“I think I'll always be chasing that dragon. I’m just such a legacy person. I think that's how I've survived so long, honestly, without giving up.”
“Honestly, I’m just looking for my sound daddy to sweep me off my feet,” says Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon, founder of Full Flower Moon Band.
Everyone laughs, and she looks at me, “You better be writing all this down. This is great content.”
Recent winners of our Underground Hidden Gems Competition, Full Flower Moon Band have been the name on everyone’s lips over the past year, with their second album, Diesel Forever, making waves throughout the industry. Dillon joins us in the office to create some content and announce the band's win. She chats more about her ‘sound daddy’, who we now understand to be a mysterious producer that she's searching for to make all her sonic dreams come true for the band's next album, which is mostly written.
Eventually, Dillon and I peel off from the others, walking down the street to a small coffee shop. Both of us comment on how different it is to have an in-person interview in the age of the Zoom monopoly. I add that it feels like we’re in Almost Famous, and she lights up. ‘Yes! Oh, my god.”
We slip into a natural rhythm, and Dillon starts talking about her childhood in Gympie; her dad is an amateur visual artist, and her mum is a social worker. She launches into a story about the first time she was introduced to the guitar as an instrument. She notes that her guitar teacher was “the biggest, weed-smoking hillbilly” that rocked up to a school assembly and performed his heart out - instantly mesmerising Dillon.
“I remember all the teachers looking around at each other like, 'Are we gonna let this guy in the school?' What is happening?” she laughs.
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Reminiscing on her journey through University, she chats about escaping Gympie to study Vocal Performance (self-described as the degree that was “the lowest hanging fruit”) and hang out with Sam from Ball Park Music, where the beloved Brisbane band formed right in front of her eyes.
Here, she discovered her unique interest in fame after learning that most students enrolled in the performance elective just wanted to become teachers. In particular, she remembers a close friend Riley admitting he had no interest in chasing the bright lights of fame and her utter confusion at his admission.
“I remember being like, ‘Riley, you don’t have to hide!’ and thinking that it sucks that his confidence is so low. I must have been such a punish,” she laughs again.
As she sank further into the industry, Dillon was met with the feeling of ‘losing momentum’ that so many graduates feel. Jumping around from Mount Nebo to Mount Glorious, to Samford and finally back to Brisbane city, It wasn’t until she met fellow Brissy artist Gabriella Cohen that she felt she was back on track.
“Two or three years out of uni, I joined Gabriella's band and co-produced her first record.
“And then I was like, 'Well, I can play all the guitar parts better than anyone else - let's do this,' and she was my life for four years. She was the new person to step in and be like, 'Here is America, here is Europe, here are managers, here are labels.' She was my shepherd.
“She was the first woman I saw perform with an electric guitar. Insane. Blew my mind, and I was obsessed. Because I hadn't seen another woman perform on an electric ever, isn't that insane?”
The two quickly formed a tight bond as they toured the world together while Dillon worked quietly on Full Flower Moon Band in the background.
“We kind of both said 'yes' to walking into the flames. Like, 'yes' to going on tour together. 'Yes', to not having houses and just travelling the world. We filmed a feature film together in Italy and Paris, so we've seen the highest highs and the lowest lows.
“Then, when I'd finished my first album, Chinatown, I started to feel like I needed more.
“Particularly as a female, like you feel the clock so hard. And I was like, 'I'm either gonna continue as Gabriella's guitarist and continue like it's an all-consuming project' - you kind of have to when you're at that level. Like, I wasn't in the country for five months of the year - 'or go all in on Full Flower.'
“It became very apparent to me that where your energy goes really matters. Because the minute I said 'no' to Gabriella's stuff, what a difference it made to be able to do Full Flower full-time.”
Releasing their second album, Diesel Forever, midway through last year, Full Flower Moon Band have taken off in a way that didn't seem possible before. Dedicated fans rave about their enigmatic live shows; they launched a collaboration with Byron Bay clothing company Thrills and have also been racking up streams left, right and centre.
