Published on July 27th, 2015 | by LiYang0
Their music has it’s own groove just like the exotic creatures lingering on the land of Australia, unique and ancient, kangaroo and yurlungur… Dreamtime’s music makes me imagine a psychedelic shaman playing massive riffs in the dreamy colorful mist, an ode to the wild outback.
I caught up with guitarist Zac Anderson to talk about how the band got together, how they approach songwriting, and the recent reissue of the band’s epic albums Sun and Dreamtime records on vinyl.
BNU: Dreamtime has a very unique and abstract sound—it reminds me of the Australian wilderness. It’s so different from the so-called “psychedelic revivalists” from US and Europe. Who or what influenced Dreamtime?
It’s nice to reflect the land and environments that surround and binds us
Back when we started it was ’60s psych garage, then heyday psych, heavy and proto metal like Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, the Doors, and Black Sabbath, but a lot of local Brisbane and Australian bands influenced us too as they all had this connection and reflection of their environment, though mainly to urban landscapes and social mentalities.
Towards the end of our first album we discovered a deeper magical nature driven mysticism that comes through most obviously in our improvised jams and our “segue-ways” between songs live. It’s nice to reflect the land and environments that surround and binds us; sometimes when we jam I feel we tap into deeper residual energies, magnetic fields and memories buried and lost in the land, though we certainly feel we don’t get to spend as much time in nature as we’d like to.
A documentarian used our music in a film they did on these ancient landscapes in Tasmania, which was lovely. But what really struck a chord in my mind was that they chose these exact parts of the songs, the improvised magic and mystic segue-ways… Something important connected there.
Must be like seven years ago now, Cat, Tara and I were living together and we convinced Tara to get a drum kit and started playing drugged-out Velvet Underground-like jams you could hear from kilometres away. Must have been a very patient and culturally enthusiastic area of Brisbane as we rarely got complaints.
The name Dreamtime is also a name used to reference all aboriginal history, mysticism, philosophy, and spirituality, so we were cautious at first of causing offence by likening our musical efforts to something so profound, but we felt like Dreamtime as a word by itself is a deep and powerful word that resonated deeply within us and gave us a goal to strive for increased mysticism and spirituality within our music.
Who is Dreamtime now? Are you in other bands as well?
Dreamtime is me (Zac Anderson), Cat Maddin, Tara Wardrop and Fergus Smith. I dabble in other small live projects, Cat and Tara play in a moody surf-western band called Moonshine and Fergus plays in psych rock band Smoke, spiritualized occult doom metal band Frown and black metal group Chemical Cascades. Somehow he finds time for us!
Fergus has brought a lot of things, most notably is his melodic darkness which is most welcome
I’ve noticed you guys have had several different lineups over different periods, what did Fergus bring into Dreamtime? Do you have plans to re-record or rearrange your old stuff with him (both album or live)? Serpent’s Tongue might be your most metal song ever, does it have story behind it?
Fergus has brought a lot of things, most notably is his melodic darkness which is most welcome, and some riffs can bend a little more towards metal at times. And there’s some traditional folk such as UK medieval and Celtic folk that he lets out sometimes.
But it’s actually surprising how similar mine and Fergus’s guitar styles and interests are, I think it will be very confusing for people to guess who came up with which riff. The main difference between our guitar styles is Fergus’s deep understanding of all kinds of metal, he totally loses me when he starts diminished chord progressions and he can’t play funk [laughs]. I have a knack for percussive rhythm guitar so I play those parts.
We met some very nice chilled out people that had connections and put us in touch with people
His guitar tone is also darker with extremely tuff mids, mine is warm highs and fluffy bottom, so they actually work very nicely together.
Serpent’s Tongue was almost completed before Fergus joined but his Shahi Baaja and some small metal riff additions helped it stay interesting and not too monotonous. The main riff it’s just a cross between a doom riff and trip-hop, just came out one day, it sounded dark, exciting and anxious at the same time, so we paired it with some anxious vocals.
