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Band to rock disabilities preconceptions

Rory Burnside is one of many hip young indie rock vocalists from Melbourne.

The 24-year-old frontman of Rudely Interrupted is, however, not like other musos. And his band, which has played around the world, is not like other bands.

Born without eyes, the man with Asperger's syndrome sings vocals in the band that comprises drummer Josh Hogan, 24, who has a chromosomal disorder, bassist Sam Beke, 27, who has Down syndrome, as does tambourinist Constance Kirkpatrick, 49, who is also legally blind. Marcus Stone, 32, plays synthesiser and also has Asperger's and is partially deaf.

Burnside refuses to be defined by his disabilities.

The band's message to the world, as Burnside puts it, is: ''It's not about the disability, it's about the person, and the music.''

Yesterday, the band was announced as the headline act for Queanbeyan's Festival of Ability on December 1.


It will also perform at the National Disability Awards at Parliament House on Tuesday.

The Queanbeyan festival will mark the International Day of People with a Disability.

Burnside hoped the band's performance in Queanbeyan would inspire the audience, especially other disabled people.

''It's about what they can do, not what they can't do. Every Australian counts,'' he said.

''A lot of people don't know anything about disabilities. They only see the negatives. There's more than meets the eye.''

Burnside said music had always been his life because his father, Jonathan Burnside, is a music producer.

''I've got perfect pitch,'' he said. ''And we had a wide music program when I was at school.''

Disabilities created challenges, ''but we can overcome them and rock on''.

''We're not all the same,'' he said. ''For example, I learn stuff quicker than anybody else. What may take me five minutes may take the other members half an hour. I seem to be critical when they do forget things.''

The band's biggest dream is pretty simple: ''[To] continue to rock''.