The Emotional Second Album

The Emotional Second Album

Dune Rats’ second album, ‘The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit’, recently debuted at #1 on the ARIA National Album Chart. There’s plenty to smile (and think) about.

Dune Rats’ second album, ‘The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit’ recently debuted at #1 on the ARIA National Album Chart. There’s plenty to smile (and think) about.

Things are going well in the Dune Rats household. Speaking to the band during their Laneway Festival run, they’d just learnt that they’d picked up a double (Bullshit and Scott Green coming in at #33-34) in the triple j Hottest 100. It’s been summer vacation stuff.

“Everyone’s in very cheerful spirits, that’s for sure,” says bassist/vocalist Brett Jansch. “To be asked to jump on Laneway was just another thing on top of all this rad shit that’s going on. We’re really stoked in our camp.

“The double on the Hottest 100 blew us away. We were all sitting around in the dressing room and Luca Brasi came on and it was about 70-something and we all looked at each other and we all looked at each other and went, ‘oh well, maybe next year boys’. Not that we’d given up, but that completely took us by surprise, man.”

If the Laneway run and its sunny disposition was the stuff of summer holidays, then the return to school looks even more fun. The band will be out on a national tour in March in support of their newly released second album, ‘The Kids Will Now It’s Bullshit’, which was met with rave (p)reviews even before it debuted at #1 on the ARIA National Album Chart.

“We haven’t been taking in all the reviews and everything, but it’s good to see that it seems to be getting a good reception from everyone,” Jansch says. “We got to be the feature album on triple j and everyone has written positive things about that. It’s really, really nice to put something out and hear positive things about it because people go out of their way to say it.

“I don’t know how to really take it; it really makes you feel, I don’t know… something sick! (laughs).”

The immediate success ‘The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit’ album is even more interesting because it actually started life as an EP release. Conscious of time ticking since the release of their self-titled 2014 debut LP, Dune Rats were simply champing at the bit to release new material.

“It seemed like it had been so long, even a year ago or more, since we’d put out new music,” Jansch explains. “We’ve always wanted to put out new music and bands like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are just prolifically putting out all these records in one year. The idea of putting out new music for people to listen to has always been a big priority.

“So, we started writing and we got to the point where we had quite a few songs and thought that there could be an EP there but maybe it mightn’t be the strongest and we should add some more songs. It kind of collectively snowballed and we had a bunch of them. We sat around a table and cut off the baby’s head, as we say, and left some songs behind and picked what we went with for the record.”

From the early writing sessions to now, Jansch admits that ‘The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit’ has been quite a while in the making. Rightly so, given the intent that went into the release was...

“… to up our game,” he states. “From the shows we played on the back of the last album we were finding ourselves playing louder and Danny’s (Beusa) guitar tone got bigger and we were working on that side of being a band and that went through automatically into when we were writing the songs, just getting heavier and jamming and that kind of thing went into the tunes.”

As the songwriting adventure lengthened and the band became attuned to what they were already doing intuitively, songs were let go for a variety of reasons. Some simply didn’t match the quality of other songs, while others didn’t fit the mould of what the album was becoming.

“There was a round where we left behind a few that we didn’t feel were as strong in arrangement, or ones that we hadn’t given as much attention, some songs we seemed to be hyped on to work on more,” Jansch recalls. “They seemed to be more stable, then it was like, ‘well what song have we got now that we want to keep taking and going over and trying to develop?’. And then we sat around with about 15 tracks considering what would be a good tracklist for this album that we seemed to be birthing in the studio, all these songs about growing up and becoming an adult. Not like, in a sappy way, but there is a theme there to the record, and when we stuck those 11 songs in there that’s when we realised that, ‘fuck, we’ve kind of got a record here that’s saying something. Those songs do need to be stuck together’. And they already had all these weird bits and it almost sort of auto-filled itself in. It was like, ‘there it is. There’s a record’.”

Altogether it was a far more methodical process than that of the debut LP. Often experience is the only thing that’ll get a band to that point. Add to this the enlistment of FIDAR vocalist/guitarist, Zac Carper and the future looked bright.

“Well with the first one we just had the task to go in there and record the 12 songs we’d written in the shed and just bash it out and do it,” Jansch says. “With this one there was a different approach behind it, of a work ethic of chipping away at things and revisiting things and approaching with help for the first time from Zac, we really could do things. ‘Sure you can layer up guitars; you can overdub; it doesn’t mean you can’t do something just because you’re three people who’ve played in a shed together’. It opened us up to do different things, 100 per cent.”

Carper himself has come a long way as a writer and producer since FIDLAR’s infectiously bratty 2012 debut album. Mirroring Dune Rats’ evolution, he’s evolving in his own way as well.

“For sure,” Jansch concurs. “I mean, we’ve become such good friends as well, just from touring with them out here a few years ago, that’s where it all began. We kept in contact with each other and when we heard that second FIDLAR record, they didn’t just do the cookie-cutter thing musically or lyrically by following the first record, which was something we really respected. We spoke to him about that and we really liked his kooky little way of articulation about production stuff. When we were on tour with him he was kind of interjecting during soundchecks and the producer/band roles started happening as we were touring and trying new songs. We had respect for what he felt about the songs and he’d be mindful if we rebutted anything, or felt strongly about something. We were four people working together, but Zac was the producer and we respected him in that role. It was a good dynamic in there.”

Once they convinced Carper that the Australian definition of ‘bullshit’ can actually mean something positive, the two entities went on to create something that is what Jansch likes to refer to as “an album of journey songs.” They might appear good-timey on the surface, but there’s deeper levels to dig into, should the listener want to. Such things are all-important for a band-in-development looking for some kind of career-longevity.

“Man… thank you fucking really much for thinking that because that’s something that I really hear in the record,” he says with clear sincerity. “Those first couple times after we got the masters back and I listened to it, it was making me fucking really emotional, man. Although there’s a simplicity about the lyrics you could read them on paper and think, ‘did a fucking nine-year-old write this?’ – they make it so you’re able to interpret it in your own way. It’s not just shoved straight in your face what the song is about because there’s so many levels and facets as to what they’re about.

“It’s not like wearing your heart on your sleeve, but our lives are in those words even if it is being really simple. There’s no one key lyric-writer or songwriter, but we can all apply aspects of each other’s lyrics to our own lives.”

Dune Rats open their national tour on Saturday, March 11, at Metropolis Fremantle with guests Skeggs and The Gooch Palms.