The lyrics depict a man on the verge of a psychotic schizophrenic breakdown bargaining with an invisible serpent he loves but whom controls him to do evil things… Whispers from the Serpent’s Tongue…
People from overseas don’t really know about Australia’s scene, what’s big in Australia? Is the psychedelic or metal scene big there? Are there differences between cities? What about an experimental music scene?
Psychedelic pop is getting bigger since Tame Impala from Perth. So is proto-metal and heavy rock and blues, stoner doom is on it’s way up, but metal is pretty huge here and experimental is big too, but all pretty underground.
Triple J radio plays psych pop and hardcore sometimes, but not really any of these other genres. So you need to know local people in cities to find the good bands there, once you tap into that there is a pretty big supply of awesome interesting music, and lots of underground fans. But in general, not a lot of heavy psych like us, there are the fans for it though!
From self-release to Austin Psych Fest, it’s an incredible achievement in my opinion, how did you make it? Do you have any advice for new bands that are trying to reach out to the world?
These positive attractions start to play out uncontrollably
Well, we had talented friends record and mix us for free, worked hard on getting everything we wanted happening in our music so that we were sure that we thought our songs were as good as they could be, and then we met some very nice chilled out people that had connections and put us in touch with people like Austin Psych Fest.
It’s great when you give up trying to make it as a band and do it because you love it, then you never consciously “network”, you just make friends and some like to help you out if they can, and opportunities seem to flow to you or you get really excited and enthusiastic about playing a festival or releasing on a label and you just ask. These positive attractions start to play out uncontrollably.
Conquest of Noise reissued both the Dreamtime and Sun albums on vinyl, who are they? And who’s the genius behind the stunning album artworks? And, is your album available in other formats besides LP?
Conquest Of Noise is an awesome Brisbane-based label run by people enthusiastic about all good new music. Worth checking out their website or some other rad Australian and international bands.
Henry Bennett is the incredible occult illustrator behind the artwork of the Dreamtime reissue artwork. And Meg Adamson is the California-based artist who did the amazing lithograph/comic illustrations of flora and fauna for the Sun reissue.
Both are only available on vinyl or digital download. Vinyl is limited edition 2nd pressing, it has different artwork to the first pressings and artwork will change again if a 3rd pressing is ever made, so very limited editions indeed.
We’ve just released Sun on tape through Rockpod Records and we’d love to release Serpent’s Tongue on vinyl if there’s a label interested.
Lumerians are the best “alien psych” I have ever heard, I can’t stop listening to them. I really love them, also I’ve been passed copies of Black Tempest’s albums by a friend of the Cardinal Fuzz and Optical Sounds guys, I keep it on repeat in my car and it seems to blow all my friends minds who all like different kinds of music.
I think it’s really unique, and there’s some weird empathetic vibrational relationship between the music and the listeners. The arpeggios, flutes, and synths are modestly astonishing but the sudden switch to full-blown Irish and UK traditional shindigs are amazing!
What’s your next step? Will there be a tour in 2015? Will you release Serpent’s Tongue onto vinyl or other formats? When will your next album be possibly out?
We’ve almost got a full new album ready to record, we’d like to release that and tour the full east coast of Australia including Hobart and Adelaide this time, as well as UK and Europe, and the states again.
The new album is a semi-conceptual mystic, caveman, sci-fi exploration. It’s packed with riffs, intense psych-outs and milk-curdling black magic. There’s a few particular labels that would suit it perfectly so keep your antennas tuned to our psychic broadcasts.
To the great sisters in Dreamtime, Tara and Cat, please talk about your ongoing “Altar of the Thirteenth Eye”!
We started a boutique events company because we wanted to create a platform for our friends in amazing bands from all over the world. It’s about community and really trying to ignite the idea of tour and show swapping.
We are interested in psych, heavy stoner, and doom music, but also open to whatever perks our interest. The first tour we booked was for Japan’s amazing Kikagaku Moyo, which led to us being able to travel over to Japan and tour with them.
We also saw that a friendly bridge between venue and booking agents/bands needed to be further established—making sure that the shows we put on are advantageous to all parties.