Human Dinosaur Machine are a pop-punk, alternative rock band from Lismore.
A blend of '90s throw-back grunge and American pop-punk with an Australian edge, Lismore rockers Human Dinosaur Machine's latest single is 'Cigarettes And Tea'.
We sit down for an extended chat to the unsigned four-piece, who comprise Kazya K, Isaac Vincent, Mikey Cowin and Matthew 'Roachy' Roach.
We're on a speed date... tell us about Human Dinosaur Machine; how'd the band come together and what's the fresh goss? [Kazya] So I went to a party one night and in true socially anxious fashion I found myself in the 'smoking room' hiding from everyone and playing this guitar I found. It happened to be Mikey's and I remember loving his haunting riffs. I decided I wanted to be in a band with him then
[Mikey] I loved Kazya's sound and the way she played guitar, loads of people told me I had to hear her sing and it was amazing. And again, people told me this Isaac guy was really talented, then we all lived together in a typical muso, sharehouse hell-hole, good times. Isaac and I would jam just about everyday.
Your latest single is 'Cigarettes And Tea'; how does this track showcase the HDM sound? [Isaac] I think this song showcases how we can individually take elements from stuff we like, and then blend it to come up with our own sound.
[Kazya] The HDM sound to me has always been a sort of brutalised, honest look at brains, and all the fun things that come with that. 'Cigarettes And Tea' for me syncs into the 'entertaining' world of bipolar, with all the highs and lows.
You worked with Al Pegg at Old Dog Studios on the track; what did he bring to the project that enhanced the song? [Kazya] Al Pegg is honestly one of the coolest people I have met hands down, and it's his creative genius alongside his knowledge that really sets him apart from the rest. I've never felt so comfortable to step into a studio exactly how I am, and have total acceptance by such a professional dude. He works with whatever you bring him and makes it into something magical.
Have you worked with Al since on more collaborations? [Mikey] We're heading back to work with Al again really soon. We have a bunch of new stuff and some classic HDM songs we need to re-record.
Unfortunately, we had issues getting our stems (basic recorded tracks) from our first demo; the guy who recorded them has a history – we found out later – of keeping bands recordings. We think it will just be easier to move on and stick with the good guys we can trust at Old Dog Studios; it's a very professional set-up and still relaxed.
The band have been fairly productive past 6-10 months with 5 singles; is the group working towards an album release... if so, anything you can share about it? [Isaac] It's still up in the air. I personally think we should do an album. And we definitely will do one eventually, so maybe soon.
How does the group work in terms of writing and presenting new songs to each other? [Isaac] I think we all do really well taking the time to listen and learn the songs we present to each other. Sometimes it can be hard with four writers, but it always feels pretty easy with us.
[Mikey] Usually a song is fleshed out in a smaller group or one of us writes something, but we eventually all have an input.
The group aren't shy in promoting their affection for throwback, '90s grunge and American pop-punk; are these the main influences that seep into the group's vibe, sound? [Kazya] Oh hell yes, I'm all about that American pop-punk. I grew up with '90s tunes mostly and a lot of pop music, but pop-punk is a phase I've never been able to grow out of.
Obviously the touring circuit has been wiped with COVID; as restrictions ease, are there any preliminary plans in motion for a run of shows, even a local gig in Lismore? [Mikey] You know, this really f...ed us; we had so many festival applications in front of us when it hit and as the seriousness of what was happening set in sometimes you just need to accept what's happening and learn to roll with it. But we made ourselves up to that point, so to speak; we know what we need to do to get back to that place.
[Kazya] I've been in touch with a couple of people super keen to put some local shows on when restrictions lift, and we are the top of their list. Way too keen. Ultimately we would love to go on tour asap, it's up there on the goal list at this stage.
Being musicians, how have you found as a collective the lack of live performances affecting your well-being, general mindset? [Isaac] It's been pretty crappy, but ya know it's been a good opportunity to write and get stuff done around the house. I'm more concerned about businesses locally having to close their doors, as Lismore has been struggling since the 2017 flood.
[Kazya] Live shows have a direct link to the management of my mental health – in a positive way. It's such a release of intensive emotion when I'm up there, something that is hard to find off stage.
Reversing that, has this enforced break allowed any new hobbies to flourish or skills to be learned? [Kazya] Cooking. I've been experimenting with recipes and different techniques. It's really fun to figure out I'm kinda good at something other than just wailing. Also I recently started pole dancing, so watch this space.
[Isaac] I've gotten really good at NBA2K20!
[Mikey] I kept working the whole time. But with more time at home, I have a small studio and was able to focus on that, it's a better set-up now for writing and recording.
[Roachy] I have been using the time off from playing shows to work on my wrist action when drumming; it's been pretty hard and annoying to change a habit of 15 years, but it's getting easier each day I practice.
Time to put your predictor goggles on; in five years time, where do you see HDM in relation to the Aussie music scene? [Kazya] I see HDM touring regularly, playing festivals and meeting new people. I see merch and music for days, and close connections with other Aussie bands who at this point I just admire the heck out of.
[Isaac] Hopefully doing big shows, playing with the same line-up we have today and lots of releases under our belt.
Away from music, does the band have similar interests that keep you connected when you're not on stage, in the studio? [Isaac] Yeah, we all have the same friend groups and watch similar TV shows/ movies.
[Roachy] Though, back to music to answer – meeting up on a night off from playing to watch other friends play tends to happen a lot too; Lismore has a sweet Punk scene.
[Kazya] These guys are my family and best friends. It's a sad week when I don't get to see their cute faces.
The best and worst aspects of living in Lismore (away from the hustle & bustle of the cities)? [Kazya] Best is the lack of hustle and bustle that's for sure. I like the fact that I'm a regular in a lot of places, and there's always a friendly smile to be had regardless of whether the person is a stranger or not. The countryside is absolutely stunning, it's never hard to find somewhere to just go and take in nature. Worst for sure is the lack of opportunity for live music.
[Isaac] Best: It has great water and air. Worst: It's a long drive to the city.
What does it mean to have a super-fan in the form of Midnight Oils Rob Hirst? [Isaac] Yeah, it's rad. I mean he's no Peter Garrett though.
The last time I saw the inside of a gym was? [Isaac] Yesterday! I go to the gym every day. Gotta keep these guns big and my buns tight because my personality is trash.
[Roachy] Maybe 2010? Having dreads in a gym feels a tad juxtaposed around all those 'Isaacs' haha.
What's the one chore you dislike the most? [Kazya] Cleaning the bathroom. There's always that one bit of hair that always comes back.
Do you have any phobias... please explain? [Kazya] Spiders! Also not being heard. If I lose my voice it's the worst thing ever. I need to be understood.
[Mikey] I knew a Phoebe once, but no phobias. Maybe one day.