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Road Trip: Flight to Dubai talk Strife, Hail Damage, and creating their own cult

Flight to Dubai are a no-nonsense band that are renowned for ripping the roof off with their rock and roll prowess. Reigning from Newcastle, the four-piece are making big waves in Australia. Their latest release, Strife, is an ode to 70’s proto-punk, blended with their own unique garage-rock sound. I had a phone call with Frontman, Atlas and Guitarist, Wayland to talk about the EP, their new record label, creating their own cult and James Brown being an asshole.

Firstly, congratulations on the release of Strife

Wayland: Thanks heaps man

Atlas: Cheers mate. We’re stoked by the response of it. It was great to get it out too.

Where did the band’s name come from? Did something actually happen on a Flight to Dubai?

Wayland: We started this band nine years ago, we were young little Tuckers. The name was kind of an in-joke at the time.

Atlas: Before we knew it, it was a few years down the track and it was too late to change anything. I would love to give you this existential forethought on the redundancy of capitalism but no, there's not really that much thought into it. We were just young stoners having the time of our life!

The cover of Strife is great, how was the shoot?

Wayland: We thought we’d try and get a spot that wasn’t gonna freak anyone out...we thought it was pretty isolated, but it just happened to be that was where everyone was wanting to jog and cycle! A park ranger even got to the spot before we did! It was like a setup, we were lucky to even get that shot I tell ya.

Atlas: The fantastic Charlie Hardy came out and took shots of us that day. He was freaking out, poor bastard. Everyone was trying to check in to see if we were alright.

He was shooting us when we were just skateboarding and playing dirtbag rock and roll shows in Newcastle. He’s just been a loyal, great bloke and most importantly a great mate of ours.

How important is using other mediums like photography, alongside your music?

Wayland: Utilising other mediums goes hand to hand for us. Images and photos for publications are that important to have a kinda total backlog.

Atlas: One medium should stand alone from the others. Like our music videos should be able to be watched on mute and still be a solid piece. The stronger they all are, the better it is. Beau, our bassist, is a genius when it comes to graphic design and stuff. As well as Jameson Kerr, the director of Firefighter Lady and Sparse Space.

You guys are well known for your eccentric show, what are some standouts?

Wayland: We played a show in Ulladulla, at a home made festival. The bloody generator wasn’t working and we were headlining. So by the time we got on stage we were well and truly pissed. So basically Nick and I were at the back, trying to fix these generators. We played like there was no issue at all, but for anyone else that was watching- the 1000 people that remained- they couldn't hear shit!

Atlas: There were also four kids on DMT in a sandpit freaking out. There was no sound, just a wild flurry of action and movement.

Wayland: So you would get five seconds of sound and then five seconds cut off. And we played a full set, you wouldn't believe it!

Atlas: Oh we knuckled down, we were ready to rock! That’s what we had to do, it’s our job.

Wayland: That’s on the other side of our highlights. We’ve had some great shows, it’s the little things.

Atlas: You know growing up and seeing old punk rock bands in skateboarding magazines, and going like ‘Oh what does crowd surfing feel like? ‘When there's people going for grabs man.. it’s wild, it’s a lot of fun.

Wayland: Or when you get that same feeling from a home show, but interstate...where you haven't even played before. That's where it really gives you a kick.

Atlas: Yeah Tassie and Melbourne really rip the roofs off hey! They bloody go for it.

As far as big shows go, we’ve had a few pearlers. It’s the ones we’ve supported that I particularly remember...supporting bands like Coffin. I dont think I’ve ever seen a dull show of theirs yet. Those are the shows that remind you why you keep doing it.

Wayland: When you stun a whole group of people that’s also a good show.

On a whim I told the audience to sit on the floor and they actually did it. I gotta watch out before this all goes to my head! Slowly but surely we will become a cult. We will become the only religion in the world! And everybody will be giving us money!.

Atlas: Look it's good fun, but the only way you’ll ever get status is if people give it to ya. If I was standing up there and no one gave a shit about what we were doing then I'd never get any sort of a say, let alone do anything on the stage. It's all for the audience. If they don’t respect you mate then fucking no one will. We play music that impresses us, and to see it impress others is unfathomable.

What does it mean to come back and play shows?

Atlas: We’ve got two gigs in Wollongong, two in Sydney and at least one in Newey. Bloody, so far so good! I’m just so excited to play music again. We’ve already had such limited opportunities this year and every chance we get, we’ll take it.

Wayland: The coronavirus hit us as soon as our nine day tour started. We had to forfeit the whole thing about 48 hours before we were supposed to be in Brisbane. It was right in that awkward bit of time where you didn’t really know what was the right decision until it was too late. That was a bit difficult but we made the right choice. It was weird how relaxing a shit thing was. I can't describe how losing something we had been working towards for three months or more... how relaxing the feeling of losing that was!

