Sydney brewery Young Henrys and Brisbane pop punk band Dune Rats originally launched Dunies Lager in 2017. It’s a 4.20% ABV lager brewed with Mosaic, Citra, El Dorado and Azacca hops, which provide a depth of flavour without compromising the quaffable character one expects from a lager.
Dunies Lager is available exclusively from the Young Henrys online store. Cans and cases of the rebooted Dunies Lager feature original artwork from Dune Rats’ long-time collaborator, Lee McConnell. But the latest batch is slightly different from the original release.
“We were just talking to the master brewer and apparently it’s got different hops in it,” says Dune Rats co-founder Danny Beus, who’s chatting to Rolling Stone Australia after a midday visit to Young Henrys’ Newtown HQ.
Beus is no expert on the particulars of beer brewing, but the Dune Rats guitarist and lead vocalist likes what he tastes. “I think it actually tastes better than the last time,” he says.
Beus has grown up a bit since 2017—“Musically, beer-wise, food-wise,” he laughs—but Dune Rats have maintained a reputation as hard-partying stoners, around whom there’s never a dull moment. “When we first started, because we were so heavily touring, that was our life for 340 days of the year—or 420 days of the year,” Beus says.
Being a Dune Rat remains the number one priority for Beus and his band mates, drummer Michael Bylund-Cloonan and bass player Brett Jansch. But four albums and more than a decade into their career, self-moderation is necessary to prevent the wheels from coming off.
“We’re pretty lucky that this is our job,” says Beus. “We kind of have a little bit more chill time, so it’s not as Slurms MacKenzie as it used to be.”
All of that said, the Brisbane band channelled the spirit of MacKenzie—a Futurama character nicknamed “the original party worm”—on their Real Rare Whale launch tour. Rather than booking a series of theatre and arena dates, the band decided to host a bunch of bespoke album launch parties in various unconventional venues around the country.
“We still fucking love having a party and we’re fortunate that our shows bring that sort of vibe,” Beus says. “I’m really thankful we’re not a band who sings songs about the downer times in our lives and emotions and all of that—full credit to anyone who does, but I’d hate to go on tour and do that every night.”
Dune Rats’ two best-known singles are “Scott Green” and “Bullshit.” Both songs appeared on the band’s 2017 album, The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit, their first of two consecutive ARIA number ones.
The chorus of the former goes, “At a party, who’s Scott Green? / Cocaine or ecstasy / Cigarettes or LSD / It doesn’t really matter/ Just gimme gimme gimme.” The latter, while not as explicit, contains multiple utterances of the line, “I’m a little messed up / It might be the drugs.”
On Real Rare Whale, however, Beus and co. wanted to show there was more to their songwriting than accounts of narcotics consumption. “The whole perception of us being three stoner dudes that just write songs about drugs and partying, hopefully with this album it’s starting to get away from that,” he says.
Indeed—while the album does include a song called “Drink All Day”, songs such as “UP” lay bare Dune Rats’ desire to shake off easy pigeonholing. With its use of Eurodance drumbeats and heavily compressed acoustic guitars, “UP” sounds like a merging of TISM and The La’s, and is substantively different from anything on Dune Rats’ first three albums.
“That song was almost a joke until the label heard it,” says Beus. The band’s label insisted “UP” be included on the album, highlighting the strength of the melodic hooks that occur throughout. As it happened, Dune Rats were recording the album with producer Scott Horscroft, whose CV includes pop-oriented acts Empire of the Sun, Middle Kids and DMA’S.
“He wouldn’t let [‘UP’] go,” says Beus. “He was just like, ‘You guys need to not only record this song, but really back it.’”
The band acceded and “UP” was released as the album’s lead single in late 2021. The three members of Dune Rats went to the effort of learning a choreographed dance routine for the song’s Tim Burton-influenced music video, directed by Natalie Sim.
“We knew that some people were not going to like it,” says Beus of the stylistic curve ball presented by “UP”. But the band members were confident the majority of their supporters would be on board.
“The dudes and girls that like Dunies know Dunies,” says Beus. “Even though it’s a dancey song, there is a lot of tongue in cheek and it’s fun. We’re not the sort of band that’s going to change and just do that [style] from then onwards.”
Dune Rats’ album launch tour began at The Industrique, a former industrial warehouse in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg. For the Sydney launch, Dune Rats took over a pub on the Princes Highway in St Peters for three limited-capacity parties. The band’s hometown launch took place at the Coorparoo Bowls Club, which happens to be Bylund-Cloonan’s local.
“We love Turnstile, that band from America, and we were just looking at all their D.I.Y., punkier shows,” says Beus regarding the inspiration for the informal album launch tour. “We were like, we’d love to go take this album—because it is such a live, sweaty, fast-paced album—take it somewhere we can actually play the album from start to finish to people who really froth the band.”