Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Australia’s newest alt rock heroes, the Dead Dirty Dinosaurs.
Interview by Ginge Knievil.
Photo credits: DDD.
MM: Hey, Julian. Introduce the Dead Dirty Dinosaurs to the Mass Movement readers.
JW: Hello, Mass Movement readers, pleased to meet you. We fine gentlemen are the Dead Dirty Dinosaurs; Brisbane’s ultimate alternative dinosaur trio.
MM: And who’s who in the band?
JW: I’m Julian, I sing and play guitar. On bass guitar fiddle we have Ed, and Glen on drums. It’s been an interesting year ‘cause I’ve only ever been a drummer and Glen’s never played in a band before. So even though we’ve all been into this for a long time, it still feels like we’ve started fresh with the treble DDD’s.
MM: How would you describe DDD’s sound to the uninitiated?
JW: Nearly every song in our set was written to play live with bass, drums and guitar as the focus. Simple, energetic and dirty. The first two songs we’ve put out to the world are fairly atypical from the rest. Sweetness we put out because it’s jingle jangle catchy and saccharine sweet, and we also had a fun idea for the video which worked out an awesome sticky mess. Vacant is the deep black of night in comparison and this is a song idea that’s been bubbling away for years in some form or other, which probably sets it apart from the rest. The next song we release will probably be Revenge, which is the real beginning for the Dead Dirty Dinosaurs. It’s the first song idea that formed with the band and has the paired down simplicity which we love.
MM: How easy or difficult was it making the transition from drummer to singer/guitarist? Is this your Dave Grohl moment? [laughs]
JW: Has he transitioned? [winks]. As close as The MP’s [Julian’s old band] were to Nirvana… the comparison ends there!
. It was as easy as… so easy it barely took 20 years for me to move to the other side of the planet and start a family for it to kick in.
It was pure necessity. I’ve been playing with tunes for years and not finishing any ideas because there was no pressure. A year ago I moved back to Brisbane knowing that there were no plans to move again for the foreseeable future, which is a novelty for me, and committed myself to a timeframe for getting back on stage by September this year.
Realising that kids and work weren’t really going to let me spend the time getting to know the local scene and find a good fit for me to drum again without ending up on the covers circuit, sending out an SOS for the next 20 years, I figured I needed to take control.
Queens of the Stone Age’s Make it Wit Chu convinced me I could play three chords and sing at the same time, so I got in touch with Ed, an old mate of mine. We played together in a shonky hotel band back in 2001-ish; I roped him in! We spent three hours in a practice room with a load of toys and no ideas and came out confused. A few weeks later fate put us back together with Glen, who we knew from the same hotel band era, and he put his hand up to drum. The rest is history [laughs].
It’s been a journey to get here but we are all loving it and are buzzing about the gigs that are lining up for the New Year. Writing songs under pressure is definitely what works for me and then letting them breathe and get fine tuned over the months is what makes them special. It’s normally something small that niggles and doesn’t sit right, but when it’s done it’s done.
MM: You mention The MP’s, who were stalwarts in the so-called “New Seattle” scene that hit Newport, Wales in the 90s. What’s your lasting memory of that era?
JW: Lasting memories are a bit tricky from that time. Newport’s not known for helping out that part of the brain. I played a lot of fun gigs and met a lot of really nice people who didn’t like to sleep much. It’s really gratifying to see so much has come from the scene. Newport itself is struggling, like it seems destined to do whatever promises are made to its residents. But the result of that is a never to subside subculture which most affluent towns could only dream of. Spent a lot of time listening to [Nick Cave’s] Murder Ballads while playing shit pool on the PlayStation with white cider, too. It’s all rock ‘n’ roll.
MM: So, you remember more than me, then? [laughs]. Back to DDD, how did you go about recording things? Did you go to a studio or did you take the DIY punk rock approach?
JW: It’s different every time. We’ve only put two songs out and they are both very different; both to record and play. I’m slowly gathering helpful bits of equipment to get that process quick and natural. We’ve just started practicing with a Line 6 mixer that throws it all to an SD card for individual tracks and all, so I think Revenge is going to be as close to one take as production will allow. It has a few pauses and beats that rely on us being in the same room for it to be right.
MM: Can we expect an EP or LP in the not so distant future?
JW: We’ve submitted Vacant for distribution as a trial and it’s due to hit the streamers on Friday 13th December, which is a good omen! Both our videos and the music is up on our website [link below] to enjoy in the meantime. We’ll be throwing random bits of novelty merch and upcoming gigs up there as time goes on. It’s very early days and there’s no end of enthusiasm in the Dino tent so keep checking in, we might have done something.
MM: Who are your top 5 musical influences?
JW: I’d love to be obscure and cool here, but let’s stick with honesty. King Bob Smith and the Easy Cure will have to be the most enduring. It’s not easy to be off kilter and accessible at the same time and still retain the respect of all. Have you heard them of late? Sydney Opera House – you close your eyes and his voice has not changed. Open them and your Nan’s bearing down on you after too much sherry, but that’s not the point. Or is it?
Predictable again, but the Pixies are still large in my musical life. What to make of their resurgence? They’re growing again and I’m a big fan of the [Beneath the] Eyrie album. I mentioned before the deadline to get on stage by September. I’m blown away by the fact we hit that goal, it was so unrealistic but we got there. When we got together I set a second target, that was to get the support slot for the Pixies when they hit Brisbane next March. Again, impossible but we’ll have a lot of fun trying. Apologies up ahead if there’s a monsterous social media mess around that time.
Since getting serious with the guitar and trying to find my sound I used PJ Harvey’s first couple of albums as my reference. Even from the Sheela-Na-Nig demos on, it’s been full on, but by the time you get to Kamikaze it fills the horizon. When there’s just three of you on stage you need to fill the room without the layers. I could listen to Polly and her guitar all day every day.
Which leads to us onto Satan’s personal favourite cabaret – Nick Cave. In the same way that within a few years of discovering The Cure, I had for a time stamped my love for them and haven’t had as much time for releases after then. With Nick Cave the opposite has happened. Every album he’s put out since Murder Ballads, when I got on the bus, has had its own kind of dark beauty that I like. The bulk of the music I love has each taken time to grow on me fully. His joy in the macabre and then the journey through his own bad fortunes is only a gift to all of us who care to listen.
I guess number 5 has to be that bloke from Breakdance II: Electric Boogaloo who does the head spins. Unless he’s dead, in which case U.N.K.L.E. or [winks] The Viva Knievils [one of Ginge’s old bands].
MM: And what inspires you outside of music?
JW: The rest of my life is work, kids or streaming crime dramas to relax. There’s a never ending supply of tense television out there, perfect for relaxing. One of our songs is a tribute to Mónica Gaztambide. She’s a legend from the series Money Heist; the one with the red jumpsuits and the Dalì masks. She starts out as this meek secretary who’s been taken advantage of, but transforms into this amazingly strong character who says eff the world when the opportunity comes. We like that.
MM: Thanks for chatting to Mass Movement, mate. As with all interviews, I leave the final words to the bands themselves. Shoot!
JW: I’m going with bivouac or lozenge. I’ll have to check with the others for their favourites! Apart from that, listen if it makes you feel good.
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