Lately, we’ve been bringing you some heavy hitters from the west, and this time we’ve got something a bit different. Desert Dogs are the next sort-of chaotic hardcore-punk band coming out of Perth. They’ve got some clear influences, and when you hear it, that familiar feeling will give you all the warm and fuzzies – oh and that feeling to bang your f***ing head.
Drummer Josh Barker (JB) and bassist Tom Manton (TM) chucked on some hand sanny, and had a chat with us (in Melbourne) from the safety of their keyboards in Perth, while celebrating the release of their latest bangin’ single ‘What Moral Compass?’
For heavy music lovers out there, how would you describe the Desert Dogs sound?
JB: Hardcore rock and roll.
TM: Booze-soaked hardcore rock and roll!
JB: Ok, so we do not mind a tipple, but yeah, we all have our origins in punk, but are definitely embracing our heavier influences with this band. Taking influence from acts like Every Time I Die, The Bronx, Gallows and Refused. Desert Dogs is all about putting our own spin on that style of music.
Before we get into the track itself, what can you tell us about Desert Dogs as a group of people. How long have you been around and what brought the band together?
TM: We’ve known each other for years in the punk scene. Sometime in 2019, the time was finally right for us to jump in and start this new band.
JB: Yeah, we’ve been together for about a year, played our first gig in November and a few more in early 2020; obviously haven’t done much since then since the year has turned into a social shit show!
The track ‘What Moral Compass?’ fuses a whole raft of genres with punk elements, hard rock elements, and even some hardcore elements too – and you’ve been compared to bands like Every Time I Die. What can you tell us about the song musically, from your own point of view?
TM: First song we wrote together, experimenting with some of the sounds we wanted to play with, mish mash of different influences, comes through in the song.
JB: Our earlier songs were basically Wooly’s (Guitarist Joel Woolerson) ideas. This was the first song we wrote collectively. We wanted to experiment with a range of sounds and our influences, which probably explains the combination of melody, riffs, screaming and breakdowns. We’ve all loved what the other members brought to the table in past bands and really wanted to capture that.
Lyrically, the track seems pretty raw, and based on a vivid experience from what I’ve heard. Is there a story to the lyrics that you can share? Or more around what the song’s about?
TM: Yeah, one of our band members went through some challenging experiences in his personal life over the past year. I think he found getting this song off his chest really cathartic. For such a nice bloke, he sure sounds angry!
The video’s really cool and brings in a very timely COVID-like Zoom session – was this the intention of the clip? I notice the walls and lights seem to be the same so wasn’t sure if you all recorded the video in the same room or not? Though I hear Perth’s running musical festivals and all that already, so it’s pretty relaxed over there in the west now.
JB: We filmed the clip at Todd’s place, the restrictions at the time meant we could be in a room together but maintained social distancing. We couldn’t actually all fit in the room at the same time, so ended up filming like that and really liked the effect it gave.
TM: Yeah, so it wasn’t entirely intentional, but the end product feels like it is visually representative of the time and associated frustrations, which also reflect the themes of the song. We are pretty stoked how it all tied together.
There’s been a lot of good music coming out of the Perth rock, punk and metal scene. Have you guys been involved in other bands in the community before?
JB: Yeah, Tom and myself play in The Bob Gordons, Wooly played in Them Sharks and Todd plays in Castle Bravo. We’ll always be a part of the punk scene, but with this band we wanted to play to try to expand our horizons and try to get music to a new audience.
TM: Yep, challenge ourselves a bit by getting out of our comfort zone, playing with different musicians, bands and to some fresh faces!
Back to ‘What Moral Compass?’ for a moment – will this be a single from a yet to be released EP? What’s the band got in store for the rest of the year?
JB: Yep, an EP is on the way! We’ve got a follow up single coming in August before the EP is released in September.
Even though shows are looking to become a reality in Perth soon enough, things are still a bit sketchy, are Desert Dogs looking at hitting the road anytime soon?
TM: We’d love to tour Melbourne as much as any cool person from Perth wants to! They still look confused when you ask for a middy or a long mac topped up though.
JB: Hoping to do an east coast tour for the EP release, Victoria is obviously looking less likely now. We are keen to get out there but will keep it to whatever is socially responsible in these crazy times!
Any final words for keen fans out there who are getting to know Desert Dogs?
TM: Remember, every famous band was once a local band, so support live original music in any way you can. Go to shows! Don’t ask your mate to put you on the door, it’s 10 bucks! Buy merch because bands don’t make money from streams! Don’t stand there with your arms folded, chat to new people and don’t forget to party!
You heard those mad dogs, get on it!
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90