Last Dinosaurs – Precise Ambition
Written by Marc Zanotti on 19th November, 2012
Last Dinosaurs have become one of Australia’s most currently talked about acts behind their 2012 debut album In A Millon Years. Ladened with hook-heavy, infectious indie hymns that leave you humming the melodies and reenacting the guitar riffs, In A Millon Years has hatched a herd of carnivorous singles easily identifiable by the distinctive bite mark left in the national airwaves upon which they feed.
Yet in the landscape of modern music where indie rock bands seemingly outnumber prefab pop stars and R&B drones, it often takes more than having a knack for writing catchy tracks in order to achieve sustained success. Despite his tender age, Last Dinosaurs’ 21-year-old frontman Sean Caskey seems acutely aware of this in his approach to songwriting.
A Premium On Precision…
With a desire to obtain a timeless quality and establish a clear separation from his lo-fi contemporaries, Caskey’s goal with Last Dinosaurs is to deliver a fully formed band obsessed with instrumentality and built on excessive rehearsal.
“With writing … everything’s very mathematical … everything’s extremely thought out,” Caskey explains.
“I try to write songs that, to a degree, surpass the production aspect and how it gets played but that’s like impossible.”
“Of course production is extremely important. Actually on that topic have you listened to the new Tame Impala album? It’s ridiculous … especially the production. To me that’s the most valuable part of that album.”
Home And Away…
Consistently receiving perfect scores from Triple j listeners and being hailed by The AU Review as: “a strong contender for the best Australian album of the past twenty years”, the success of In A Million Years has taken on a life of its own since being released nationally in February.
Not ones to coast on a reputation, Caskey and co have toured extensively behind their debut record with Last Dinosaurs recently completing their second Australian tour of the year and having already visited the UK twice in 2012 alone.
But whereas Last Dinosaurs added extra shows to accommodate for the outpouring of support from Australian fans on their latest tour, the Brisbane band still remain something of a hidden secret across the pond, where In A Million Years only came out in October.
Despite the contrast in reception Caskey remains determined to make headway overseas, acknowledging that the gruelling regional UK tours have helped the young band remain humble and hungry.
“Going to the UK it did keep us grounded but it was actually pretty disappointing to be honest. It’s like going back to square one again. Like we’ve done all this work for Australia, now we’re doing this again in Europe,” Caskey concedes.
“But it’s good; it’s like a challenge. You just remember that we are just another band and that we have to try and be these people’s favourite band. We’ve got to try and win the crowds over all the time, which is fun as.”
“Another good thing though was having like fresh ears … We got to gauge the reactions of the songs by the crowd properly … In Australia they’ll sing along to a song they know because it’s on the radio and whatever but in the UK whatever actually gelled with them is what they reacted to. Which was interesting, it was really interesting.”
It’s evident when speaking with Caskey that the youthful musician possesses a drive to push Last Dinosaurs beyond their homeland. While most young men in their early twenties start bands to avoid responsibility, Caskey sees his music as a genuine opportunity to prosper.
Caskey’s mentality proves that In A Million Years was no accident but rather the product of a deliberate desire to establish Last Dinosaurs as a legitimate enterprise.
“It’s just a natural ambition. … If someone wants to be a rockstar, obviously … you want to be an international rockstar; you don’t want to be just an Australian rockstar … not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Caskey assures.
“Basically you could be big in Australia or you could be big in Europe and have however many times, in business terms, the market.”
“With us going to Europe and all that sort of stuff was just like a natural progression in terms of the band because international labels wanted to pick us up.”
The Circus Around The Substance…
As Last Dinosaurs continue to acquaint themselves with UK audiences, so does the English music media acquaint themselves with the Queensland act. Capturing the attention of NME, The Guardian and BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe, Last Dinosaurs are high on the list of music fans and tastemakers alike.
Although the coverage is welcomed, Caskey notes that his plans to break Last Dinosaurs into international markets has less to do the media and more to do with playing live music.
“All that sort of stuff is like a virtual world, all of that media stuff. It’s not actually directly affecting us and it didn’t really have anything to do with us. So like The Guardian and all that stuff, it’s really good because everyone gets really happy and that makes us feel good but it doesn’t really impose on us,” Caskey insists.
“It’s just part of the game, I guess. It’s just another aspect of it in terms of selling the band. But the thing that we’re good at, though, is just playing live and putting on a show.”
Some Bands Do Have Them…
Whether earned through their musical chops and the hard slog of touring or gained from media backing, Last Dinosaurs fan base is undeniably on the rise. But as the fans increase so do the fanatics. With an average age of just over 20, the young band find themselves increasingly the objects of affection and sometimes obsession.
Willing to admit that some individuals have gone a little overboard in showing their appreciation, Caskey divulges a couple of stories that have left him a little freaked out and Last Dinosaurs a little more savvy when it comes to dealing with overeager fans.
“The degree of fanatics that we’ve been attracting, just the caliber of people we attract, its pretty interesting. It’s good, it’s really good, it’s just kind of funny,” Caskey deliberates.
“The other day someone on Facebook, one of my friends, like I think it was James from Millions, posted on my wall coz’ he found this f**king Tumblr which is dedicated to me. It says, ‘I’m Not Sean Caskey But I Wish I Was’ and it’s just basically … all these f**king photos of me and stuff. Like, it’s so f**king weird, it seems so surreal and all my friends are just laughing about it.”
“In the UK, there’s this girl like she’s our biggest fan … She came to the show in Brighton and … she always comes to our gigs by herself. Basically, after the show she had to travel back for hours on the train by herself to get to home and it was late at night. So we were like, ‘There’s no way you’re going to that by yourself … We have a spare single bed in the hotel so stay there’.”
“We were just partying like drinking, whatever and … we found out later she doesn’t really get drunk and she started to lose it a little bit … eventually it was going to bed time and then she was just saying all this weird s**t and then Lach (Caskey) went upstairs to sleep in the double bed with Sam (Gethin-Jones) and then she’s like, ‘Where’s Lach?’”
“So they’re trying to sleep and she’s standing in the corner in the darkness just talking to them … and then it progressed to (her) getting disappointed and saying, ‘Why don’t you guys sleep naked, why do you guys wear pyjamas when you sleep?’”
“Lach, because he was pretty intoxicated, was freaking out. So he runs, he goes out the door trying to sneak out and then she’s like, ‘Where are you going?’ So she was chasing him and he started sprinting and then he was trying to get out to the stairs, he smashed his head on the fire exit door. So we’re downstairs and we just hear Lach run in and he’s like, ‘I’ve got to go to a hospital, I cut my head open’ and (he had) this big cut in his forehead.”
“It was just the most stupid situation. That was so funny but we learnt a really critical error of taking serious fans back to the hotel. That’s just a really bad idea.”