Album Walkthrough: Dune Rats detail their "favourite album" Hurry Up And Wait
On the band's third album, Dune Rats are as light-hearted and loveable than ever. That doesn't mean the album has no heavy themes, though.
Header image by Maclay Heriot.
In 2020, Dune Rats are band that really needs no introduction. Ever since we filmed them packing bongs and singing along to Red Light Green Light back in 2013 (it's definitely worth a rewatch, if it's been a while), the trio have blossomed into one of the country's biggest exports and defining names in modern-day rock, basically building the whole localised surf-rock revolution that gave us everything from Hockey Dad to Skegss, and constantly pushing it into new directions and new waves ever since. They're path-creators - not path-followers - in Australia's flourishing rock scene, and no matter how much the scene changes and moves over the years, they're always going to be one of the groups that kicked it all off.
Luckily for Dune Rats, however, they haven't been a case of a band to define a generation/movement and then fade away into its legacy. With every release they've put out - 2014's sound-defining, self-titled debut album; 2017's ARIA-nominated, chart-topping The Kids Will Know It's Bullshit and now this year's three-out-of-three hat-trick Hurry Up And Wait - Dune Rats have been able to not only adapt to the constantly-changing waves they helped create, but also help carve the wave's future moments: the thrashing energy of ...It's Bullshit preluding the revival of Australia's alt-rock/punk-rock just one of these examples.
Now, with their third album - "our favourite album we’ve ever made," according to the band's BC Michaels - Dune Rats are continuing to develop, evolve, mature and create something remarkably special in the process of doing all that. Hurry Up And Wait, which arrived at the tail-end of last month, is an album that carves a new future for Dune Rats filled with a certain maturity and slickness that shines when contrasted to their earliest work, keeping that signature Dune Rats rukus - there's a song on the record titled If My Bong Could Talk, for example - but using it in completely new ways that push the trio forward into the future.
Take Stupid Is As Stupid Does for example. Assisted but cult-adored American pop favourite K.Flay, the track is without a doubt one of the cleanest Dune Rats have ever put out; a combination of their distinct larrikin-rock sound and the subtle pop of K.Flay who, through other work with names like fellow surf-rock pioneers FIDLAR, is quickly becoming a go-to in pop-edged rock. Then, there are tracks which go a bit deeper into Dune Rats' lyricism than you'd expect, with a song like Rock Bottom exploring "the thought out there that even when things are looking like going to shit, say fuck the lemons and bail."
That being said, however, Dune Rats aren't losing the charm that made them big in the first place. Bobby D - an ode to the track's wild, festival-packing fanbase - opens with a cooked voicemail left by a fan at 3AM, while songs like The Skids - a track about the property in Boonah they stayed in for a bit, and how it was populated by mouse-like animals that "would have running races" and "orgys until they die" all night - dive into stories that only Dune Rats could tell: fun, but often quite fucked. Then, there's also tracks like the aforementioned If My Bong Could Talk and Mountains Come And Go But Aussie Pop Rock Lives On (Forever), the album's final track which basically consists of Dune Rats, The Gooch Palms and Skegss screaming that line into the mic for a solid minute.
"Other interviewers try to give us a narrative and get us to sign off on it, about ‘So, what happens after the party? Maybe they’ve matured?'," told BC to triple j earlier this year. "Some songs have deeper meanings but when you write a bunch like that, you kind of need a pressure valve – a fun song you can write and have a good time doing it. It took about 30 minutes to write because we know how to write songs about bongs." Dune Rats know what they're doing, and even if things move or switch up here or there, they're not gonna change who they are.
Dive into the record below with an album walkthrough from the band, which takes us through its themes and messages one track at a time. Warning: It's bloody cooked.
So the voicemail at the start was a message is mate of ours we met writing the last album and we needed to get some weed, so we go around to his house and no one was answering the door so Danny looked over his fence and he was just burning a pile of random shit in a barrel, went into his house and hit it off, we saw him a few months later at a festival and partied together and he left that message on Danny's phone later that night. We thought it was a big year and a half of that album and we met so many rad people and felt a lot of love off the last album that we wanted to write a tribute to legends like Bobby D and our appreciation for people like that in our lives and shit.
I kinda like getting peer-pressured from friends to do silly shit or keep carrying on when you're already spent, it's all in hope to keep on laughing and having a good time right? And if you have a rubber arm, it's hopefully hard to find yourself with nothing to do. I'd always want someone would be like “come onnn dude let do this” and happily oblige, or like in this song just go "ahhhh fuck it why not?"
This one pretty much started from us joking around and laughing at saying the Jack Johnson line and how at like Christmas time you meet up with extended family and shit and they don't really get the idea of playing in a band and I guess the lifestyle that goes with it, and they ask whack question or like ask when are you gonna start being a greenskeeper or something. Kinda an ode to shrugging it off and enjoying yourself and giving what you want to do with your life a crack regardless of what your weird aunty might think.
