Dunes - Interview
published: 26 / 3 / 2018
Adrian Huggins, the bassist of rising Newcastle alternative/stoner rock band Dunes, talks to John Clarkson about his group's intensive work ethic and their recently released second EP.
Dunes are a ferocious-sounding new band from Newcastle. The group, a trio, which combines the angst and discordance of Nirvana with the musical dexterity and stoner rock of Queens of the Stone Age, first formed in late 2016. Since they have adopted an intensive work rate, and have released two EPs and played over thirty gigs. Dunes was formed by bassist and backing vocalist Adrian Huggins when his previous Deltasound folded. Deltasound, an indie band who had combined guitars with a dance sound, had been together almost a decade and had released a 2012 album, ‘When the Attack Warnings Sound’, as well as various singles and EPs. “We felt that life had got in the way,” Huggins, who is in his mid-30s and the father of a small daughter, tells Pennyblackmusic. “We had all got married within a year or two of each other when we were in Deltasound, and several children had come along. It didn’t stop everything but it meant that people had to take a back seat for a while. It was never a problem. If anyone had to take a few months off to do that, that was fine as we were all friends first, but it got to a stage where we were not playing any gigs at all. By this stage we had done the album and I think all that we wanted to, so we just eventually put a full stop on it. It just kind of faded out really.” Dunes went through various changes in its earliest stages as various members came and went, and it briefly worked as a four-piece, before settling on a line-up that as well as Huggins consists of John Davies (lead vocals and guitar) and Nikky Watson (drums). Both Davies and Watson had played in various other hard and stoner rock bands in Newcastle. “None of us knew each other before,” reflects Huggins. “We had to all get to know each other and a feel for the dynamic of the band, but there was a really good chemistry between us pretty much instantly. We fell into roles really quickly, not just about writing and playing, but who was going to do the promotional side of things and the bookings and make sure that the gear is alright, the kind of things that bands are not necessarily always very good at.” The group’s five-song debut EP, simply titled ‘Dunes EP’, was recorded in May of last year and released in September. Its follow-up, which was recorded in November like its predecessor at The Sandcastle in Newcastle with Graham Thompson who has previously worked with Frankie & The Heartstrings, again runs to five songs and came out in February. The new EP ‘Dunes EP 2’ is terrific. Davies and Watson’s ricocheting guitars bounce off and build on each other escalating ever forwards, while Watson’s drums shift from tom tom beats to blasts of shrapnel-like sound. For all their discordance though Dunes are always underpinned with a sense of compelling melody. Intense, abrasive opening number ‘Everything is Okay’ is a cry of hard-worn triumph against the odds. “I don’t need you/I don’t need you,” sings Davies in its chorus line. ‘Black Bridge’ is a doom-laden, sinister Sabbath-esque number, reflecting on depression and relationship turmoil (“I only miss you when I am gone/We only talk when we are done”). The whiplash ‘Simian Ghost’, the shortest track at just over three minutes compared to the five minute or beyond running time of most of the tracks, is a damning indictment of a capitalist, greedy society in which a small percentage become wealthier while the majority suffer (“Remember you’re never free/Having been screwed by the economy.”). From the outset Dunes have played a lot of gigs. Huggins has learned, however, a lot from his experiences with Deltasound, who started out by playing shows intensively and then rarely at all, blaming this on too many poor choices of venue at the start of their career and choosing instead to focus on studio work. “With Deltasound we were taking any gig, any gig going, any night, any place,” he reflects, “whereas with Dunes we have all been through it, each and every one of us with our other bands. What we did with Dunes was we were really picky about what we played initially, but then we have been offered stuff from that which is of a better standard than Deltasound ever got. We have played a lot, but it has been a lot better class of gigs.“ “We have had a lot of really good feedback,” concludes Huggins about Dunes, whose recent support gigs have included Monster Magnet, Idles and Holy Fuck. “People have said that they have really enjoyed us and then a month or two down the line promoters have said, ‘I have got this gig and I really want you to play” or ‘I have got this band coming out and I would like you to support them.' We have done a lot of good shows recently. We are hoping for more in the future.” Dunes have shows booked in London and Liverpool. They will be playing two support dates in Newcastle and Edinburgh for acclaimed Swedish blues rock band Pontus Snubb’s Wreck of Blues on April 12th and 13th. They have also been confirmed to play the Evolution Emerging Festival in June, and are releasing a video for 'Seapig' on the 4th May. With their third EP, which will be released later this year, already planned, they are a group that we will be hearing a lot more from in the months ahead.
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