A Word From The Dungeon Master - Australia's Dungeon


Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
Sarf Lundin, Innit

Australia's own power metal titans Dungeon are about to head into the studio to record the follow-up to their 1999 debut Resurrection. Titled A Rise To Power, the album looks set to push the band in a new direction, and is the first to feature the talents of bass player Brendon "Dakk" McDonald.

With his trademark enthusiasm and maniacal laughter, singer, guitarist and founding member "Lord" Tim Grose speaks with UM about the past, present and future of Dungeon.

Ultimate Metal: You began your musical career with quite different tastes and aspirations to say the least (!) Tell us about how you discovered the metal genre, and made the decision to play it.

Lord Tim: I was into vastly different stuff to metal when I first got into music - Duran Duran, Pseudo Echo, Koo De Tah.. I wanted so badly to form a pop band but it just never happened. Then I heard Queensryche. I couldn't believe the guy's (vocalist Geoff Tate's) voice and the amazing guitar work! I knew I wanted to do that then and there! From that point I got into Dokken, WASP, Dio, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween and Slayer, all in the same year. Instant metalhead!

UM: There have been quite a few Dungeon lineups over the years. Are you confident that the current band will stay put for the forseeable future?

LT: I think this lineup, even with all of the stress and arguments that come with touring and being pretty different personalities, is pretty stable. We're all committed to what we're doing and are professional enough to know that you just have to deal with any problems that come along rather than running away.

UM: Does Dakk contribute to the songwriting and vocals in the same way that Juz (former bassist Justin Sayers) did? How easy was it for him to make the switch from guitar to bass?

LT: Dakk's great - at least 2 songs on the new album wouldn't have existed at all if it wasn't for his ideas. He mainly contributes from the bass/riffs point of view more than anything because he's not a lead vocalist like Juz was, but he has input into everything of course. It was surprisingly easy for him to switch instruments. Dungeon's basslines are more complex than a lot of basslines out there so he's actually playing more difficult stuff now than when he was playing guitar, which he was quite good at also!

UM: You describe some of the material for your new album, A Rise To Power as being "streets ahead of Resurrection". Did this progression just evolve as you were writing, or was it a conscious effort to challenge yourselves?

LT: Resurrection, for all its good points, was really just all of the stuff left over from the first 10 years of Dungeon that we liked. There was stuff like 'Paradise', for example, that we'd recorded about 5 times before in various shapes and forms, so there was a big conflict of "do we write new stuff based on what we're into now and ditch all of the old stuff, or do we put the old stuff out?" We chose to put the old stuff out because some of the songs on there were just too good to throw away.

So with the new album, what you're hearing is what we're into now. Everyone's tastes have changed over the years and we're discovering new bands (or rediscovering old ones) which have influenced the songwriting. Plus, we've also matured a lot as people and songwriters, so there's a much greater depth to the material.

UM: You've been trying out some of the new songs in your live set recently. What has the audience reaction been like?

LT: Pretty good! There's stuff like 'Insanity's Fall' which has a big Maiden-esque singalong bit at the end and we're always hearing people humming it after the show. Gotta love that! The reaction isn't quite up to what we're getting for the stuff we've had out already but we're expecting that to change after the new album's out and people get to know the material a little better. From what we've seen, not too many people think it sucks, so that's always a good thing!

UM: If such a thing exists, talk us through the "typical" Dungeon live show. Which songs get the best response from the crowd, and what kind of surprises do you include to keep everyone guessing?


LT: Well, we tend to get mauled if we don't play 'Paradise' and 'Wake Up'... Lately, the show has really been concentrating on getting as much of the new material road-tested as possible so it's a little different to our 'classic' show as it were. It's very rare that we don't end with an Iron Maiden cover, though. There's nothing like seeing the look on the faces of everyone singing along to 'Caught Somewhere In Time' when we do it! Other than that, the set is pretty open over all.

UM: Some of the tracks on the demo album Demolition were later revised to be included on Resurrection. Do you plan to use any more of this earlier material in the future?

LT: Very, very unlikely. We have a single coming out soon with 'Call Me' (originally from Demolition) on the b-side but I think that's the last bit of previously recorded material we'll be using. We really want to concentrate on moving forward for once!

UM: As well as playing a central role in Dungeon's creative process, you're very involved in the business/management side of the band. What advice would you give to anyone just starting out in the industry?

LT: Don't do it! HAHAHA! But if you must, you'll need to keep a few things in mind:

This stuff doesn't happen overnight in 99.99% of cases. You have to work for your goals. In rare cases, people have lucked out by being in the right place at the right time, but don't count on that to happen - take it as a nice surprise if it does!

- Learn from people who know what they're talking about! You can't expect to be amazing at everything you do straight off, you have to learn first. So that means take lessons, practice, watch other bands and work out why they're getting the response they're getting and see how it applies to you. Don't be scared to ask for help or admit when you're in over your head.

- Either get a good manager (read: honest and hardworking!) or learn to do it yourself. Network - talk to other people in the industry as much as you can. As the old saying goes: it's not what you know, it's who you know!

- Write good songs and always challenge yourself to do better. Don't think that this is the best you'll ever be, or in 5 years time when everyone else is playing like gods on huge stages, you'll be wondering what the hell happened!

- Promotion, promotion, promotion! 'nuff said!

There's plenty of advice out there, work out what is good and what's not and take heed of it! I can't really tell people how to run their bands because every situation is different, but I can say that over the last 12 years of Dungeon, we've made some horrible mistakes while we've been learning. You'll always make mistakes but you just have to learn from them and keep going like we did.

My thanks to Lord Tim for taking the time to do this interview. Expect to hear more about Dungeon on UM in the weeks, months and years to come! In the meantime, visit the band's website at http://dungeon.ar.com.au.

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