“Diesel Forever is about the hedonism that we were sold this utopian rock'n'roll dream, and now, we're driving down the highway, and we're kind of a bit too strung out. There's a real rock'n'roll mythology built into it, which was informed from touring with Gabriella.
“I love those songs so much. I mean, I would record that album a second time if I could,” she admits.
Despite her love for Diesel Forever, Full Flower Moon Band’s next album won’t be a tried-and-true replica, with Dillon hoping to keep people on their toes when referencing their music.
“If people have to place us in a group, we're probably gonna lean a little more towards the hard rock scene.
“And what I'm searching for in the next record is an artfulness that allows us not to be branded as a pub rock grunge thing. Cause I've never been that woman. I'm not saying that the pub and hard rock scene isn’t artful. What The Chats and [Amyl & The Sniffers] do is so incredible.
“But I know that as a songwriter, I can't stay in that space. It would be unnatural for me to write another hard rock album.
“It's still gonna be dirty, but I'm looking for a nuance to that dirtiness that says, ‘Oh shit, she knows what's up.'”
One thing Dillon mentions a lot throughout the interview is that she's ‘an album girl’. An obsession with creating an entire catalogue of a moment in time. It aligns with the overall ‘package’ that Full Flower Moon Band brings and their ability to stand the length of time - when so many others might have thrown in the towel. Dillon isn’t here to chase the radio plays with single after single but instead deliver a body of work that people can sink their teeth into.
“I wanna give someone a Dark Side Of The Moon experience. I think I'll always be chasing that dragon. I’m just such a legacy person. I think that's how I've survived so long, honestly, without giving up.
“Call me a narcissist, but I think it's just how I keep myself dreaming. I see albums as, like, the big points in artistic expression. And if I treated it as individual singles, they're not big enough moments.
“I honestly think that if I'd had success - so Full Flower started over ten years ago now - I feel like if I'd had success earlier on, maybe it would be a different philosophy, but there are these little things I've had to hold onto almost to convince myself that it's gonna be worthwhile.”
And lately, things have started to pan out for Full Flower Moon Band. They just joined in on the Brisbane leg of The Black Crowes tour, were announced to play this year's Splendour In The Grass and have joined the wonderful three-month-long Brisbane festival Open Season, snagging a headline gig at The Princess Theatre. Dillon admits that she was shocked when she learned about their Princess Theatre debut, asking her manager if it was a fluke.
“I said to her, ‘Are they throwing us under the bus?’ And she was like, ‘No. They know what they're doing. They want you to play.'”
Filled with grit, grim and a nostalgic essence that’s hard to pin down, it’s unsurprising that Full Flower Moon Band’s live show is currently the hot ticket in town. The band's ability to transport their audience into a crazed, feverish mindset can partly be attributed to their '70s sound but also the band’s, particularly Dillon’s, unhinged antics on stage. Dillion confesses that when she first started performing live, she’d become so deranged on stage that when she’d finish the gig, audience members would often ask if she was ok.
Last year, The Music published a review of Full Flower Moon Band, which included a quote from a punter, who was overheard saying, “She’s literally like American Psycho but with like fucking rock music. She’s borderline psychopathic, and that’s why I froth her.”
It’s hard to connect the person that sits in this dinky little cafe to a character that could possibly invoke those words, and yet that's where Dillon's famous alter ego, ‘Babyshakes’, comes in - acting as a vessel for emotions that can only be let out on stage.
“I've just started doing this thing that happened very involuntarily where I rattled the mic stand, and it kind of became a phallic object for a hot second. The first time it happened, it was totally unconscious. The second time it happened, I was like, ‘Oh, I'm doing that thing.’ And it was more conscious.
“Every show, I'm just straddling between the complete oblivion of my mind and am kind of like, what, another Friday night?
“Sometimes, I'll do something completely involuntarily, and I'll be like, ‘Fucking cringe, like, shut up.'
“But I'm actually in the process of trying to figure out whether I silence that voice or whether I listen to it and go like, 'Yes, let's self-analyse, let's find this performance in a more contained manner.
“Or whether I go, 'I'm not cringe. I'm just a rock star.'”
You can purchase tickets to Full Flower Moon Band’s gig at The Princess Theatre here.