INTERVIEW: Rachit Moti (THE DOLLAR BILL MURRAYS)
They've been dancing up a storm all over the east coast this month touring their snazzy new single, and now after a cranking 2017 Brisbane's boisterous rockers The Dollar Bill Murrays have also just unveiled a groovin' good time of a clip for 'Dancing With Death'. But in-between carving it up onstage and challenging locals at the bowling alley, there's a whole lot more to this likable quartet than a memorable name and their fiery brand of alt-rock - whether it's posting beers in the mail, writing catchy songs about the mysteries of life, or raising awareness for charity, these boys do it all with a healthy dose of swagger (and a refreshing dash of sincerity).
And before the boys play their final show next week celebrating the brand new track, The Soundcheck grabbed a few moments with The Dollar Bill Murrays' resident beat-keeper and all round good guy Rachit Moti to talk tours, tunes and his first ever gig at the age of 13...
TIANA SPETER: Hi Rachit! Thanks so much for chatting today, you guys have been super busy of late touring your saucy new single 'Dancing With Death'. You've also recently unleashed the video for the tune last week as well - so much for easing into 2018, you guys are already overachieving! What's the vibe been for The Dollar Bill Murrays so far this year?
RACHIT MOTI: It's been a lot of fun and we definitely wanted to start the year off strong, we'll see how we keep going with it but it's been a lot of fun. This tour's been really cool, we played Frankies and Rad Bar already which was awesome and getting this song out there has been a lot of fun. The video's pretty comedic, we're getting some cool feedback and overall the song is doing well online as well. So we really couldn't ask for more, the fact that people are listening to it means a lot to us.
TIANA: And speaking of the music video, you left us all on a little bit of a cliffhanger it seems?
RACHIT: You know, we had a couple of different endings and then we ended up going with that one there, we're leaving it open to interpretation I guess, relating it kind of back to life or 'Dancing With Death'...it that open ended story to all of it, really!
TIANA: You guys have spoken previously about the track and the idea behind the song itself, but what's your personal take on the song given there's obviously a bit more going on behind it than just being a kickass dancey number...
RACHIT: Yeah, originally it was inspired by, I guess, late nights out and it was more than just drinking and that kind of thing...it seemed that when we stepped back and watched the people that we saw in The Valley and in Brisbane...we saw these people that, you know, in the daytime they have all these responsibilities and they're very proper and then at night....they lose themselves to the night. And we kind of end up sometimes in the morning, the group of us...kind of thinking back like "how did we get here?". And you kind of go into the night not knowing where you're going to end up and we tried to relate that back to life, you kind of jump into things not knowing where it's going to end up and we're just along for the ride. So that's kind of where we're going with it.
TIANA: 'Dancing With Death' is the first bit of new music we heard from you guys since you dropped your EP 'Always On' last year, and also in 2017 you had your first interstate tour, you released cassette tapes, you brewed beer, you had some epic supports....on paper it's a pretty exhausting list of awesome, but did you have a personal highlight from 2017?
RACHIT: I think...realistically the whole year ultimately was just getting busier and busier and it was really cool to have people wanting to work with us, and I think the coolest part of making music is working on stuff with people who have similar interests to yourself. But I think the highlight for me...I really loved the support show that we had with The Delta Riggs when they were in Brisbane - that was sold out at The Zoo so that was a massive crowd and we had a lot of fun there. And conversely at the same time, we put on a house show in November or December last year and, you know, it's the opposite end of the spectrum, it's a free event in a house and it was completely crazy. So being able to have a wide range of experiences like that is amazing.
TIANA: So The Dollar Bill Murrays have had some pretty huge shows already, but have you guys got a dream band that you'd love to tour with, whether it be a local or a not-so-local band?
RACHIT: Yeah! I think in terms of influences, I guess it's fairly evident with some of the guitar work, but bands like Queens of the Stone Age have really influenced what we've done, but on the local scene bands like DZ Deathrays I personally really like. They stick true to their sound but they're having a lot of fun with it and taking that to a lot of people. I guess stuff like Arctic Monkeys would be amazing, but they've been around for so long and they're so big. But any of our influences to us would be a dream come true!
TIANA: And because you have been playing more and more shows, have you started to notice at all if you've got a particular type of fan - is there a textbook Dollar Bill Murrays fan out there yet?
RACHIT: Yeah, I don't think we have a type, I honestly haven't found any similarities with the crowd, it seems like when you look at the "scene" that we potentially could fit in, we seem to be on the borderline...I guess what we have in Brisbane is the rock scene at, like, The Foundry and The Zoo which sometimes we're a little too heavy for, but sometimes we're too light for the Crowbar kind of metal and hardcore scene. So we get a really nice blend of everyone that's open to something either lighter or heavier than they're used to. It's actually really nice to be able to give that to people.
TIANA: I did briefly mention it before, and I have been very, very fortunate to personally try it and it's still without a doubt the best thing I've ever received in the mail, but you guys teamed up with All Inn Brewing Co and Support Act and you gifted the world with the band's very own beer - how did that opportunity actually come about?
RACHIT: It was just a really nice gesture on their part I think, they had this Bill F. Murray Malt Liquor coming up and they kind of noticed us and they said "hey, we support local music, we're a local brewery, do you wanna have a chat and play a gig with us, and let's talk about it" and it was really just an open discussion about what we can do there. And it was really nice based on our chat that we were also able to loop in Support Act, the guys at All Inn Brewing were really keen on supporting a good cause, and we wanted to find a way to give back as well. So to be able to do that and brew a really tasty beer through music is the best outcome I can think of.
