The Wasted Wanderers are a new and upcoming Australian Band, from right here in Adelaide! The group is a trio of the lead singer and guitarist Dusty Lee, the bass player and backup vocals Benny Morris, and on drums and backup vocals Matt Birkin. In 2015 the trio released their EP ‘Goddam Anything’ and been described as incredibly diverse that showcases unique yet relatable music that is uplifting in parts, but also dark and mysterious, that is always full of soul. It truly is a wonderful combination of songs and emotions, and if this weekend you and your friends are paling to drive to a paddock in the middle of the night, set up a couch and mattress with blankets and pillows while watching shooting starts, this EP is a must have accessory to bring along. The trio is playing at WOMAD on Saturday the 12th and I highly suggest you go and have a dance, alone or with a group, you are garneted to have a good time. I was lucky enough to as the one and only Dusty Lee a few questions this week while he and the boys were preparing for their big show Saturday. And if you’re not convinced to go along yet, you will be by the end of this interview.
You formed on the stage of The Grace Emily early 2014. How did three great musicians come to work together as a trio?
Well the jams at the Grace definitely set it all off, it seems the answer lies within the question here. I feel it was a timing thing as well, like, if we all just met and started jamming there now, we'd be too busy with everything else to be able to start a band. At that time my previous band had gone on a hiatus for a while and I wanted to play some music in a new project with these songs I was writing at the time and others I'd had kicking around for a while. Matt and Ben also weren't locked into any other projects that were very time consuming or serious so it worked out well. We jammed heaps, started doing shows and got in the studio. I wish I could tell you some elaborate story about how Matt saved me from drowning and Ben was the lifeguard, but its pretty cut and dry.
You have been support acts for amazing musicians such as Donavon Frankenreiter and Russell Morris, what did you learn while working with these talented artists?
Donavon’s band were cool dudes, we all got Phò the day after the gig and went to this vintage clothes shop. They were just good ol' American muso's who know heaps about old school vintage gear and love spinning stories about cool shit. And I've worked with Russell Morris before so we already knew each other, he's such a champ. I guess everytime you get to work with artists of this calibre you learn some new things, but just opening up for a band doesn't mean you learn much. You might not even get to spend more than 5 minutes talking to them. But I always learn a lot from their shows. My dream would be to go on tour supporting someone like Tedeschi Trucks Band and picking their brains and jamming with them while getting to know them. Sharing a tour van with a band you look up to, that'd be an experience.
In 2014 you won ‘Best Roots’ at the ARBA, only after being a group act for one year, what does this mean to you?
I guess the word got out that our roots are pretty good. We take pride in our roots. It's not that one of us is better at roots than the other, its just that collectively we are all really good at roots, when we all work together to deliver the best roots.
Is there a secret to your, as some would say, ‘quick success’?
I don't think its quick at all, everything we'd all done previously had helped us gain experience to be able to get this band together, so we eliminated some of that 'growing together as a band' period already. We'd already done much of our individual growing, so when we got the band together we were just ready find our sound and get cracking. I
think that was the hardest part, finding out what we wanted to do and which market we should perform to. It doesn't feel quick to me at all, it feels like years of work. I know of bands who've been together for a year, get an EP out and then BOOM, success. We started recording the EP in mid 2014, released it in mid 2015 and now we're heading up to mid 2016. I'm hoping this year brings more national and potentially international success, then we can really get cooking.
You launched your Debut EP “Goddamn Anything” at a sold out show at the Jive, what's the energy from your fan base like?
They're great. I love that young people will come to a show and dig it then next show we do you see they've brought their parents along to check it out as well, I imagine because the sound might take them back a few decades. We have people of all ages and that’s one
of my favourite things about our crowds.They also aren't clicky or trying to be 'cool' or in some sort of scene, it’s a crowd that just
like music. People loosen up, have a dance and sing along if they know the songs, it’s a really cool vibe.
I see you recorded a part of your album at Steve Salvi’s Studio in Crafers, I myself actually live in the hills right next to Crafers, where about in Adelaide are you from?
