Latest release: Caught the Vultures Sleeping (Independent)Website: www.facebook.com/dreadnaughtmusic
Dreadnaught is one of a handful of bands who can rightly lay claim to the title of Australian metal veterans. Twenty years after introducing themselves with the dark, swirling, progressive Body.Blood.Skin.Mind, a successful Pozible campaign has allowed them to release their latest album onto vinyl.
“It was one of those thing we wanted to do, but the timeframe and the financial aspect was so large that we thought we wouldn’t be able to do it,” explains the band’s frontman Greg Trull. “So we thought, why don’t we put it out there and try it, and if people don’t want it we’ll soon find out pretty quickly.”
Unlike similar campaigns, Dreadnaught wasn’t asking for help to cover studio time or recording costs. Caught the Vultures Sleeping was already underway before the call went out, but being without a label or distro deal for the first time in many years, there were extraneous expenses to cover.
“It wasn’t us asking for hand-outs to record our new album,” Trull says. “That wasn’t the case. We’d already recorded it and had everything ready to go. We’ve been fortunate enough to have labels and distributors looking after us for the last fifteen years – Roadrunner and Dark Carnival, and Amphead on the last album. We’ve had people looking after us for the production costs and the promotion and all that sort of stuff for us – not that we don’t know how to do it, but it’s been a long time since we have been basically unsigned and we’ve had to do this again.”
While in their early days they managed to attract the attention of labels like Roadrunner and scored an enviable list of national opening slots with acts as diverse as Nevermore, Cathedral, Devin Townsend and even Nickelback, outside of Melbourne Dreadnaught were perhaps also one of the country’s most oft over-looked metal acts. Greg Trull believes that a lot of fans simply didn’t understand where they were coming from.
“I don’t think the metal community knew how to take Dreadnaught initially. It took us a few years before we got asked to play something like Metal for the Brain – we did it a couple of years in a row as a fill-in and then we eventually got asked to actually do it. It was like: ‘Why does this band do ‘Flowers’, and then something like ‘The Gobbler’?” People at that stage were just so metal!”
In those early days, Greg points out, “Every second band wanted to sound like Damaged. As great as Damaged was, every second vocalist I came across was trying to sound like Jamie Ludbrooke. You’re not going to sound like Jamie Ludbrooke, because Jamie is himself and a very unique individual with his approach to music and lyrics and everything. I lived with the guy, so I’ve known him for a very long time. But bands were just turning on to that style at that time. Everybody wanted to be like that.”
Since then, metal has moved in such a kaleidoscope of directions that Dreadnaught are no longer as inaccessible as they once were. Vultures proves them to be as potent and as willing as ever to experiment both musically and lyrically.
“We do a lot of seven-strings on this album, which is something we’ve never done before, and the song ‘Welcome to Oblivion’ is about consumerism, how people are blind-sided by the need to get the latest phone, the latest everything…” He breaks off for a moment, before elaborating his point:”‘I need to be liked! I need to be acknowledged!’ Fuck off! Just stand on your own two feet. Do your own thing. That’s what we’ve always done. Dreadnaught wouldn’t exist if we didn’t do that!”
If the mood of 2009’s self-titled album was informed by loss, Caught the Vultures Sleeping hearkens back to the band’s early days in both character and style – light and shade, progressive arrangements. Trull says he was barely even aware of it until it was brought to his attention during this interview.
“I didn’t make that connection until you said it, but the first song ‘Pure Lunacy’ is a lot like ‘Dripping’ from the first album, it’s dirgy and sludgey and it’s got time-changes… I didn’t pick up on that, but you’re correct. A song like ‘Warning Signs’ has definitely got that vibe of something like ‘Begotten (Not Made)’.” He also stresses that not every track they do has a down or angry vibe. “There’s some positivity in there. I think we touched on that a bit. I know that on the last record , there was a lot of loss involved regarding people around the band, but even a song like ‘The Push’ might seem like it’s a nagetive tune, but it’s actually not. The song ‘Hated’ could walk right out of 80s thrash lyrics about the state of the world. ‘Cut Throat Blues’ off Dirty Music is the same sort of thing. I guess it might sound a little cliched, but it shows that the world hasn’t changed all that much!”
Another thing that hasn’t changed has been the individuality of this Melbourne five piece. Throughout their career, Dreadnaught has always charted their own course through the murky waters of Australia’s metal music scene. Their debut was an album of plodding, sludgy progressive metal released at a time when everyone else seemed more enamoured with crushing extremity and speed. All of their recordings have been markedly different, heading into any territory they’ve cared to explore.
“We’ve always done what we wanted to do,” says the man with one of the most distinctive voices – and look – on the local scene. “We’ve never followed anything. Maybe that’s been to our detriment over the years. We’ve had our periods where we’ve barely been able to get two people through the door. We’ve had periods where we’re selling out shows. Like any band with a long history, we’ve had that roller coaster kind of thing. We’ve never followed patterns or trends or what’s cool and what’s not. We’ve always done what we wanted to do from the outset.”
30/7: The Loft, Warrnambool VIC
6/8: Brewtality Fest, Melbourne VIC
12/8: Enigma Bar, Adelaide SA
19/8: The Basement, Canberra ACT
20/8: Bald Faced Stag Hotel, Sydney NSW
26/8: Republic Bar, Hobart TAS
27/8: Club 54, Launceston TAS
3/9: Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne VIC