While Jet are on hiatus, members Chris Cester and Mark Wilson have put together their new project, Damndogs. Chris Cester chats with Music Feeds in the lead up to their debut Australian performances.
Music Feeds: You describe Damndogs as a ‘doom-disco’ project and there’s an undeniable 80s bent groove in the three songs you’ve offered us so far. What sort of a place does Damndogs come from inside you guys?
Chris Cester: It’s baron. Like an ice-age. A dormant volcano. Hmmm, a winged dinosaur. We try and get to the point. Our process is about taking things offthe table and being direct.
MF: Damndogs has those shouty vocals, distorted basslines and a nu-wave lilt, where did you guys get your your inspiration when forming the idea for this band?
CC: Music is reactionary, if it’s any good, it’s not planned. There was an inherent feeling between us that we wanted it to sound exciting but not too inviting. We’re not really of the school that music has to be “happy” to make you dance, but we’re not here to make an anger statement either, we’re just putting sounds down that make us smile, and that hopefully make others smile. Take a song like, “Fame”, it’s cynical, interesting, bitter, funny, sleazy…and it moves you.
MF: Chris and Mark, you were both in a little band called Jet, who probably gave us some of the most instantly recognisable indie anthems of the 2000s. It’s been a while since that project went on hiatus, how was Damndogs born?
CC: Jet were on a break when we formed, and Mitch and I were in Morocco. Literally, it was first light in Marrakesh, the Mosques were blasting out their call to prayer… Mitch and I had been smoking hash all day and the stray dogs were going mental as they heard the Mosque prayers over the loudspeaker. It was an incredibly surreal moment. I realise this sounds far-fetched but it’s true. The sound of the band was never even discussed. Just the name. I think it was 2009 but I could be off by a year or two.
MF: You guys sing about love, drugs and money – sounds like a Patrick Bateman wet dream, but there’s no murder. What album 80s albums have you guys been listening to?
CC: Patrick Batemans wet dream is the same as everyones wet dream, no? Everything in your life can be traced to Love or money…and when you need to escape that, there’s drugs.
MF: How has it been developing as a band in a city like LA, where I’m sure everyone’s in a band? Is it a whole lot different to your hometown of Melbourne?
CC: Fuck everyone else. We’re Damndogs! There’s just as many “bands” in Melbourne if you ask me. There’s no time to waste thinking about everyone elses band. LA is a big, desperate, hot place. It builds up, and it crashes down, everyday. It’s easy to fall into traps, things come and go in the blink of an eye, if anything it helps you hustle, to differentiate yourself from whatever ‘scene’ is going on. We developed a lot in LA, but we’ve written songs in Marrakesh, Melbourne, Sydney, Airports and cupboards.
MF: We’ve been noticing your music on NME and copping a fair bit of blog love since releasing these tunes. How has your live show been in comparison to the online reaction?
CC: The live stuff seemed to inspire the ‘blog love’ actually. When I hear the word “show” I think of roadies, and… “CLEVELAND!” which I love but, this is not that.
This is not a rock show. Before we played, people had been digging the tunes but had no Idea what we were. Our live show completes the puzzle. After our first show, we looked at each other and went, “huh….we’re a fucken band….a weird band, but still, a band”. We spend more time laughing our arses off than actually working, which is how it should be.
MF: Tell me does a Damndogs show include a Chris Cester Variety Hour?
CC: Oh yeah! That’s the tip of the iceberg. There’s monkeys, trampolines, a cricket bat…Hugh Heffner. Some bored looking girls, some Damndogs, Buddy Rich, a vortex machine. And it’s all shot in the jungle, but from a satellite in space, operated from Earth, to insure that we’re blowing cash to proper biblical proportions.
MF: What can fans expect when you guys hit Sydney and Melbourne later this month?
CC: Expect that it will be loud, and that you won’t be walking away saying, “I’ve heard it all before.”
Catch Damndogs at one of these shows
Thursday, Jul 14 at Toff In Town Melbourne
Thursday, Jul 21 Oxford Art Factory Sydney