Music Features

Underground Festival 2012 - Last Dinosaurs (Interview)

Brisbane-based indie-poppers Last Dinosaurs have established quite a following in their native Australia since the band's formation back in high school in 2007.  Their popularity in Australia has undoubtedly been helped by some very positive reviews of their début album In A Million Years, released in March in Australia and earlier this month in the UK.  One review, on, even went so far as to call the album "a strong contender for the best Australian album of the last twenty years".  That's quite the compliment.  So you can understand the band's frustration that recognition in the UK hasn't come more easily to them, a theme that seemed to be pre-occupying the band when they reflected upon their time in the UK after their performance at this year's Underground Festival...

So, are you flying back to Brisbane tonight?

We're driving to the airport tonight, we're flying tomorrow morning.

Is this for some time off or for more touring?

A bit of time off, but then we're doing our Australian tour in two weeks time.

Logistically, how do you do a tour in Australia?

We fly. That's why we have those epic cases for storing our instruments. It's a lot easier – we can store three guitars in one case. In Australia, you can't drive anywhere. If you do, then you're probably going to die. It's twelve hour drives between cities.

Is that what makes the UK and Europe unique, because almost everywhere's in driving distance?

Yeah, it's pretty ridiculous. Last week, we crossed four countries in one day when we went from Manchester to Hamburg, Germany. That was the longest drive we did on the trip. We went through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and then ended up in Germany. In Australia, that same journey would you get from one city to another city. It would be a whole day's drive. But we went through four countries, so that just shows how much easier it is to tour around Europe, in a condensed schedule. In Australia, if you went to gigs in the regional towns, there would be no culture whatsoever. But here, there is culture in each city you go to. So it's really interesting.

How does playing gigs in the UK compare to playing gigs in Australia?

In Australia, the shows are of a much higher calibre. We play to more people who actually know us. We come here and it's the complete opposite. No-one knows us, or cares and it's pretty shocking. Because we worked really hard to get to a certain level in Australia, and we got to a level where the gigs were really good, there were lots of people there. But coming here is crazy. Some days, we've played gigs in a café.

Is it demoralising, or is it nice to play more intimate gigs?

It's demoralising. Especially when you drive such a long way to get to another city. I don't want to single out Manchester, but the two gigs we've had in Manchester have been really bad. We've made such a massive effort to get here, we've paid a lot of money to get here and we've spent a lot of money on accommodation whilst we're here, and we're not playing to that many people. It's what we have to do, but it's still demoralising.

You're right though, as an Australian band, that's what you have to do to “break” the UK. And maybe that's the reason why there aren't too many popular Australian bands in the UK. Some bands, like Pnau for example, are really big in Australia but pretty much unknown here. I remember seeing Pnau as a support act in a tiny venue once, I don't think they would ever play such a tiny venue in Australia. Maybe you guys will be the first Australian band to break through in the UK for a few years? Who knows?

We would love for that to happen. We've got a really good label - Fiction, they're called, they're awesome. We've got a lot of faith in them. It's just a question of whether the UK like our music.

And what has the reception been like in the UK?

London's been great. All the right people have come to our shows, and have loved it. But in all the regional towns it feels as though the people are hard to convince. I think it's because no-one knows our music. In London, there's obviously a bigger population, and so there are people who actually know us, they come to our gigs and sing along. But generally speaking, it's been pretty positive.

So you're still glad that you've done your time here?

Yeah, it's been fun. The days off in particular have been fun. So we spent maybe AUS$3,000 each to come over here and do gigs, but we're still over here having a great time. So in that respect, it's been great. Obviously, we wouldn't keep on doing it, because it would just get more and more depressing. But it's like a holiday, and we're still pretty young, so able to enjoy it.

[sarcastically] And aren't our summers just amazing compared to the summers you get in Australia?!

Are you joking? I can't tell! I don't really like Australian summers, they're just too hot, you can't do anything. Being in Brisbane, we're about twelve hours north of Sydney, so closer to the equator and hotter. And the further north you go, the more fucked up it is. And the crazier the people are too!

So this is your last gig in the UK for a while. Any idea when you'll be back?

I think around February, hopefully. Depends on how much money we have! There'll definitely be an album tour, it's just a question of when. Hopefully February.

Have you got any plans for a second album yet? Have you been thinking that far ahead, or have you just been focusing on promoting the first [In A Million Years]?

No, we're not thinking that far ahead at all. We're still touring our first album in Australia, and we've got America and the UK to do. So that's going to take a while. But along the way, we'll be writing stuff when we can.

And for those of our readers who haven't heard your music before, how would you describe it? Who do you often get compared to and who are your influences?

When I read what our fans write, when they compare us to different bands, it's usually Phoenix.

Does anyone say Two Door Cinema Club?

Yeah, lots of people say that. I don't mind that at all. We do sound like them a little bit, on one song. But we were just saying today when we were writing out our setlist, that is our worst song!

But it's not a bad comparison, they're doing pretty well for themselves.

Yeah, they're doing very well. I interviewed Alex Trimble, their singer, before I came here, and they've been touring for five years on one album. I was watching their set from Glastonbury last night as well, and they're fucking huge.

In terms of your influences, who are you inspired by, who do you listen to whilst travelling around?

Nothing I listen to particularly influences me, but the shit I listen to all the time is Panda Bear, which is just noise essentially, not music as such. It's just samples and shit. But their album, Person Pitch, essentially started the whole genre of chillwave, and I can understand why that has inspired a whole genre. And I also listen to The Cure, The Strokes and Phoenix.

You covered The Cure in your set today. Is that a cover you play regularly, or do you mix it up?

We just decided to play it today. We learned it maybe two weeks ago. Fiction, our label, was started by The Cure. And they asked us to do a cover of The Cure. So we did Just Like Heaven. On the day of recording, we figured it out and so we break it out when we feel like it.

When you said you were going to cover The Cure onstage, I thought “Really? Your music really doesn't sound like The Cure.” But it worked.

Yeah. That song is the closest to the way we sing, so it's a good thing to cover.

So, when you go back to Brisbane, you've got a few dates lined up for in a few weeks' time.

Yeah, it's going to be awesome, because it's the biggest tour we've done so far. For example, in a town which isn't even our home town, we're doing a 1,200 capacity venue twice. So it's going to be great. All the other tours have been great, but these are bigger rooms and we're really excited.

Are there tickets still available?

For some of the dates, yeah. There are details on our Facebook page.

To find out more about Last Dinosaurs, check out their website - Debut album, In A Million Years, is out now.