Small Fish, Big Pond

11 May 2012 | 1:07 pm | Daniel Cribb

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Whether it was whiskey that fuelled their recent party antics in the US or the excitement of being in another country, Dead Letter Circus only had two days to recover once touching down in Queensland before preparing for an intensive national tour of Australia. “We got home and I slept like a bear hibernating, just to try and beat the jetlag,” drummer Luke Williams says. “Then after our two days off we got straight into rehearsing our Australian set. We were only doing like 40 minute [sets] in the US, so we've still got another 25 minutes worth of material to rehearse up,” Williams begins. “We're just blowing the cobwebs off older tracks and getting tip-top for the Australian shows, because we want to blow people away,” he explains.

“Our support band, Fair To Midland, just flew in from Texas this morning. We picked them up from the airport and took them to our guitar player's house and had some whiskey. Those boys, they love to drink whiskey,” he laughs. With a surplus of quirky and exciting tales from their fourth trip to the US in April, supporting Fair To Midland, it's surprising that they haven't traded in their Australian roots for US citizenship.

“Playing in New York City was exciting enough, but then we got to the Holiday Inn, about 20 minutes out of Manhattan, and we pulled up and there was fucking Prevo buses everywhere – those American big touring rigs. Hellyeah's bus was there. We didn't know it was them until the crew stepped off the bus and saw us. We were looking pretty rock'n'roll, and we said 'G'day' and they realised we were from Australia. They'd just been down in [Australia] for the Soundwave festival, so we got talking and they invited us back on Vinnie Paul's [Pantera/Hellyeah drummer] bus – he actually owns the bus that they tour on and they said, 'Come back for some drinks'. So we hopped on, like little school girls, hoping we'd see Vinnie Paul, but the band had checked in to the Holiday Inn for the night. So we just partied with the guitar tech and the bus driver,” he recalls.

“We trashed a drum kit after the show in Memphis, Tennessee – that was pretty rock'n'roll. We don't do that very often. The drum riser was like two feet high and we ended up kicking the drums off the riser at the end of the show. It was a hire kit,” he admits. “I would have still done it if it was my own kit. There were a couple of things pissing me off at that night and I just exploded at the end of the show in a flurry of cymbal stands and bass drums and toms… There was just some things going wrong at the show and my temper has the tendency to explode sometimes – it's well known in the band. But Kim [vocals] did help me rip some of the drums off the riser,” he laughs.

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It's not the first time that alcohol and rock'n'roll have been the catalysts for a big night or over-the-top venture. Singer Kim Benzie has suffered a few broken bones and bruises during his time on the road. During the band's last show of their US tour, in Texas, Benzie climbed on a set of speakers, raised seven feet off the stage, and jumped back down to end the set – not anticipating a lack of footwear would result in his ankle rolling and some extreme swelling. Dutch courage also resulted in a broken rib from a stage dive during an Australian tour a couple of years ago. Wherever Dead Letter Circus is, the party's not too far behind.

Their latest single Wake Up, which has been on high rotation on triple j and available for free download on the band's website, was road tested in the States with positive results. Now with Australian fans in their crosshairs, they've been busy in the studio working on the rest of the album, which may find its way into the world in a drip-feed-like release. “We're going to approach it the same way that we did the first record. The first record was dropping singles like a year-and-a-half before it was released – giving people a taste of what was coming. It'll just keep us on the radar and give our fans something new. It's been nearly two years since the last record dropped, so we're kind of due to give fans some new music.”

While their US touring is like a dream come true and their success across the ocean is catching up with their victories at home, Australian fans needn't worry about losing them just yet. “There's still work that needs to be done in Australia. This is really our home. We could definitely live there, but I like Australia better for the lifestyle and the weather,” he explains.

“It's just phenomenal to see the growth of the band from the first time we went over there, when no one knew us, to now. There has been a massive spike in numbers from tour to tour. The amount of people coming out to see the band, you can really see it spiking every tour. All the Americans are super friendly, they love the music. I think they like that there's something fresh coming out. There's a real sense of yearning in the American music community. They're kind of sick of hearing radio and record labels pump out bland, boring shit and they like the fact that we sound a little different and that we're doing something original…

“The band had a nice gradual rise to success in Australia, rather than a really quick one. I'd like to do that in the States and Europe as well – see the band gradually continually rise and get bigger so we can have a national career as well as an international career. I think bands receive a lot more respect when they do it the old-fashioned way and hit the road for months on end and do it that way. Your longevity as a band increases. If you rise quickly, you often fall quickly.”