Words by Bridget Fahey Hodder
Starting in his first band at age 13, Dusty Lee Stephenson has always had music in his life. After meeting Matt Birkin and Benny Morris at Billy Bobs BBQ Jam, an open mic night at the Grace Emily, they formed Wasted Wanderers. The trio has gone from jamming onstage, to air time on triple j and are now getting ready for their debut spot at this year’s WOMAD with a seven-piece band.
“The Adelaide music scene is super supportive. The facilities are all there and I’ve made some really great friends. Just super helpful people. And there’s a shitload of opportunities being offered to bands of all levels, at every level there’s help there.”
Wasted Wanderers didn’t start out with the musical direction it has now, “I formed this band because I wanted a project to do anything. In the beginning this band could’ve been any genre. The EP helped it take shape. We recorded 13 songs and ended up choosing six because we needed some context.”
The EP, God Damn Everything, has been circulating both local and interstate airwaves, with blends of 70s soul and blues as well as modicums of modern rock. I had even detected hints of John Fogerty, Little Feet and The Band. “John Fogerty! I wouldn’t pin that as one of the influences on the record but that’s cool. I thought you were going to say Jeff Buckley, because every one else does. I think he influences my voice a lot.”
The band preferred to use vintage techniques and music gear, including a 1969 Fender super reverb amp and a 1970s Rogers drum kit. While most musicians these days are looking to technology and experimenting with new methods, Dusty said he was interested in looking back and finding out what they did. “You know like Alabama Shakes and Ryan Adams, they still do it old school and it sounds great. It’s just real. There is warmth and soul and you can connect with it a bit easier.”
WOMAD not only gives the band unique exposure and experience, but also an opportunity to watch some favourites play live. “Definitely excited about it. I want to see Colectivo, De La Soul and Husky! Pretty excited to see the Cat Empire too, I know every word off their first album. I was in high school when it came out and I absolutely loved it.”
Wasted Wanders will be playing on Saturday March 12 at 4pm with a few extra musicians including Sophie and Brittany Nikai on backing vocals.
Tickets on sale now: www.womadelaide.com.au