Last Dinosaurs: Interview and playlist
Brisbane’s Last Dinosaurs release their hotly anticipated second LP ‘Wellness’ this week. We chat to lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Sean Caskey about the record, about their upcoming tour and about… erm… throwing poo. We also asked the band to put together a playlist of inspirational songs for us. You can hear it at the end of this interview:
Hi and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Something You Said. Oddly, the first time I heard about you guys was at a bar in Japan with one of the staff talking about how he knew your drummer Dan (Koyama) and how great this Australian band is. How does it feel knowing that your work is resonating throughout the world?
Was that in Kyoto?? Dan spent a fair bit of time there, his brother lives there at the moment. Small world though! It feels good to know there are fans everywhere but then again it makes sense because I listen to a lot of obscure bands from around the world, and I know they don’t know I’m here. Thanks and no thanks to platforms like Youtube and Rdio etc, the possibilities of stumbling across something amazing is far greater than they would have been back in the golden years of buying music.
You have spent plenty of time performing in Japan, have any of your experiences there made their way into your music; be it the people, the places or their love affair with all things cute?
Yeah well the final rendition of Evie was written in Tokyo. I had five days left after we finished a small tour in between recording. I programmed it all on GarageBand and made it sound all bouncy and shiny. Maybe because I was in such a colourful busy place, I was keen on making the song a bit more vibrant. We also did a bit of writing in a studio in Arita which was a beautiful little country town. I don’t think the locations really influenced me too much cause I’ve always been influenced at heart by a lot of Japanese music. I think growing up with deeply melancholic compositions from Ghibli films did it.
For those unfamiliar with Last Dinosaurs, how would you describe your brand of music?
I don’t really think about music like that to be honest and I can’t think of any words except “indie guitar pop”. I hate the first word and the last word very much but I guess it’s true.
How has Brisbane influenced you and help shape your sound?
I don’t think Brisbane had much to do with our music. Sydney had the biggest influence. Bands like Red Riders, Starky, Lost Valentinos, Ghostwood etc, really influenced more bands than they will ever realise. The biggest thing Brisbane has done is kept us going strong. The community of friends/musicians all doing things together has kind of kept up the optimism in having a crack in such a hard profeshun. So sonically not much influence but more inspiration to keep on writing and rehearsing and trying to be better.
Touring can be a tiresome affair; airport, minivan, hotel, venue, minivan, airport. Do you have a release valve for the busy schedule that helps keep you sane during the time spent travelling from place to place?
I wish we had something, but we really don’t. The best thing is splitting up and spending a couple of days in different hotels or houses but sometimes that’s too hard. Luckily we all have a similar deep and strange sense of humour so we are often laughing and joking about something. Plus we really appreciate the opportunity to travel to amazing places so we are generally pretty happy on tour, I’d say.
Do you find touring to be inspirational whereby it helps you write and create more material or are you so focused on the task at hand that writing and creating new material takes a back seat?
I think for me writing isn’t influenced by location. If I have something in me to put onto my laptop or on paper then I’ll put it down. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen often enough, so I end up just waiting for it to come around because if I purposely sit down to pump something out it often turns in to rubbish and I waste space on my hard drive or ink from my pen. We did do a bit of writing and recording in Bali and Japan for this album though just because we had a bit of spare time and I had some ideas up my sleeve.
What has been one of your most memorable gigs to date and why?
Splendour this year was crazy big so I’d say I’ll remember that for a fair while. But I wanna say in a couple of months that the Enmore will be the best. It’ll be a big day for us if we sell that out and play a good show.
You have received a tip of the hat by Rdio as artist to watch which must be pleasing. Does it feel like a vindication of sorts when you get noticed and that all your hard work has been acknowledged?
It’s hard, cause things like that are generally like a planned thing by the label or something. So it’s kinda like your boss at work printing out your face and sticking it on the white board for employee of the week, not really but kinda, haha. It’s always good to score thing like that, when the big ones come through it can really help though.
Was there an added sense of confidence when recording and releasing your new album Wellness after your last album in 2012 and EP in 2010?
I think a sense of relief to finally get the chance to record new music. Also for our fans being able to hear the band we have become over the last couple of years. It is a much better representation of who we are now, sonically and thematically. More stories and different ways of looking at things. We still tried to keep all the melancholy though. I think we are confident with this one, because we listen back to old stuff and cringe, the new stuff doesn’t inspire the same feelings luckily, yet.
How did you approach the writing for the album? Was it a case of writing batches and creative bursts or one at a time until you amassed enough tracks for a new record?
Definitely in little batches. Often months apart. I can’t write whenever I want, which sucks big time. I’m not the kind of person to start something unless i know exactly how I want it to end pretty much.
What does your new material say about the stage you are at in your life at the moment?
I don’t know, most of the time I switch of the critical side of me when it comes to lyrics, otherwise I will end up saying nothing, which also happens. I don’t like to go back and think about what I said either, they are just a series of sounds to me normally. I guess though when I do write, I like to make it a little bit cryptic so other people don’t come at me with pitchforks.
It isn’t easy playing on huge festival stages like Splendour as you have, what stage craft do you incorporate into your shows based on live acts you witnessed as punters pre Last Dinosaurs?
I like to get completely naked on stage. I watched a doco about GG Allin a while back and I felt a deep connection with his performance art. I incorporate a bit of faeces throwing from time to time when I’m tipsy but generally I just like to feed off the crowd, energy-wise. Like if it’s one of those corporate gigs I’m not gonna throw any poo and be all over the place, gotta be appropriate. It’s good though when you have everyone in the room jumping up and down though, that’s kinda like getting a ‘great job!’.
What does music give you that nothing else does?
Radio royalties. Haha, nah but yes it does. I think when I’m down and I listen to some god music, everything can make sense. All the lyrical and musical subtleties resonate with your feelings somehow. Sometimes it exacerbates the feelings but it makes you feel like you are more than just an everyday man or woman.
What does the rest of 2015 have install for you guys?
Lots of touring!!!
Listen to our exclusive Last Dinosaurs-curated playlist below and then check out their Australian tour dates:
Fri 25 Sep The Triffid U18s Matinee (School Holidays) Brisbane QLD
Fri 25 Sep The Triffid 18 + Brisbane QLD
Thu 1 Oct The Corner U18s Matinee (School Holidays) Melbourne VIC
Thu 1 Oct The Corner 18+ (Public Holiday Eve) Melbourne VIC
Fri 2 Oct The Gov (Lic All Ages) Adelaide SA
Fri 9 Oct The Enmore (Lic All Ages) Sydney NSW
Sat 10 Oct ANU 18+ Canberra ACT
Sat 17 Oct Rosemount 18+ Perth WA
Sun 18 Oct Jimmys Den (U18s Matinee) Perth WA
Interview by Courtney Dabb.