A life that revolves around an office job, routine hours and civil uniformity is usually described as normal, but use of the term ‘normal’ here is misleading. It implies that those who deviate from this way of living are outsiders. Of course you can argue that anyone is able to adapt if they try hard enough, but some people simply haven’t the inclination.
The arts, and rock’n’roll in particular, is a paramount example of an alternate pathway. It’s hard to picture Brisbane trio Dune Rats cleaning up and making it to work Monday through Friday, all year-round. The band presents an image of merciless hedonism, which would be difficult to tame. It’s safe to say these boys don’t like being told what to do.
“We managed ourselves for two years at the start, until it got too hectic,” says the band’s vocalist/guitarist Danny Beusa. “So this whole perception thing… like yeah we smoke a fuck tonne of weed, but we’d also run the band, run merchandise, run live shows and touring. We travelled overseas twice without even getting a manager.
It’s desperate when bands think ‘I need a manager, I need a this and I need a that’. It’s like, ‘fuck it dude, just write the fucking songs and run the band how you want to run it and don’t give a fuck’ and that’s a pretty easy formula for a good time.”
These days, Matty Woo, who Beusa says is “like a brother,” manages Dune Rats. With the extra support, 2014 has been the biggest year in the band’s history, encompassing tours to China, South Africa, Europe, and multiple visits to their home away from home, the United States. In June they also released their debut, self-titled LP. When it came to recording Dune Rats, once again the band members weren’t going to be bossed around.
“We’re pretty happy with this album, in all honesty,” Beusa says. “It was something that we got to write ourselves. We recorded it exactly how we wanted it and then we shopped it around. It’s a way more liberal way to write an album. Not because you’re told ‘you should be writing this, you should be writing that.’ So it’s sick that people are buying the album and liking it. It’s fucking blowing our minds big time.”
It’s easy for naysayers to harshly deem Dune Rats as a no-good caricature of the rock’n’roll dream, but the twelve-track release proves there’s more to the band than their party-boy personas suggest. Dune Rats is hardly a two-dimensional release, as it includes cracking up-tempo tunes like ‘Superman’, infectious sing-alongs like ‘Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana’ and the chugging emo sidestep, ‘Lola’.
“The thing with the album is we sort of wanted to make some people go ‘Man that’s not fucking Dune Rats.’ That’s sick,” Beusa explains. “We just wrote whatever the fuck us three liked. That’s where songs like ‘Lola’ can come from. We don’t want to necessarily be sitting there for three months and just playing the same shit – no one does and no one wants to put on an album and hear the same twelve songs.”
Dune Rats mightn’t be particularly interested in following convention, but they haven’t struggled to hawk their wares. Since dropping the Sexy Beach EPin early 2011, the Dunies have been recruiting a cult-like following all around the globe. This crazed mob of fans will feature heavily in an upcoming web TVseries the band’s working on at present.
“For two years we’ve been to everywhere around the world, to China and South Africa and all these places, so we just videotaped a fuck-tonne,” Beusa says. “Then someone said ‘you should put it all together so people can see’. We got a bit of funding for it from the label, which is sick, so we’re going at it pretty strong and we’re going to have a couple of episodes that show the last two years.
“We’re pretty lucky that we do have a sick crew that comes to every show,” he adds. “A lot of the footage is just gnarly because of the kids at the show. It’s kind of funny, you go to China and stuff where they don’t have Facebook, and it’s the same reaction at shows. So I think that’s what it will highlight: a lot of these places people generally haven’t been to yet, they will see that there’s a sick side of these towns.”
Dune Rats are locked in to appear on next month’s Laneway Festival tour, which will also be filmed for inclusion in the web series. While the band’s an experienced touring unit, Beusa says getting selected for this respected nationwide festival caused a few more nerves than usual.
“We can’t believe we’re actually on a tour like that. You know when you get given a responsibility and then just fuck it up? It’s kind of that feeling, because we usually fuck up shit accidentally a lot of the time. At first we were like ‘Fuck… we’re playing Laneway’ and now we’re like ‘Fuck! We can’t wait to have the funnest fucking time on it!’”
Dune Rats are playing the St. Jeromes’s Laneway Festival. For more information visit www.lanewayfestival.com.