After naming their band off a song from a J-rock band The Pillows, Australian indie rock band Last Dinosaurs (vocalist Sean Caskey, guitarist Lachlan Caskey, bassist Michael Sloane, and drummer Dan Koyama) have been receiving global attention from their previous records: In A Million Years, Wellness, and Yumeno Garden. Even getting heavy rotation on Triple J radio leading to performances at big-name festivals also touring with Foals, Foster the People, to Matt & Kim. Now, Last Dinosaurs are headlining their own shows in America. After their soundcheck, frontman Sean Caskey spoke to us about sold out tours, writing in Japan with brother Lachlan, and more!
The band recently embarked on their first U.S tour and sold out every date, including 2 nights in San Francisco. What took you so long to get to the U.S. and what were your expectations?
We didn’t have any expectations, to be honest. I think it took longer because we didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t real. They would say come to Texas or Brazil and stuff. If we do, who’s gonna be there? The only way to find out was put on free shows like Chicago, New York, and L.A. Then later our manager told us that our shows were sold out in a minute! We had to reorganize and get bigger venues. It was going crazy. We were shocked!
You took a different approach towards writing Yumeno Garden, where you traveled to Japan. What was the original mindset for the album and how did you build upon that?
We went to Japan to figure out the album in isolation. It’s a place we’ve been before. We had access to this beautiful studio. There were no distractions and just complete alienation. It’s just the best place to try and figure out who we are and what we need to do. With the third album, we had a choice to go more us or more pop. Indie rock is how I grew up, what stimulates me the most, and what comes out honestly. A lot of the music I was listening to at the time was authentic. Maybe not the best recordings, but the truest sounding songs because there was no interference from anyone else. I envied that natural process of creation and distribution. This is why this album has been DIY.
Lachlan contributed a lot to this album with the creation and where he sings. Was that intentional or was it just the right timing? Will we see more of his contributions on future material?
It just happened to be the right timing. He had songs, I had songs, and I was like let’s just release them. When we went to Japan with a bunch of songs, it came down to 5-5. Then I had to figure out the album order half of mine and his. I made his the whole B-Sides. It’s kinda like two EPs. When you flip it over, it sounds like another start of an epic album. I really thought about it in a vinyl sense. We structured it for vinyl. I listen to records quite a bit and the ritual of flipping over a record needs to make sense. We did that on the second album Wellness. I have no doubt he’ll be featured on the next material. He could have more songs than me possibly. At the end of the day, it’s about the album and what works.
The band has been through quite a bit from working on your debut album gaining recognition, a lineup change, and the push and pull of the expectations from the business side. What lessons have you learned as a band for the past decade?
I realized that you have to listen to yourself. Do what you want to do and believe in yourself. I got so many kinds of advice from different people who didn’t know us. It’s not just about me or Last Dinosaurs, but about our fans. I feel that we have a strong connection with our fans because our stories and music are relatable. They always tell us in the meet & greets every night. It’s because it came within us as true and honest. That’s what real music should be! Real bands should just do their own authentic s**t and not listen to people who don’t have an idea of who you are. The best advice I can give is don’t listen to any label unless they’re the freakin coolest label like 4AD. Being on a label is very restrictive. I remember when we first signed, we were really young. In my mind, it was the finish line getting a contract like ‘Hell yeah, we did it!’ Little did we know it was the beginning of a very difficult time. Now we’re off our label, which has been great. The freedom to make our own music, release it whenever we want, and do it our way. This album has been an absolute pleasure because it feels like ours.
The karaoke style in “Italo Disco” is cool and fun, are you guys fan of Smash Mouth since it was referenced in the video?
Before that meme happened, we used to sing that song all the time. We just thought it was a ridiculous song. But now I’m hooked with it’s The BoyBoy West Coast “You Was At The Club“. It’s so good, we’re spreading the word. We’ve been singing his song all day and he’s been sharing us on his IG story. We’ve had him on our guest list. It’s kinda like a Smash Mouth situation, but funnier!
We dig the synth-driven/ drum machine track “Happy”. Who inspired that song?
Before the second album, I broke up with my girlfriend at that time. Then starting Yumeno Garden we’re kinda getting back together again. Although I make music, I’m just terrible at communication. It was the only way that I could just pour everything out. It was only meant for her but ended up on the album. It’s only synth because it was just one of those days where I had to get it out and make this song. I was trying to record it using an acoustic guitar and it was sounding really bad. So I just programmed everything and did rough vocals. “Happy” was really honest. It’s those songs that you don’t have to think too much, release what’s in my heart and mind. The lyrics are melancholy, about love, and a bittersweet feeling.
“Yumeno” means dream in Japanese. What other dreams do you and Last Dinosaurs have?
(Laughs) I want a Lamborghini. I just want a nice house for my dog and a cool basic studio. I want to keep traveling the world as much as possible and seeing all the fans who’ve been waiting for us. In the fall, we have another big American tour. All this stuff happening is beyond my dreams! Playing Mercury Lounge where The Strokes started – I didn’t even dream that far. My dreams were plain just playing small venues in my hometown. We did that early on. I’m just going for the ride, making the best music we can, and playing big shows we can.
If another band formed and used one of your songs to name after, which song would it be?
It would have to be “Shallow Boy“! It’s fun to play live too.