An interview with Dustland Express
Cape Town-based Dustland Express has just released their album, ‘The Question, Sir, Is Why?’. The album is a determined, stirring and, above all, original collection, marking the first full-length release from the band.
About The Album
Released earlier in 2017, Dustland Express’s debut album is an experimental rock project; a theatrical offering packed with 10 unique tracks.
‘Voyage of Men’ is the powerful opening track that immediately grabs attention with strong vocals, guitar riffs and steady drums. Much like a rock anthem, this loaded piece is just a taste of what’s to come.
The listener is then treated with the harder rhythm of ‘The Poetic Injustice of Rats’. It reminds of System of a Down and Muse; unlike anything coming out of Cape Town in recent years.
‘Flight of the Meek’ is a fast, intense track with catchy lyrics, and towards the end of it, the strong Queen influence can clearly be heard; a refreshing sound from a South African band.
The title track uses dominant piano music, which gives it a strong theatrical and even operatic feel, while the slower ‘Empire of Dreams/#Heisenberg’ pushes the album in a bit of different direction and proves how diverse and innovative the band is.
‘The Solution’ follows with a steady beat and takes the listener back to the headbang-worthy first few tracks; it’s as if the band gives the listener a taste of everything they can offer, and then takes them back to the ‘roots’ of the album.
The eerie piano intro of ‘Nemesis’ gives the track a mysterious feel, but quickly builds into a full-blown dramatic rock piece with brilliant riffs and the inclusion of violins.
The short, dreamy-like intro of ‘Take the Devil for a Spin’ might sound like another slow one, but Dustland Express doesn’t disappoint, and with twisted lyrics, the rise and fall of the melody and heavy vocals it quickly becomes another full-out rock song.
With ‘Don’t Say Goodbye, Scott’ the band experiments with a suspenseful, orchestral-like sound, and it works. *one that I would love to hear live
The catchy ‘Apocalypse’ finishes the album off with a beautiful mix of theatrical elements; a perfect end to a well-rounded album that is both unique and catchy with its experimental, but powerful sound, dramatic vocals, melodies and quality recording.
I recommend adding the album to your collection now, and keeping an eye on these guys!
Get the album: HERE
I caught up with vocalist, Scott, to talk about the album:
Hey guys, thanks for the chat! When I first listened to your debut album I heard a perfect mix of influences from Muse, Queen and even some Iron Maiden? It’s like you poured everything into a bottle and Dustland Express was born. How did you guys decide on this genre and type of sound?
Hey! Thanks for having me. We really enjoy the writing process; throwing everything into a blender and seeing if we can make it work. Writing can be exciting, frustrating, and every once in a while, really fulfilling. When we started out we wanted Dustland to have a punk and metal edge with pop hooks and orchestral, filmic touches.
Just briefly, who are the guys behind the music?
I’m on vocals. Kamil plays keyboard and guitar. Brendan and Garethare our main guitarists, and Zack and Mike round things off on bass and drums respectively.
Tell me about your debut album, The Question, sir, is Why?, released earlier this year; Who worked with you on the album, where was it produced and by who?
The album was written and recorded in Kamil’s home studio and then sent off to the UK to be mixed and mastered by Chris Brink of Audio Fury. It took a few years to complete, so I guess you could say Kamil and I produced it, too.
I think I read somewhere that you even see Tolkien as an influence, and reading your bio on Facebook, I can see that. Who’s the Tolkien fan/s and how do you use this influence in your music?
I’m the big Tolkien fan, haha. The books and films had a huge impact on me when I was younger. The way the story blended scope and character inspired me. I guess you can see this come through in the way Dustland blends huge call-to- arms moments with the more melodic, intimate parts in the songs.
With titles such as “The Poetic Injustice of Rats”, “Take the Devil for a Spin” (loved the lyrics of this one, by the way!) and “Apocalypse”, it seems as if you guys are leaning towards a darker theme for this album, what is that theme (if any), and who wrote the lyrics?
I wrote the lyrics with the help of Kamil. The overarching theme, for me, is the idea of this rot at the heart of opulence; that cloaking yourself in luxury does nothing for the stink that lies beneath. It’s kind of framed by this fantastical, weird imagery – the artwork depicts a train stopped at the last house before the Apocalypse sitting on the horizon.
I love the artwork on the album, who’s the artist?
It’s epic! That would be our drummer’s sister, Olivia Stephan.
You guys are based in Cape Town, where can we see you perform live next?
You can see us this Saturday at Ellington’s in Bellville. And we’ll be hitting the Halloween show at ROAR on the 28 th .
Plans for the rest of 2017, and early 2018? Perhaps a tour?
Definitely start writing again. We’re hoping to have an EP ready next year sometime. And there is talk in the camp about a tour up-country soon. Possibly at the beginning of 2018.
Awesome, thanks for the chat! Hope to see a live show soon.
Thanks for the interview, keep well!