Writing songs for this album, we would throw ideas around for song titles or phrases to each other and kinda birth the songs for there. With Rock Bottom it was always trying to get the thought out there that even when things are looking like going to shit, say fuck the lemons and bail. You should never dwell on a downer and realising every little nick is just a tiny splice of a day, you can pick it back up again and keep rolling the way you do. Tried to make that vibe come to life where its a kinda mellow verse feel and then explode into the big kick up the butt on the chorus.
You know when you get to a new spot, and in order to settle in you gotta get your supplies in order? Whether that's 5 bottles of smart water and a fruit salad or a case of booze and some smokes everyone has their vices, or addictions or plain simple things they enjoy. There's nothing wrong with soaking up some flavour, but when the consumption of that leads to being hungry for more it can kinda end in flames.
We wrote this one over in LA where it's so in your face of gripping pretty much whatever you need and a lot of it, so much so it's like people are addicted to the want and not so much the need. We tried a few different arrangements to this one - it used to have this real heavy middle section buildup thing - but it was too like trying to be staunch or something, then during recording it we scrapped the middle bit and we were sitting around trying to figure something to replace the middle and Danny busted out that little guitar diddly thing and it grew from that, it was like a fun touch to a heavy song that it really needed.
So the words in that second verse say, “always copping it for the stuff that's on your lip, throw it at a fan and you duck for fucking shit” I guess it's kinda saying like when you complain about something taking to long or hating on waiting around your just spraying shit for everyone else to have to cop so with a little bit of patience a seed might just turn into a pound of buds, or a nice sunflower.
I remember thinking when we made the demo for this one it was like the most Coldplay Dunies have ever sounded, but there was something epic about that really nice sound paired with the kinda adolescent bratty lyrics that kinda lean on the thought of how being in a band or being super tight with your friends everyone knows each other's little things that they habitually do, like I think make some funny noise when I eat, or like our hotel rooms get divided into the snore room and the igloo. No one is ever out to sabotage things and the tiny things that might itch someone the wrong way are the exact same things you love about someone, and your just shortchanging them if every trying to change someone's traits.
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES
This one was written about those relationships with friends where you kinda egg each other on until you fall over and something gets broken or you party too hard, but you need each other in order to get that far. I always think of my brother and a certain friend like when they get together after work one beer turns into 3AM rant bender, but having K.Flay on the track - man, she brought such a great vibe to it. She made it feel super buddy-ish and gave a breath away from anything to bro-y that was kinda coming on with it. When we got to the do the video together it was the first time we had actually all met, we hit it off so well during that day of filming it like put that epic extra icing on the cake and the video sums up the song's message perfectly.
IF MY BONG COULD TALK
I can remember at Feldman's place where we wrote this song a studio assistant asked why the bong was saying “you stingy fuck” and this other young real smart looking intern jumped in and was like “its because you not packing the cone big enough right!?” haha it wasn't until he said that did I even realise. it's def not a life lesson learning song but its probably my favourite on this record, we haven't done a song so uptempo before and its funny dank lyrics kinda scream stoner pop to me.
We spent some time out west of the Gold Coast at this town called Boonah, where we lived in this old ranch setup with a little studio room out the backed onto a damn with cows all around it. It was a choice little spot but a couple of things were shonky about it, like there was an infestation of these native-like mouse animals that didn't do anything during the day but at night would have running races and be making these gnarly squealing sounds all night - it turns out that it was breeding season for them and they have orgys until they die - that mixed with walking back from the studio room at night and stepping in cow pats, some days would take a turn for the worst, but we would always end back up in the ranch watching MAFS and laughing.
So when the idea of this song came about, we kinda wanted to lean it into being a country ditty, about even or the worse setup of a day things can still turn around if you have a brush it off kinda attitude, we were gonna take this song for a long walk out to the paddock but Tidswell stuck by his thoughts on this one and we ended up taking it all the way to the album studio. dunno if we will ever play this one live heheh.
MOUNTAINS COME AND GO BUT AUSSIE PUB ROCK LIVES ON FORVER
We were driving in the Swiss Alps on tour with Gooch Palms and there was all these really impressive looking mountains and waterfalls and shit, somewhere in joking around in the van about how we would trade any ancient mountain or whatever for a bit of Cold Chisel and the phrase got coined: it wasn't a song until one of the last days in the USA making tunes and we musta been a bit over the work hustle and homesick, it all brewed up really quickly and we all got in front of the microphone and yelled it out, so it was super fun to have Goochies and the Skegss dudes over at the studio when we were making it the album version, we are all in there having a screamer!
Sat 29 Feb - Thebarton Theatre - Adelaide (AA)
Sun 1 Mar - Metro City - Perth (18+) (LABOUR DAY EVE)
Fri 6 Mar - Fortitude Music Hall - Brisbane (AA) *SELLING FAST*
Sat 7 Mar - Big Top Luna Park - Sydney (AA) *SELLING FAST*
Sun 8 Mar - Festival Hall - Melbourne (AA) (LABOUR DAY EVE) SOLD OUT
Follow Dune Rats: FACEBOOK