Feature: Dream Damage Records + Assassins 88 on Telepath
April 1st 2015
Dream Damage Records is an independent label from Canberra, home to a small group of musicians that have made up some of Australia’s best bands of the past five years: Assassins 88, Danger Beach and TV Colours.
There is continuity in the sound between these acts as they share members, but each band has its own unique style and flavour. We find blasting punk with echoed vocals and huge drums often recorded into the red, guided by an ingenious sense for writing deceptively simple and catchy pop songs with a feel for the beach, suburbia and brooding cinema. Above all these bands are fun and made for a party. Unhindered by any lack of confidence or complicating neuroses.
That’s how it looks from the outside anyhow. For someone like me, living in Sydney and stumbling across these guys on the internet, it sounded like a burst of clarity.
Their story begins with Assassins 88 playing parties as a two-piece, the essential Canberra band of the time, releasing Go Go Second Chance Virgin in 2010. Lachlan Thomas was on bass and Tim Guthrie, founder of Dream Damage, on drums. Robin Mukerjee aka ‘Bobby Kill’ from solo project TV Colours now says that he forced his way into the group because he loved them so much.
From here the confusion sets in – as they began performing as Assassins 88 / TV Colours with drums, bass and guitar, and released a split 7” with TV Colours which featured ‘Beach People’/ ‘Raising Phoenix’ on the A and ‘The Kids Are All Grown Up’/‘Heavy Metal Sleeve Skies’ on the B.
The third side of the triangle comes with Lachlan’s project Danger Beach releasing Milky Way in 2010, a collection of home-recorded tracks that evoke Phil Spector and 50’s pop. His project is the most cinematic of the three, taking influence from his time as a film student and focusing less on continually driving beats, instead moving through atmospheric themes.
Assassins 88 released two EPs in 2011, Beach People and Kaneda. The second Danger Beach album Pacific was released in December 2012, which has a heavier, synth-based sound compared to Milky Way. ‘Black Rain’ is a stand-out track.
And finally, TV Colours released his much celebrated debut album Purple Skies, Toxic River in 2013, after two abandoned versions and five years in production. His solo act expanded to a four-piece band with Lachlan and Tim from Assassins and Carey Paterson from The Fighting League. They toured Europe and have now taken a hiatus from live shows as Robin writes a new album, while Lachlan moved to New York and took Danger Beach with him. During their time in Europe, the three members of Assassins 88 recorded a new track, ‘Assault’ and were filmed live in Paris.
On this episode of Telepath, we featured some other Canberra bands who released single tracks or demos through Dream Damage…
Golden Buoy played for about a year around 2007 before breaking up to form Teddy Trouble and Assassins 88. The group was fronted by Jonny Telafone, who has since put out a prolific series of online releases and is now on Chapter Music. Teddy Trouble played from around 2009 to 2011, writing jangly ‘60s psych pop reminiscent of The Byrds, complete with 12-string guitar. They released their debut The Great Indoors EP in 2010.
Fig Newlies were a shoegaze pop band with a readily enjoyable sound that released a six-track demo after splitting in 2011, a shame as I would have liked to hear more from this group.
King Fisher is the solo project of Michael Shanahan, who has put out two releases through Cinnamon Records since 2013. Cat Cat is a post-punk/guitar-pop group that formed in 2008 and released their debut Uralba LP on the label in 2011 after moving to Melbourne in the same year. Bad Lifers is an unreleased band that’s had an album sitting in reserve since 2012. This show may have been their first ever radio play in Sydney.
Summer Vacation is a band that had a brief existence around 2009, featuring Robin from TV Colours and the drummer from Cat Cat.
Dream Damage has released other artists that I didn’t have the airtime to feature on this episode, including The Fighting League, Power Moves, Bare Grillz and Slow Violence.
Thanks go out to Robin from TV Colours for helping me put this show together. I interviewed him in January to talk about his preparations for a new record, which he says will be another concept album, although with more of a late ‘70s feel. This Telepath episode was first broadcast on FBi Radio on February 16, 2015.