The lead singer of the Australian up-and-comers on Japanese inspiration and Jurassic Park
Sean of Last Dinosaurs refuses to kiss and tell. When we asked the lead vocalist about his ex-girlfriends, who reportedly inspire inspire his melancholy-yet-romantic lyrics, all he’d say is, “I drew inspiration from issues that were current and relevant to me but lyrically I created stories and scenarios that I hope are relatable to others.”
It’s a good thing he’s more forthcoming about Brisbane, Australia’s exciting music scene, a world that nourished these guitar pop savants when they were coming up. It did a good job, as their debut album In a Million Years launches us into the guitar-fueled bliss of first love, if love came in the form of choir-boy harmonies and pristine guitar riffs. Although they’ve never been to Honolulu, their single named after the island city perfectly imagines summer trysts in a lei, or an Urban Outfitters swimsuit.
Read on for more on their musical influences, their feeling about being a Japanese-Australian band, and their groupie policy (or lack thereof).
We described Brisbane as an “underrated Australian metropolis.” What do you think of Brisbane’s reputation as a musical city, and is that changing?
There are a number of bands coming out of Brisbane right now that are really exciting. Before we came over to Europe we had just finished an Australian tour along with two other bands from Brisbane, Millions and Gung Ho, which was so fun. When all of us were growing up, the main guitar band scene in Australia was in Sydney. We all took a lot of interest in that scene and have started to create our own scene in Brisbane, although it’s a really different sound. There is a really good dynamic between all the bands, because we all know each other and take interest in the songs every band is making. It’s a really fun time to be making music in Brisbane.
Did you guys seek out Elliott James to mix your album, and what was that process like?
He was definitely on our shortlist. The first single off the album Time & Place has a similar guitar-driven sound to other bands he’s worked with so we thought it would be cool for Elliot to mix that and he did a great job. We wanted him to do the rest of the album when it came to it, and although he was in the process of getting married he still found time to mix it because he liked the music. It’s always better to be working with people who are on the same page musically rather than working with someone because of his or her name.
You recorded In a Million Years in a remote farmhouse in New South Wales. Are you guys fans of nature and did you go on hikes, or go hunting, or whatever people do in New South Wales, while you weren’t writing?
We aren’t out and out nature boys but whenever we do get a chance to be in the great outdoors we love it. This one farm we go to quite a lot is pretty fantastic, we just set up our instruments in a little room and split our time between jamming, cooking food, shooting stuff etc. Actually one of the songs on the album ‘Andy’ was born out of the adrenalin rush Sean got when he used one of the rifles they have at the farm. We don’t shoot anything living of course.
You might be the first Japanese-Australian band we’ve heard, and that probably goes for most of the people who come across your music. Do people ask weird questions about your Asian perspectives? Kind of like this one.
Haha, well it is something that people ask about a lot, which is cool because I guess it is fairly unique. We all love Japan and try to visit as often as possible, at least a few of us want to live there at some stage. It would be awesome to go there to write and play music. There are some really good bands from Japan that we all listen to and are inspired by. Our band name is taken from a song by a Japanese band, so there are lots of connections. Japanese musicians are also usually really adept at their instruments too, really technical, and that’s something we aim for in our music too.
You have a song called Honolulu. Have you ever been there?
We’ve never been there. It would be so good to play that song in Honolulu, maybe one day.
Who are your musical influences? To our ears, some obvious contemporaries to your sound are Vampire Weekend, Two Door Cinema Club, and Male Bonding. Do you like those bands at all?
Yeah I don’t mind those bands but most of our musical influences are fairly broad and some obscure. I listen to very few things obsessively like Panda Bear’s Person Pitch and Twin Sister’s In Heaven album on a regular basis. Growing up though chronologically the most pivotal bands for me were: Beach Boys, Jeff Buckley, The Strokes, Mercy Arms, Foals, and now it’s Twin Sister.
Your lyrics are about romantic relationships and I’m pretty sure that girls at your shows are regularly falling in love with you. What’s your band policy on dating groupies?
We have no band policy on dating groupies. One member in particular at the moment demonstrates this haha. The calibre of groupies though are very interesting.
Sean, is it true that, as mentioned on Wikipedia, virtually every song on the album was inspired by an ex-girlfriend? If so, is it the same ex-girlfriend, or many different ones?
Lyrically the contexts and the characters are all fictional and the words come from either side of a relationship. I’d say creatively I drew inspiration from issues that were current and relevant to me but lyrically I created stories and scenarios that I hope are relatable to others. I recall someone once on Facebook saying something about it being therapeutic for whatever reason, and that’s all I could really ask for.
Did you guys grow up loving dinosaurs?
I loved Jurassic Park. I also read the book by Michael Crichton a couple of years ago (good book, excellent author). Apparently if dinosaurs weren’t wiped out, by now they would have evolved to have a similar brain capacity as those of humans. Imagine that…
When you’re on tour, like right now, what do you miss most about Australia?
More consistent sunshine is something I won’t take for granted anymore. But I’d say most of all, as cheesy as it sounds, I miss chilling with friends in Brisbane. I cant wait to go home and jump on my computer to start recording. Oh and riding my bike!