The band Dande and The Lion remind me of a close-knit family ringing true to the saying that ‘friends are the family you choose’. I feel very fortunate to have been included in what could only be considered a family dinner before they performed the night away in a beautifully unique bar hidden in the streets of Sydney. Watching these guys perform makes you feel happy and energised, which is miraculous considering I was caught up in a dreadful fight against the flu when I went to see them.
Anyone can see how much they love what they are doing as their faces were constantly cracking with massive grins as they danced around stage. Some parts you even feel as if you were intruding on private family moments when you catch them making eye contact with each other and grinning at an inside joke or memory that makes you lean in closer hoping to be included. Dande and The Lion not only combine their phenomenal instrumental skills and hauntingly beautiful voices to make amazing music, they also have a stage presence that makes people stop what they are doing to watch them as if they are in a trance.
Below is my interview with the people that make Dande and The Lion come alive.
EP Lauch Information:
Oxford Art Factory, Gallery Bar
Buy Your tickets here.
What made you start and how did you meet each other?
Nic: The passion of wanting to express ideas through music. I met Tass (guitarist). Tass and I met Bianca (vocals), and then Abbey (vocals) came on board to round it all off. We recently have brought in our new drummer Chris.
Where did you get the name ‘Dande and The Lion’?
Tass: We were actually struggling for names. We had this big list, and we were like ‘ok, there is some cool stuff in there’. I was on one of these crazy juice things at the time and I was drinking Dandelion Tea. I looked at the box and thought ‘oh, dande and the lion would be really cool’, and that’s how it happened. What’s really interesting though, is as our music has evolved we have really noticed that there is a mixture of really cool soft, emotional songs which represents the ‘Dande’ side of the band, and there are these heavy influences with distortion and overdrive which is kind of like the ‘Lion’. It’s weird that it evolved like that, but I think that the name really represents the type of music that is coming out.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?
Bianca: I think we write a lot about relationships. Not particularly love ones, but just about various connections with people in general.
Tass: All of us have very different backgrounds in terms of where we come from and life experiences and because the four of us write, each song often comes out quite different. Some of the songs are inspired from relationships, not in the ‘traditional sense’, but also same sex and being ok with stepping outside the ‘norm’.
Nic: Musically if you look at Tass, she has a very modern, indie vibe about her. Then you’ve got Abbey who’s a bit alternative rock’n’roll. Bianca has a more psychedelic, folky thing happening and I’m more on the punky, heavy side of things. And it all comes together somehow.
Bianca: We’re very muddled and mashed in a good way.
Your Triple-J Unearthed bio says you’re focussing on playing the entire Sydney live circuit. Once you’ve accomplished that, where would you like to go next?
Bianca: I think we have some tour plans in the mix.
Nic: We’re hoping to go up and down the coast, just anywhere and then the WORLD!! Maybe do the INXS thing and get a van then drive around for three years.
Bianca: Tass is really good at surfing. Nic tries to be good. Actually, I’ve never seen Nic surf.
Tass: Nic’s one of those crazy surfers that goes for anything.
Nic: It’s more out of my stupidity rather than me being crazy! Sometimes I ride the board, sometimes the board rides me. It’s a love-hate relationship. Tass used to represent England in Karate and Abbey has been accepted into the Music Conservatorium.
Bianca: Nic has only 9 and a half fingers.
Has there ever been a point when you’ve nearly separated? And if so what happened?
Tass: Nic and I, we argue like brother and sister. It’s an intense rage and then its fine.
Bianca: It’s usually over something small
Nic: Yes, sometimes we’re like cats and dogs; but it’s never major, just something really stupid.
Tass: But other than that, nothing. We’re solid.
What’s your favourite part about performing with each other?
Bianca: I think it’s learning about how we all vibe and connect with one another both as people and as performers and trying to work with each other and on improving on certain aspects of performance.
Abbey: Each time we perform we are always getting better. Knowing how to entertain, how to jam with each other and vibe with each other.
Bianca: We’re pretty, well I am anyway, pretty awkward.
Nic: Sometimes you’ll hear something, if we’re free jamming, and hear a bit that someone does and go “that’s so cool, let’s get in on that”. I like being surprised and excited.
Tass: The best thing about performing is when we have this really amazing vibe going, not worrying about who’s there or who’s watching, but this amazing energy that we’re connecting and leveling out into each other’s frequencies. When we do that and have that one frequency then it just creates this amazing energy that I’m pretty sure the audience feel as well.
Do you have any weird superstitions or pre-gig traditions?
Nic: Haha, yeah.
Tass: About five or ten minutes before we’re due to go on, I make the guys sit backstage or a separate room just us together and have some time to try and sink into each other’s energy.
Bianca: I usually have a whiskey before I go on. I very rarely perform without one. Settles the nerves like nothing else.
What’s the best music related memory you have? It can be together or on your own.
Nic: For me there was this one time we were playing and the whole crowd was dancing to us, it was a relatively new song and we came to the end of the song and the crowd was singing with us. When it finished they were like ‘keep going!’ so we played for a few more rounds. That was pretty cool, having the crowd participation. The feeling that they actually wanted to hear more of it.
