Vicious Presents: Last Dinosaurs

It’s been just over a month since Last Dinosaurs‘ new record Wellness has been out, and what lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Sean Caskey tells me, this is the most true to form that the band’s music has ever been. I caught up with the frontman to chat new album, getting loose for New Years and more.


Wellness
is out now and it’s a killer record – I know it was released a month or so ago, but since you guys started out since releasing the likes of Back From The Dead, how’s the musical and – I suppose – personal progression been for you?

I don’t know, actually. It’s hard to take notice of those things when you’re sort of living it. I guess one thing’s that – over time – I’ve gotten better at recording demos and stuff like that. So I guess this album, at least – like, with all of the recordings and that – the songs are a lot truer to who we are as a band because they’re closer to the original product. Scott Horscroft (Silverchair, Sleepy Jackson, Temper Trap), who was the producer [on this record], was very keen on us retaining what we already had because he thought that we had a really strong vibe in the demos. We’ve got a really particular sound which on the first album was replicated with very, very precise and electronic drums and edgy guitars and stuff like that…I guess we have more ownership on this Wellness album, but I guess the progression was…a natural development in songwriting and recording which has been translated onto this album. But also along the way, all those experiences that you have touring and all that.

So is it kind of like – I mean, this might sound a little cliché – but is it a learning-as-you-grow type of thing? You’ll never reach the point where you know that you’ve definitely made it?

Yeah, exactly. Although I would love to get to the end and be like “Yeah, I’m done.” I don’t know if anyone gets there, though.

A quote I read from you that I read about your songwriting – “a big part of me doesn’t listen to what I’m saying, because I have to detach myself and say it’s all fine, otherwise I’ll get nothing done. I find it all too personal even talking about it” – that really resonated with me. How are you able to detach yourself from yourself and, I suppose, edit or judge  yourself from a third party perspective?

Well, usually if I’m sat down to write a song then I’m quite often in a particular state. I don’t write very often, but when I do, it’s when I’m not feeling particularly great for various reasons. And I guess when you’re in that sort of state of mind, like everything is detached already, I guess. That’s when you can kind of detach yourself from being too self-conscious because you’re just wanting to focus so much on something else… It got to a point where I just realised that I have no choice, I have to detach myself, because if I don’t then I’m literally not going to finish this song…and that sort of comes back to me not writing very often. So for this album, for instance, there was probably only 14 songs written but it was really hard because we wanted almost all of them on the album.

I won’t start something that’s a piece of crap. I’ll make sure I know exactly what’s going to happen before I even start something. The detachment – it’s sort of like a have-to-do thing, but it’s easier to do when your mind’s in a bit of a chaotic state.

Now, I want to go back to Scott Horscroft because I’m actually a big fan of his and his back catalogue of work – working with the likes of Silverchair, The Presets, Empire of the Sun… Particularly with Silverchair, I followed his work with them on Young Modern. How did that friendship come to be?

Well, I remember being a kid and listening to all this music – I was getting deeply into all this Australian indie music like Mercy Arms, The Protectors, Red Riders and Lost Valentinos, but I kept seeing his name popping up everywhere. And then my friends, The Cairos – my old band – they recorded with him…and my friends Comic Sans, they recorded with him too. So I knew a lot about him and I really liked what he did…We were [originally] going to try and go with an American producer called Ben H. Allen for the album, but the Australian dollar dropped just before we were getting the finances sorted…which was so, so unlucky – it just made everything just unaffordable.

We’d known about Scott for a while and he’d known about us, and he was interested in working with us, so we cut a deal and worked in his studio at The Grove which is such an amazing studio. It was great to have the honour of recording with him and recording at The Grove which is a studio I’ve always wanted to record at. I saw a documentary about it ages ago too and…it’s so damn good.

One good thing too about Scott, you know I was talking about the ownership of songs – one of the biggest things for me on this album was – this song called Wellness, which is the title track…with every song, we’d open up the studio and re-record it, so we’d listen to it, talk about it and then go record it. When it came to [that song], he listened to it and was “Nah, there’s nothing I can do to this, everything about this is perfect. I just want you to mix it a little bit more.” That was a huge honour, like getting a medal – I was so pleased. I love that his approach is so appropriate; like “that’s what the song needs” or “the song doesn’t need that”, instead of being like “Nah, we’re recording this because I’m the producer.” I just really respect and admire his approach to music as an art form.

And you’d want to have those sorts of feelings towards someone who’s investing their time into your creation – you want to make sure you have that kind of connection.

I really want to talk about Beyond The Valley too, because I’ll be there partying with you guys. Is this the first New Years festival that you’ve ever played and what are you expecting from it?

We played one once ages ago before the album came out…that was like the first time we had a whole room going nuts, and that was a huge shock to us because we’d never had that. Up until then, it was only just shows where people would nod their heads and clap and stuff. That’s what I think of when I think about New Years.

Oh no, that’s right. The last one we did was in Tokyo actually…I can’t actually remember, because we’d done so many shows in this one venue in Tokyo. I don’t remember if we actually played on New Years or if we were just there on New Years, but anyway… I’m looking forward to Beyond The Valley. New Years is so much fun because everyone is just so wasted, it’s the best.


Last Dinosaurs
play Beyond The Valley over 2015/16 New Years in Lardner, Victoria. For more information/tickets, head to beyondthevalley.com.au.

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