Tuesday 6 May 2014

Interview with DUNE

Today's guests – DUNE – released one of my fave records of 2013 with Progenitor. A spacey cosmic hybrid of Sludge, Doom, Stoner Metal and Space Rock packed full of delicious riffs.

It's a brilliant and varied sound which showcases the bands love of Science Fiction. It's one hell of a trippy ride. I called their début album:

Dune have the potential to one of the next big things in the UK Sludge/Stoner Metal scene as I cannot see any other band doing this sort of music. Maybe Gringo are the nearest thing but Dune have something special about them.

It's a shame Progenitor is only one for 30 mins as I wanted to hear more. It's a breathtaking debut release that Dune should rightly be proud of. Lets hope their debut full length isn't to far behind as I predict very big things for Dune in the next couple of years.”

With the album being released on 12” 140g transparent red vinyl in April (Which I have already pre-ordered) – I had to catch up with these intergalactic space riffsters.

Q1 – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you all today.

Really good ta, cheers for having us!

Q2 – So let's get down to business. Can you tell our readers a brief history on how the band started and where it is today.

The band started after a ‘blind date’ between Simon and Victor. At the time we were both new to Edinburgh so it took us a while to get a solid line up. We jammed with some (great) people until we met Dudley and that was the initial line up. After not being able to find a bassist, Simon moved across from guitar so we would have the full band and be able to gig. Jan from Atragon was originally the vocalist but after a few gigs, things didn’t work out.

So we went on the instrumental path while looking for the right feet. And Dan came along to play guitar and do vocals. He instantly fitted and we ended up playing with Eyehategod 2 weeks later for his first gig (no pressure ha). For the last 6 months we’ve just been gigging in and around Scotland, whilst working on a heap of new material.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound. Psychedelic Doom/Stoner/Sludge Metal is what I would call it. Would you call it something else.

You’re definitely in the right ball park with those genres. We all listen to a wide variety of music, but its certainly the heavier genres influencing what were doing, big riffs, slower heavier sections mixed with a bit of technical playing… riff-tastic space metal !

Q4 – Lets talk about Progenitor. It's a fantastic record. It's been out for a few months now. It's received loads of praise. Were you surprised with the reviews you received for it.

Thanks very much! The initial feedback has been great and we can’t wait to get the vinyl version out there. Recording it was really fun for all of us, and we hope that shows in the music.

Q5 – Was it a hard or easy album to write and record for. As it has many different ideas that you may miss on your first listen. And would you change anything about it.

The recording went fairly smoothly (despite it being Dudley and Simon's first time in a studio). Having a great, friendly engineer in Iain (Bachhus Baracus) certainly helps, as does playing the songs fairly relentlessly at practice and live before going into the studio. We definitely had a strong idea of what we wanted to do on each track. Saying that, I think there are always bits that you will listen to down the line, and think ‘oh we could have done that instead’ but you have to draw the line somewhere on a song.

Q6 – What is the album about? Is there a concept behind it or do you want people to discover this for themselves.

The album follows the birth and life of a universe. It is a journey through the transition from nothingness to the big bang and the universe constant expansion to its end and ultimately a new beginning. The story is told from the viewpoint of a space traveller . Starting his journey relatively early in the universe life cycle, he travels throughout the galaxy in both space and time. He ends up in a strangely similar star system, where once there may have been life. But the sun is dying. His journey follows a very cyclical theme. I (Dan) was reading ‘time ships’ by Stephen Baxter at the time, and parts of that heavily influenced a lot of the narrative.

Q7 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians. Any particular band or album that stand out.

We could list an endless list of bands that inspired us, but some have been quite big for us at the time we wrote the music. But at the time bands like Mastodon, High on Fire, Neurosis, Baroness, Converge, Sleep and Eyehategod were pretty important to us. But with Dan in the band and the next releases to come we want the music to evolve. So we’ve got loads of new stuff with a different edge. While getting a little bit more demanding and technical the next release will be something new for us.

Q8 – Dune is a band firmly rooted in Science Fiction and so is the album. Was it an easy decision to mix your music with your love of Science fiction?

We wanted our music to go through stories and we really like working on some kind of concepts. So Sci-Fi came really naturally. And the music going through different movements makes things easy to build a story line on.

Q9 – What styles of Science Fiction do you enjoy. Books or Movies?

Both! As a band we all are more or less digging Sci Fi, so we read books, comics, watch movies, play video games and the geekiest one of us (Dan) plays 40k. For the next release we are taking inspirations from Dark Sci Fi themes out of StarCraft, Alien, The Forever War books series by Joe Haldeman, and other Alastair Reynolds books.

