“DRINK THE VOMIT!”
But before we get to that on-stage story from Prague in the Czech Republic, let’s recall who we’re dealing with here. Dune Rats have been killing it as the loosest units of Australian rock, recently taking on the world in a musical brawl of mad antics.
“40 million shows across America, Canada and Europe for a few months,” explains BC Michaels, the drummer and co-founder with guitarist and vocalist Danny Beusa. “It’s pretty hard not to feel like a piece of shit.”
Michaels is on the phone while heading to the beach in Newcastle for a rare moment of relaxation.
“You just wanna live your life at least for a couple of weeks of the year. Take a shit by yourself.”
The band has long lived the life of travelling rock hustlers, bending rules and minds on stage, screen and streets. One of the most difficult aspects of their journey together has been the erosion of comforts as basic as food.
“We were hungry for seven years,” says Michaels. “You’d do these tours and get paid nothing so we’d try to steal food. I was at this IGA in Perth and got caught stealing steaks. We had to put them back and we were fuckin’ starving. On another tour, one of the sound guys for the big band we were supporting wanted pingas all the time, so I just bought a bunch to sell him so we could eat something. We wouldn’t even take them, we just wanted the money for food.”
This may not come as a surprise to those of us familiar with their ratbag persona. The band has even started their own label, Ratbag Records, with the help of Warner Music, first signing Skegss in 2015. So, hopefully, the days of starvation are behind them.
For those not yet familiar, checking out the band’s video clips will be a revealing insight. Bullshit looks like the most fun you could have throwing a backyard rager.
“We thought if we’re gonna blow a whole bunch of cash on a video clip, we may as well buy a blow-up pool, a bunch of alcohol and have fun with the biggest bunch of legends and nutcases in Byron.”
We spoke about the video for Red Light Green Light from years back, in which Michaels and Beusa punch an assortment of bongs in rapid-fire for the duration of the track. While the band certainly features cannabis in their content, Michaels points out that it’s more just a casual influence in their lives.
“That video was five years ago. It just seemed easier to punch billies for three minutes than rent a green screen and pay for all this shit. Scott Green took three days to film, jetlagged after flying in from overseas. I probably would’ve rather just punched some more cones.
“Maybe we come across like we’re obsessed with weed, which I guess we were at one point. It comes up in our songs ‘cause we were stoned for six years straight at one point there. But, honestly, weed is like beer. If you’re with your mates, having a jam with some beers, it’s the same. After you’ve seen how it is in the US, Canada, Europe, you stop seeing it as you did when you were a kid. Singing about weed, it’s the same as a pub band singing about drinking beer. It’s just a bit of pot. Who gives a fuck?”
The Dunies are currently on the road for their huge FUCK YEAH LEDGE YEW! Aussie regional tour, hot off the back of the world tour. No wonder Michaels wanted a few days to shit by himself, though the ridiculousness has already begun again. Should be interesting to see the response of Aussie security to some of the blatant shit that goes down at their gigs.
“The first gig of our European tour,” says Michaels, “in Prague, we were fucked coming from Canada. We were drinking heaps, I started getting sick throughout the gig, so then we got a bucket next to the drum kit and I threw up in the bucket. This guy kept getting up on stage, a fuckin’ nuke, so I pressured him to drink the vomit on stage – got the whole crowd to go, ‘DRINK THE VOMIT!’
“So he drank the vomit and that made him throw up, then Brett [Jansch] and Danny [Beusa] threw up and Leroy [Macqueen, of The Gooch Palms], everyone was vomiting. Leroy was like, ‘What are you doing?’ ’cause it’s fucked for your vocal chords. Everyone’s throwing up on the first day of a 40,000 show tour.”
Michaels expects some loose behaviour on the current tour, too. Regional shows always have a particular flavour that differs from the capital cities, a flavour perfect for the palette of the Dune Rats.
“It’s fun to play away from capital cities. They don’t get as many shows so when we come through, people are quadruple-dropping pingas and throwing up everywhere. It’s fantastic.”
“What do your parents think of your music?” I had to ask.
“I didn’t really show my parents Dune Rats for ages but then they came to a show and fuckin’ loved it. I didn’t think they would but they’re really supportive, all our parents are. They’re glad we’re doing what we love doing and making somewhat of a living out of it. We can’t complain.”
15 June, The Wool Exchange, Geelong
16 June, Pier Bandroom, Frankston
17 June, Dunsborough Tavern, Dunsborough
18 June, Prince Of Wales, Bunbury
23 June, Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
24 June, Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
30 June, Dalrymple, Townsville
1 July, Magnums, Airlie Beach
2 July, The Giddy Goat, Rockhampton
30 September, Yours & Owls Festival, Stuart Park, Wollongong