Dande and The Lion are a Sydney-based indie-pop band, reknowned for their high-energy melodic indie pop. Their most recent release was “Children of the Hour”, an emotive banger that examined the push and pull of a doomed relationship.
The band is fronted by dual vocalists Abbey Gardner (A) (synth) and Natassa ‘Tass’ Zoë (T) (guitar), with Chris Gabriel (C) on drums and Nicholas Shea (N) on backing vocals and bass.
The band has recently been on a tour to promote the new single, and one of the stops along the way was the Gum Ball festival in the Hunter Valley. I caught up with the band just after their set, and it was a genuine delight to chat with them. The affection for each other is obvious, and their set was one of the highlights of the festival.
Hey guys, congratulations on the set. How was it?
T: It was so much fun. The sound was so good. Which was rare, We’ve played bigger stages at festivals where the sound hasn’t been anywhere near as good as this.
A: The whole crew were all over it, they were really attentive
So Nick – you’ve been to Gum Ball before – it must be great to come back and perform?
N: Yeah, I’ve been a couple of times, it’s just lovely to be able to experience it from the other side
A: He had mentioned it a few times, and when I got sent the message that we had been selected for Gum Ball, he was just SO EXCITED
T: I like that it’s a bit of a secret. It’s stunning here, there’s really good energy and I get that it’s really special. It’s so nice,
C: It’s like it’s a secret in the woods. You drive into nature and everyone is so friendly. It’s a really nice vibe.
For sure – there are no dickheads here!
T: and everyone is so supportive as well. You always wonder what the crowd is going to be like. Everyone came up and danced and vibed out with us – they are there for the music, not just there to get sloshed. It’s nice, that too though – that’s fine!
.. and they bring their kids who can do their own thing
T: I saw one little kid in the crowd with their headphones on , and it made me smile so much. Being able to give that energy and sound to young kids is really sweet. There is no judgement.
What else have you enjoyed?
N: We liked Rum Jungle. Another reason I was absolutely stoked, was that when they announced the 3rd lineup which included us, they also had Baby Animals – I was absolutely over the moon. I’m a big fan of the Baby Animals.
T: – yeah Nick, in every conversation, it’s Baby Animals – he has a massive crush on Suze (DeMarchi)!
They were great. For sure
N: I absolutely loved Turtle Skull, and Full Flower Moon Band – they were brilliant. So much energy, so much vibe.
A: and Boomchild, we liked them too
What did you listen to on the way up ?
Everyone came up separately, but when we do it, whoever drives, gets to pick
A: Nick – what do you like ?
N: heavy, old, fast stuff – so sometimes everyone needs to give their ears a rest from that
A: I love Australian indie rock and trip-hop – they’re my two styles
T: Mine would be English bands – Slowdive, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Australian stuff – I’m really digging Eliza and the Delusionals at the moment
C: – metal, blues, indie – Gang of Youths are always a favourite of mine
Congrats on ‘Children of the Hour’. You wrote that didn’t you Tass, do you want to tell us a little more about it
T: Oh man, it cuts a little bit deep actually. Yeah, I read a play called The Children’s Hour (Lillian Hellman), and it had such an impact on me. It’s rare for something that I’ve read to affect me like that. And after that I started to reflect on things that were happening to me at the time.
I was sitting in a park in Sydney and started writing. The song is about two people wanting to be together but the timing not being right, ever.
So, it sounds like you work through a few relationship challenges in your songs, by the sounds of it
A: Can you tell? (*laughs). The four of us have been together for about 5 years now, we’re a bit of a family. We go through it all together.
T: We work through our anger together
A: Because we are like a family, we bond over that stuff together, and then it gets worked into a song. We jam on it together, and it comes out in the lyrics.
T: I think also when I write songs, I really like having the dual females. Sometimes cause it’s how I want to tell the story, with us talking together. Other times it’s just having the two voices. I love the way Abbey sings, especially in the choruses. The energy that she brings. I guess Abbey sees, if not first hand, but the experiences I go through and the song pops up. She has already connected to it, because she has seen the pain.
I think that’s really interesting. It’s something very special as a four, that you can be very vulnerable and open. It’s really important to being able to fully connect to the song from all angles, rather than keeping that façade up for self-protection, else it would create a wall between that and the connection to the material.
It’s great that you are so close that you can share like this comfortably
T: It’s not intentional – it just helps me move through it by writing.
It must be cathartic..
T: For sure, unless it’s really fresh and you have to sing on stage, Then it’s really hard. For me it is, anyway.
How’s the tour going?
A: This is our second last show. Going up to Queensland and then down to Wollongong. We’ve loved reaching out to these new audiences. It’s been fun. Hanging out in Brisbane for a weekend together.
T: It’s always fun, we enjoy touring together
Is there more recording in the works?
T: Tomorrow actually.
A: We are spending the next two days in the studio – we are so excited. With Lachlan Mitchell who did a couple of songs. “Wasting Time” and Higher Places’ – we both did with him. We love recording with him. We can’t wait.
T: As an artist, it’s really important to feel comfortable and be taken care of, and he does that. He is a really great guy
N: He is supportive, and he can push you – he can see what you are capable of and give you a push. Because you feel safe and good with him, you are more willing to just give it a go. He is good at bringing bits and pieces out of you
T: He is so patient as well. Open to trying new things.
Producers definitely need a good mix of skills – they need to be able to bring you up emotionally, as well as the tech skills
T: It was kind of special because when I first got here in Australia, one of the first bands I saw was The Jezabels, and I was blown away by them. Five or six years on, we were in the studio recording “Higher Places’, which was a song really close to my heart. Recording that with Lachlan, who produced The Jezabels first album Prisoner, was really special, and then I get to play with Hayley (Mary) (Tass plays in Hayley Mary’s band).
A: That’s so cool!
What’s up for the rest of 2023?
T: We are booked for a weekend away to do a writing session. We normally bring a song that is pretty much written, then we add some spices to it. Else we’ll jam, and someone will shotgun lyrics and the melody. We’ve never taken the time out to see what it’s like to write for a full weekend. So we are excited about that.
A: We are hoping to get a good catalogue of songs so that we can have an EP on the table soon hopefully, maybe later this year
T: We’ve got a few ready to record, but we want to write a bigger chunk to select from. We’ve been gigging so much over the past couple of years.
Dande and The Lion – Upcoming Shows
Friday, 28th July: Enmore Hotel, Sydney – with Alibi – 9-11pm – Free