DUNE: Appalachian Desert Rock

Posted on:

< < Back to

The desert isn't the first thing that comes to one's mind when roaming the hills of Southeast Ohio. DUNE, Athens' newest "desert rock" band, hopes to change that.

The band, made up of Athens music scene veterans Matt Toledo (guitar), Josh Brown (bass), Louis Knight (guitar, vocals) and Alex Neff (drums), will perform on Friday, Oct. 21 at The Union as part of a fundraiser for the Appalachian Hell Betties, Athens all-female roller derby team.

WOUB caught up with Toledo, Brown and Neff for a preview of Friday's show.

WOUB: How did this new band come together?

MATT: It was Josh and Alex who had the idea; I just lit a fire under everyone's butts. I was always running into people and one or both of us would say, "we should do this band." I made a promise to myself to start following through on those types of conversations. I jammed with some other people first, but it clicked with Alex and Josh. I've always admired Louis' voice, plus he knows music theory and fancy stuff like that.

JOSH: I have wanted to do this project for about five or six years and finally found the right people for it. I presented the idea to Alex at the beginning and he said it sounded good. I talked to Matt and within a week he had written two songs that nailed it. I heard Louis sing a Queens of the Stone Age cover at an open stage and asked him if he wanted to be in the band.

ALEX: Josh and I have talked about starting a band like this for around five years. Like all ideas in Athens, it took this long for the planets to be aligned and the time to be right.

WOUB: You've described DUNE's sound as "Desert Rock" or "Stoner Metal." Could you elaborate?

JOSH: The best example is a band called Kyuss (1990s band from Palm Desert, Calif., precursor to Queens of the Stone Age). Their style had metal overtones but was much slower – some people say sludgy – than traditional metal. We play in drop C tuning, which is in a much lower register than traditional rock. We just find a really sweet groove and go with it. Also, Louis is a singer, not a screamer.

WOUB: You're all Athens music veterans who have also played around Ohio and toured the U.S. What's your take on the local scene?

JOSH: Athens has always been a hotbed for original music. It has a very cyclical pattern where, for a few years, we'll have a flurry of really good original bands, followed by a few years where it is more sparse. We're coming out of the trough in that pattern and seeing a lot of new and interesting local bands emerge. The pro of playing original music in Athens is getting to express yourself with other musicians, of which there are a ton. The con is getting the mainstream college crowd to leave their house party to come see a live show.

MATT: I have to agree with Josh. I like playing in Athens because, for all its faults, local music fans still appreciate something different once in a while. I can play on stage a couple of times a week and exercise the artistic part of my brain; otherwise I'd probably go nuts. I would like to think that original music is growing in popularity, but honestly, I don't think it is right now.

WOUB: Any recording in the band's future? How about playing out-of-town gigs?

JOSH: Yes and Yes. Oh, and to be the biggest rock band ever.

MATT: Yep, we might record something soon on our own just to have it. We've got gear and Josh is a great sound engineer. Plus, Louis went to music school for some of this stuff.

Friday's show gets underway at 9 p.m. Other local bands on the bill include The Revulvas and Goodbye Goats. Visit the DUNE Facebook page for more information.