At last, the Last Dinosaurs are back! Formed in 2007, brothers Sean and Lachlan Caskey teamed up with bassist Michael Sloan and drummer Dan Koyama. The Australian indie/rock band is now a three-piece and finally out with a third album, Yumeno Garden.
While retaining their original mark, energy and flair; the Dinos mix ’em up with experiences they had on the road. They promised the album to be an eclectic mix of music and influences, so that got us excited.
We had Sean Caskey spill the beans on their latest record, Yumeno Garden and more…
Hey guys, how excited are you to see the world groove to Yumeno Garden? Because ‘Eleven’ and ‘Dominos’ are bop. (That’s how the kids say it)
More excited than we have ever been! This album is very special to us because Lach and I recorded and produced it ourselves and it sounds more like Dino’s than any other album we have done. It’s a pretty diverse album but not a rollercoaster ride, if you know what I’m saying. It goes deep in a lot of directions if you listen closely but it travels pretty smoothly as an album. We have been having a lot of fun playing these new songs in rehearsals so we can’t wait to show it to the world so we tour!
It’s been three years since Wellness. How was the experience coming back into the studio and recording?
It was a long process recording this album and we experimented a lot. We recorded and workshopped some of the album in Japan with a friend and producer of our first album, Jean-Paul Fung. We went to a tiny town to be isolated in tranquillity, which was really nice and allowed us to focus on ourselves and the influences that existed within us already. After we got back from that trip, we realised one thing – We had to record it in our own studios, in our own way without any help.
This approach is pretty unique to us because to be honest, I never really felt confident enough in my own ability to record professional sounding music. I guess there was quite a bit of self-doubt as well with the music writing too. It’s pretty hard trying to create a new album that is fresh and exciting to not only yourself, but all the fans you know? It was maybe just a few months before we really kicked off the recording of this album that my friends really encouraged me with my music. They were telling me I should be producing these songs or leaving them as they are. These are guys who I love and trust, so that really helped me to reach the tipping point of tackling this on our own.
How was that process like for you?
After we were about 75% of the way there I really started to feel excited about what we were making, and I was thinking I wanted to make this like an experiment to show other people out there that you can totally create something professional enough with not much equipment. I would LOVE to delve into the finer details of recording but I’d be typing for hours haha. But all I had was a simple music program (logic) and an interface with a semi decent mic. I didn’t use any guitar amps, I didn’t record drums (we programmed them all) and we didn’t use any fancy software.
This experiment became more serious towards the end when I tried to really confine everything to these basic parameters. I wanted to use only synths that were already on the program and nothing fancy that kids out there can’t buy cheaply. It had to be made from the tools that anyone can have. It was a way of proving to ourselves that we can write songs that don’t need any cookie cutters or any magic influencers, just honesty and authenticity from us. Even if it is a little rough around the edges in parts at least it came from our hands and has a big chunk of our souls in it.
How have the Last Dinosaurs evolve over the past few years?
It’s strange because if you asked me a few years ago about the topic of band evolution, I would’ve talked about expanding sounds and incorporating more synths and stuff, but I kind of had a bit of an epiphany and did the opposite of that. For this album I really tried to strip everything back. Even when it came to getting the album mixed at the last moments I decided to delete a whole bunch of instrumentation on Dominos and Eleven to keep it raw. I remember Phoenix used to champion that philosophy of keeping things simple which I understood at the time, but I understand it more now. Even after creating this record I think the next one I will try to go even more simple.
Someone said to me that the audience listening to a song generally are only listening to one thing at a time. As a composer, it is kind of hard to get into that mind frame. I’m always thinking of lots of things at once and I appreciate things like that, but sometimes when you can really digest every essential element with ease, the feeling and the message can translate better.
To me music is about transferring a certain special feeling in a particular time of your life, the trick is to capture that message clearly and powerfully.
When you guys were writing the materials for this album, what sort of music and influences did you guys look to?
