Almost a decade ago,
Last Dinosaurs were unveiled to the Aussie public through Triple J’s Unearthed, at the time they thought they’d nearly reached the finish line, but they were barely at the beginning.
Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Sean Caskey, reflected on those early days and the constant calls from members of the music industry.
“People were coming to us saying if you did this, this and this, you could be like this. As kids we were like, oh my god,” he said
“We thought the finish line was right there in front of us, but little did we know this was the beginning of a huge journey, which never really ends.”
Being thrust into the music scene at such a young age can be quite daunting, but even more so when trust is absent.
Sean stated it was hard to know who to listen to as kids, as they had no idea what they were doing.
“It’s only in retrospect we can say wow, we friggin ’blew that one, or, that was the best decision we ever made,” he said.
“It’s hard when you’re young because you don’t know. All you can do is surround yourself with the best people who are experienced and can give you the best advice possible.”
Moving towards self-producing
Even to this day, the Last Dinosaurs are constantly learning about the music industry and the ways in which their music can be influenced.
This became even more apparent while writing their new album ‘Yumeno Garden’ in Japan.
After ten days of recording in Arita, Japan, Sean revealed they scratched all of their recordings, as it didn’t represent them.
“I liked what we were doing already, so many of my favourite bands kept trying to go forward and it wasn’t really doing it for me,” he said.
“The producer we were working with was really trying to drive us into a different category of mega-pop.
“When we got back we said that this is not us, we want to stay true to what we like, so we scratched it all and started again.”
It was clear that the environment of working in a studio with time limits and a producer that is paid by the hour wasn’t suiting the band.
This experience drove the Last Dinosaurs back to their roots, searching for more real and authentic music, that gave listeners more of a “demo-vibe”.
Sean stated that the band was inspired by artists “who were having a crack by themselves” on Sound Cloud, even if their music was a bit rough around the edges.
“On the new album there’s actually some really dodgy audio,” he laughed.
“Even though it doesn’t sound perfectly hi-fi, it has its own sound, and sometimes you can never re-create that stuff, especially not in a studio.
“I was just focusing on making the sound interesting and exactly what was in my mind … I had no time limit; it was just us in my own studio.”
‘Yumeno Garden’ was the first album that was self-produced by the Last Dinosaurs, after using producers for both ‘In a Million Years’ and‘Wellness’.
According to Sean, self-producing will most likely be the way forward for the band, unless they could get the service of someone like Chris Coady or Ben H. Allen.
“The whole time as a young band all we needed was to have a bit more faith in our own creativity,” he said.
“Instead of saying, the song is good, but you need some better singles, that’s often what we got told.
“I think we need to be like, no, these will sound good if we just make them sound like us.
“I do think we’ll probably end up doing it ourselves because we’re only going to get better as producers with our own music and my brother is also rapidly getting better.”
Brotherly dynamics and a new drummer
Sean’s brother, Lachlan Caskey, has become much more than just a lead guitarist in ‘Yumeno Garden’.
When it came to writing this album, the brothers shared the workload equally, with the first half of the album written by Sean, and the second half by Lachlan.
Sean spoke about his musical relationship with his brother in an environment which has the potential to be quite challenging.
“Even though we’ve been in a band together for ages and lived together as kids we don’t really work together well,” Sean revealed.
“We make our own songs, and then we come together, and that’s what we did for this album.
“He (Lachlan) wanted to blend our songs together in the album … which I thought would be weird because people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference as we sound very similar vocally.
“So I thought we might as well flex the muscle and split it up, with mine on the first five and his on the last five songs, and really show it off.”
Sean and Lachlan also worked together in programming the drums for the new album, which caused less disruption recently when drummer, Dan Koyama, left the band for personal reasons.
Sean explained the process of programming drum beats and finding a new drummer that would be comfortable in this type of situation.
“We always just programmed beats, and Dan was very good at being mechanical and replicating these beats,” Sean said.
“We’ve got this really good young guy called Hamish … he was in a few bands that rehearse at our studio.
“We kept noticing that every time he was in the room it would sound really powerful and eventually we asked him to have a crack playing for us.
“He was super keen and instantly rehearsed all our songs and nailed them all perfectly from the first go.”
Touring and partying
The release of ‘Yumeno Garden’ in October coincided with an east-coast tour for the Last Dinosaurs.
Sean described what it was like going on tour, including a fun experience he had in Canberra.
“Canberra was pretty loose, had a pretty good turn out, and everyone went pretty nuts,” he said.
“Then we went to this insane house party … it felt like a European, German underground party; it was crazy! I never expected anything like that from Canberra.”
Sean said that he loves the social aspect of performing and meeting fans, but recently he’s had to make to find a balance between partying and playing.
“We gotta do multiple shows in a row, and I’m used to partying so hard that I can’t sing the next day, so now it’s the just last night of a tour I go pretty hard,” he said.
“I had to stop and be like, I actually need to be able to do four or five shows in a row, which I’d never done before, so I decided that I’m not going to get absolutely wrecked from now on during a tour.
“But to be honest, I actually have the same amount of fun that I normally would; I was worried that I would be really bored and not able to have a good time.”
Festivals and America on the horizon
With the recent release of their third album, there is a huge emphasis on performing for the band currently.
The remainder of the year will include performances at three music festivals, including ‘Shakafest’ at the Broadwater Parklands, Gold Coast, on the 24th of November.
With a major change in band dynamics lately, Sean said they’re working really hard to give fans the best show possible.
“Every show we play we try and absolutely smash it, like Shakafest for instance, we’re just gonna try and light it up,” he said.
“It’s gonna be a whole different experience because we got another singer (Lachlan).
“I wanna get some insane lights and props and stuff like that, and take it to another level as a performing act.”
Sean revealed they’re planning a tour to America next year after noticing lots of traction from fans on social media.
“We’re getting a huge reaction from America, we’ve never been there, we’ve got a lot of fans there,” he said.
“We got an insane response from every one, two thousand-something comments of people saying Chicago, LA, Las Vegas, etc.
“Social media has been really good to connect with those people, so we’re trying to plan a tour there early next year.”
Last Dinosaurs are going nowhere
Although Last Dinosaurs have been around for nearly a decade, energy levels have never been so high within the band.
Sean said that he struggles to see an end point for the band.
“So many bands actually stop at this time, and some guys come up to me and say, we’re so glad you haven’t stopped,” he said.
“I’ve never actually thought about really stopping because there’s really nothing else that I wanna do, I enjoy it too much still, there’s too much left inside of us to let it all go.
“I wanna keep producing albums ourselves, progressing as a band sonically … making cooler songs, just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Catch Last Dinosaurs at Shakafest on the Gold Coast this Saturday with Bliss n Eso, Frenzal Rhomb, Alex The Astronaut and Many More