Track x Track: Dr Sure's Unusual Practice - 'Total Reality'

Track x Track: Dr Sure's Unusual Practice - 'Total Reality'

Delightfully named Naarm/Melbourne experimental art rockers take us through their third full-length, track by track

Image credit: Ada Duffy

With a band name like Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice (DSUP), you’d be hoping for some sounds a bit outside the box, a bit exploratory, a bit different… and when it comes to the collective of the same name, thankfully this is the case and then some.

The project and brainchild of frontman Dougal Shaw, DSUP’s third album sees them in full band mode, assembling a five piece live-and-studio band to help make the songs of Total Reality a, well, reality - both on the stage and on album.

Combining everything from proto and post-punk, new and no-wave, krautrock and outsider pop, Total Reality owes as much to the late, great Damo Suzuki/Can and The Fall or Wire as it does to the likes of Brian Eno. Across 10 tracks, Total Reality explores these sounds and themes surrounding the impacts of the recurring, ongoing crises currently experienced by human psyches around the globe.

Rather than devolving into pessimistic self-indulgence, however, Total Reality keeps things optimistic with plenty of cheeky humour as the band "plumb the depths of disorder to find a flicker of hope - then  use it to light the pyre”. Everyone from overpaid CEOs to bloodthirsty real estate agents and pompous politicians are in the firing line… as they bloody well should be.

To celebrate the release of Total Reality, Dougal was kind enough to peel the curtain back on each track on the album - have a listen and get to know:

SLUG

A song about feeling like a slug, like a snail without a shell, something’s missing. I guess it’s about using art or music, whether alone or making stuff with mates, as a vessel to fill the void and find some joy. It’s like a disclaimer to start the record, warning: this record was written by a slug.

CELEBRATION

It’s playing on this late-capitalist wellness dystopia that’s constantly telling you what you need to feel ok but you know it’s all a distraction from the fact you’re a snail without shell. It’s celebrating getting out of bed in the morning and pulling yourself together, celebrating the communities we build to support and lift eachother up.

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

The elephant could be climate change, fossil fuels, the military industrial complex, maybe it’s your mental health, maybe it's an actual elephant. Some days you wake up feelin’ invincible like you can tackle it all head on, some days you just wana put your head under the sea and float like a plankton.

ESCALATOR MAN

Escalator Man is a mental health banger. I guess it's about resilience. It’s finding a flicker of light after an extended period of darkness, the clouds part, the weight lifts, you’re back on top - up, up, up.

KEEPS YA HEAD UP

Your bed’s underwater but you’re still singing, still laughing, lapping up the neon green sunset with the people you love. Some kinda post-apocalyptic love song, an ode to the pursuit of… something, anything, whatever keeps ya head up. Keep on dreamin’!!!

KEROSENE

Executives in a pool of diesel doing morning laps. It’s this kinda comical, cathartic idea of a “burn ‘em at the stake” style witch-hunt of oil executives, or any of these people who have exploited the planet for so long. It’s a love song about a defiant joy, no matter how cooked it gets, we haven’t given up, you’re not gonna have us wallowing in despair you fuckers.

NEVER ENOUGH

It’s like this hangover from the industrial revolution, a lot of big industry should probably be phased out by now, we have better, more efficient, more sustainable, more ethical options but it’s suppressed 'cause it's not profitable to capital. They’ve got too much skin in the game, it’s never gonna be enough for these bastards, they’d rather take us all down.

REALEST

Wrote this when my son was 2 weeks old and our real estate told us they were selling our rental. It’s about living in a time where you’re housing security is constantly at the Wim of some rich investor prick and their agent goons, ‘cause the system is so heavily distorted against you that you have no prospect of ever owning a home in your lifetime. Funnily enough, a year and a half later we just got the boot again, so this song is very cathartic to sing right now.

LAST GUY AT THE DISCO

It’s finding joy amongst a never-ending tirade of harsh truths. It’s living in the small moments, having a dance, finding that joy and that beauty and whatever that good stuff is that lights up your eyes.

ALL GOOD ENDS MUST COME TO A THING

This was the running title for the album for ages. A bit of a bookend. I was experiencing a lot of changes in my life and it's kinda holding space for this idea that every ending is a new beginning. I was recording this demo and my bub came in and started singing into the mic so I hit record, he was probably 9 months old at the time.

Blue and I had just started reading the old sci-fi novel ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’ that morning. There’s a line in there (‘despair like that, about total reality, is self-perpetuating...’) that hit me like a ton o’ bricks. Seemed to sum up the records’ themes; my mental health battles; being a new dad and hoping for a better world for my boy and being busy as fuck but still wanting to pursue my creative dreams and those things that give me purpose. For me ‘Total Reality’ is this balance between facing the realities of the time we’re living through but not letting them weigh you down so much that you’re incapacitated, making sure you’re still living a joyful life.

This must be it, Total Reality.

          - Dougal Shaw, April 2024

Dr Sure's Unusual Practice's new album Total Reality is out now via Marthouse Records

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