Lots of different kinds of music for me at least. That is mainly because I work once a week in a great record store and I get exposed to music that no algorithm would’ve ever presented to me. There I learnt a lot about punk music all the way to African disco. I have a great appreciation for lots of different styles which I try to incorporate in my music in subtle ways like with emotions, rhythms and melodies. The most influential platform for discovering music for us though would have to be Soundcloud. Lach and I are particularly fond of the smaller bands you can find there. The music is so raw and authentic which is somehow what we have come to appreciate the most.
Major facts. Soundcloud is pretty great.
Some songs on there can sound ‘technically’ pretty bad but sometimes it works the best, we really like the DIY style of music. This idea of embracing the demo sound kicked off the album recording process for us. It all happened at a time when we released my demos of the Wellness songs on Youtube. The reaction to that was surprisingly positive. Some people even liked the demos more than the album recording. I think when you go to an expensive studio and work to a strict schedule you tend to leave creativity behind because you’re focusing on getting each track recorded. In our own studios however, we can take all the time we like and make things sound a very particular way that we wouldn’t ever want to change. It’s those sounds or vibes that you sometimes can’t recreate, let alone on a time limit.
True, you kinda have to dig deeper. What kind of music were you listening to?
Glo-fi or dream pop was the genre I was listening to the most. Bands like Black Marble, Golden Daze, Yuko Yuko, Gap Dream, Tops, Yuno and Craft Spells. It didn’t necessarily rub off on to me in an audible way but more a philosophical way. More about making the music ourselves with genuine intent and getting it out there for people to enjoy it so they can hopefully make it part of their identity. Right now, the biggest influence (post recording the album) would hand down have to be The Garden, check them out.
Thank you for the recommendations, we’ll be sure to check ’em out! What can we expect from this album?
The first thing I will mention is that Lach (lead guitar player and my brother) is singing on half of the album. This is a first for us as he has never had any of his fully formed songs on an album before. He didn’t start writing music till fairly late in his musical life really. His song writing really got pretty sharp in the last couple of years and I told him we needed to put these songs out there for the world to hear. A Dino’s album is the perfect place for that.
Side A of the vinyl (just thinking about it on a record player) is my side. I made it very Stroke’sy because I wanted to go back to my roots and show them off with pride. I learnt guitar simply by learning all of ‘Room on Fire’ and ‘Is This It’. I guess it developed my style to be a little bit unique, especially when it comes to chords. The last song ‘Happy’ on my side is a purely synth track that comes after a song called ‘Sense’. The interlude after ‘Sense’ becomes very dreamy and electronic which introduces the synthesisers to the album because ‘Happy’ is so heavy with synth. It’s a break up song which is what I tend to write about I realised.
Who doesn’t love a good break up song? Anyway wait, so Lach’s singing on Side B?
When you flip the vinyl to side B you are sucked into a punchy intro to Lach’s first song ‘Forget About’. It’s a very powerful song which is super fun to play live. I get to play lead guitar and I do lots of tricks with my pedals to make my guitar sound like no other guitar I’ve heard before. Lach’s music uses a lot more synth than mine, and a lot more electronic sounding drums but it still works together really well. I guess Lach learnt all of the Strokes songs too and since we grew up together we never really drifted apart musically. You can definitely hear a few strokes months in his songs too. Lach’s last song is special because it ends on a guitar solo, which I reckon is pretty cool. It’s the kind of ending that makes you want to hear the song again.
Are you guys excited to be on tour after this? Because Kuala Lumpur certainly misses you.
I love creating music and recording, but the thing I love the most is touring and partying. When I say party, I mean playing shows as well because I like to think of the show as the beginning of the party haha. We miss KL and are very excited to come back. I believe there is something being planned right now actually! We have had some great times over there. KL is such a hot pot and a mash of cultures it’s very interesting to me.
We agreed, KL is a very cool place. What do you like best about traveling?
Every time we go somewhere foreign I like to observe all the plants and trees, the architecture and the food. I like to observe the way people behave and interact with each other. No matter where we are I’ve always felt like our fans are always the nicest and the best people. Always super cool and happy. KL is no exception; you guys have always been the loveliest and most supportive. Definitely keen to get back in there to see everyone and maybe hang out for a few days and eat some tasty food!
Hit us up when you’re in town! We’re wishing you all the success that you guys are getting after this. (You heard it hear first, folks!)