Rat Trap

Album: A Tonic For the Troops (1978)
Charted: 1


  • This single by The Boomtown Rats reached #1 in the UK singles chart for two weeks in November 1978, becoming the first song by a punk or new wave act to do so. It was also the first UK chart topper for an Irish rock act.
  • This Springsteen homage tells the tale of a boy called Billy who feels the depressing town he lives in is a "Rat Trap." It was based on singer Bob Geldof's then job in an abattoir. He recalled to Mojo magazine February 2011: "I wrote Rat Trap in the abattoir in 1973, two years before the Rats were around. But I wasn't particular writing songs. I was just writing loads of words."
  • Mojo asked Geldof how much of his song writing with The Boomtown Rats was journalistic and how much what you felt, like a psychic download? He replied: "The very first interview I did with the NME, with Angie Errigo, I said I wanted to be famous, because I wanted to use fame to talk about things that bothered me. And I have. But with 'Rat Trap,' there was just as much, as you say psychic download going on. That really was me working in the abattoir."
  • The song replaced "Summer Nights" at #1. The song from the Grease soundtrack had spent seven weeks at the top of the UK charts, and when the Rats performed "Rat Trap" on Top of the Pops, Geldof held up a picture of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to loud cheers from the audience, before ripping it up.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."

Michael SchenkerSongwriter Interviews

The Scorpions and UFO guitarist is also a very prolific songwriter - he explains how he writes with his various groups, and why he was so keen to get out of Germany and into England.

TV Theme SongsFact or Fiction

Was a Beatles song a TV theme? And who came up with those Fresh Prince and Sopranos songs?

Alan Merrill of The ArrowsSongwriter Interviews

In her days with The Runaways, Joan Jett saw The Arrows perform "I Love Rock And Roll," which Alan Merrill co-wrote - that story and much more from this glam rock pioneer.

Alice CooperFact or Fiction

How well do you know this shock-rock harbinger who's been publicly executed hundreds of times?

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.