forward for what to expect, but it certainly felt good recording and it felt even better playing live so the sky’s the limit for what we want to achieve now… the gloves are off.”

It’s testament to the band that even with some time away, they’ve still got local music lovers excited about what they’re doing with Rock Off MND quickly becoming a highly anticipated event.

Alongside the music, there will be a raffle, there will be food, there will be drinks and even a happy hour.

What better way to Rock Off a wretched disease than organise a concert with great live music and great people and donate all funds to much-needed research to find a cure?

It all kicks off at 5pm on Saturday, March 14 at Deakin Waterfront, with MDRN LOVE taking to the stage at 5:45pm.

Tickets can only be purchased online at the event website
A donations section on the event website is provided for those that would like to support the event but are not able to attend on the night.

All net proceeds from Rock Off MND are donated directly to support vital MND research. For more information on Motor Neurone Disease check out MND Victoria.