It may be cold outside but things are heating up for bong-loving Brisbanites, the Dune Rats. Not ones to revel in bad weather, the Dunies are back on home soil with plans to make these first weeks of winter their bitch. Now affectionately known as the month of Dune, it’s the perfect time to check out their explosive live show when they roll into town in support of their self-titled debut album.
Their long-awaited LP will make many fans and followers jump with joy, but I know one guy who is doing a little happy dance of his own – Dunies’ drummer, BC Michaels. “It’s awesome! We’re so stoked to finally have an album out. I’ve been playing music in bands for, fuck I don’t know, since I was sixteen, and I’ve never put out an album before, so I’m happy.”
This national tour will see the guys play three times in Victoria, including a show at The Grace Darling in Melbourne on the 15th of Dune (try it, it’s addictive) where they’ll be showing the ropes to a new crop of would-be rockers, thanks to the ‘DUNIES HIGHSCHOOL BAND COMP’. The winners of each state will be charged with warming up the crowd at their city’s all-ages gigs, and if they’re lucky the chance to partake in backstage shenanigans. “I remember what it was like trying to get a gig when I was in high school, so I feel for them. I know what they’re going through,” BC acknowledged. “There were so many sweet bands that entered. It’s a shame we couldn’t pick more of them, but the ones we did are wicked. We’ll have a lot of fun.”
BC admits they do get up to mischief on occasion: “It depends if we’re touring with our manager or not. Usually Matty [Woo] will make sure we’re eating properly and stuff when we’re touring, and not getting too fucked up,” he laughs, “but it doesn’t always work out that way.” He also willingly concedes that the Dune Rats are hardly morning people, and nights clouded with beer and brews are the norm.
The Dunies have built their reputation on energetic live sets and their ability to back it up night after night, but life on the road can become tiresome. That’s why it’s important to have buddies on the tour bus.
“There’s a really tight-knit group of musicians around Australia now. We’ve toured with Children Collide for thirty shows and we love [frontman] Johnny McKay. DZ Deathrays took us out on our first tour ever, and we were friends with those guys for years before that even and we always catch up when we can.” Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson is an avid supporter as well and recently posted a 20 second clip featuring his daughter on their Facebook page spruiking their new album.
“We seem to run into Phil Jamieson fucking everywhere that we go! Like in airport lounges and shit like that. We’ll be walking down the streets of Sydney and he’ll be in a pub and yell out, ‘Hey Danny, BC!’ We’re all pretty tight.”
Another band that seems to have fallen under the Dunies’ spell is L.A. surfer rockers FIDLAR, whose punk lineage is well documented. Two members of the four-piece, Max and Elvis Kuehn, are sons of Greg Kuehn, keyboard player for So-Cal legends T.S.O.L. “It was awesome to support FIDLAR last year – they’re good mates of ours now and I’m sure they will be for quite a while. We met up with them last time we were in the States and went to their house which was wicked. They’re on the same label as us now, as well.”
Dune Rats’ first full-length album is out now on Ratbag Records and BC tells me that the experience was somewhat of a game changer. “This was the first time we wrote with Brett, our bass player, even though he’s been travelling around playing with us for a couple of years now, and in that time we’ve definitely became more musical.”
Holed up in a beach shack out the back of Brett’s mum’s house, the record began to take shape: “We wrote it there over the period of a month. We wanted to write songs we knew we’d want to go out and play for the next year. We didn’t really talk about what sound we were going for, we just jammed together and the songs that came naturally were the ones they put on the album. It’s pretty diverse and quite a bit different to any of the stuff we’ve put out before.”
The guys say that they were inspired when they uncovered a letter written by Steve Albini (influential American singer-songwriter, guitarist and record producer) addressed to Nirvana in the early days of recording for In Utero (’93). In the letter, Steve expressed the sentiment that if they couldn’t record an album in under a week they had no right to be in a rock band. Armed with this revelation the Dunies called upon Children Collide’s tour manager/sound engineer and friend, Woody Annison, and went to work. “We recorded it in just a little over a week – it was an incredible time.”
With that experience under their belts the Dune Rats have become accustomed to doing things on the fly, if the clip for the single ‘Funny Guy’ is anything to go by. “We actually came up with that idea on the morning of filming because we needed a video clip and we didn’t have any money to make one – total spur of the moment.” And BC had the starring role. “Sure, it was fun to make – although I had to do the embarrassing shit, walking around Paris dressed like a clown!” (Check it out now at dunerats.tv.)
So what’s next for these lovable larrikins? “Well, it’s not announced yet, but we’ve got a really sweet tour in January – I don’t know if I can say anything about it.” That’s a scoop!
When&Where: The Grace Darling, Melbourne – June 15; The Karova, Ballarat – June 19; and The Corner, Melbourne – June 20
Written by Natalie Rogers