Friday, 12 September 2014

The Dunes Interview with Adam Vanderwerf!!!

Ever wondered what it would feel like to look in the other end of the telescope? Well, wonder no more as we question the soft-rock atmospherists, The Dunes. Their 2013 release, La Musique Nouveau, demonstrated the band's amazing handle on depth, and space. Very recently The Dunes released BAD:LANDS, showing the darker side of the band's talent, and expressing the compendium of psychedelic treats this band still has to offer - (Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman).

Dan: Where do you guys hail from, and who is in the band?

Adam: Stacie Reeves – VOX & percussion
Matt Reiner – Guitar
Adam Vanderwerf – Bass / Synths
Jess Honeychurch – Organ/Synth
Dan Fernie-Harper – Drums / percussion

The Dunes are based in Adelaide, Australia.  We have all been in bands over the years, and fairly involved in the music scene here at home.

Dan: Where do The Dunes get their name from (with addendum to band history)?

Adam: The Dunes was originally conceived as a 2-piece by Matt Reiner. The name came to him in a dream.  After the first EP (Going Under) was released, Dan and I (Adam) joined the band, followed by Jess. It’s a great dynamic in the band now. Originally the songs were mainly written by Matt Reiner, but with our upcoming releases, we have all worked together to come up with new material – I think that people will be surprised with what we are writing now; it’s a departure from some of the old stuff, but still keeping that “Dunes” sound.

Dan: The band has a wonderful, airy space rock atmosphere - Who are some of your influences?

Adam: We have a lot of influences, but ones that have been helping lately are Black Mountain, Moon Duo/Wooden Shjips (read out interview here), Elephant Stone, The Cult of Dom Keller, The Black Angels, Dead Skeletons, and more.

Dan: How do you go about writing for The Dunes?

Adam: As mentioned before, Matt Reiner would often come to practice with most of a song already arranged and written, and the rest of the band would come up with their parts. With the new stuff we have just been locking ourselves in our practice space and recording our jams. With our new track Badlands I had recently purchased a Korg Monotribe and had been playing around with the settings and sounds. After a few jams we had worked out the track and figured out how to play it live. The other new track “End Of The Beginning” basically came from the main riff that Matt Reiner came up with during a jam some time ago. It was too good to let go so we wrote the song around it.

Dan: The Dunes are often posting pictures of their fantastic gear on Facebook, and suchlike. What were some of the guitars used on La Musique Nouveau?

Adam: We are all gear nerds when it comes down to it. On LMN Matt used a Fender Strat and a Mini Maton acoustic. I had just picked up a early 90s Fender P Bass and swapped out the pickups to Seymour Duncan Antiquity II’s. Amazing tone. On the new tracks we are using a Vox Teardrop for guitar and ive recently picked up a ’78 Fender P-bass. The ’78 P has now become my workhorse – there is something about vintage gear that makes it feel and sound better in my opinion.  Most of the guitars are in standard tuning, whilst my bass is tuned down 2 steps. I also prefer using heavier gauge strings (50-115 GHS Boomers).

Dan: And how about amps, and effects?

Adam: Amp wise, for the guitar we used a Fender Princeton and Bass was a Fender bandmaster with Ampeg Classic 4x10. The latest one I used a Fender Bassman 100 head. Effects are a beast, but to give an example of some that we are using: 

Boss DM2 Delay (also used for vocals)

EHX 45000 looper

Strymon Timeline
EHX cathedral (vocals)
Russian Big Muff
EHX Double Muff 
Boss TR2 Tremelo
EHX Pulsar
Tyms Big Bottom
Malekko B:Assmaster
EHX Bass Big Muff
Fairfield Circuitry Unpleasant Surprise
EHX Holy Grail

There are a heap more, but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. We are always looking for new sounds, and experimenting with pedals/effects. Another pedal that I’ve just ordered is the Elephant Stone Bass Fuzz. We are big fans of Elephant Stone and were pumped to see they released some signature fuzz pedals.

Got Fuzz?

Dan: How about any additional instruments?

Adam: Our keys player uses one of 2 organs – A Baleani 2 tier combo organ that we found in hard rubbish years ago. Works perfectly and easy to transport live. When recording we used a Hammond organ, and also a Yamaha YC25D. We also throw in a Korg MS10 synth when we play live. As I mentioned before, we have been playing around using a Korg Monotribe for some trippy effects, as well as a few noise pedals in loop – that will be coming out more in a live setting later down the track. Also when we play live we use a electronic Shruti Box for that drone tone.

Dan: The Dunes preference of space and ambience over hard hitting instrumentation is a real fresh of breath air in many ways. Was there a conscious effort to keep the songs deliberately clean and relaxed?

Adam: Exploring the idea that music can take you on a journey is always something that I look for when making new music. I think with La Musique Nouveau the theme of space and ambience works perfectly in the context of the EP – the most ‘rockiest’ of the songs was “A Thousand Crimes” I think as you play together as a band you start to hear the songs in a different way which allows you to experiment more and add extended jams to parts, rewrite passages and put something new to the songs. If you want to hear the song note for note, buy the CD, sit at home and listen to it; I think in a live setting the idea of extending songs and improvising bits gives the audience more. I'm a big fan of putting on a “Show” rather than just standing on stage playing the songs start to finish. When possible we try to incorporate visuals into our set as much as possible.

Dan: What is next for The Dunes?

Adam: We have just released a double single BAD:LANDS featuring the tracks Badlands & End Of The Beginning, it also has a live extended version of A Thousand Crimes which is a good reflection of how we play it at the moment. After this, we are having a bit of a break and writing some new material for a few months. We will be heading up to Sydney in mid December (I can’t say much more than that at the moment – but check back on our Facebook page for an announcement soon) and hoping to organise some shows in Melbourne a few times before the end of the year.  We just had some amazing bands over from Melbourne to play with us in Adelaide – The Citradels (read out interview here), Buried Feather and Flyying Colours – so we are hoping to line up some shows with them.

Dan: Lastly, is there anything else you would like to say? 

Adam: Thanks to all for the support so far. Whether it’s coming to a show, buying a CD or tshirt, or just messaging us to say you like the music means more than you can imagine. It's hard to stand out from the (psych) crowd but I think doing what you love and making music that the band stands by is better than following the latest trend or trying to emulate something that’s already been done – it's an easy trap to fall into.  Thanks for the good questions! I could probably talk about gear all day! 

Do You Even Psychedelic? would like to thank Adam for taking the time to complete this interview.

You can find the new 'BAD:LANDS' double-single, and all of The Dunes' past discography here.

Make sure to like the band's Facebook page to keep up to date here.


  1. Great blog and some great music, to check out. Thanks for all your hard work dude