The Brisbane band DIAL recently spilled the tea in an exclusive interview with Happy Mag, confessing to sucking their own money dry on their musical journey, but according to them, it’s worth every penny.
Despite the empty pockets, DIAL’s music more than showcases their distinct trajectory with breezy, 70s-inspired guitar strums and sultry vocals that will make you want to hop on a bike and pedal into the sunset.
Earlier this year, the Brisbane band shared their first official single Pink and Blue, a sunny, 70s-indebted ditty that marked their penchant for shoegaze blues. The four-piece amplified the whimsey yet again on the sophomore offering Ego, which arrived late last month and further outlines DIAL’s distinct trajectory.
Drenched in nostalgic guitar strums and punctuated by smokey vocals, Ego is the kind of leisurely, sonic bliss that might soundtrack a bike ride on a summer’s day, with instrumentals that somehow muster the vibe of refracting sunlight. It’s a feat that could only be achieved through the group’s collective talents — which come namely in bandmates Matthew Leo, Hugh Daly, Elijah David, and Robert Thornton.
Fresh off the release of Ego and with a handful of live shows under their belt, we caught up with DIAL for chat on all things new music, fishing, weed and the “cesspit” that is social media. Check out Happy Mag’s full interview with each bandmate below, and head here to listen to DIAL’s latest single Ego. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the band’s debut EP, which is set for release sometime in May.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
BOBBY: We all just finished working this morning and are currently sitting in Matt & Elijah’s living room having a couple drinks before packing for a gig tonight. We are playing Greaser in Fortitude Valley with Bathtub Tony & Socket. It’s our first time playing there so we are pretty keen.
MATT: We started filming the music video for Ego last night at Black Bear Lodge and we will finish it tonight. Lauryn (Elijah’s Girlfriend) and I are doing it together.
HAPPY: What do you love/not love about where you live?
HUGH: We all really love Brisbane. Although Bobby has lived here forever, Elijah, Matt and I moved here last year to pursue music. In that time we’ve played so many shows with so many great people. It’s been really fun.
ELIJAH: The music scene is also unbelievably supportive.
MATT: I cant believe how many people get after it on a Thursday night
HAPPY: Describe your average work day?
ELIJAH: I work in a record store called “Dutch Vinyl”, Matt is an Orderly at a Hospital in Brisbane, Bobby is a fishing journalist and Hugh… Hugh, worked on a weed farm and currently produces pharmaceuticals drugs on a massive scale. They call it bio-medicine or something?
HAPPY: What about your ultimate day?
ELIJAH: Doing nothing preferably. Steer clear of trouble.
HAPPY: Tell us about your creative community.
MATT: We don’t really work with many people outside ourselves but the Brisbane scene is pretty influential in general. There’s people like Sophie Delany (who curates art shows for up and coming artists) that are really pushing Brisbane in the right direction. It also seems like every band in Brisbane wants every other band to succeed… well most of them anyway. If you can get around talking to someone’s manager, everyone is just keen to play music and I like that.
HAPPY: Can you talk about the origin of your band’s name? How does it reflect your music or identity?
ELIJAH: “DIAL” was originally inspired by Squid’s song The DIAL. Hugh came up with it and originally Matt didn’t like it, but I really did so we stuck with it. The word DIAL also pops up a bunch in our favourite bands, for example: Dial Up by RIDE, Left of the Dial by The Replacements.
HAPPY: How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard your music before? What sets you apart from other bands in your genre?
BOBBY: Our sound is definitely shoegazey, but I also think there’s a lot of blues influence on the music. Elijah and I used to jam heavy blues stuff with another guy when we first met. We had the intention of starting a blues band until that fell apart. When we started playing with Matt and Hugh, it did all come together pretty seamlessly. We draw a lot of inspiration from bands like Spacemen 3, Verve and the Brian Jonestown Massacre who all align with that droned out, super loud rock and roll sound.
HAPPY: Many independent bands struggle to make a living solely from their music. How do you sustain yourselves financially, and what sacrifices have you had to make to pursue your passion?
MATT: We don’t make a living solely from music. We fund the band by working jobs and the band sucks our money dry but it’s worth it. We all love music and it’s a sacrifice we are willing to make. One day we will be rich and that day will be good.
HAPPY: As an independent band, how do you utilise social media and other digital platforms to connect with fans and promote your music? What are the benefits and challenges of this approach?
MATT: Social media is a cesspit. But it does help people know we are playing shows, so it’s good for that. And sharing selfies.
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HAPPY: Your music can be described as both nostalgic and forward-thinking. How do you balance honouring your influences while also pushing boundaries and evolving your sound?
MATT: I think having strong influences is the best thing a band can have. If you listen to good music, you’ll make good music. Easy as that. As people we all bring different influences to the songwriting process and everyone’s ideas are heard. In the end, all of our songs sound like DIAL. We aren’t really thinking about anything but making music that we like.
HAPPY: The music industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, with streaming services and social media reshaping the landscape. How do you see your role as an independent band in this new era of music?
MATT: We only know what the music industry is today, we weren’t around for what it was, so we just take it as it is. Regarding social media, I believe it has the strongest influence on a band’s success now more than ever. Promoters care about numbers, not how good your song is. They want a product they can sell so we are just bullshitting our way through it and it seems to work.
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HAPPY: What did you listen to growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
It seems like we all listened to very different stuff before starting DIAL. Matt listened to Sonic Youth, RIDE and The Verve. Hugh listened to The Cure, New Order and Oasis. Bobby listened to Parquet Courts, Tess Parks, Magnetic Fields.
HAPPY: Can you tell us a bit about the recording process for Ego, with Zane Nicholls and Nick Ashby?
Recording Ego with Zane and Nick was great. We all jumped in the studio and just bashed out takes until we liked one. Then Hugh and Elijah did their overdubs.
HAPPY: Is there a comfortable formula you have settled on as a band when it comes to recording?
We’ve been recording live as a band and we all agree that that feels the best and generally presents the music in the best way possible.
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HAPPY: What’s next for your band? Are there any upcoming projects, collaborations, or performances that you’re excited about?
Ego is our next single and we are playing Black Bear Lodge on Saturday March 25th with Wet Season and Love Banana to celebrate the release. After that, it’s our debut EP. It is due to be released in late May and we are playing The Brightside on June 18th with Square. It’s going to be sick!
HAPPY: Finally, what makes you happy?
Possums, guitar feedback, free alcohol and Hommus.