INTERVIEW: A Chat With Dan Koyama From Last Dinosaurs

Thursday, August 20, 2015

With their sophomore album Wellness coming soon, we had the chance to chat with Dan Koyama from Last Dinosaurs about the new album, their upcoming live dates, and his favourite track from Wellness. Read the interview below.

Wellness is the second album you’ve released, how different do you think it is from In A Million Years

Hopefully different enough to surprise people but not different enough to turn people off who liked our first stuff. Hopefully it’s you know 30% different. I mean I think it’s definitely better in my opinion. Hopefully everyone agrees.

It keeps all the stuff that people liked about the first one but just tightens up a few loose ends musically that we didn’t really know what we were doing with the first one, yeah I think it’s definitely a good progression. 

Where did you find inspiration for the album?

Well musically we listen to a lot of different music, so hopefully you can hear that in the songs. Content wise sean writes most of the demos, most of the lyrics and stuff, he’s got million things going on in his head most of the time, so you can probably hear that in the lyrics. Most of them are kind of romantically charged again like the first album was. It’s probably more mature sounding, lyrically I would say. 

How would you describe the writing process for this album?

Writing process we’re pretty slow first and for most. Obviously we took three years; well we didn’t actually spend 3 year writing we probably spent about a year and a half to two years writing all the songs. 

So usually sean writes a demo at home, records it on his computer and sends out an email with a bunch of demos and we learn what we can and then go into the rehearsal room and play it as a band to see what works and what doesn’t work and add our own little ideas and then get like a rough demo together. Then go into the studio and sometimes we change like the song like a lot in the studio and sometimes it’s pretty much done exactly as the demo is. 

Quite often we end up, Sean ends up writing the lyrics like on the last day of recording as well so sometimes it’s all planned really well and sometimes it’s very spur of the moment with us, which is probably a good thing. It’d be weird if it was the exact same each time.

Did you come across any obstacles when creating this album, writing or producing wise?

Mainly to do with selecting what songs would make it really. If we had a demo we really liked sometimes maybe our label wouldn’t think it was that strong and sometimes they are pushing for a song that we didn’t like very much. Sometimes we change our minds on some songs once they’re recorded we listen and back, we’re like aw nah it’s just not good enough we need to write another song and then the label will be like ‘nah you’ve got to keep this one, put this one on blah blah’. In terms of obstacles we don’t really fight too much as a band but usually it’s just other people involved that have a say. Which is totally normal and we need that as well, but usually that’s the main obstacle. It’s just trying to please everyone, but we didn’t have too many obstacles really, it was a pretty smooth process. 

I guess one main one was finding the right producer really because we went through about 3 or 4 people trying to find someone and no one was available. Finally we found Scott Horscroft to do it, which was our lifesaver, he was good. 

What was it like working with Scott and at The Grove Studios?

Scott’s a really, he’s pretty hands off which is good, like he knows what he likes and he knows what he wants us to do in the studio in terms of our song writing. So he was pretty hands off when we were recording, like we would usually sit down with the engineer for the day, he was a handy guy, Jackson, and like track out stuff and Scott would come back at night, listen to the tracks, give feedback and maybe do a bit of mixing or a bit more recording at night and then repeat that process for about a month and that’s how we came up with our album. He’s pretty hands off which was good for us I reckon, it’s nice to now that someone trusts that you can, you know, take care of yourself in terms of music and just get him to come and polish it up. 

You’re back on tour at the end of September, are there any shows or places you’re excited about revisiting? 

Definitely excited to play in the Enmore again in Sydney. That’s a great venue, we’ve played there once before but it’s the first time playing our own show there. So that will be pretty good. I’ve heard the Rosemount in Perth is a good venue, I don’t think we’ve played there, so that should be good but no not really, apart from those two places we’re just excited to play new songs really it doesn’t matter where we’re doing it, as long as people rock up and want to hear the new stuff then we will be ready. 

