Record of the Week
We take you inside our favourite new albums with the artists who made them. Today we're sitting down with Melbourne trash-pop duo Sophisticated Dingo to chat about community in the music scene and their second EP 'How's The Carry On!?'
When Melbourne best mates Sophisticated Dingo set out to release their second record, they could’ve never expected that it’d arrive in the middle of a global pandemic.
Live touring stopped about a week before they released the EP’s first single ‘Vultures’, but instead of bailing on their plans, Sophisticated Dingo decided to keep going all guns blazing – swapping a jampacked touring schedule for social media and live streaming.
Now, the self-proclaimed trash-pop duo have released their second EP, How’s The Carry On!?, a sharp, five-track bender filled to the brim with feel-good rock anthems readymade for bandroom – or bedroom – mosh parties.
“The plan was always to have a couple of singles and then the EP comes out, but the sad thing, and what I’m really missing, is the fact we can’t play live,” Lewis Matte, Sophisticated Dingo’s vocalist says.
“We would have had a tour for ‘Vultures’ and then another tour for the EP. It’s a real shame that we couldn’t get on the road and play those shows. It gives the songs and the whole release an extra bit of a push and makes you feel like you are doing something.
“Now you put out the song and that’s it, there’s no follow-up to see how people react to it live. That is a bit disappointing, but it’s still been really good because people are listening and seem to be enjoying it.”
With each new single and video Sophisticated Dingo have released online comes a flurry of social media excitement and support – be it from excited fans, music publications, or other bands regularly popping up in the comment section.
From the very early days, mateship within the band and the Melbourne music scene have been at the centre of everything Sophisticated Dingo do.
“It’s definitely an important part of it. To be a part of something. A community no matter what you are doing. Just having some friends essentially,” Matte says when reflecting on the importance of support from the local scene.
“That is what I treasure the most about the opportunity to play in the Melbourne music scene, that you meet other like-minded individuals that happen to play in bands and your interactions progress past just playing on the same bill.
“It’s something that spurs us on, to do the same thing that our friends are doing and be a part of that in the hopes of playing a gig together. You want to put out more music so that when your friends put out music you can play a show together.”
You can’t talk about mateship and Sophisticated Dingo without talking about the chemistry between Matte and drummer James Medley. If they sound like they are having fun all the time, it’s probably because they are.
“We both met when we started high school back when were 12 [years old]. We both liked each other then, got along as good mates, and made each other laugh. In year 11, we ended up being in a high school band and followed that on after school finished as a five-piece,” Matte says.
Creative differences have been the ending of many bands, but for Matte and Medley, it also became the reason the pair decided to try their hand at making music together, just the two of them.
“I’d send Jimmy some songs and say ‘How about you and me, we start a two-piece band where we write really fun, catchy, unashamedly pop tunes that are a bit trashy and rough around the edges and have a bunch of fun with it?”
And that is where Sophisticated Dingo began. From a five-piece high school band to one of Melbourne’s most fun two-piece rock acts.
“It was my first time singing songs. It was my first time writing lyrics to music and being the frontman, it was the first time Jimmy had drummed in a rock band – we both grew so much.
“It became a huge output of both of our personalities, and I think that is why Dingo has persevered so long. We never tire of getting in a room together and working on new songs. It has been such a strong vehicle for both of our personal growth throughout our teen into young adult lives.”
On their blistering 2018 debut Tastes Just Like The Real Thing, Sophisticated Dingo introduced us to a band growing into their musical identity.
Rest assured, How’s The Carry On!?, is still packed to the brim with everything we’ve come to love about the Dingoes. There are hooks for days and enough gritty guitar and punchy energy to ensure a never-ending good time, but Sophisticated Dingo are also showcasing just how much growing you can do in a couple of years.
“On the first EP, we were very keen to tick every box that we had laid out and make sure everything was perfect in its own way – fighting to try and make something as perfect as possible when we maybe didn’t have the means. Naturally, we were setting ourselves up for disappointment, even though I look back and I love listening to that EP,” Matte reflects.
“Coming into this EP, we were more relaxed about it. Trying to have that view of hindsight without getting overly critical of the songs during the process and instead waiting until we heard it back, knowing that we were working with people that are really good at what they do.
“Let’s try our best and work really hard, but not be overly critical of ourselves. I think that helped us, because now I sit here and listen to the songs and I’m not nit-picking over every minute detail. That’s a really nice thing that you don’t often get to do as an artist listening to or observing your own work. That’s been the biggest positive.”
From the seize the moment encouragement of ‘Don’t Wanna Be’ to the self-empowerment of ‘What Is Going On?’, or the way ‘Vultures’ gently snaps you to attention and forces you to find your own voice, every track on How’s The Carry On!? is as much about Matte and Medley as it is for every listener.
“When you tie it all together, the EP has a central theme of navigating your way through early adulthood. That’s where we are in life now.
“You’re more in control of what is going on, you’re accepting. There is always chaos going on around you when you’re an adult, but it is when you can accept the conditions around you, kick back, and enjoy all the mess, that you can have fun with it,” Matte says.
“All the songs, they are a reflection of our lives and they all come from experiences that we have had personally. But these songs are trying to relate those specific examples into situations that other people can relate to when they listen, that is my hope at least.”
Maybe it is music, after all, that helps us make sense of all this chaos. Whether we’re hanging out behind a screen or dancing in a sweaty bandroom, we’re enjoying it together.
“One of my favourite things about making music, creating music, playing music, it all comes back to being on stage, performing live to my friends, meeting someone new through playing my music.
“It has come from a collection of experiences that I have lived through at some point. I’ve packaged it up into a song that means so much to me and then being able to show that to everyone else.
“It’s the opportunity to make something that is so intangible and only makes sense in my head or Jimmy’s head, or our collective Dingo head, and then being able to be onstage and hopefully portray that feeling accurately to other people.”
Sophisticated Dingo might have plied their craft on the stages of our favourite local venues, but the community they have built along the way is greater than anything contained within those bandroom walls. Now, with How’s The Carry On!? in hand, anything is possible.
“I don’t know what else you can do, but when you’re putting out music you’ve got to be happy about that. There will come a time when we can all get back on stage and go to gigs, but until then, we’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got.”
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