On the heels of “Progenitor”, “Aurora Majesty” has really showcased what Dune can do with their instruments. One of the best progressive metal sounds I have heard this year. A rich complex sound with layers upon layers to be discovered. When I got the chance to talk with Dune, I naturally jumped at it in an effort to gain some insight into the band.
Tell us about the origins of Dune
Simon and I (Victor) moved to Edinburgh about 2 years ago, both of us were looking to start a band and after few months of jamming we met probably the most enthusiastic drummer ever, Dudley. After having few people trying out on vocals we went instrumental for a while (as we hadn’t found a vocal/riff match that we thought worked). Through playing in Atragon at the time, I met Dan (who was playing in Roll on Three and had shared a few stages) and I thought he would fit in Dune guitar wise. It also turned out that Dan used to do a bit of vocals in his old grind bands, so he also took that back up. We got offered a support slot with Eyehategod before Dan even jammed once with us, couple weeks later, the show went really well and the lineup has stuck ever since.
Are both of the EPs, “Progenitor” and “Aurora Majesty” concept albums?
Yes both of them are. We started writing “Progenitor” with that in mind and really wanted to have a one piece kind of album, with different movements and changes. Somehow we wanted to have the music transporting you. The story line behind “Progenitor” followed that journey, with a man travelling space physically as well as mentally. There is also some kind of cycle we wanted to create in which the big bang marks the beginning as well as the end of the EP.
“Aurora Majesty” is a much more dark, violent (and shorter) story. Its based around the consequences of faster than light space travel going horribly wrong. A rescue team find a long lost space ship, but soon find that instead of the crew, the ship holds a much more sinister, insectoid beings. The two tracks lyrics are written from the main protagonists viewpoint.
Faster than the speed of light travel, you mean like the movie Event Horizon or quite possibly like the short story called The Jump by one Mr. Stephen King?
In this case, its a mix of Event Horizon and Dan’s obsession with the 40k universe. Although some people would say that EH was actually influenced by 40k, so we’ll compromise and go for ‘warp based post relativistic jumping”
I know you are all huge science fictions fans, is there where you drew your inspiration for these EPs?
For “Progenitor”, Dan was reading ‘Time Ships’ by Stephen Baxter, which ends up covering a lot of the theme of space and time travel, so that was a big influence on the lyric writing at the time. A lot of Alistair Reynolds also gets read – the huge-scope space opera stuff is a really good base for the progressive element of the music writing. “Aurora Majesty” definitely has a ‘Space Hulk meets Event Horizon’ vibe about some of the narrative though.
Give me your top 5 underrated science fiction books, and I will start it off by throwing my one out there, its a book called Canticle for Lebowitz – great books but hard to get through.
Not sure were that much experts to get through 5 ‘underrated’ books, and ashamed to say we haven’t been doing anywhere near as much reading as we probably should in the last year. However I can list off a few recommended pieces. As already mentioned above, “Time Ships” by Stephen Baxter is a great read. It was commissioned due to the 100th year anniversary of H.G. Wells Time Machine. The Incal by Jodorowsky/Moebius and La Trilogie Nikopol by Enki Bilal are both stunning collections of graphic novels. Recently read Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky after finishing the game series of the same name, and really wish id read the book earlier. Have just started upon the journey that is the Horus Heresy series too, I think a lot of people overlook some of the 40k sci-fi (it can be a bit hit and miss due to different writers) but am really enjoying Horus Rising by Dan Abnett (have hammered through nearly the whole thing in a couple of days since borrowing it last weekend).
Give us some thoughts and back story for Into the Travellers’s Hall
ITTH is the first part of the story, the discovery of the lost ship, and its insectoid ‘crew’. Bad stuff goes down! Musically we wanted to go heavier with what we were doing, the guitars are lower tuned that anything on progenitor. As usual it’s all about the big riffs but its a more demanding and technical track than what we’ve done before (but so much fun to play).
