Since signing an international record deal in 2010 with heavyweight Canadian independent music label Dine Alone Records, Dinosaur Bones has continued to further entrench their signature sound in the hearts of indie-music lovers everywhere. Since the acclaimed success of their first full-length album My Divider, Dinosaur Bones has gone on to share the stage with notable Canadian music makers like Tokyo Police Club, Broken Social Scene and The Arkells. Recently, I caught up with bassist Branko Scekic to get an insider perspective on the band’s rise in the indie scene.
Dinosaur Bones was formed in late 2007, stemming from the new songwriting direction of singer and guitarist, Ben Fox. Having taken a three year hiatus after the disbandment of their first Ska-based musical endeavour, Fox and Scekic made the move back to Toronto from their Montreal residence to reunite with former band mate and keyboardist, David Wickland. The diversity of member’s musical origins, ranging from classical piano training to basement-based self-education help forge the spawning bed for their initial creative direction. The signature sound was further cemented with the additions of guitarist Josh Byrne and drummer Lucas Fredette to the final line-up. After recording a self-funded and self-titled EP, Dinosaur Bones immediately began proving their sound to be just as large as their name, earning two XM Verge Music Award Nominations. Branko Scekic comments on their promising beginnings:
“I never thought I’m gonna grow up and be a rock star, it just came into my life and I sort of just rolled with it. Now here I stand ten years in.”
Their newest album, Shaky Dream, released in 2013 marked a new era of creative direction and production style for the band. Their previous two releases had been collaborations with famed Torontonian, Jonathon Drew, the production mind behind indie forerunners Fucked Up, Tokyo Police Club and The Arkells. This time round, John Congleton, a producer based out of Dallas, Texas was their creative partner, boasting a resume with big names like The Walkmen and Explosions in The Sky. Branko comments,
“We explored a lot more spontaneous musical ideas. With the first record we had been playing those songs for years and didn’t change anything too drastic. With this one we went into it with sort of a more open forum for creativity.”
The new environment of imagination was a strong move for the band, Shaky Dream, holding a top position on CBC radio for weeks after its release.
Last year the band ignited the main stage at Toronto’s Edgefest, controlling the festivals swelling number of spectators with a hypnotic ambient sound and punchy bass lines and rhythms that played in my thoughts long after my ears stopped ringing. The band has painted their reputation coast to coast; jumping the border to touchdown in North Eastern American cities like Washington, Boston and NYC. With the chaos of life on the road Branko states,
“All the venues sort of begin to blur together although I’d have to say playing The Starlight in Edmonton with our good friends Tokyo Police Club and Said The Whale is definitely a standout.”
With the ever-growing presence of indie music labels and the shrinking of the major label market under increasingly industrialized entertainment, it’s hard to see the indie community as not just a counterculture but also as a grassroots movement. The digital age has democratized the artistic platform, this realization fuelling the career directions of musicians who see themselves not only as entertainers but also as entrepreneurs. Branko says,
“Being on Dine Alone Records gives us a lot more creative freedom and just feels more personal and less manufactured. It’s really the best of both worlds because they have a major label reach without having to deal with the rest of it.”
The band’s newest releases of music videos for “Nothing Between the Lines” filmed in south Texas and their Elvis-inspired “Sleepsick” video filmed in Las Vegas are sure to make your next Youtube playlist. With the continuation of upward mobility for Dinosaur Bones, it’s hard to see them slowing down anytime soon. Carving their name deep within the indie community, it’s safe to say Dinosaur Bones will be the study of musical archaeologists long after their last note sounds.