Interview: Sean Caskey from ‘Last Dinosaurs’
Brisbane’s favourite hometown indie-rockers Last Dinosaurs have announced the final national tour for their highly acclaimed sophomore album ‘Wellness’. We phoned up frontman Sean Caskey to talk about the intriguing music video for latest single Wurl, being swarmed by fans in Manilla, and the musical direction of the band’s next album.
You’ve just announced an Australian tour, will there be anything unique about these shows compared to your previous tours?
Yeah, the main thing is with the last tours we’ve gone like, bigger and bigger and so with the new tour we wanted to take it back to sort of really intimate shows for the last tour of ‘Wellness’. There’s something special about those club shows and smaller venues, it’s just a different kind of atmosphere that we wanted to bring back.
So there’s no plans to try and pack out Brisbane’s Riverstage for example any time soon?
Ahh maybe in like 50 years or so!
Why so far into the future?
I’ve never actually dreamt of playing the Riverstage to be honest. My dream when we started playing was to play the New Globe Theatre, and then we did that almost instantly so I was like, “sh*t I’ve got to think about my goals again!”.
Haha, so what are the revised goals for yourself and the ‘Dinos?
I don’t know, I set the goal posts very low but that was my dream to play small venues. We’ve just tried to make the best music that we can really, and then making the albums sound really cool, and then seeing if people like it! We’ve never been like an “achieve this” band, we’ve been more about the music…
You recently released the music video to Wurl, what’s with all the spinning and emphasis on ‘round’ things?
Umm, dunno! I think it’s just Harry Deadman’s (Editor, Director) interpretation of the sound a ‘wurl’ makes…he gave us a demonstration video at the start of the process and there was all these spinning statues and stuff which I really liked. I’ve always envisioned the song constantly rotating anyway. The theme of the song is super heavy so we didn’t want to tie into that too much, rather more about the performance and visually pleasing objects…
You’ve said lyrically the song’s about a family member who was dying at the time, do you get emotional performing the song live?
Umm, not really, because when we’re playing I’m usually thinking about like what we’re going to eat or if my shirt’s dirty or anything rather than the song (laughs). Sometimes I do think about the song, like I’m subliminally thinking about it when I’m performing it because you’ve got to feel it when you’re singing it, y’know, to get the energy across to everyone that’s watching. Otherwise if you’re deadpan it’s the most boring thing [to experience]. When we play Wurl I’m not tearing up about it but I do think about the other aspects…there’s a lot more to it than that, because there are a few layers of depth to both the music and the lyrics.
Was it more difficult to record than other songs on ‘Wellness’ considering what inspired the lyrical content?
Not really, when it comes to recording and writing you tend to not overthink things. Otherwise you end up, well for me, deleting everything. If you’re like “it’s too heavy, I better not do this”, you just have to do it and then afterwards you think about it and then you can be like “ohh that’s kind of grim”. But writing and recording Wurl was relatively seamless, it was one of the easiest songs I think!
Which song was the hardest then to record on ‘Wellness’?
Hmm…maybe Apollo for Lachlan as he had to write a ridiculously good solo and that would have been really hard. I write most of the parts and he writes his solos, so my workload is spread throughout everything whereas his is focused on really critical moments in the songs.
Does Lachlan ever get too bogged down trying to create a riff or a solo?
Sometimes, because it’s really hard especially when a song’s been around for a while and it’s not fresh and you have to sort of create something to trump the whole thing. But for instance, one of the best solos he’s done he wrote while he was in Japan for Honolulu when he was like 14. If you listen to the actual solo, it has the maturity of like a freakin’ 50-year-old guitarist. It’s pretty insane considering how young he was to write that sort of solo instead of a shredding solo, it was really sort of tasteful…even though he could shred at that age anyway!
Last Dinosaurs have toured Asia a lot in the last few years, what’s the reception like in that region of the world compared to when you play in Australia?
It’s extremely humbling because the band is so into it. One of the greatest shows we’ve played was in Manilla, and there were only like 300 people there but they just went absolutely mental! To get onto the stage we had to walk around behind the crowd, and they had all the security guards to surround us to get us through the crowd because they just wanted to grab my hair and touch my face, it was just full on! They went nuts for every song, it was so good! Some people also make crazy little gifts and wait at the airport, like once we had these girls waiting at the gate for us! Whenever that happens we get confused as to how they knew we’d be there at that time on that day, it’s really bizarre. We’re nice, we don’t shun them or anything, we go straight up to them and chat to them for a while as we appreciate their commitment!
You’ve previously alluded to Apollo being about the red vs blue pill scene in ‘The Matrix’. If you were Neo in ‘The Matrix’, would you have taken the blue pill to continue living in ignorant bliss or taken the red pill to see how deep the rabbit hole goes?
I would have double-dropped for sure, just take both out of his hands (laughs). Nah, definitely would have gone the red one for sure, that’s what Apollo is all about. The concept of wanting a different life after getting so sick of your current life…
There’s definitely a busier sound to ‘Wellness’ compared to ‘In A Million Years’, what inspired the direction to include more synth and non-guitar sounds?
It’s predominately due to the fact that I finally learnt how to use ProTools and record things properly. Back in the ‘In A Million Years’ days I was really young and I didn’t know anything, and now because of the computer I was doing a lot of programming with the synths and the bass and the drums and then put the guitars in here and there. Also a lot of the music I was listening to was changing with less guitar-based and more synthesizer, although I was still listening to a lot of Deerhunter…
So with the next album, will it be synthier or will the Last Dinosaurs retain your guitar-pop sounds?
In my mind we’ll always have a certain ‘Dinos sound because my voice won’t change and Lachlan and I still play guitars the same way. I think some will be very guitar based, some will be almost 100 per cent synth. Some people wig out about the idea of different sounds on one album…I really love watching bands that change it up live, like one member jumping onto a synth instead of the bass or whatever. So I guess you can think of ‘In A Million Years’ as like the bottom of the funnel. ‘Wellness’ expands it out a bit, and then I think the next will expand a little bit further but going to both extremes of the spectrum like with the guitar stuff and synth.
Now you’ve got me really excited for the next album! Finally, as you’re the Last Dinosaurs, which band member do you think would go extinct first and who would evolve to survive to the present day?
Umm, I’d probably go extinct because I’m the unhealthiest out of everybody. Sloane (bassist) would probably go on to evolve…ah, no, maybe Lachlan actually. He’s still pretty young, he’s only just starting to write music, so I guess he could be the evolving one…
Last Dinosaurs ‘Miracle Methods’ Tour
FRI 20 MAY
Fat Controller, Adelaide
FRI 27 MAY
The Foundry, Brisbane
FRI 3 JUN
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
SAT 4 JUN
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
FRI 10 JUN
Newtown Social Club, Sydney
SAT 11 JUN
Newtown Social Club, Sydney
Get Tickets HERE