INTERVIEW: Dunes | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As Newcastle stoner rock trio Dunes list the alt. music heavyweights they’ve been lucky enough to support since they formed in 2016, it’s evident that their hard work has paid dividends. They’ve opened for Idles (days after their first SXSW appearance), supported hugely influential stoner rock pioneers Monster Magnet and bagged slots with Jamie Lenman, Holy Fuck, Ginger Wildheart’s project Mutation and not forgetting American sludge heroes Red Fang. “As far as surreal moments go, supporting Red Fang in a working men’s club in Middlesbrough has to be up there; there was a meat raffle board in our dressing room,” laughs bassist Ade Huggins.

We’ve always pushed ourselves musically. We’ve never waited for things to happen, we’ve worked to make them happen,” continues Ade. “I think that drive is what has helped us create the opportunities we’ve had.”

Dunes were determined to kick things up a notch when it came to recording the follow-up to their 2019 debut Take Me To The Nasties, released via acclaimed local label Sapien Records. The plan was to head over to the States to record with stoner rock legend Dave Catching at his famous Rancho De La Luna studios in Joshua Tree, California, where the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss and Masters of Reality (to name but a small few), have recorded.

We’ve always pushed ourselves musically. We’ve never waited for things to happen, we’ve worked to make them happen

As 2020 played out, it became apparent that there would have to be a plan B. Never ones to stand still, Dunes decided to bite the bullet and record their second record themselves. So Gargoyles came to life in their rehearsal space, with drummer Nikky Watson steering the production helm. “Writing wise, the extra time we ended up with and the self-producing element, meant that we spent a lot of time really pulling everything apart,” explains Ade. “We made sure that everything was there for a reason; we really wanted it to sound like a cohesive piece that flowed well from start to finish.”

The resulting record is much darker and more reflective than its predecessor with, understandably, themes of isolation and loneliness. While Take Me To The Nasties immediately hit the listener with explosive riffs and driving grooves reminiscent of early QOTSA, Gargoyle focuses on doomier, more expansive soundscapes, replacing up-tempo swagger with a more pummelling, hard-edged sound.

The change in tone wasn’t really a conscious decision – a lot of these songs were a product of what we were all experiencing over the past couple of years,” says Nikky. “Although some of the subject matter could be considered to be dark, I would hope the delivery, and at times humorous approach, manages to show an optimistic outlook to the negative aspects of the collective experience of the last two years,” adds guitarist John Davies.

Indeed, things are looking more optimistic for Dunes in 2022 and beyond, with plans to begin writing their next record imminently plus plenty of gigs and festival appearances lined up, most notably London’s Desertfest, the ultimate festival for all things stoner, sludge and doom. It also looks like they may make it over to the States finally too… “One of our favourite experiences was playing Fuzz Festival in Stockholm at the end of 2021, and off the back of that we’re heading back to Sweden in April to play Fuzz Festival Malmö,” says Nikky. “We’re already in touch with a number of European festivals for 2023, and it’s looking likely that we’ll be heading over to play a festival in Austin, Texas next year, so we’re hoping to build in a bunch of dates while we’re there.”

Dunes release Gargoyle on 22nd April via Sapien Records. They play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Saturday 23rd April, supported by Earl of Hell, The Vessel and Tankengine.


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