Progenitor cover art

Q10 – Now lets talk about about the brilliant album cover. Great design by Ross D. McKendrick. How did you guys hook up with him. He is a fantastic artist and designer. How much input did you have with the design of the album cover.

Ross did some cool artwork for a few shows in Edinburgh so at the time we asked him to do a shirt for us. And if I remember well after our show with Eyehategod he came back to us with some cool draft, which we thought would look awesome for the EP. So after that we gave him a rough idea of what we wanted and the rough outline of the lyrics and left him create something cool out of it.

Q11 – I want to talk about your killer vocals. 3 or 4 Vocalists in one band. Excessive but brilliantly insane and it works for your album. Is it hard to record vocals with DUNE. Or do you all agree before-hand who gets to sings which vocals.

Its all agreed beforehand. On the ep, Dan & Victor do the main vocals, and Simon did some back vocals. We tried to keep things interesting with a mix of screaming, growling and singing. Although we’ve decided to only have Victor and Dan doing vocals live for now.

Q12 – Now Progenitor is being released on a lovely limited edition vinyl. Congrats on that one. How did that come about. Wasted State Records is releasing it. How did you hook up with them?

As the songs were coming together we were really thinking about having the EP released on vinyl. Obviously it is always quite expensive and looking for a record deal takes a lot of time. So we decided to release the EP digitally for free just so people could get a chance to know what we were doing. After few offers for CDs and tapes from really cool labels, Toni (Wasted State Records) told us he really liked Progenitor and gave us a really good deal for a 12’’ coloured vinyl. We couldn’t be happier for a first release.

Q13 – Did you have much input into the design of the Vinyl itself.

-The artwork done by Ross was originally drawn up to vinyl spec so there was no issue in that aspect. Dan designed the inner sleeve and the label to go on the disc itself. Then we though that a transparent red finish for the vinyl itself would look deadly with the artwork.

Q14 – How big of a help has BandCamp and the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community been in promoting your music.

We released the EP for free at first because we really wanted to have our music available for everyone. So it ended up being shared pretty much everywhere, with quite a few video on YouTube etc. So yeah BandCamp is really helpful but it takes its fair share and limits your action if you don’t have a professional account.

And obviously the scene is great to promote our music. We definitely had a lot of support from other bands like Bacchus Baracus and Atragon. And we’ve been lucky because a lot of our music have been shared via different platforms. It really feels like there is an online community for Heavy Music which is great.

Q15 – What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

Guitar tone is really something we are focusing on, getting a good heavy sound that is still clear is key for us, and we’ve found the best way to do this is to push volume on tube amps (nothing new, but it works!). Live we’ve been using a mixture of Orange, Egnater, and Peavey amps, through as many cabs as we can physically fit on (or off) the stage.

For the last recording we got to use a great choice of different heads and cabs Iain had collected for his studio. Some Matamp, Orange Rockerverb and AD140, bass cabs, and a lot of other guitar cabs with different speakers. What is fun with Heavy Music is to try a lot of different amps, cabs, pedals, just changing stuff and experimenting. It’s an endless tone quest which makes things really interesting and fun.

Q16 – We are massive Vinyl Heads here at Sludgelord. Are you vinyl fans yourselves.

Yes, definitely. The band have a fairly nice collection of vinyl between them, and all see vinyl as the ‘best’ format for putting out music, which is why we were really keep to get progenitor released on 12”.

Vinyl gives you a great physical (and great sounding) piece to go with your music, the culmination of lyrics, art, and sound is hard to beat.

Q17 – What is your verdict on the whole crowd-funding scene. Where bands ask fans to fund their next album. Are you a fan of that platform. Would Dune ever go down that route.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of the platform. I believe that some bands use it as a way of not putting the cash upfront themselves and making it try and seem like they want their 'best' fans support to make them feel part of it. I know it’s not always possible to do, but we've all had to make sacrifices along the way to make bands/recordings work.

Q18 – Do you play gigs on a regular basis in Edinburgh. What is the scene like up there or do you have to travel further afield to perform regularly.

We generally play once every couple of months in Edinburgh. Home town gigs are nice, but its good to not play too many and give people something new or different each time we play. The scene is good and varied one, there is a lot of great band in Edinburgh playing different stuff. Like Lords of Bastard, Zillah and Hair of the Dog.

Q19 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

The most important thing for us is simply having fun with friends whilst playing music.

Q20 – Anyway, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Just want to say thank you to everyone that’s come out to see us, supported us and helped is in so many ways and watch this space for more to come!

Well guys, Thanks to talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. All the best with the Vinyl Release. 

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Written by Steve Howe