Please do the same for ‘Of Blade and Carapace’
‘Of Blade and Carapace’ follows the second part of the narrative, where our protagonist is first fighting for his life, escaping, and finally having to deal with the ongoing threat of an alien-filled ship heading earthwards – luckily he has some rather nasty ‘use only in case of armageddon’ class weaponry up his sleeve. Its a more upbeat track than the first in order to follow with the more frantic pace of the narrative, and is the first time we’ve used elements of punk/crust in our music. It took Dudley a bit of practice to get used to the new D-beat regime, but he totally nails them now. Again there are more technical elements than what we’ve done before, mixing straight up crust riffs with different time signatures and whole progressive sections…it was quite some work when writing the music and in the studio but feels totally natural now.
There is so much going on here that I have to ask about your musical influences
It is a big mix of everything really, as the band have some different backgrounds musically – we all like the straight up riffs that bands like High on Fire, Sleep, and Tragedy use, but then some of us are into the more progressive/post stuff…Neurosis, Mastodon, Inter Arma,…and then there are some of us into the crust/black/grind side of things, which is also slowly starting to creep into the music. It can sometimes be a bit of a battle to stay focused, but hopefully at the end of the day, we still sound like Dune even with a big mix of stuff.
Have you played your new EP live if so how has it been received
Yeah, whilst writing the songs we played a few different versions of them live, it can be great to see how people react, and see how certain breaks etc work (or don’t!) live, and that might change what we decide to finally record. The tracks were recorded a few months ago too, so they’ve been in the set for a good while now, but they seem to be going down well at gigs.
Do you struggle to translate your material live or is it a rather seamless transition
Generally, I’d say were managing (hopefully!). The newer material as mentioned is a fair bit more technical than the older tracks, so thats been an adjustment when making sure everything is tight and the sound is right. As I say, some of there tracks we’ll trial live before settling on the finished thing, which is great for finding out what works and what doesn’t. We actually switched down to just two vocals after “Progenitor”, as although the tripled vocals sounded quite good on record, live it was occasionally a bit messy, and using two lets us control things a bit better. Getting a good number of gigs under out belts also helps, as you then get used to all different sized/equipped venues.
Is there a full length release in the works
There is indeed. We’ve started working on it, and we will be locking ourselves in the practice room quite a bit over the winter to write new material and argue over riffs.
Is the full length going to be a concept album?
Most likely ha! Were working on at the moment, but were still figuring out some of the details/story archs/characters (hell sometimes I think it’d be worth writing a short book for it!). What i can say is you may see a return of certain protagonists from the past releases (its a big universe out there!).
Why not write a book, I mean Coheed and Cambria did it with a graphic novel to a lot of success?
Funnily enough we’ve actually talked about that a couple of times. With this new album, planning out all the characters/how the story is going to work is probably a bit similar to the early stages of a book, so if we ever found the time, it’d definitely be on the ‘to-do’ list.
Whats does the rest of 2014 and 2015 hold for Dune
We’ve got few shows with Baccus Barracus in the north of Scotland this weekend, and a show with Mantar and Inter Arma in December. Very exited about playing with Inter Arma by the way, the new record they’ve just put out is immense.
For 2015 we’ve got a tour planned in March with the first lot of the shows in the UK sorted. We’re still in the middle of booking the second week, but they should be out in Europe. In the meantime we ‘re going to be spending a lot of time writing new songs and hopefully have enough material to record a full length mid-end of 2015.
Any festivals planned for 2015
We’ll be playing the first edition of Sonic Mass in Edinburgh (which has an awesome lineup… Space Witch, Hey Collosus, Pigsx7 – its gonna be seriously loud!). For other fests though, theres nothing currently lined up, but we’re happy to play for anyone that’d have us!
Any final words for current and future fans of Dune
Thanks for the support and the reception for “Progenitor”, 2014 has been a blast. and hope you enjoy “Aurora Majesty”. Beware the Sardaukar!