Local band At the Dakota (Dylan Podsiadly, Paul Brandis, Zac East, Jaxon De Santis and Jay Wright) took some time out from rehearsals to speak with Foldback Magazine about the highlights of 2015, their plans for 2016 and a whole bunch of other stuff.
FM: So At the Dakota guys, what’s in store for us in 2016?
Dylan: We’re trying to organise some gigs at the moment, getting things planned. Nothing too concrete at the moment.
FM: You got a gig coming up very soon haven’t you?
Dylan: Yeah February 27th at the Hotel Darwin. So we’re all very excited about that, it’s our first gig since December last year so we are itching to get into that.
FM: Cool. I think I missed your last gig ‘cause I was away, there was the big one at Discovery, was their one after that?
Paul: Yeah we played with The Bennies at the Railway Club in December.
Dylan: We opened for them, which was pretty fun as well.
FM: So any new material in the works?
Paul: Yeah we’ve sorta been not seen since our last gig in December and been doing a lot of stuff in the background so, all the stuff that no one sees when they come to the gigs. Trying to organise this year and put a plan in place. We have been putting a lot of effort into writing new material. So we got about four new songs we’ve been developing, two are more or less finished and two are under development at the moment.
Dylan: We had a solid break too, we had a good six weeks where we didn’t do any band stuff. I went to Bali recently but we all sorta chilled out for a while, we were all pretty spent.
Zac: Last year was a massive year so we needed that time to recoup you know because we’ve been smashing it, we’ve been planning, you know, basically since we wrote up our plan in April, we’ve been smashing it.
FM: One thing I’ve noticed about you guys is that you tend to plan very well, especially with your marketing and that sort of thing. Do you have a strategy? Does that get down to you Zac?
Zac: Yeah I would say that we all contribute but we like to be smart about how we do things and how we approach being a band. At the end of the day you can only play in Darwin for so long and as Jay and I know, being playing in Darwin for almost ten years, it’s important for us to look at the rest of the country and try and carve something out and given that we are finding that our material is quite commercially viable, it’s become more of an option for us to become a band that wants to do the national stuff I guess.
FM: Well you have been on Rage now, how does that feel?
Jaxon: Pretty good, it was pretty good
Jay: That was fun.
Dylan: Got a few Snapchats from friends “oh you’re on Rage” – yeah we know! It’s a cool feeling you know when you used to watch it as a kid, waking up in the morning and we weren’t on at prime time morning, it was still early in the morning but still seeing that little Rage symbol pop up at the bottom of your film-clip…
FM: I’m just about to turn 49 and I have been watching Rage since I was a teenager and it hasn’t changed a bit.
Dylan: I love how that icon just comes up in the corner.
(general agreement yet again)
FM: Speaking about touring – any plans you can talk about?
Zac: Yeah we got some stuff in mind. You know, after last year and having such a great response from the rest of the country, we really want to capitalize on those audiences so yeah. We got something lined up so two runs, maybe even three runs this year.
FM: What are you looking mostly to achieve this year?
Dylan: Getting our music out to more people really, in Darwin especially. We want to build that Darwin base up more. We want our songs to be out there and around Australia and that’s through playing gigs. As Zac said, we got a couple of our runs, one hopefully in a few months, one later on in the year and then who knows what else, but really just also getting that live practice in. We’ve only probably played twenty gigs as a band, we haven’t played a lot so getting our live show up to standard, looking at other bands around Darwin and around Australia and the live shows are really strong. I feel that’s something we can definitely work on. Going to Sietta on the weekend and their live show was just fantastic – they worked the crowd really well. It’s something we can definitely do better. Yeah just getting our music out there. And having fun, that’s the main thing.
Paul: Another thing I am looking forward to is getting in the studio, recording some new material. Jaxon wasn’t with us at the time we did our last EP so it will be good to get him on some vinyl or on some CDs.
FM: And what about on some video as well for the new songs, any plans?
Dylan: Yeah that’s on its way as well.
Zac: Hopefully recoding a single within the next month.
Jaxon: It’ll be exciting to get our latest single out, whichever song that will be and it will be nice to be involved in that because the EP, I wasn’t (involved) so it will be good.
