Cape Town, South Africa: The Question, Sir, is Why? …why we’ve not spoken about Dustland Express at this website before? Well, frankly, it’s not Metal. Or is it? In deep-rooted essence, at least, it may be; or close enough to ensnare M4A interest with the recent release of it’s debut full length album titled: The Question, Sir, is Why?
If indeed we were asked: The Question, Sir, is Why?
Predating this website was a popular metal-infused band, Man In Suit, which ended in 2008. From here came three founding members of Dustland Express. This intrigued us to see if there was any continuum aspect between the two entities.
“If there’s any correlation it’s that both bands sought to make music outside of a genre. Bryan – Man In Suit’s guitarist and singer – and Kamil are similar to write with because both of them wanted to create a sound that’s unique and exciting. If you take a listen to Man In Suit’s ‘Battle for the Sky’, you’ll hear the beginnings of Dustland Express. We were starting to introduce orchestral elements into the music, as well as more vocal harmonies”. ~ Scott Murcott (vocals, Dustland Express)
Through various incarnations and membership changes, the current band also features Brendan Stubbs (formerly of SAMMA 2016 winning band Wargrave) and Gareth Ashton (currently also playing for Reverse The Sands). Whilst perhaps a more classic rock oriented band, the apparent roots are without doubt to any seasoned Metal listener. We asked about Scott’s own musical journey and what metallic secrets it might hold.
“I come from a metal background. It was the first genre of music I became properly obsessed with. Bands like Pantera, Sepultura and early Machine Head really got into my head. There’s definitely a connection there in terms of scale and ambition. With the album we wanted to create something epic, yet accessible; music that held excitement for anyone, regardless of what genre they enjoy. But not only in terms of the music, the lyrics are there to tell a story and carry the album from track to track cohesively. This is probably quite similar to Metal’s penchant for grandness and story-telling”. ~ Scott Murcott
Writing, Production, and finally, Completion
The Question, Sir, is Why? has clearly been a work long in the making, and as they say: “the proof is in the pudding”. Multiple layers of stylistic influence, instrumentation and vocal textures pay off in the completed product. The first reveal from the album, however, dates back to 2013 already with the first song written for it, titled ‘Nemisis’.
“It’s been a beast to finish! I think it’s got a lot to do with the way Kamil and I write the songs. Over the years we’d write, produce, and record the tracks as if we were creating the finished products, and sometimes we’d discover a song just wasn’t working a month or so down the line and have to scrap it. What you’re hearing on the album is essentially the same stuff we wrote in Kamil’s home studio over the years”. ~ Scott Murcott
The album was also recorded in Kamil’s home studio, Scott told us, with the final work being sent to Chris Brink at Audio Fury in the UK for polishing.
“He worked on Man In Suit’s final EP ‘Battle for the Sky’, so we developed an understanding and work ethic from those sessions. Bear in mind that Chris has also been working on this album for as long as we have!” ~ Scott Murcott
The album art is the product of Olivia Stephan, drummer Mike’s sister. It visualizes the theme of a home at the end of the world, on the way to the apocalypse…
Dustland Express as a non-stereotype
In a live music scene where bands typically form simply as opportunities to fill voids in popular sub-culture, Dustland Express makes a dramatic escape from stereotypical trappings. We were curious to learn about where the artists behind the band could see themselves; reaching for the stars locally or, with such an unusual sound, perhaps a focus abroad?; or is Dustland Express merely positioned as a passion project?
“I’d say it’s somewhere in between. It definitely became a passion project in the later years, but we’ve also been lucky enough to have enlisted two younger guys – Brendan and Gareth – who’ve brought back a lot of the enthusiasm and drive we had at the beginning. So, while we’d love for this album to catch fire and allow us to tour the country and abroad, our expectations are also tempered. It’s tough in SA, and I think a lot of people won’t know what to make of Dustland Express at first. However, hopefully, like all things worthwhile, we’ll grow on you”. ~ Scott Murcott
Buy The Question, Sir, is Why? directly from Dustland Express via it’s Bandcamp page as digital or physical. The album is also available via Deezer, Apple Music, Spotify and all other digital platforms.