I did live in Stirling for a while, but now we're all just North or West of the City, close to gigs n things. Although one of our backing singers just moved to Sydney!
Have you always been musicians, do you have a large musical background?
Yeah, I grew up in a very passionate music loving family. My parents called me 'Dusty Lee' because they thought it would look cool on a record cover. I know that Benny's dad was a phenomenal singer/guitarist about the town and he grew up going along to his dad's gigs, which I imagine would have been very inspiring. I think Matty developed his love for drumming and music out of no-where from what I understand, but he took to it well and has a very supportive family who actually helped him build a studio at the family home, where we recorded much of the EP. We have all been in it for a while! And we all make our living from it.
Your EP has been called incredibly diverse that showcases unique yet relatable music that is uplifting in parts, but also dark and mysterious, that is always full of soul. Are there any methods you use to write, and where do you get your inspiration?
The inspiration is a mix of music and styles imbedded in us, and some that we're discovering as time goes on and new artists emerge. We're very much inspired by Southern American music, the likes of Little Feat, Allman Brothers, the Black Crowes, The Eagles, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Derek Trucks, just the gurus that do it better then everyone. But at the same time we know that their style comes from a culture only bred over there. So we take that inspiration and clash it with all the other shit that we get into. Jeff Buckley has always played a big roll for me, I know for Benny 'Little River Band' especially for the harmonies, Matty B is constantly showing us new stuff to get into that’s always great. We love Kendrick Lamar, Snarky Puppy, Haitus Kaiyote, anything mind-blowingly full of soul and just plane awesome. So we have some other grooves and ideas that come into play from these kinds of inspirations.
What is it like working closely with Adelaide’s Sister duo Nikai?
Awesome, they're our best friends and we love them. They bring so much life to the gigs and rehearsals and dumpling hangs before gigs. We love having them around and try to as much as we can.
You are performing at WOMAD on Saturday, are you exited? Have you performed there before?
Yeah, I try not to anticipate things too much in fear that something will go horribly wrong, but I feel this will be one to remember. We're well prepared for it and I'm most excited about the fact that we get an hour set, so we won't have to cut anything from the set. Which means we can avoid that debate about why or not we should play certain songs. We're going to be full or energy and put on a great show for everyone who sees it.
I assume you have attended before though, being from Adelaide. WOMAD is one of my favourite times of the year, what do you love about the event?
It seems to be harder and harder to avoid douche bags at festivals these days, the people that don't really even like music but are there anyway just to scream out to some bangers. I love that these people don't go to WOMAD. Instead it's full of real people that really love good music. And people seem to have open minds, they're all prepared to see acts that they haven't even heard of. Plus the whole place just oozes a culture that I can't wait to be around for 4 days.
It’s fair to say that you are becoming pretty huge, and attracting a lot of fans, have you had any interesting interactions with fans?
Nothing major yet, just the occasional request screamed at us from the crowd. We are playing at a fans birthday party soon which will be cool, private shows are always fun.
When did you first realise that you were getting some well-deserved fame? Was there a single incident where you thought, “yeah, we might be onto something here?”
I'm not remotely interested in fame, none of us really are. But our music reaching the ears of the people who will like it, that’s all we want. And I guess that is starting to happen, and its nice for sure. We haven't really experienced anything out of the ordinary yet in terms of a viral song or video getting us out to hundreds of thousands of new listeners or anything like that, so it all just feels like its on a slow incline but the success is becoming more evident as time goes on. I guess we felt like we were onto something when we did a residency at the Grace Emily on Fridays as a new band, first one was reasonably quiet and by the fourth it was choccas in that room. Then our EP launch sold out, so that does make you feel that you're connecting with people and they're getting the word out.
You’re releasing your new single “In Your Fire” soon, can we get an idea when that will be out?
We were hoping to have it out around Womad time but we've had to push it back now till probably June, we'll see how we go! It is tracked and pretty much finished, but now we're considering a new mix and are also making a video for it in the coming months. Can't wait to get it out!
Interview Conducted by;
Wasted Wanderers are performing at WOMADelaide on Saturday the 12th of March. Check out their website for more information!