My interview with Sean Caskey of Last Dinosaurs started off on the foot of slight confusion. A mix-up in time zones led to the following piece of dialogue:
Sean: “Sorry was I meant to do this at 12 or 1PM?”
Tommy (Me): “1 pm.”
Sean: “Oh good because it’s 12:30 here – oh shit, are you in NSW?”
Me: “Sure am man hahaha”
Sean: “Ah thought that just then because you were messaging at 12:09PM and I was like fuck does he mean 1?”
Me: “Sorry about that man.”
Sean: “No, no, no that’s my bad.”
Sean: “We’ve been organising all this shit for this warehouse show we got going on tomorrow, just fucking going absolutely crazy every day to make sure it’s all sorted.”
I feel the introduction to our chat parallels the band’s career so far; wild and at times out of control. However, throughout their career, the band has managed to stay grounded.
If you’re reading this article, then you’ve probably read that the last few years have not been a walk in the park for Last Dinosaurs. The first single from their forthcoming album, entitled Dominos has served as the beacon of change for the band.
“It’s one of those things that I’ve tried to make semi-vague because I don’t really want people to know what the real truth is, but I wanted to make it something relatable so that people can sort of feel what I’m feeling. It’s hard to go into specifics with [Dominos] because it involves certain people.”
The band has managed to keep their issues under lock and key for the most part, but it seems as if some of the issues that take place behind the scenes are slowly but surely making their way out into the public sphere.
“To be honest, I’m probably going to open up about this once everything is released like we normally do, but it’s got a lot to do with the struggles of being in a band. It seems like it’s all glory and I don’t want it to come across like it’s all shit and I think it’s bad, but it’s not all sunny days kind of thing.”
When listening to records or watching a band perform live, it is easy to assume that the band is not only enjoying themselves in that moment, but in all aspects of being a band. The day to day stresses and pressures that can befall upon artists can often be presumed non-existent by fans.
“Our only contribution to the whole trajectory is what we can do with our music. It’s then left to a whole bunch of people to captain the ship, so to speak. So that’s where I felt the lack of control because we were lazy as hell and didn’t really want to concern ourselves with all the really fine details because there’s so much other stuff to think about.”
The life of a musician is never easy, what often seems like a dream job can often be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Having the ability to ride any wave thrown at you encapsulates the true spirit of performance, in every sense of the word.
While the last few years have been rough in parts for Last Dinosaurs, passion and perseverance have allowed the band to bond and become stronger in the face of possible extinction.
One album can make or break a band’s career. When an album’s reception isn’t as hoped, more often than not, the effects is on the artist’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
“Being a muso, you sit around for so much of the time trying to pump out stuff that can be deemed bangers, and for some people like me, it’s not very easy,” he admits. “I feel like the second album [Wellness] didn’t really go as it was projected and that’s just really hard to cope with because this is our lives.”
I then told Sean how Wellness holds a fond place in my heart and how it brings to mind happy memories. His reply brought more than a smile to my face: “Oh fuck yeah, that’s awesome. Thanks man, that fucking means a lot because people just say In A Million Years [is the best] and I probably agree it’s the best one, but it’s nice to hear when someone compliments Wellness too because we put a lot of fucking effort into that one.”
Every band has their ups and downs, it’s what drives their transformations in regards to their style and sound, as well as their passion.
“In recent times, the last 12 to 16 months we’ve really reorganised and restructured everything and it just feels so much better.
“Like for instance, you know the Dune Rats? Their manager, his name is Matty Woo and he’s an absolute fucking legend. He’s taken us on management and that’s been like an absolute godsend because we just love working with that dude, he’s just a huge breath of fresh air. “
This change in management has sparked a revaluation and transformation from within the minds of the members of Last Dinosaurs, for the betterment of their personal lives and their career.
“It’s definitely better than ever these days.
“We’ve started enjoying it like crazy again. Releasing this song [Dominos] has been a huge breath of fresh air and positivity for us. We felt like we had a pretty negative four or five years, [in regards to] behind the scenes business aspects. Now everything is just heaps better and we’re having fun again. I think we’ve a bunch more years left in us now, since this album is coming up and getting ready to go.”
A change in attitude and the attitudes of those surrounding them has tremendously benefited the band, changing their thought patterns and outward demeanour in regards to their music and career. But that’s not all that’s changed.
“I’m actually producing this album, which is the difference between other albums. We’ve gone to big studios and done the whole producer deal, but this time, I’ve just got a little studio in the Gabba. I’m just doing the whole album there. I’m actually doing it with no guitar amps, I’m playing straight in. I’m actually programming all the drums as well. It’s been a bit of an experiment.”
The production of their upcoming album leans towards that of a more modern day, technologically influenced producer/musician. This further cements the drive that Last Dinosaurs exhibit in their approach to their music.
“It became an experiment when I realised it was plausible and also its way more economical. There’s quite a lot more control, we know exactly how we can make it sound, how we want it to sound. There’s no time limit, there’s no 9AM to 9PM or that we’ve only got three weeks. So there’s just more freedom doing it this way.”
This also goes back to the restrictions the band was facing when they felt the lack of control. With Sean producing the album in its entirety, they now have full control of not only what they create, but in turn, more control over what they put out. This is now more heavily influenced by the sounds Sean has been exposed to through working at a record store.
Turning aspects of their focus towards helping themselves and setting an example for aspiring artists has benefited the band immensely.
“I kind of just want to prove to everybody at home that you can actually produce something of professional quality, with only an interface and speakers at home. I want to prove it to myself and also to any aspiring musicians at home who want to do a similar sort of thing.”
A few minutes into the interview and I could already tell that Last Dinosaurs had a lot on their plate, but over the past year or so the mentality of the head chef had changed for the better. He describes the flavour of their new output as “one of those sushi bowls, the bowl varies so much from oily, neutral tasting avocado to a random piece of capsicum or whatever to some salty ass fish. I think that’s probably the best analogy since there’s such a wide array of synthesiser sounds and some super distorted lead guitars and some really nice, light, clean guitars and some heavily distorted auto-tune vocals. It just goes all over the shop, but it still sounds like us and it’s all in one bowl and its Japanese – gotta pull the race card there,” he laughs.
Throughout the interview, I felt like I had been taken on an emotional journey with Sean through the ups and downs. I felt his emotion through his voice and although he was still hesitant to speak on what has happened, I was more than pleased to hear him laugh at the end of the interview. In my opinion, it’s a fair demonstration that everything can be turned around – no matter how bad it may be, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.