Dinosaur 94: An enlightening interview with the student band

Dinosaur 94 are fun. First coming onto my radar during the Edinburgh Fringe, I encountered Ed and Bertie once busking in Bristo Square, playing a set on Middle Meadow Walk and again at their flat watching a self written play. Asking about the band, and crucially the name, someone refers me to Ed, the ‘mum of the band’ as Lizzie would later put it. Ed dressed in a black velvet jacket, leaned across the table, ‘I think we just liked it’ was all he offered. Bertie, pausing from his conversation, agreed, ‘dinosaurs are great’.

Ed was the first to emerge on the day of our interview. Grinning whilst rolling a cigarette and dressed in his – now signature – black jacket (“eBay mate”), he launches, without pause, into an array of topics including why Bertie only ever buys pork pies if they’re on offer. 

Forming through conflict, with Ed and Bertie initially “really hating each other” due to being “two cowboys in the same town”, they soon discovered a shared love of music. Starting a band, they recruited Josh on drums, already a member of 131 and Echoes and Lizzie – also a member of Echoes – along the way. 

Lizzie who has said in the past that she couldn’t play before being in a band, (and indeed she argues that she “still can’t fucking play”), states that she only played bass because it was the easiest instrument, “though it’s actually not easy at all”, she refutes herself. 

Indeed, she voices her suspicions that they only recruited her because “there’s a trope about female bass players”, and Ed affirms that that’s exactly why she’s in the band. Josh shuts Ed up by shouting at her that “she’s fucking banging” – a sentiment widely shared by the crowd at a later date. 

And so, in March 2017, Dinosaur 94 was born. Only it wasn’t Dinosaur 94. Initially, it was Rabbit Wars. The evolution of their name is apparently complex, Ed taking to spontaneously shouting out a new name after every gig, meant their band became more about their name than the music (Ed argues that it still is). 

This culminated in the christening of Dinosaur 94 by Bertie as he sat on the toilet. Despite initially not telling Lizzie “the name of her own band” Dinosaur 94 stuck; a combination of their love for Jurassic Park – though Lizzie now refuses to watch it – and something about birthdays, though that last bit remains unclear.

Being in a band is “like doing a team sport” Bertie claims decisively, “like football or something”. “More like wrestling” Josh points out derisively, wearing a t-shirt on his head, “It’s like you’re against the audience”. Bertie continues ignoring him. “Being in a band is so much more fun than being by yourself” Ed points out between the allusions to his impending solo career, “It’s such a kick, you don’t get that same feeling by yourself.”.

Even at the ‘bad gigs’ this camaraderie shines through. Drunk and falling over one another, as their crowd chose DJ over the band, three of the attendees revelled in the group’s enjoyment.

Lizzie explains that “we’re not the kind of standing still and playing your guitar” kind of band. Josh agrees with this and boasts that they have made a keen fan. However, as Bertie points out, she was the one who booked them. 

Indeed one thing that radiates from the group is their desire for a little community. “We’re very much a unit,” Lizzie says, “we have similar senses of humour […] we value the same things”. From the play in their sitting room to the impromptu gig in their flat due to a venue cancellation, this little community of friends and followers creates a lovely feeling of warmth which surrounds this band. 

It is clear from the start that if nothing more, they are just best friends. Despite not agreeing on a love of a single artist, as Lizzie put it “we’re similar performers”. It is clear from their movements (Ed warmly greeting Josh as he cycles up and Bertie sitting between Ed’s legs) their comfort with each other is what unites them, makes them click and contributing to their exciting, and wild performances. 

Indeed, their performances are what defines them. “We’ll do whatever we feel like doing and that’s what makes a good show”, “we do stupid stuff” (both on stage and off), “we’ll start shouting at each other, jumping into the crowd”, “play each others instruments, shit on the floor [left unexplained…], get naked you know”.

Despite there being a strong community within the band and a strong loyal legion of friends that form a community around them, there is general agreement that this isn’t true of Edinburgh as a whole. Lizzie suggests that while Edinburgh “is a musical city… it’s mostly…folk music”, and if there a sense of community, it is divided between “the local scene and student scene, and we are very much a student band.”.

There’s not a place that people go to “religiously”, Ed laments. “You don’t go to Edinburgh for the music.” Bertie agrees, “there’s not a big community of bands supporting each other.” Yet Bertie also points out that Edinburgh offers them a unique chance to shine; “If we were in Manchester we literally wouldn’t get any gigs ever.”

Their latest track, ‘Elephant Dreams’ is available on Apple Music and Spotify. Discussion of this title led the interview into more abstract areas, the first of which was memory, due to the elephant reference in the title. It was agreed that Bertie is the most forgetful, but Ed does concede in response to questions about his memory that he is “not an elephant.” Yet apparently he would be the most likely to go mad if left alone, “need[ing] constant attention” laughs Lizzie, mimicking, as the narrative in the opening of their song suggests, an elephant. 

Although “he’s already mad” suggests Bertie, who, diametrically opposed to Ed, loves solitude. They’re dreamers but not optimists (“they’re very different things” – Ed). “Realists if anything” Bertie adds. 

Lizzie also wishes, like Sally, the subject of their song of the same name, that she could have hit some of the girls in her school with a bus. Bertie and Josh will, apparently, go to hell for devil worshipping and casual satanism respectively. 

Bertie does a great James Acaster impersonation but refuses to do it as “that’s not how interviews work.” Bertie also thinks Hitler would make an “interesting” dinner party guest though Josh argues he would make awful at small talk. 

With plans to stay together despite the graduation of Ed and Bertie at the end of the year and the possible production of more flat based theatrics and or films (Pocket Egg productions), Dinosaur 94 are set to be around for a little while longer. As previously mentioned, they’re fun. Really fun. So, go see them play. As they put it, “we know we’re sick.”

Dinosaur 94 are playing at Sneaky Pete’s on 4 November.

Image: Ellen Blair

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