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Last Dinosaurs: Evolving Soundscape and
Unleashing Indie Brilliance from Down Under

Alex Bakken

“I feel like we’ve got our own thing going on. Always have,” Sean Caskey, co-lead vocals and co-lead guitar of Last Dinosaurs, said as I sat down with him at Delmar Hall ahead of the second show of their North American tour, “Tourzilla.” 

The band was co-headlining the tour with their Australian counterparts, Vacations. Even though they may have been having fun with another band, Caskey had more on his mind, like the new single he wrote. “It is hard because at the time you’re like, okay, this is good, this is good, this is good,” he said. “Then it comes out and it’s like, fuck, is it even good enough?” Aside from the new single, Last Dinosaurs was still finding their footing on the new tour and getting ready to drop their next album. 

Last Dinosaurs, as a collective, were clearly keeping themselves busy, the four members filling their free time with record signing, writing, recording and producing their own album, while still finding out what worked best for this tour. The band, composed of brothers Sean and Lachlan Caskey, Michael Sloane and Dan Koyama, has mostly left the songwriting to Sean and Lachlan. Their latest release, From Mexico with Love, was all written by Lachlan; for their next EP, RYU, the pressure is on Sean. 

Despite the pressure, Sean also has a newfound eagerness and excitement for RYU as he explained the whole concept behind it to me. “The year is 3023, and there’s a thing called Kessler Syndrome where all the satellites…crash and it becomes like a perpetual disaster around the earth,” he started off. “The idea is that the previous civilization, which is us, caused that disaster. And, this kid, Eric, lives in the year 3023, and he’s a satellite spotter. And people, as a hobby, they’re like digital archaeologists that track down satellites that are still running and extract data from them. And one of them he tracks onto is this AI satellite, and it’s a super intelligent one, which is running out of battery. And in it’s like drunken low battery state, it’s reprogrammed itself to be a radio station broadcasting music, which is our new album.”

Sean clearly put his whole heart into the EP, even stating one of his favorite songs he has ever written will appear on the album. What is also interesting, Sean explained, is how there is a mixture of new songs he has written for the album and even some songs he wrote earlier and held on to for the right moment; this moment being now.

The band has clearly put a lot of thought and intention into every album they craft and create. Looking back to Yumeno Garden, their 2018 release, the album artwork was explained to me as how the band felt culturally lost. “Yumeno Garden was about feeling like we’re not from anywhere. Like in between Japan and America. In an imaginary space,” Sean described. “That’s what the album cover was about. Japanese house, like ourselves dressed in normal clothes with an American horizon, cactuses and stuff.”

Last Dinosaurs at Delmar Hall. Photos: Sean Rider

This sense of not belonging has helped carry them outside of Australia and has them constantly feeling more at peace and relatable here in America. “The thing is, we feel culturally, we’re more related to people here. I don’t know what it is. Maybe because Australia’s fairly monotone and especially with music,” Sean laughed.

Granted, they got their big break in Australia thanks to the major radio station there. But, a majority of music is dictated by this radio station, according to Sean. If the station plays your music, you are set, but the catch is just as much as they may play you, they may eventually ghost you and not play you again. And with radio still being such a popular medium in Australia—80% of the population still regularly listens to it—it really dictates your career there, more than it does here in the States.

Even though the band experienced and continues to experience these challenges, it only makes them more determined to continue to explore new creative avenues.

One of the ways they have done this is by taking their production work in-house and doing it all themselves. Instead of traditionally sitting down together and producing the song as one singular unit, the band each takes turns putting their own flair to each song. Sean describes this as, “Playing a little game of tennis with the song.”

When they are not writing and composing concept albums or self-producing albums, you can find the band touring, or at least prepping for tour. “We rehearse very hard to make sure that we’re the best that we could possibly be,” Sean stated.

And that was proven true later that evening when we saw the band bring everything together live on stage. They played a mix of all their albums since forming in 2007, plus a mashup of late 1990s and early 2000s songs for the crowd, featuring “Breathe,” “Da Funk,” Move Your Feet” and others.

Early on in the tour, it was evident that Last Dinosaurs was still adjusting to the new setlist and finding their groove with what worked with the audience. “It’s ‘cause there’s a whole psychology between you and the crowd and just the flow of emotion in the set and knowing what to say and when. We were still working that out,” Sean explained. But with how down to earth this band appeared to be, I had no doubt in my mind that they would find their stride and knock it out of the park.

Last Dinosaurs, like Sean mentioned above, are completely doing their own thing and are unapologetically themselves. If you get a chance to catch them live, I would highly encourage you to do so. And in the meantime, sit back and listen to songs from their latest EP and be transported to Sean’s imaginary world.

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