Anthony Green – Vocals
Frank Iero – Guitar
Travis Steever – Guitar
Tim Payne – Bass
Tucker Rule – Drums
As cornerstones of some of the most captivating rock bands of the 21st Century, its immediately apparent that L.S. DUNES is more than simply the sum of its parts. Straight-ahead, full throttle, aggressively avoiding too much polish or too many effects, this outfit turns on, turns up, and tears it all down. With their debut LP, Past Lives, L.S. Dunes have carved their place in the postmodern pantheon of abrasive, melodic, essential hard rock.
L.S. DUNES: drummer Tucker Rule and bassist Tim Payne (Thursday), guitarist Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance), guitarist Travis Steever (Coheed And Cambria) and vocalist Anthony Green (Circa Survive) grind riff-heavy anthems super-charged with punk energy into a sound unlike anything that has come before it. Exploring themes of fearlessness, dependency, nonconformity, and impermanence, each of these 11 tracks delivers confident musicality and unapologetic emotional vulnerability.
And the standouts are plentiful. From the gripping, theatrical opener “2022,” and the crunchy, frenetic earworm “Like Forever,” to the pummeling, expansive “Permanent Rebellion,” and the disarming album closer, “Sleep Cult,” Past Lives is an experimental, electrifying ride.
L.S. DUNES began in 2020, just as the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic was taking hold, and touring became impossible. “It started for me with a call from Tucker,” says Iero. “Tucker and Tim asked me to be involved. They wanted to do a project because we were supposed to be on tour, but we were stuck at home instead. There’s a mutual friendship with Travis from Coheed And Cambria. We got on a group chat, sent a couple of riffs–and some funny memes–back and forth, and it just grew from there.”
In fact, the mutual appreciation and affection within L.S. DUNES run deep. “Tim is not only the best bassist I’ve ever played with but the best musician,” Rule says. “He’s so talented, so intuitive, he just gets it, and in turn, makes me get it. I consider Frank one of my best friends on the planet. I filled in for My Chemical Romance, and we’ve always been musical buddies. He asked me to join The Future Violents, and we got along so well musically and became closer friends. Travis has a vast knowledge of different styles of music and is so happy to play. And I just love the way he plays guitar.”
Things moved quickly. Beats, riffs, melodies, and arrangements traveled back and forth in emails, text messages, and file-sharing services. “The greatest thing about this collection of people is that there is an instant inspiration. And though he’ll deny it, Tim is a fantastic arranger and engineer,” Iero says.
Rule notes the shared excitement was palpable. “I’d wake up in the morning hoping someone had sent something new in the middle of the night; a guitar part or something over a drum beat I’d made.”
The momentum was such that they quickly realized they’d have to add a vocalist immediately, lest the band turn into a math-rock instrumental project. Only one name was ever seriously considered.
“There were no other choices other than Anthony,” Rule says. “I’ve always wanted to play with him. He’s an incredible singer and artist. I just love his vibe. I love his passion and his stage presence.”
We wanted to do something where you can hear all our bands in it and yet, not have it sound like any one in particular,” Rule added. “For example, people will recognize Anthony’s voice, but he’s singing in a different register than in Circa Survive or with his solo work.”
When Rule sent the songs over to Green, he purposefully didn’t mention who else was in the band.
“We wanted the music to sink or swim on its own merits,” Iero points out. “Anthony immediately sent voice memos back with vocal ideas for a few songs. He has a fearless quality that I really love.”
The timing couldn’t have been better for Green, as he himself struggled with the pandemic blues. “This situation was gifted to me,” he says matter-of-factly. “I was having a mental breakdown. I didn’t know how I was going to provide for my kids. I couldn’t go to therapy. I was losing my shit. I was so desperate for music, to write, play, and be creative as much as I could.”
“I was so stoked when Tucker hit me up. He and I have a connection that goes back to before I was even in Saosin,” Green adds. “All of the dudes in the band, at every point in my life that I’ve known them, were authentic people who went out of their way to be generous and kind to others and me.”
Green sent the rest of the guys an acoustic track he’d written called “2022,” originally intended as a solo offering. When they reworked it, the band told him, “here’s your song back, on LSD.” This description fits almost everything they did together, and so a band name was born. L.S. DUNES. The enigmatic moniker conjures its founders’ expansive, broad, atmospheric energy and intentions.
“Anthony’s performance (on 2022) is like an exorcism, proclaimed Iero. “It’s probably one of the best things I have ever heard.” Stever affirmed, “It’s like Frank said – an exorcism. A beautiful journey into madness.”
The one moment of empathy in the incendiary “Bombsquad” is when Green majestically harmonizes the word ‘Leora.’ When asked who Leora is, Green simply retorts, “I am,” and then explains that it’s an ancient word that means ‘I am light.’ Rule elaborated further, “Bombsquad” is a one-way ticket to rip city. Full flight.” And Stever specified, “an all-inclusive trip.”
Payne put his engineering skills to work on the early demos, which were fine-tuned in preproduction at a New Jersey Studio. Eventually, they found their way to Grammy-nominated producer Will Yip (Turnstile, Quicksand, Code Orange), who worked on several Circa Survive records with Green. This was when Past Lives became fully realized, laying the foundation for everything L.S. DUNES to come.
The number of “bands” and projects proposed between touring partners and like-minded hard rock troubadours over the years is incalculable. So, when those flippant suggestions actually make it over the finish line and create something really special, it’s nothing short of miraculous. Cream, Mad Season, Temple Of The Dog, A Perfect Circle, The Power Station, those bands worked. Now L.S. DUNES adds its own vibrant chapter, this one written by modern architects of the explosive, melodic post-hardcore scene, all connected through underground venues, theaters, festivals, fanzines, social media, counterculture attitude, and an unrivaled passion for the genre.
Iero summarized “Permanent Rebellion” and by extension, L.S. Dunes this way: “We never knew if we would ever get to play these songs together, in fact none of us lifelong musicians really knew if we’d ever be able to play music for a live audience ever again. “Permanent Rebellion” is about taking back what is rightfully yours.” Rule concluded, “Our roots are punk rock and hardcore, and the vibe is hope for all the lost souls.”
– Ryan J. Downey