Engine Three Seven
Formed in Byron Bay and now based in Melbourne, Engine Three Seven have taken a fair amount of time to find their groove as a band despite being the best of friends. Beginning in the acoustic roots scene of Byron, Engine Three Seven have morphed into a grinding yet melodic band with a sound more akin to Karnivool than Xavier Rudd. Singer Casey Dean has put down his guitar and is focusing on his duties as vocalist and frontman, which, in turn, has enabled his fellow band members to thrash out their heavier desires. Dean has managed to make music a fulltime job and while his day band is Engine Three Seven and they are about to release their latest single, Watermark, he is also readying himself to release a country-folk covers album with his father.
“My dad’s been playing music for my whole life,” Dean explains. “He’s still in a couple of bands these days. He drove us around in the early days when we were doing a lot of regional touring so it’s a bit of a way to return the favour. The album is totally a family project; my daughter’s singing on it, my sister’s on, dad, obviously, and the boys from Engine. It was funny getting the Engine boys in the studio. There [were] all of these metal-heads coming in playing this music that is totally different to what they know. It was great to get us all together to do this because the boys are like my family too, we share each other’s parents and family so we’re pretty close.”
With Engine Three Seven moving from a roots-based sound into a heavy prog-rock niche, Dean explains that the sonic evolution was born out of both the band finding themselves at odds with the various musical scenes they found themselves in, as well as him stepping back from dominating the song writing. “I guess the change happened very naturally when I think about it,” he says. “We didn’t really fit anywhere, in hindsight. Although we were very acoustically based when we were in Byron Bay, we were still far too heavy and far too energetic for the gigs we were playing. We got to Melbourne and somehow we just fell into the prog-rock scene, even though our songs were still acoustic to a degree we were very proggie. Once I started putting the guitar down more and more the lads just fell into their own sound. They were kind of held back by me having an acoustic guitar and them having to come in with parts after a whole song had been written. They suddenly began to fall into their own writing pattern and on the last record they were free to write those heavy riffs but still from a really strong storytelling perspective.”
The move to Melbourne and the change in Engine Three Seven’s overall sound has also paved the way for a brand new approach to writing and recording. “We have been writing since the last release came out and we have a single that we have been playing for a long time that we are finally going to release,” he explains. “It should be a pretty interesting musical evolution, again, with the new stuff. We’re doing things a little differently, we are actually writing and recording everything in my bedroom as we go. It’s like a slow motion way to write but it’s really cool. So we’ll get our 20 tracks that we want to pick from, we’ve learned our respective parts and we’ll go off into our respective corners to get it all right and thrash out any new ideas we want to put into the songs. At the end of the year once all of that’s done and all of the decisions are made it will be pretty smooth because it’s like we’ve recorded the album before we go and do it all again properly in the studio. We’ve got our producer lined up and what we’ll do next is go into the studio and record what we’ve demoed.”
With a further evolution of sound and a desire to take things to the next level, Dean admits that the band are more than aware that part of their shift in musical focus has to be realistic in terms of facilitating commercial success. A tour is on the horizon and Dean explains that fans can expect a slightly different Engine Three Seven yet again. “We’ll be heading into a national tour later but who we tour with and where we are going will be determined when we figure out exactly how the new songs come together live,” he says. “The single we’re releasing was written before Engine was together, although they played on it as my session musos, and it’s this six-minute epic song about my first band breaking up and me being homeless in Byron. It was mixed but we never really did anything with it and we realised that it is so much more suited to the music we are writing now. The new songs are heavier but they’re also a bit poppier in a way; I think they’re a lot more radio-friendly. It’s a real challenge to have a heavy sound and still be commercial. I hate to say it but if you don’t get played on radio you’re not going to make it anywhere so you really have to bite the bullet and craft your songs so that they’ll be heard. Unfortunately there’s no room for that absolute purity you think you have to maintain when you’re just starting out if you actually want to get somewhere.”
BY KRISSI WEISS
Engine Three Seven headline Showdown At The Corner on Friday August 3 featuring 10 of Melbourne’s finest live rock acts across two stages with Bellusira, Moroccan Kings and many more. Single, Watermark, is being released on the night.