Dune Rats sign the office bong and tell us about their new record
A morning well spent with Danny Beugs and BC Michaels.
Dune Rats are a rare breed, and not only because of their Ozzy-esque tolerance to partying, touring, and the rest of the behaviour which made them famous. They’re rockstars, but ones you wouldn’t be afraid to invite to the pub for a beer. Fact is, they’ll probably say yes.
Their third album Hurry Up And Wait is littered with the silliness we’ve all grown to love. The intro is a voicemail from someone named Bobby D asking the band back to his place for bags. The second track is an homage to Bobby D himself, the chorus a repetitive scream of “crazy motherfucker.” Then there’s a song about talking bongs.
Speaking of bongs. When frontman Danny Beugs and drummer BC Michaels came by the office, we took the opportunity to deck out the office billy with their signatures and a hand-drawn Dunies logo.
We also did an interview.
HAPPY: You didn’t really go into Hurry Up And Wait with any idea of what it would be, is that right?
DANNY: We wrote a shit ton of songs and just thought, if we write as many songs as possible then we’d get a good… 11, 12 of them?
HAPPY: About an album’s length?
DANNY: Well there were a lot that didn’t gel with this album so we’ve actually written a lot for the next one as well. That’ll be a little bit different to this one. So it was kind of good for once to maybe be a little ahead – marginally. We wrote a bunch of good songs with good people and came up with 12… 11?
BC: 11 with an intro.
HAPPY: I’ve listened to it, that intro’s special.
DANNY: What do you reckon about the intro?
HAPPY: Is it a real voicemail?
HAPPY: Well I was gonna ask about that later, but let’s go. Who’s Bobby D?
BC: He’s this dude that we met at a festival in the Central Coast, and he had a bootleg Dune Rats hat on. We just kicked it off and became mates, then Danny gave him his number and in the early morning he left that voicemail. Years later we were like ‘fuck, we gotta put that out.’
DANNY: And it was actually the first song we’d written off this album, after coming off touring the last album. We were in BC’s apartment and that voicemail was the real funny thing that we were into. He’s got old people who live above him and we were just screaming into his home microphone, “crazy motherfucker!” What did they say the next day?
BC: Sue, who lives upstairs, a bit of an older lady, she said “I heard you making that song about motherfuckers yesterday.”
HAPPY: So you took Bobby up on his offer?
Both nod enthusiastically.
DANNY: He was stoked, actually. We only came out that we’d wrote the song in his name like three weeks ago.
BC: He didn’t even remember leaving the voicemail.
DANNY: We had to send him the voicemail! So that he was down to still have it.
HAPPY: Well it’s on record now, it’s there forever. I thought he might be a fan – the song Bobby D really sounds like it’s for all your fans, in a way.
DANNY: It’s good the message got across!
HAPPY: It’s been about three years since you dropped the last album, and you’ve been pretty much touring ever since. How do you find yourselves spending the week or two off these days?
BC: I went to the beach this summer and did some boogie boarding… what did you get up to, Danny?
DANNY: Uh, I took up smoking!
BC: Danny took up smoking.
DANNY: Yeah, I took up smoking cigarettes. We still talk, like, every day. We’re all still doing stuff but we live in different places; me and Brett live on the South Coast and BC just moved down to Brunswick for summer. I can’t imagine him going back to Brissie.
BC: We’re happy to talk to each other, we just don’t wanna look at each other.
DANNY: No FaceTime.
HAPPY: Keep it online.
DANNY: It’s pretty confronting when people FaceTime you out of the blue, as well.
BC: When you’re sitting on your couch with the double chin there.
HAPPY: When you’re on the road, is that the best or the worst place to write new tunes?
BC: We say we’re going to do it but we never really do.
DANNY: Worst place to write tunes, best place to come up with ideas for tunes. ‘Cause we’re all just bored as shit in the van, then we’ll be like ‘that’s fucking funny’, then write that down.
