Frank Iero was always adamant that he didn’t want his new band L.S. Dunes “to be supported by the past.” Despite the legacy of its members and the renewed interest in emo as a genre, L.S. Dunes had to “survive on its own merits.”
Featuring Thursday’s rhythm section Tucker Rule and Tim Payne alongside Circa Survive vocalist Anthony Green, Coheed And Cambria guitarist Travis Stever and My Chemical Romance guitarist Iero, L.S Dunes started life as a group chat between the long-term friends. During the pandemic, they’d be texting each other and figured: “we might as well be sending music back and forth,” says Iero. “There were no egos” when it came to writing together. “We were just out to impress our friends and make great songs,” Iero explains.
To start with, L.S. Dunes existed to fill the gap left by the absence of live music but it quickly became so much more.”We didn’t know how much we needed this band until we started doing it. I don’t know what the fuck I would have done without these people,” says Rule. “Making this record fed all our souls.” As soon as that first demo was finished, Iero realised “this is a real band [and] this is my favourite band.”
Following their first ever live show at Riot Festival, last year saw L.S. Dunes release their brilliant debut album ‘Past Lives’. Creating a record during a pandemic meant that “every step of the way, it felt like the universe was putting an obstacle in the way; but I love this band so much that nothing was going to stop us,” Iero reflects.
“Obviously we were worried that what we had written might not translate,” admits Rule, “but the first time we got together at Frank’s house and [played that first] note, we became obsessed with playing these songs [as a band]. Taking it in front of people, it’s just something we had to do.”
Sitting down with NME backstage at London’s Electric Ballroom at the start of their first ever headline tour of UK and Europe, L.S. Dunes discuss the emo revival, almost starting life as the ultimate covers band and why they’re so much more than a supergroup. Here’s what we learned.
L.S. Dunes is a rebirth for its members
Frank Iero might laugh about “starting a new band, in the middle of a pandemic, [while] being on the wrong side of 40,” but for L.S. Dunes the decision to answer the hopelessness of that period with something creative was a no brainer. “We come from punk and hardcore [which has always been] against all the rules,” explains Rule.
“Thursday and My Chemical Romance stopped playing for a long time, so did Circa Survive. For a lot of us in this band, it’s a second chance,” continues Rule. Sure, he could probably make a comfortable living as a drummer-for-hire “but I’d rather make decisions on t-shirt designs and stuff like that. I want to be able to fully follow [an idea] I have in my head and see it through.”
“It’s a rebirth, for all of us collectively,” adds Iero, who feels that the world at large is “resetting” at the moment. “When everything’s so out of control and you feel like you don’t have the ability to make a difference, you have control over [anything] you create.”
One early idea for L.S. Dunes was the ultimate emo covers band
Even before the pandemic, Tucker Rule was already considering bringing his friends together to form the ultimate emo covers band.
“[I thought] what if I got my friends together and we just played those [classic emo] songs on a Friday night, once a month,” Rule explains. “There wouldn’t be the pressure of writing songs or anything like that, you’d just have to learn a Taking Back Sunday song and have the best time playing it.”
Iero “loved” everything about the idea, including the “fucking genius” original name of the band, which they refuse to divulge. He compares the project to the rumoured Lost Weekend tape, which saw John Lennon and Paul McCartney reunite in 1974 to jam alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder and Henry Nillson. “Just getting together in the studio and jamming, that shit is so rad. I don’t think our generation does that [enough], at least not in our world.”
Just don’t call L.S. Dunes a supergroup
The first time Frank Iero realised he was in a supergroup, was when someone outside the band called it one. “It’s so stupid,” he says. “I’ve always had a problem [with how] people love to label things. That always feels so lazy to me.”
“It is silly,” adds Rule. “A supergroup implies that this is something that just [happens] every once in a while. We’re trying to prove to everyone that this is a real thing.”
“Because we’ve all been doing [music] for so long, you get to the point where you feel like you’ve got nothing to prove anymore,” finishes Iero. “but again, there’s [now] something else to prove.”
L.S. Dunes are already working on new music
L.S. Dunes only released their debut album ‘Past Lives’ in November but they’re already thinking about what comes next.
“The biggest hurdle of this band so far is our schedules, because we are all busy. We’re all fathers and we all have other bands,” explains Rule, who also believes the band’s biggest strength is “being able to write [when we’re] not together.” It doesn’t matter if Iero has an Australian tour with My Chemical Romance in March while the rest of L.S. Dunes are back home in America, “we can still create a song. I think creating is going to be a huge part of our year.”
“We’re writing currently,” continues Iero. It’s just a matter of finding time for shows and actually getting those song ideas down in a studio. “It’s just about creating and trying to get these songs to as many people as possible, within our time constraints.”
The emo resurgence is just proof that the music is good
L.S. Dunes features members of some of the most influential emo bands of all time, and their own music doesn’t exactly shy away from that genre either. “I like a specific part about the way everybody plays, and if that part isn’t in the songs, then why would we have that person in the band,” asks Rule, who first brought everyone together.
But in recent years, the emo scene has undergone something of a resurgence with acts like My Chemical Romance and Paramore playing bigger venues than they ever have before, and entire festivals like When We Were Young are now dedicated to the scene. “With MyChem touring and Thursday touring, we keep seeing these younger kids coming out [with] their older siblings or their parents. And that’s how I got into punk rock,” says Iero, who discovered all his favourite bands via mixtapes given to him by older siblings or the cool kids at school. “It feels like that is happening with our bands now. Is it a resurgence? I don’t know,” he continues. “Does it just mean it’s really good music that gets passed down? I hope so.”