NewTracks New Artist: Dave And The Dirty Humans

NewTracks New Artist: Dave And The Dirty Humans

With the name ingeniously provided by a band name generator, Te Whanganui-A-Tara alt-rock four-piece Dave And The Dirty Humans don’t actually have a band member called Dave, but instead an increasing number of alt-rock bangers likely to get a mosh pit going. Fora, their first actual single, made it into NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation in December. 

What are your full names, where are you from and what instruments do you each play?

Dave and the Dirty Humans is a four piece alt-rock band from Wellington, NZ. We are fortunate enough to have Hamish Mackie on vocals and rhythm guitar, Harrison Heaton on vocals and lead guitar, Kane Anaru Dunlop on bass and vocals, and Ben McHardy (he/they) on drums and vocals.

Was any high school or other music training especially important?

Overall no, most of our members have only had sporadic music lessons over the years, and we are largely self-taught. Our passion and musical abilities have developed through a drive to understand our favourite music, explore our own ideas, and collaborate to share our love of music.

Any other projects that we might know you from?

Members of Dave and the Dirty Humans have been involved in many former projects over the years, including Ten24, Right Seater, and Noisegate, which were bands that mostly performed locally around Wellington. Our drummer Ben McHardy is the only member of Dave who is currently involved in other projects, both as a creative and as a session musician. Most notably, he releases and performs music with his solo project, Ben McHardy. Here’s a link to check out his endeavours!

What’s the background to how the band came together? 

Dave and the Dirty Humans formed in 2019, combining members from our earlier projects, pop-punk band Right Seater and alternative-rock band Noisegate. By uniting those two projects under one banner the most passionate members of each band could pool their efforts into one collective, and feed off of one-another’s ideas and passion. We began collaborating on entirely new songs in what became our new alternative-rock sound, and we still love doing so!

How has your writing evolved in that time?

Our writing process has thus far always been to get together and start playing, sharing ideas and improvising new ones. We then structure and cut these ideas down, to make the songs as concise and engaging as we can. When we perform the songs live we try to notice the audience engagement, and we use this to revise our songs, trimming and modifying different moments to have more impact, and to keep people singing and dancing!

How and when did you come up with the name for the new project?

We came up with the name, Dave and the Dirty Humans, in 2019 from a band name generator online, entering a few funny keywords and curating the results. We played our first show under this banner in Feb 2020 at Aro Fair, at the Aro Valley Community Centre. Prior to this, we had fairly silly tentative names, including Beef Club and Milkly.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

One of our biggest highlights so far would be placing second in the 2021 and 2023 NZ national Battle Of The Bands competition, being awarded ‘Best Band Name’, ‘Best Drummer’ and ‘Best Songwriters’ across our entries in that competition. In October 2023, we sold out our debut release show for Fora at the Welsh Dragon Bar in Wellington! Otherwise, every single one of our shows and every interaction with our gorgeous supportive community are highlights!

What makes Fora stand out for you as a single?

Fora is one of the first songs we ever wrote, back in 2019 when we first formed Dave. Over the years, we’ve sharpened it up, and now it serves as our ferocious finale song in our live sets. It’s a thrill to play, and our audiences always groove along – even moshing at times! Another thing that makes Fora stand out is that it’s our debut release as Dave after four years of making music together, and we are so thrilled with the response we’ve received for it!

What is the story behind Fora?

Fora emerged from one of the first Dave jam sessions in Hamish’s garage, with us teenagers playing hard enough to make the walls of that tiny space rattle and rumble. It was one of the first songs in our set, standing the test of time, and we all still fizz about it today. We have likely played it at every single Dave show we’ve played thus far.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Our favourite musical moment in Fora is probably the intro, as it’s unusually long for a single, but is engaging and anthemic throughout. If we could pick a second moment, the three-part harmonies in the choruses are a blast to sing live, and they really showcase our vocal ability as a band.

Who did you record/produce the single with and where? 

We had the expert help of Jake Stokes for recording and producing the drum sound and vocals. We recorded drums in a studio at Massey University in Wellington, and the vocals at Jake’s home studio in Aotea. Everything else was recorded / created at our respective homes!

One fun story from the recording process came when Ben was tracking the outro drums to Fora late at night after a long day of recording. He was advised by Massey security that it was time to vacate the building, as it was around 11pm. He asked to do one more take of the outro, and that frenetic and passionate take is what you hear on the final track!

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

We would love forFora listeners to take away boosted levels of serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and maybe a smidge of oxytocin! We put a lot of heart into the song, and it stands as a testament to what four friends can accomplish together.

Anyone else in your team? 

Dave and the Dirty Humans is currently an independent band! We love working with people, so reach out to us via email or social media!

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

Our second single, the anthemic pop-rock banger Rock Bottom, releases on 13 Jan 2024! Definitely give that a listen! Otherwise, come to our live shows! We’re planning to release a ton of new tracks in 2024 and beyond, and we’ll be celebrating those releases with shows around NZ and hopefully beyond! Ben, recently released his debut single, Smilezz That Aren’t Around for his solo project, Ben McHardy! Give that a listen here! 

How do you decide what would make a good single?

We play all of the songs we write live, and we gauge the audience reaction! If audience members are buzzing about a particular song consistently, that tells us it would be a great single! Otherwise, we simply go with our personal instincts for what might capture a listener’s attention!

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

  • Holloway: Date All My Friends
  • Crying Club: Taxi Man
  • Cherry Punch: Sick Puppy

Each of those tracks are from Wellington bands that we admire, and have been our comrades on various lineups!

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others?

This was our first time submitting a song to NewTracks, and we’re thrilled to be included! The best advice we can muster is to put your best effort into making a track you’re excited about, and then enjoy submitting it to as many relevant parties as you can! It’s never a waste of time, and you can re-use most of the assets you create across all of your submissions.

Fora was self-funded, and we haven’t applied for NZOA funding thus far, since we’re still short of a couple qualifying points! We’re actively working towards meeting the funding criteria! When applying for NewTracks, the main thing of interest we had to do was to create a song bio about Fora, providing details about the song’s style and atmosphere, and adding exciting context about who Dave and the Dirty Humans are and where we are in our musical journey! Gaining a sense of your own narrative and what you stand for as an artist / band is super important, so writing this part of our application helped us each feel confident and unified in this!

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

We enjoy what Matt Bacon from @bacon.bits on Instagram has to say, regarding music industry tips and social media content ideas! Here’s the link to his page

Any last words?

Thank you so much for having us on your platform NZ Musician! We really appreciate it, and we hope to work with you again. To all the readers, we hope you enjoy Fora! Be sure to follow us, as we have a ton of delicious tracks coming soon! We’re aiming to play more shows around NZ regularly, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears protected!

Love, Dave and the Dirty Humans