BC: That’s where Mountains Come and Go But Aussie Pub Rock Lives On came from, we came up with that in Switzerland in the van with Gooch Palms. We were laughing about it, turned it into a funny song, now it’s closing the album.
HAPPY: Some of your the genius moments come out when you’re half asleep. Or half drunk.
DANNY: Or in the shower. When your mind’s concentrating on your huge balls.
BC: I was sleeping one time and thought I was coming up with the best song ever, and woke up and put it in my voice memos. I listened to it the next day and it was the worst fucking thing I’d ever heard.
HAPPY: Back to your fans like Bobby D for a second. Is there a difference in your mind between the fans who’ve been with you since day dot and the newer, young guard?
DANNY: Fans is a weird word, I’d probably say people who froth our music, I don’t know. We’re not really a ‘fan’ band.
BC: Like when people meet us they’re not like “holy shit!”, it’s like “what’re you doing?”
DANNY: I think all of them are pretty similar to us. The ones who have followed us for ages we’re really good mates with now. Like from when we were playing to ten people in the Goldie, we still know a lot of that crew and our Byron mates. They’re pretty wild dudes. They all have kids or are in jail now, so that’s two extremes. Then there was that young kid in Adelaide who jumped off a balcony and broke his… something. Younger kids are pretty wild ‘cause they like doing stupid shit. It’s good.
DANNY: It was fun to be a part of. Coming up, really early on, venues weren’t like ‘come and play these shows’, you had to really knock down doors to get a start. Then we’d just play with friends’ bands and bring each others’ crowds in a really – I hate the fucking term – a really grassroots way. We just spoke to Shane from DZ, we’re still mates and we’re going to get beers after this.
BC: It was our first tour ever.
DANNY: It’s a really good time to play with mate’s bands, not just play to get ahead.
HAPPY: Thanks for signing our bong, by the way.
DANNY: That’s alright.
HAPPY: I haven’t personally had to buy a bong in almost a decade.
DANNY: Sure, man.
HAPPY: But I didn’t realise they’re illegal to sell now! The guy had to take me into the back room to show me.
DANNY: Did he show you the goods?
HAPPY: Well, not those goods. But it’s like buying branded cigarettes now, it’s all under the table.
DANNY: Did he have them there as well?
HAPPY: Probably, if you asked. How do you navigate the weed thing overseas?
BC: It’s pretty legal now. In Canada and America people give out business cards for their shit.
DANNY: Plus when you do a video where you’re smoking as many bongs as possible, people just come to the show with weed. So you don’t really struggle too often to find it…
BC: Amongst other things.
DANNY: …we’re very blessed.
HAPPY: Have weed businesses hit you up?
DANNY: Back in the day we did some stuff, but weed nowadays is… back in the day it was still a bit taboo to do it, but now it’s just like any brand. We don’t really associate with any brands, even if it’s fun stuff like weed.
HAPPY: That’s where I was going with this – in the US and Canada right now it feels like a massive business.
DANNY: It is.
HAPPY: There’s a track on the new record called If My Bong Could Talk… how’d that come about?
DANNY: Just staring at a bong…
BC: We were writing songs for ages and just thought we’d do a funny one.
DANNY: You know,we did a few that were a bit more serious with metaphors and stuff, then as a pressure valve thing we’d write If My Bong Could Talk.
HAPPY: So every couple of songs you need that release?
DANNY: You need to have that element of your band, that fun-ness. Everyone these days wants to write a million singles to put on Spotify, not an album. Everyone’s trying to do 12 single-worthy bits, but it’s those things in between that makes it a fun album to listen to.
HAPPY: Like voicemails?
DANNY: Like voicemails.
BC: We were gonna call it If My Dog Could Talk.
DANNY: Yeah, to make it more radio friendly. But then we kind of thought…
BC: ‘They’re not playing this anyway!’
Hurry Up And Wait is out January 31.
Interview by Tom Cameron
Photos by Charlie Hardy