Atlas: Everyone’s had a terrible year...I’ve had a great year. I've been hanging with my mates, sinking piss and writing rock and roll. I’ve had a ball man. Everyones so worried about their career and future etc we had a thing in mind... went for it...didn’t work...great...time off...what are we doing now? Living in the moment baby! We’ve been able to focus on writing which has been quite refreshing too. Instead of it being go go go, we’ve been able to sit and be a bit more careful.

Wayland: Not that it’s been ALL good for us.

Atlas: Yeah mentally I’ve been a fucking mess mate. There's nothing left of me, I’m just a shell of a bloke. We’ve just gotta roll with the punches and make the best of the situation.

Was this year's events, including the pandemic, the basis behind Strife?

Atlas: To be honest had nothing to do with the global pandemic. That was just a beautiful physical manifestation of what I was just talking about. The big thing for me as far as writing the lyrics concern... look it sounds cliché and I feel like a wanker every time I say it, but the whole thing like: ‘’You’re not alone’’, is said so often that no one fucking believes it. It’s so easy to feel so fucking... just scared! Like you got nothing going on and nothing going for you. Because you can't see the forest through the trees.

It doesn’t matter if you're ugly or hot, short or tall, everyone deserves a fucking go. In turn, if you're not giving yourself that credit, and if you can't rationalise that in your own head, then mate… there's something wrong. You gotta learn to rationalise the irrational.

Wayland: Just do whatever you want to do. It's brave shit to talk about. Everyone can relate to it, but not everyone is able to talk about. Everyone gets these feelings to a degree.

Atlas: We’re just trying to open that door. As a unit we’ve all lost different people from different circumstances, there's nothing you can do for them, but you gotta think forward. I'm proud to speak of this. It’s not something I like to glorify or romanticise, but I have shitty mental health and I know a lot of other people do as well. But if I’m in any sort of a place where I can change even one person’s life, then I'm happy with that mate. A lot of those people don’t have that sort of port in the store man.

Wayland: Everybody has different coping mechanisms, but basically one of mine is to write music. That’s always helped me. Listening to music is always a good way to start as well. Especially if you can find something that hits you. It's very important to have that accessible. I’m just sick of people dying...I think we all are!

Atlas: Fuck tough boys. We’re tuff with two ff’s, and we’re out here rocking and rolling and talking about our fucking feelings. And anyone that’s not, fuck yourself! You’re a poser. Fuck off.

I gotta agree, art is the only way to make real change.

Atlas: I have to agree with you there mate.

Wayland: Or get into politics! Each to their own

Atlas: At least what we’re doing is ethical, politics rarely is.

Wayland: Politics is a business

Atlas: Amen!

Wayland: Lets just hope we can do the Midnight Oil.

What’s next for Flight to Dubai?

Atlas: What reincarnation? Mate if I knew about that, I’d have it sorted it out already... Don’t you worry about that. I wouldn’t fucking look like this, that’s for sure. I think I’ll be a chihuahua in my next life.

Wayland: Don’t they just live in the moment!

Atlas: Look as far as Flight to Dubai is concerned... we just started a record label called: Hail Damage Records

Wayland: We basically started it to work on this next release and be able to put that out ourselves. Similarly to how we put out past records, this one seemed like a much bigger deal for us. We have all the processes and we work as a team as we were mentioning with the Hardy brothers. So we got everything by our fingertips. As our audience expands, we’re basically using this as a platform to kinda cram all the work we're doing, and now we’re gonna be able to use this as a place to help out other emerging artists and give them a go. Because basically the music industry is an industry that doesn’t have any guidance, it's everyone for themselves. And the mentor thing doesn’t really exist here. Considering we have the same kinda taste between the four of us.

Atlas: Finally to give the opportunity to bands who deserve it!

Wayland: We really feel a sense of community here in Sydney for the music scene. Basically from our experience that wasn’t always existing for us. It was kinda lucky for us to work together with a few bands. The whole network in Sydney is so small, it’s a bit push and shove for people to get involved and find their own place. We want to give the opportunity and help where we can and make sure this is a scene that is diverse.

Atlas: We just want the right people getting the right attention.

Wayland: And to stay true to ourselves. Integrity is everything.

Atlas: If we can find a way to bring the correct bands to the forefront...It is just about art and their performance; the collaboration between art forms. It's beautiful when you try and keep it to its core. But a lot of people try and take that. We want to do what we can with what we got. We’re basically giving a platform to people, in which they can express themselves in any way they want. As long as they are sticking true to themselves.

Wayland: For Flight to Dubai’s future, we’re just looking to get more music under our belt...and release it as soon as possible. We’re already working towards more music.

Which dream band would you want to support/open for you?

Atlas: I’d have Gun Club to support us while we support Fugazi.

Wayland: Probably Wesley Willis.

Atlas: Or James Brown to support us just because I know he doesn’t like supporting anyone else...yeah he was a piece of shit!


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