Do you have any surprises for the live shows? Some things you haven’t done before? 

There’s a couple of ideas floating around, maybe involving some kind of celebrity dancer in Brisbane, can’t really guarantee too much detail obviously because that will ruin the surprise but that was being kicked around. 

In terms of like production I think we’re going to try and work on a bigger lighting show than the ‘Evie’ tour, the tour we just finished. Just because it’s bigger venues I think it’s always nice to see a band put in a bit of effort with the visuals with the bigger venues to make it more of a spectacle. We’ll work on the visual side of things I think for this tour and hopefully we just have the money to do that because it’s pretty expensive.

So you guys played Splendour In The Grass a few weeks ago. How was that experience?

It was good ,it was very hot for a performance I didn’t think it was going to be that hot but when we played it was about 3:00pm and the sun just perfectly aligned and you know, our eyeliner was just wading down us, we were all just dripping with sweat after just 10 seconds of the set. It was ridiculously hot for a show we’d do in Australia but the crowd was excellent. We had easily the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to. So that was great and we got a couple of great photos that makes us look way more famous than we probably are which is good. 

We played pretty well, a festival sets always kinda weird on stage because sometimes you just can’t hear what you’re doing, your monitors are all off and something always goes wrong but it was fun, it was really fun. 

So the direction you’ve gone with this album, music wise, did you always plan this or did it kind of all just come together? 

We definitely don’t look into the future very far as a band. We kind of just do what we feel like at the time, but no, it wasn’t really a planned direction it’s just a natural evolution I think. It was a Different instantiation on this one. I think we had more time in the studio in general for this album to play with that. Our last album was pretty, we were cutting it pretty fine at the end so we didn’t really get much time to listen back to stuff and add things. This album we did get like an extra 10 days at the end, I think, to kinda listen back to the tracks and see if we needed to add anything, which is good because we ended up giving each song another 10 standards of stuff which, you can probably hear on the songs. It definitely sounds a lot more full than the first album in terms of the layers I’d say.  

Do you have any plans after this next tour? A new album? Another tour? 

I don’t know actually, after this tour I think we’re going to try and maybe go back to Asia because we’ve done a couple of tours around South East Asia and around there so we’ll try and keep that up and see how the album goes here if we can do another tour or 2 in Australia before we record again that’d be great. I think we want to start writing as soon as possible after this album because we didn’t start writing until like 18 months after the first album was released. So this time we want to get cracking on that as soon as possible really. Hopefully we’ll combine touring and writing a bit more this time around because the first time was basically just touring, no writing and then no touring and all writing so it’d be better to kind of combine the two this time.

How do your overseas shows differ to the ones you play in Australia? 

The crowds are always different depending on where you go. For example in Japan the crowd is so quiet, they just don’t really vocalize much in the crowd in Japan. It’s out of respect to the performer but our performance really, it’s really kind of weird because we’re used to crowds that are a bit wild. So every crowd and every cultures different and that’s really reflective sometimes but you just have to trust that they’re digging it and you just perform the exact same. Sometimes it is pretty interesting with the different crowds reactions that you get internationally. 

Do you have a favourite country to play in, besides Australia, of course? 

Let me think, The Philippines is cool. It’s just a cool country and the gigs we’ve played there have just been really awesome. The venues we’ve played at have been great but anywhere in South East Asia is really so fun to tour because all the countries are really close together but they’re all so different as well. It’s kinda like Europe; everything is close together but so many different cultures in such a small space, compared to Australia. Yeah so I would say South East Asia is the funnest place to tour and in particular The Philippines, it’s a great country.  

Do you have a favourite song off the album? 

I do have a favourite song off the album; my favourite song is Wurl actually. I think its track 4? Yeah I don’t know why, I’ve just always found that it sounds like an effortless song as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always loved that song since we did the demo. I really love that so that’s probably my favourite song on the album, I’d say. 

Written by Gabrielle Clement