Of Dune Rats & Real Rare Whales

Of Dune Rats & Real Rare Whales

Cult fave Aussie rockers give us the lowdown on their fourth album Real Rare Whale including tongue twisters, famous whales, getting older but not necessarily maturing and more

For the last decade odd, Aussie trio Dune Rats have developed a cult fan following that most bands can only dream of, purely by being their authentic, down to earth and fun loving music making selves, with their catchy and anthemic take on modern punk rock converting fans the country, and the world over. Engaging with fans beyond their acclaimed records and thrilling live shows, the Dunies have also made a name for themselves with their diverse band merch ranging from bongs to skateboards to Dunlop Volleys.

Heading off to coastal New South Wales in 2020, the band laid down what would become Real Rare Whale that sees the trio focus their sound, resulting in their most cohesive full-lenght to date, or as drummer & vocalist BC Michaels says, “a bit more of a sophisticated album”.

To find out all about Real Rare Whale and the world of Dune Rats in 2022, we jumped on the line with BC to find out more.

So what exactly is a “real rare whale”? 

It’s a whale that’s really rare, and it’s designed to be hard to say by radio presenters *laughs* and anyone in general and yeah, we just thought it would be a funny name to give to the album. When we were recording we were talking album names and saying “Real Rare Whale” would be the dumbest name that anyone could call an album so we thought “yeah, sounds pretty good for this one”. 

And especially with our Aussie accents. 

Yeah, yeah. 

So were there any other tongue twister names thrown around before settling on Real Rare Whale?

We recorded the album in a whaling town on the New South Wales coast, so we thought it was a sign we had to go with it. 

It’s a sign! Did you do any research into any rare whales from the town?

Yeah there’s this one called Old Tom who used to work with the fisherman to lure whales into the town, and then the fisherman would slaughter the old whales and then leave Old Tom. 

That’s wild! Dogging his own species, I don’t even know how to feel about that story *laughs*

Yeah I think that was the story, I can’t fully remember but it’s something like that. 

Well that version is probably the best version either way *laughs* So you’ve told us about Old Tom, what was it like recording in the whaling town?

So, it came off the back of the biggest tour we’ve ever done - the day after the tour finished, everyone went into lockdown so we thought “well this’ll last for a couple of months so we’ll go and bust out a new album”, so we were actually keeping the fire and the good vibes from the tour going. It was fun and energetic and we kind of took three months of work straight into the studio and kind of banged it out.  

You’ve said “fun and energetic” which I think is a great way to describe the new record - without sounding too cliche, what is different about the new album from past Dune Rats releases?

We just didn’t try as hard as we did on past albums, like we just didn’t put as much energy into it like it was just a really kinda care free easy stuff, making the album that we wanted to make but that we thought people would want us to make and I think that just came through on the album, and it was just a really enjoyable process while we were writing and recording.

So four albums in, and you say you didn’t try as hard with this one - is that just an innate skill that you’ve developed at this point? 

Yeah, well I guess I don’t know if “not trying as hard” is the right way to put it but like, we didn’t slave over it, we just had a really fun time. We put a lot of effort into it, it just wasn’t like, hard work, ya know? It was just kinda fun. 

Yeah nice one. Something else I noticed about the record, from the press materials, was the fact that this album has like no swear words or drug references, something you only realised upon its completion, so was there any major difference in the actual writing process for this one?

No, it wasn’t vastly different, I guess it’s just the place we were in when we wrote it - just coming off the back of a really big tour for the last album cycle, and we just got straight back into writing again. The process was pretty similar but our headspace was a lot different. 

Yeah interesting, and I guess just naturally getting a bit older and all that? 

Yeah, I mean, I don’t know - people like to say that a fair bit, like that narrative. I mean maybe more now, but at the time when we were writing it, there wasn’t really a difference in maturity.  

As someone who is thirty three going on thirteen I get that - not my narrative *laughs*

Just like the last album we did, people were like “oh they’re growing up!” and it’s like “...are we?” *laughs*

Real Rare Whale Dune Rats

Yeah define growing up I guess! So we established what a “Real Rare Whale” is and now I’ve gotta ask about the absolutely dope cover art for the album? 

Yeah our mate Lee McConnell who’s done the last two albums has done that, and we kinda wanted to have all the colours in the book to match up with the last few albums we’ve done. He’s done such a good job, particularly with the vinyl and the artwork in general and we just really love.

Ah yeah good point, I haven’t seen the wax yet, sure it looks a whole lot better than a little jpeg! So keeping with visuals, I’ve gotta ask about your latest music video for Pamela Aniston… hilarious video that sees you guys asking random strangers on the street to listen to your new song, what was it like on the days of filming?

It was just one day of filming, we just cruised down to Sydney and then went to a few different spots and asked people what they thought about the album. I mean, we wanted to get a mixed bag of reviews so it wasn’t just people saying that it was fucking great, but luckily that’s exactly what we got *laughs*.

Some people liked it, some people didn’t like it and we thought that the people who didn’t like it were just as funny. So yeah it was just a bit of an easier way to make a video that was still fun to make and hopefully fun to watch.  

I can definitely vouch for that. Do you have a favourite reaction from the video?

Ah, what was it… “Can I take a photo of the song” or something that one of the girls says… like yeah if you want you can take a photo of the song *laughs* 

Yeah it’s all gold hey - were there any funny outtakes or things that couldn’t make the final cut?

Yeah, the fireman, we were gonna get the fireman to do it. He did it but then he said he can’t be in it in his uniform so we just filmed the firetruck kinda taking off, that was pretty funny.  

So on a similar topic, you guys having fun with visual related stuff - when it comes to Dune Rats super diverse range of merch, what’s your approach to merch, do you have a particular favourite item from over the years? 

The first shirt we ever put out is still one of the most popular, the yellow one with the Baywatch kinda logo. It’s kinda cool that it ties in now with the new Pamela Aniston song *laughs*. But yeah this new vinyl for sure, like the lenticular [type of 3D printing] one. I wish that that could be like lenticular on a t-shirt, it would be pretty awesome. 

Well - make it happen *laughs*.

Yeah, I can imagine it would be quite sweaty *laughs*. 

So the album’s out now, what’s on for the rest of the year, some shows I’m guessing?

Well for the rest of the year, we’re playing a bunch of festivals and hopefully one of them is with your mob over in WA which would be awesome. I think we’re gonna try and do a bit of overseas touring but apart from that, I’m looking forward to finding something to do that will be Dune Rats related as well *laughs*.

Very mysterious *laughs*, can’t wait to see what it is… Well, awesome to chat, thanks heaps BC! 

Awesome, thanks man!

Dune Rats new album Real Rare Whale is out now via Ratbag Records / BMG

Follow Dune Rats: Instagram / Facebook

Storytelling with Sampa The Great: "I'm going to show you who I am."

On her debut album The Return, the Zambian musician sets her narrative straight - with some of the year’s best music.

5 years ago

Album of the Week: Kelela - Raven | 2023 Week 6

Kelela hones in on her unique brand of alternative r&b meets underground dance floor production + new records from Flume, CIVIC, Hope D, Black Belt Eagle Scout and more

1 year ago

Australian Music Is Bloody Great: Catherine Traicos

The Peth singer-songwriter enthuses about some current Australian music

7 months ago

The storm of Internet Money, hip-hop’s chart-topping collective

They’ve shaped the past and defined the present, but with their debut album B4 The Storm, hip-hop’s most powerful production posse are angling for the future.

4 years ago