Bianca: Nic nearly falling off stage one time as well was pretty funny. We were playing on something like a crate, it wasn’t even a stage.
Tass: He put his foot down this whole and no one saw it. And I just watch him, because he was next to me, just fall down this hole. It was the funniest thing ever.
Tass: No one noticed that the bass was missing.
Nic: Hehe no one ever notices, except for the bass player in the band after us and she came up to me afterwards and was like ‘oh, I saw you fall but you managed to hold it really well’.
What’s your creative process?
Tass: It varies, sometimes we have our own individual ideas and then we bring it to the band and evolve it. Other times we just bring some riffs or melodies and expand on the ones we like, then one of us four takes dibs on who gets to write the lyrics.
Bianca: Words. I’ve got loads of words. Sometimes I just find a riff and match it then I bring it to these guys.
Abbey: As a band, sometimes one of us will randomly find a riff or be jamming and be like this is really cool and then we all keep building on it till we eventually write some lyrics. That’s how it’s happened the last couple times.
So you said you’re working on your EP, how many songs are going to be on it and have you finished most of them?
Bianca: Yep, it’s all recorded and we’re launching it on 16th March at the Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar.
Tass: I guess for us now though, what we are working on is a lot of new stuff. We’ve had quite a few gigs, so it’s been amazing in getting our sound out there and playing with some other really cool bands.
Where is the best place you have performed? And then where is the dream place to perform?
Bianca: Yea, I really like Lazy Bones. Selina’s was great too.
You said you write a lot of songs about relationships, are there any other themes or topics you touch? And do you think these will change overtime?
Bianca: They already have been changing. These first few stages of songs are based on relationships and I think they already are evolving.
Nic: With these songs that’s what they were all about; under that umbrella “relationships” but that covers a wide range. And musically the songs changed as we amped them, and mashed them, and re-hashed them which in turn changed a bit of the feel from when they were originally hatched, which is good. And from that you can see not only are the songs evolving, but how we are evolving ourselves as a band. Other themes and topics will be delved into as we grow, but for now, mainly relationships.
Tass: They’re not all about break ups either.
Bianca: Some of them are about making love
Nic: Stalking you. Or being free.
Tass: Some touch on mental health and death and others just being in the moment and embracing the natural elements around us. Surface level it’s about heartbreak or it could be a fun song, but actually when you read into the lyrics they do actually touch on all these other aspects. I guess they’re subtler, more cryptic.
How important is personal and band image to you?
Bianca: I think it’s different for all of us. I think we’re all over the shop really because we are still trying to locate and pinpoint our identity. But being so completely individual as people makes this aspect difficult to navigate. For me anyway.
Tass: I think it is important. The way we present ourselves forms part of our ‘identity’ as a band and as individuals so it’s important to think about and take seriously.
Who has given you support to pursue music and is there anyone you know that doesn’t like that you want to pursue a career in music?
Bianca: I feel like a lot of the time it does get treated like a hobby instead of a profession, and you can get a sort of patronizing reaction from people. But if they see you play and perform, I think it clicks. I think that’s the case with my family. Generally, you gravitate towards those who are supportive.
Abbey: I think we are really lucky. We’re surrounded by really supportive people that’ll be either friends, family or partners.
Nic: Saying that, those that discourage you or say stuff like ‘don’t quit your day job’. At the end of the day, you end up doing what you’re passionate about and regardless if it will eventuate to what they consider as success, it doesn’t matter, you are doing something that you enjoy and if that makes you happy keep on doing it.
Bianca: Tass just quit her job
Tass: Yea, today was my last day haha. It’s pretty interesting because I come from a musical background, but I’ve always been into sport. My stepdad is a musician and my brother is lead singer in The Hideaways back in the UK. So, when I started to get really into music, which wasn’t really all that long ago, it was weird because they are both really supportive, but I didn’t want to tell them how serious I was about this because I thought that they would think of me as ‘oh, that’s not your thing, your thing is sport.’ As soon as you break away from caring about what people think, the ‘what if’s’ and start get out of your own way then things begin to happen for you. I guess, quitting my job was opening up the space for me to start creating the reality that I want.
Nic: One of the main reasons I want to play with Tass is she has this drive and motivation of “this is what I want to do”. It’s great to be with someone with that kind of mindset.
What’s the weirdest thing that has happened whilst working on a song?
Nic: Getting turned on. Just being like ‘yea, this. I like this’
Bianca: The amount of erections this guy gets during the song writing process
Nic: There is a hole in the back of my bass. But seriously… there is…
What genre of music can’t you stand to listen to?
Bianca: I don’t think there is a genre I can’t stand but there is definitely, like super heavy, screamo metal and really poppy and repetitive things that I can’t listen to a lot of. I think I generally have an appreciation for everything.
Nic: Haha I love metal! But in every category or genre there is good stuff and bad stuff. Each to their own.
Abbey: I’m pretty diverse. I guess the one thing I can’t listen to a lot of at once would be screamo.
Tass: Yeah, I’m the same. Although I really appreciate the music behind it and the vocalist’s capabilities, it’s super technical and difficult so I appreciate it a lot, but I do find it hard to listen to.