Dune Alley - I can't tell review and Q&A
Dune Alley is a three-piece alternative rock band from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Their debut single, I Can’t Tell, is reminiscent of many alt-rock and emo bands that emerged in America in the noughties. I Can’t Tell seems to be influenced by the likes of Saves The Day, Taking Back Sunday, and The Xcerts with elements of British alt-rock revivalists Catfish and the Bottlemen.
With Catfish and the Bottlemen’s success proving that alt-rock can sell well under the right media, and the apparent gap in the market for more artists that both those who follow the charts and those that don’t can enjoy, Dune Alley and their single have really hit the right genre at the right time. Unfortunately, many bands have tried and failed to take advantage this gap, either from lack of label and media support or for the fact of not standing out amongst others who are trying to reach the heights set by Catfish and the Bottlemen in the UK and the American alt-rock/emo bands of the noughties.
Having played multiple gigs at one of Newcastle’s favourite underrated live venues, The Cluny 2, Dune Alley have started to build a fanbase and following within Newcastle, and with a track like I Can’t Tell, you can hear why. Steve Ziolkowski’s vocal performance sounds like it belongs in this genre, even if it sounds weak in comparison to similar artists and some backing vocals would not go amiss in strengthening the vocal presence. However, the tone and mood brings memories of Adam Lazzara in Taking Back Sunday’s early days or Brian Swindle of Have Mercy; accompany this with the songwriting that draws from popular alt-rock pioneers and it’s a powerful combination. As a result, I Can’t Tell sounds like it would be perfectly at home amongst the tracks in Kerrang, or alongside similar artists that have been broadcast on the UK’s largest radio stations.
Being a three-piece, Dune Alley falls away from the usual criticisms I have with this genre, being that the bass is largely drowned out by the standard two guitars. But with Steve Ziolkowski providing the only guitar track, Jak Kelly’s bass has a more necessary and prominent feel that drives the song forward. Assisting Kelly in the rhythm department is Owen Ziolkowski who provides a steady and progressive drum track that is the basis of any song in the alt-rock genre that is going to stand out.
Overall, I Can’t Tell is a track that sits very well within the alt-rock genre, but without the right promotion in the future Dune Alley may fail to set itself apart from other rising artists with the same goals.
We had a quick Q&A with Steve from the band:
Who are your biggest influences both personally and as a band?
My brother and I like the recent British alternative rock scene with bands like Don Broco, which is probably where we get our rhythm and poppy choruses from. Jak on the other hand was born in the wrong generation; he loves anything early 90s - Oasis, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, you name it! Biffy Clyro have also been a massive part of our sound too; they have weird timings and a type of rawness that we dig so much.
Lyrically, Mike Duce from Lower Than Atlantis is my biggest inspiration... He writes songs less about love and all that popular shizz and more about how bored he is and how he reflects on his life... There's a kind of dark and literal sense that I really connect with.
What was the inspiration behind I Can't Tell?
Haha, it's about how I got a nice big custard pie from a girl that I liked for 5 years. All my mates know who it is, though I don't think she knows I've written a song about her hahaha...
Follow up: Are any more singles planned?
We've got our second single "Fog Lights" just about finished and it's getting released in March! We can't wait!
What's your guilty pleasure?
Mine would have to be Natasha Bedingfield. Jaks would be McFly or ABBA.
How did you find playing at The Cluny 2?
First time we had some technical difficulties but we managed to recover and by the end of the night we were rocking out off the stage with the crowd! Second time went way more smoothly and we got the chance to play some new songs that we were dying to get out.
Follow up: Do you plan to return? Or are there any more gigs in the pipeline?
O2 Academy have just confirmed us supporting Alba Nights on the 4th March! I keep telling people I'm going to be a rock star as a joke but when I find out stuff like this I actually feel like one!
What are your hopes for 2016?
We have a few more songs we'd like to record but our main priority is to gig, gig, gig.
Which artist from the Newcastle music scene would you most like to play with?
I've been such a big fan of LISBON recently so I'd love to play with them. Jak and Owen buzz off Little Comets, so probably them as well.
If you had the chance to sign for any label, which would it be and why?
We would like to have the networking capabilities and financial backing of one of the big four but the personal touches of a small independent label. Jak studies music and he knows about the business side of it, so we won't be doing any dodgy deals with a label.
Which underrated artist do you think most deserves the spotlight?
We think Arcane Roots have some absolute bangers but they get no notice whatsoever. We have a band playlist that's constantly updated and it's bizarre to see how some new bands have MILLIONS of more likes, plays etc. than some of our favourite bands that have been around for years. I suppose that's just the mean music business for you.