Rocketing out of the surf in a spray of lager comes Dune Rats’ fourth album Real Rare Whale, a “smorgasbord” of the Brissie trio’s garage-punk; rest assured there’s no blubber on this slice of energy pie. We spoke to drummer BC about cowbell, learning Shania Twain off by heart, the logistical insanity of the clip for single Up, and the man’s beloved Coorparoo Bowls Club.
Real Rare Whale could be your third consecutive #1 album (after 2017’s The Kids Will Know It’s Bullsh-t and 2020’s Hurry Up and Wait). Are you doing spells to make it happen?
Nah, I try not to be too worried about what’s going on with the charts. It’s cool getting the little trophy, but I’ll be celebrating anyway, ‘cos I’m really proud of the music on this one. I’m just happy to be playing shows, and that I’m still in a band after COVID.
The album is relentlessly hooky, and the drums are absolutely fanging it from right out of the gate on opener LTD. Do you try to organise a setlist so that you’re not dead within the first 15 minutes?
I’ve been exercising a bit recently; I usually don’t exercise that much but I’m trying to do this new health thing [laughs]. when we played in Perisher I was like, ‘Oh! I’m not eating sh-t after the first song!’ I lasted until a few more songs in, and then I started eating sh-t.
We don’t usually have a lull in sets. We just go, and suffer until it ends.
Did you three try to challenge yourselves technically, this time round?
We didn’t really try to challenge ourselves at all – we just tried to have fun. The day before everyone went into lockdown, we’d just finished our tour, and we were playing 3000-cap shows a night. They were the funnest shows we’d had, with the most energy in the room. So we decided, ‘Let’s just try and go with that.’
I feel like there’s a lot of pressure when you’re a fun band to go home and write The Time of Your Life by Green Day – find a mature standpoint. But we just wanted to do what we love to do – which is crack each other up and make tunes. It’s not a gimmicky album, this one. It doesn’t even have a swear word or a direct drug reference on it, but it doesn’t feel like that. It’s got heaps of energy, and technically, it wasn’t a factor of trying to be more tricky. That just [happened] from playing music for a bit longer.
Does If This is the End have a woodblock in it, in the middle eight? It sounds so cool and fits the song beautifully! Have you done a bit of practise incorporating it into playing the track’s beat?
It’s a cowbell, but it probably [sounds wooden because] it’s got a crack in it, or it’s bent. I’ve been rehearsing playing it, but on the hi-hats. I don’t own a cowbell so I might have to buy one. It’s not the price, it’s setting it up every night for two years! I don’t know if it’s worth lugging around the whole time. I started off with one cymbal, ‘cos I didn’t want to have to set up multiple cymbals. Now, most shows someone else is setting it up, which is awesome! So now I have three cymbals.
I guess I could get a cowbell, yeah. I’ll text Bunny Man now, ‘Can you get me a cow bell?’
He was ours first! I’ve got a Bunny Man tattoo on my arm. And he gave me that [pointing to a framed and mounted list of Dune Rats shows, behind him on the wall] as a house-warming present. He did all of those shows, teching.
Your launch shows are going to be major: your Young Henry’s beer on tap, stage memorabilia, exhibitions of Bunny Man’s images and Lee McConnell’s art, huge giveaways… how’d you come up with all this!?
We [are] trying to make a little Dune Rats world, do some different things that weren’t just going straight back to the same venues that everyone plays all the time. We’re playing the Coorparoo Bowls Club, which is 400m away from here, where I live! I’m so stoked that we’re going to play there. I drink there all the time, it’s my local. Whenever anyone comes to town, I take them straight to the Coorparoo Bowls Club.
The Up clip appears to have been an insanely big production. I really expected to see a tutorial of the dance on TikTok. Do you think live audiences will do the dance when you play the track?
Yeah, TikTok can f-ck right off! It was funny doing the dance, but after rehearsing it every soundcheck leading up to four days of shooting, four or five different locations, just dancing all the time, dressed up like f-ckwits… There are so many moving parts, and all the extras… I’d hate to be Britney Spears, don’t you reckon?
But I’m glad [about] the clip, its f-cking cool! And it ends at the Coorparoo Bowls Club! So maybe someone should do the dance… that’s a good idea. Cheers.
You might end up with a Vegas residency.
I’d love a Vegas residency!
The album’s coming out on ‘pink shell cassette’; are you old enough to have had cassettes when you were little?
No, I’m 31 now. But when I was a kid I used to tape Shania Twain, Man! I Feel Like a Woman! onto cassette and record it, and then put it onto one tape, and record it onto the other tape, and then I recorded it on repeat. I would listen to it and practice every word to it, to try and win this ‘Sing and Dance’ [competition] that never ended up going ahead. But now, I still know all the words to Man! I Feel Like a Woman!.
That’s a neat party trick. Did you have a dance to go with it?
I don’t think so. Another kid, the year before – this is why I got so into it – had all the Michael Jackson dance moves, and would mime Michael Jackson. I was so impressed that I wanted to rival him the next year. But when [I rocked up] no one had learnt anything but me, so we just didn’t do it.
When I was a kid, anyone who could mimic Michael Jackson’s dancing was a God.
I was just in Bali and there was a Michael Jackson impersonator down on the beach, dressed to the nines in leather, in the middle of the heat at night, whipping it out, singing, doing all the things. It was like Michael Jackson had come back from the dead.
In a Balinese man’s body.
In your album presser, there’s a quote that says that the songs on Real Rare Whale were “written with the sole purpose of being the ‘other songs’ to what [you] were hearing on the radio,” and to “reflect on what made [you] start being a band in the first place.” Were you writing as a reaction to what you were hearing played?
It’s not so much wanting to write, or steer away from what we were hearing, or that what we were hearing was bad. It was more about wanting to make songs that we wanted to listen to. I think that’s kind of the point, I guess, in making music: is to make songs that aren’t out there that you want to listen to.
Something that makes you feel good, and that you’re a fan of yourself. Our music isn’t completely original, but it’s just molding all [our] influences into one smorgasbord of something that you want to listen to; like picking all the cool sh-t that makes you happy when you listen to it, and putting your own spin on it.
Real Rare Whale by Dune Rats is out July 29 via BMG.
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