FM: (to Jaxon) And what about your dreadlocks?
Jaxon: Yeah getting rid of them on the 12th of March at the Beachfront (for charity) so if you want to come down and have a look and have a few beers maybe.
FM: That’ll change the whole demographic, of how you do videos and things like that – “Who’s this guy, you got a new guitarist or what?!”
Paul: Yeah that’s why we got a photo-shoot now before we loose too many girl fans (laughs)
FM: You gonna grow them back?
Jaxon: Yeah eventually, I think I’ll keep the short back and sides for a little while.
FM: Can I have them? (runs hand over middle-aged baldness)
Jaxon: I think for a donation we can sort something out.
Zac: Last year was so massive for us that we really have to dig deep this year to even match it.
FM: Any artists you particularly want to work with?
Zac: We are fortunate we have some good contacts and some good options but we do want to keep things, you know we are Territory-proud. We are a Territory-proud band, its part of who we are.
Dylan: Our branding.
FM: Branding is important.
Zac: We want to keep stuff as local as we can. Not just to raise our game but to raise the whole scene’s game.
FM: I think you are doing just that. It’s good to see people being professional and being prepared to put the time in. From your gigs, like at Discovery recently, there is obviously a good following and that’s got to increase your own self-esteem and your own confidence about being in a band?
Dylan: Yeah in pushing ourselves and seeing what we can do and getting the best sound that we can, however that may happen.
FM: Well you look good visually live too and I’m not trying to sleep with any of you in saying that but keep that vibe, keep that thing happening because it’s working.
Paul: I don’t know what lens you are looking through mate.
FM: What are some of the highlights of 2015 for the band?
Paul: Taking out NT Song of the Year Peoples Choice Award was a definite highlight.
Jay: That was awesome.
Paul: That was surreal. We didn’t expect it at all, yeah crazy highs getting up on the stage to receive that and then we got to follow it up by playing at the Happy Yess with Dave Spry.
Dylan: The highlight for me was the tour. I’ve never played anywhere but Darwin before so that was really fun, you know just taking our guitars to the airport.
FM: Did you feel like a ‘real band’? (sniggers)
Dylan: Just doing those real things like packing our gear in the car and unpacking it and seeing people that you’ve never seen before. You know Darwin’s music scene is pretty small, we recognise everyone around. You know, playing in Melbourne that first time you don’t recognise anyone, except Stevo (Steve Lees, former ATD guitarist).
FM: Was that a bit daunting, playing in ‘Melbourne’?
Dylan: The first time definitely. The feeling is different. The feeling is like nervous and exciting. You just gotta let that play out as you perform and maintain your professionalism and play good music.
FM: You were well received obviously?
Zac: We had over a hundred people turn up for our first show in Melbourne that we headlined.
FM: Do you have groupies yet?
Jay: We just talk to each other. We’re our own groupies.
Zac: For me personally I’m torn between two highlights – the Rage clip and the crowd response with The Rubens (at Discovery). In reality we could have been crushed. People could have said “fuck you” and called for The Rubens. But when people responded, they responded strongly.
FM: Well ultimately you played with the people who won the Hottest 100 (Triple J).
Dylan: They were as humble as.
Paul: I think that came down to all the votes from the At the Dakota fans (*ba-dum-TISH*). That photo (Foldback Magazine via Connor Askam, at the Rubens gig at Discovery) basically encapsulates the whole year I think.
Dylan: Just this look on people’s faces when the lighting lit up their faces. Like on our last song when we just let one chord strum out and everyone was just looking at us and like “fuck this is cool”.
Jay: The coolness was amazing.
FM: What about Bass in the Grass this Year? It would be good to get a local band up after the 6:00pm time slot?
Zac: It opens on Friday so we will be applying.
Dylan: Even after 1:00pm, just as long as there is a crowd. But we would be happy to play any time slot. Be great to have a crack at Bass in the Grass that’s for sure.
FM: Well okay guys thanks for your time this evening, we’ll let you get back to your hard yards in there.
Be sure to check out At the Dakota’s gig at the Hotel Darwin on Saturday 27 February 2016 supported by Sonder, Broadside and DJ F-Bo. $10 Pre-Sale, $15 on the door. 18+ only event.