TIANA: It is really a perfect trifecta! And it won an award I believe, a Craft Beer Award?
RACHIT: Yeah, it won the gold medal! So, pretty stoked on that. I can definitely tell you it's great off tap. To be honest I'm not sure what the can I sent you in the mail actually tasted like cos I've never sent beer in the mail (laughs). Hopefully it was all right!
TIANA: Yeah, I chucked it on ice and I've kept the tin too. Already got some people interested in that bad boy! Speaking of Support Act, they do some amazing work and it's awesome that you guys have been able to get involved in that. What are your thoughts on the state of the music industry in regards to actual support and camaraderie, even at a local level - do you feel that there's enough support available for bands and artists regardless of what stage of their career they're in?
RACHIT: I think in terms of camaraderie and friendship and the way bands have let us in is lovely, everyone kind of looks out for each other and we'll always share gear and think of each other for each other's gigs. As a band we haven't personally needed the services of Support Act fortunately, which is good for us. But we know that music is something that doesn't have much...well there's not that much money going around in that industry. So for the people that are relying on music as their livelihood, when something goes wrong, you know, they've had an injury or mental health or any kind of crisis or hardship...being able to have some kind of lifeline that they can reach out to is just super important and we like to support that whenever we can because for us we're fortunate and privileged to be able to have music as an outlet but for some others it's what they rely on so it's different, I guess, in that sense.
TIANA: I think it's a really awesome thing. I mean, beer in itself is great, but the reality of raising awareness at the same time is amazing. I knew of Support Act previously, but this did spur me into finding out more about what they do and it's a really nice think that you can spread the word in such a fun way.
RACHIT: Yeah awesome, I appreciate the kind words!
TIANA: Now being the resident drummer in The Dollar Bill Murrays, who are some of your drumming heroes and influences, did you grow up drumming as your first instrument? Or was it something that you kind of landed on later on?
RACHIT: I tried guitar for about six months when I was about 12, I think. And it just didn't click, I have a guitar and a bass now and I'm so bad at them. I like the idea! But I think it was a couple years later when I was maybe 14 or something, I just sat behind the drum kit. It's not that I was a prodigy or great or anything, it just felt right. It felt like "hey, I think I could enjoy this more and it feels like me". And I kinda just fell in love with drums as an instrument. My influences, I guess, are quite varied...through school I got into prog music a bit so Danny Carey from Tool and Steve Judd from Karnivool were amazing. And then I got into heavier stuff at the time, bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, their drummer Billy Rymer's amazing! But then conversely, I found a lot of hip hop and jazz genres that just do stuff that is worlds away from what I can do and it's just amazing to listen to. But I guess my favourite are people like Pat Carney from The Black Keys, he just does very simple stuff. I guess I don't have style of drummer that inspires, I'm more a fan of those that suit the song really well, if that makes sense? They play a part that kind of communicates what the band's trying to do in the song and I've always felt that's important.
TIANA: So it sounds like you got into music quite early, do you care to share what the first ever gig you went along to was? Was it something awesome? Or possibly embarrassing??
RACHIT: (laughs) Yeah, so...wow! You've just made me think about this. I think I was 13 and I went to a band called Tridium, they were like a heavy metalcore band. It was at The Tivoli and it was insane. As a 13 year old not having been into a gig for one and then going straight to like the heaviest stuff you can get to - it was an experience!
TIANA: Zero to 100 in the space of one evening!
RACHIT: Yeah, yeah exactly! Real quick, it was a lot of fun.
TIANA: The Dollar Bill Murrays obviously have a particular style and sound, with plenty of your influences popping up from time to time. But for you yourself with bands that you listen to outside of that world, is there anyone you listen to in your downtime that might surprise people?
RACHIT: I'm certainly open about what I listen to, I listen to a lot of lighter stuff as well. I think a lot of stuff recently would be artists like D.D Dumbo and Holy Holy and Slum Sociable. I've really dug that work and I think I've been trying to incorporate that kind of drumming...beats that you can sometimes find in pop and electronic music is often not in the rock realm and sometimes I'm trying to pull in influences from that to kind of change the way things are written, even if it's just a small fill or something like that. But my musical tastes are pretty wide from that kind of stuff through to that prog, rock and metal at the other end.
TIANA: So 2018 is already off to a great start, but can you reveal anything about what's to come next for The Dollar Bill Murrays?
RACHIT: Yeeeeah....so we've got the video out, we've got another show at the Gold Coast and then after that there's nothing completely set in stone, but we are writing new tracks as well and then we'll probably look at releasing either one of those or some of those! And then also we'd love to collaborate with more artists and people that we can, kind of, express what we're trying to say through more than just music. We'd love to have a few more shows coming up as well, particularly some support shows and maybe a festival, that would be really fun. But overall, nothing locked in, we've had this tour and the activities around 'Dancing With Death' that we'd planned out and now we're kind of just kind of feeling things out so we don't get bored for the next few months.
TIANA: Awesome, well I daresay it's going to be an exciting year given your previous track record!
RACHIT: Awesome, I'm looking forward to it!
The Dollar Bill Murrays brand new track 'Dancing With Death' is out now on Valley Heat Records.
If you're on the Gold Coast you can catch the boys in action next Friday 2nd February, info below!
BY TIANA SPETER