On Friday 19th June, a couple of wasted wanderers will do goddamn anything to get you to buy their debut EP.
Dusty Stephensen (guitar/ lead vocals), Benny Morris (bass/backing vocals) and Matt Birkin (drums/backing vocals) are Wasted Wanderers and they’ll be launching their EP Goddamn Anything at Jive.
Formed from some epic jamming sessions at the Grace Emily in 2014, Wasted Wanderers have achieved a lot in a short space of time.
Among their achievements, the band has already released their debut single (the title track from the EP), played headline shows and supported Mia Dyson and Donovan Frankenreiter.
Front-man Dusty Stephensen says the forming of the band was organic and built on friendship and a mutual respect for each other’s music.
“Wasted Wanderers all met at the Grace Emily. Me and the bass player (Benny) are in the house band for Billy Bob’s BBQ Jam. We’ve known each other for about four or five years but we’ve been playing together for about two. Then Matt, the drummer was popping up at the Grace Emily on Mondays as well and then we all started jamming,” he says.
“Matt is the studio engineer of this whole project. When I wanted to put this project together, me and Matt started demoing some of my songs because we were just hanging out in his studio. One of the songs we demoed was called, ‘Goddamn Anything’ which is now the main single. Then I went, ‘Screw this. Let’s make an album’ because we’d already started doing gigs with that line-up. So we went to Salvi’s Studio in Crafers and camped out there for about a week and laid down a bunch of tracks in the cool Crafers winter atmosphere.”
Once they recorded the album though, Dusty says the eclecticism of the tracks didn’t make sense for what they were trying to achieve.
“Originally we recorded about 13 songs; it was going to be a whole album. But it was just so all over the place because it’s very dynamic and versatile. My other bands have been more stoner rock and other genres and with Wasted Wanderers, I just put all of that in; so some of it’s mellow, some of it’s alternative and some of it is really blues and rootsy, and then some of it gets a bit rocky,” he says.
“Then we listened back and said, ‘This sounds like three different bands’. We could have released it and then release some singles that were cleverly chosen, but there was no point releasing a whole album when some of the tracks wouldn’t fit in with the rest. I mean, they’re still good songs, but maybe for other projects, or perhaps future EPs. What we’ve done is scaled it back to six tracks that work together better. It’s still a dynamic EP, but it’s just going to make a bit more sense.”
The songs that eventually made it onto Goddamn Anything include some the band have written together and others from the back catalogue of Dusty’s mind.
“Some of the songs are songs I’ve sat on for a while, so I’ve written them and taken them to the band. Once you’ve taken them to the band, the arrangement can change a bit; they always have their own take on it. I play all instruments so I’ve done recordings in the past where I’ve played everything, but it’s good because Matt’s a much better drummer than I am, and Benny is much better bass player than I am,” he laughs.
“So I take my parts to them and they always know what I’m going for. They make it heaps better and put in their own vibe, and do something to the songs that I couldn’t have done at all myself. They bring new life to it and that’s why Wasted Wanderers is a solid unit. I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.”
As well as bringing his music to life, Dusty says the band were instrumental in producing the recording as well.
“Matt has been engineering the whole thing and producing it. Everything we’ve done on this EP has been from scratch at his studio called Vale Studios. We did the earlier stuff at Salvi’s Studios but even then, that was Matt engineering. He’d be at the desk, set everything up, hit record and then there’d be 30 seconds at the beginning of the track where you can hear him run to the drums!” he laughs.
“And we’ve got Benny who is just a musical freak. His ear is the best I’ve ever come across. It’s so amazing to jam with him because he picks up stuff so quickly. He and Matt work so well together, they are a solid rhythm section. It’s so cool to see, because they just predict what each other are going to do and they’ve got that vibe going. Ben is an amazing bass player with great backing vocals.”
To give a taste of the musical production that is Goddamn Anything, the three-piece will be a seven-piece next Friday night at Jive.
“We’re extending the band that night,” Dusty says. “We’ll be having a keyboardist, an acoustic guitarist and two girls on backing vocals. We’ll have seven people on stage during our set. We’ll have five vocalists, so there’ll be lots of harmonies. In the middle, we’ll do a trio set and jam out with some of our heavier stuff so it will be a long set but it’ll be fun.”
“We’ve got Sophie and Brittany McKay on backing vocals; we’ve played music together for a long time. They love the backing girls thing. They’ve got moves and they’ve got sass. They’re so cool to have on stage.”
And to support them, Wasted Wanderers have selected a diverse line-up for the bill.
“We’ve got Banjo Jackson who’s really cool. He writes stories and great poetic lyrics and presents them in a really unique way with different instrumentation. You’ll never know what line-up he’s going to have. He could be a three-piece, four-piece or five-piece; who knows? Then we’ve got Cosmo Thundercats. They’re hard to describe as well. They’re a trio and they do cool, rootsy, smooth stuff. It’s good music. They’re good looking lads,” Dusty muses. “It’ll be a big production. We want to make this one a bit special.”
For Dusty, launching this EP will be a load off his mind, a huge release; the kind that comes along just in time.
“Launching this EP is going to be like when you really need to pee and you’re on Hay Plains on the way to Sydney and you know that it’s an hour before the next roadhouse that will be open because it’s twelve o’clock at night. I’m a guy so theoretically I can just stop on the side of the road so maybe let’s just ignore the pee analogy, but it’s going to be sweet relief!” he laughs.
“It’s going to be so good to finally get it out because we’ve worked so hard and so long on it. At the beginning, when we were at Salvi’s, we were tracking frequently and gigging a lot, and everyone was really keen on it. Then we hit a period in the middle where we got busy with other things. There was about three to six months where we didn’t heavily pursue the project.”
“We were still recording every now and then but it wasn’t until the last couple of months where we’ve been in the studio battling it out. We booked the EP launch so we’d have a deadline and we’ve just been going crazy trying to get it all together. It’ll be so good just to have it done. These last few weeks have been a little bit stressful trying to get it all together.”
After the launch of Goddamn Anything, Dusty says Wasted Wanderers will be wandering towards the east coast to take their music to the people.
“Once we release this, it comes with a national campaign. We’re not just trying to release this in Adelaide and then sit around until we do the next one. We’re planning on touring it up the east coast so we’re currently booking Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, plus releasing it nationally to all the community radio stations and Triple J,” he says.
“We want to get it out there as much as possible. We’re trying to get some international exposure as well because it’d be nice to get overseas at some point. Basically this is our first EP so we’re trying to set the groundwork and pave the way for the next one. We’ll start getting the next one rolling as soon as we’ve launched this one.”
You can grab tickets to Wasted Wanderers’ EP launch at Jive through the venue or through MoshTix; doors open 8pm.
Goddamn Anything will be available to purchase at the gig and online from June 19th.
By Libby Parker
Story originally published in BSide Magazine
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