AS boys growing up in the East Arnhem Land town of Yirrkala, Roy Kellaway and Yirrnga Yunupingu idolised the legendary Yothu Yindi.
Kellaway's father, Stu, was Yothu Yindi's bassist and Yunupingu's uncle, the late Dr M Yunupingu, was the band's iconic frontman and the boys were often found backstage at shows or at rehearsals.
"The guitars were on the couch so you'd have to pick up a guitar to sit on the couch, so you just find it in your hands," Roy said.
Yothu Yindi's message of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in their songs like Treaty resonated.
Eventually when Yothu Yindi reformed in 2017, five years after Dr M Yunupingu's death, Roy (guitar) and Yirrnga (vocals) joined the family band.
"Yirringa and I were thrilled, because we're Yothu Yindi's biggest fans," Roy said. "It's surreal when you could be such a fan of something and then you get to be a part of it. I was fan-boying the entire time and loving every minute of it."
The experience also crystallised Roy and Yirrnga's plans for their own rock band. Last November King Stingray became a reality when the Yolngu surf-rockers released their debut single Hey Wanhaka, meaning "where you going?"
Hey Wanhaka introduced King Stingray's '80s-inspired Australian surf rock, mixed with traditional Aboriginal percussion and didgeridoo.
King Stingray have since supported The Chats and released their second single Get Me Out. A debut album, due later this year, is being recorded in Ian Haug's (Powderfinger) Brisbane studio.
Two weeks ago King Stingray delivered a rousing set at The Gum Ball in the Hunter Valley, which ended with enthusiastic cries of "encore". The rest of the east coast is discovering King Stingray as they continue on their first national headline tour.
"It's amazing that so many people have been keen to come along to our shows based off two singles," Roy said.
The quality of the music and intensity of their live performance is central to King Stingray's appeal, but so is their message of unity.
"We're all just mates and family playing music together," Roy said. "Yirrnga is a very proud Yolngu man and what we do underpins that.
"It's funny sometimes as you find yourself playing Indigenous music, but it's a universal language music. Everyone can understand when people are having fun and having joy. It translates to everyone.
"We're trying to be uplifting. We want to celebrate things and we're not trying to push a 'poor bugger me' approach. It's all about rock'n'roll and celebrating how amazing multiculturalism is and how deadly Yolngu artists are."
Catch King Stingray at the Hamilton Station Hotel on Saturday.