Photos by Charlie Hardy
Ever been kidnapped by an Uber driver or eaten a bag of mushrooms on a plane?
The boys from Flight to Dubai have, and I caught up with band members Wayland and Atlas on an overcast Friday to hear their tall tales, and chat about the new album Strife and their latest venture, Hail Damage Records. Only when listening back to this interview did I realise that planes are back in the sky again, so at least two questions were interrupted by roaring jets. If my scribing doesn’t make sense, blame Qantas. Here goes nothing.
What made you want to start your own label, Hail Damage Records?
Wayland: Basically the work we were already doing was what a label would do for us. We were doing the whole process ourselves and not even realising it.
Atlas: We were a label without a label, you know what I mean? Wayland was ready doing everything as far as getting records printed, looking at sleeves, looking at ways to get things out, plus Beau was designing everything. It’s fucking cheaper and we can back the bands we like. Especially over the past three to four years, the ball has been rolling so hard we thought, ‘fuck it.’ We may as well do it now.
Wayland: We had just about had a signed contract with a distribution label; it was all going ahead until we ended up pushing it back a few months so we could release it in March. Then the coronavirus hit and the record label contacted us to say they wouldn’t be able to release anything for a bit of time now. So we just put it out ourselves.
Atlas: Yep, fuck yas, it’ll sell.
Where does the name originally come from?
Wayland: It comes from a metaphor.
Atlas: Yeah kinda, Hail Damage was a song that was on our EP Frontal Lobes that we dropped about a year ago. ‘Hail damage’ as far as old, dented-in things that still run even though they’re not pretty. As well as hailing the Black Flag record Damaged. That’s just a really fucking good record. It’s strong enough, catchy and somewhat visual.
How has this year affected Flight to Dubai’s music-making process?
Atlas: Oh man, it hit us for six.
Wayland: Although being able to quit work really helped with songwriting I tell you.
Atlas: Yeah, loved that.
Wayland: We’ve been getting together a lot and writing. We’ve definitely used this year as an opportunity. Especially with the delays on our release and the cancellation of our tour. We used that as an opportunity to fight the anxiety of not knowing when all of that would come back, to write and get prepared for when it does happen.
Atlas: Like stocking the bomb shelter for D-day.
Wayland: We’re back to writing hits. Here’s a warning.
Atlas: Not being able to do shows… what’s the point in anything if I can’t rock? Now that more shows are happening, I’m so much more inclined to go because there’s so few and far between. God almighty, not being able to play shows has kicked the shit out of me. My mental health is a mess.
Wayland: The whole feeling of community in Sydney was going to shows. It never mattered what venue it was, you’d just go to see the band. All your mates would be there, and that all disappeared suddenly.
Atlas: Like a rug under our feet.
What does a typical day in the studio look like for Flight To Dubai?
Wayland: It’s the only time we’re not silly buggers really. Time is money is our motto. For the Strife recording process, we did our own pre-production, recorded demos to cassettes, and planned exactly what we were going to do before starting. Everything was produced before we even walked in.
Atlas: Simon Berkleman [producer] knows exactly what he’s doing as well. He’s got great facilities and he’s a wealth of knowledge, which made things easy. He’s out of Philadelphia Grand Jury, cracking bloke.
Wayland: He owns and run Golden Retriever Studios, it’s a great live room. Most of the tracks were for run-throughs until we got the take that had that pizazz.
Atlas: That certain, je ne sais quoi.
As a collective, what’s the most strife Flight to Dubai has been in?
Atlas: We’re alright, we’re not really in strife as much as we’re giving others strife. We’re behind the gun.
Wayland: We’ve nearly been kidnapped.
Atlas: If it’s general strife, I’ve accidentally ate all those mushrooms on the plane that time. I’d accidentally brought them through security and forgot to throw them out. 10 minutes out from Sydney we hear that there’s apparently bio-dogs at the terminal and I was like ‘fuck that, I’m not going down for psilocybin’. So I emptied them all into my hand, got a glass of water off the flight attendant and punched them. They then tell us, ‘there’s a bit of fog, we’re going to circle for 30 minutes’. An hour and twenty later we haven’t landed yet and I’m freaking out. Nick’s next to me dead asleep, the lady next to me doesn’t give a fuck. All I’m thinking is, ‘I’m in the sky, I shouldn’t be in the sky, I’m alone’.
Wayland: On our way to that flight at 5 am, I’m telling you our Uber driver attempted to kidnap us. Check-in was just about to close, most of us are sleep but I’ve got one eye open and I realise the guy has taken us to the middle of nowhere. He pulls up to another white Camry with its boot open.
Atlas: I thought we were dead. Wayland gave him a floggin’. ‘What are you fucking doing mate!? Where the fuck are we!? Take us to the fucking airport fucking now’. I was loving it to be honest… fuck him, don’t try and kidnap us.
What’s next for Hail Damage Records, signing local bands?
Wayland: To sign very up and coming bands, that’s who we’re keeping an eye out for. Those who we can give a leg up from our own following and kind of mentor.
Atlas: Especially those who have drive, bands who give a shit and fucking work hard. They don’t have to sound like us but pricks who we can see potential in, and see potential in themselves, is huge. We’ll back you if you’ve got a solid base, if you’ve got an idea for yourself and know what you want, then talk to us.
Wayland: Much more opportunity for bands in Sydney than they realise. I think to be apart of the helping the next scene of musicians and up and coming bands to be a collective and help each other out. That’s definitely something we want to be apart of. Sydney’s music needs it.
Atlas: A whole lot bands are coming out of the woodworks, but it’s about looking for the diamonds in the rough.
If you could sign a band or artist from any time in history who would it be?
Atlas: Gun Club.
Wayland: Gun Club for sure, we all think that they’re the coolest band ever. Or I would have recouped MC5 when they got dropped for putting out that ad out about their record label.
Atlas: New York Dolls as well, all the CBGB’s shit. It’s red hot.
Any final shout outs?
Atlas: Shout out C.O.F.F.I.N, they’re the baddest going. Portnoy is a hard-working mother fucker, but all those boys are just great mates of ours. Absolutely love them to bits.
Wayland: I’ll shout out to The Unknowns, they’re the coolest band. I just love that down struck guitar playing. It’s simple shit, it’s proto-punk, it’s exactly what I want to listen to.
Atlas: Shout out Norah Jones. That’s all from me.
Strife is out now on all streaming platforms.