Rediscovering the Magic

Almost a decade since bass guitarist Dean Turner passed away, 'Magic Dirt' are reuniting for Hotter Than Hell. Catch them at Kirwan Tavern next Saturday. IMAGE: Supplied

Magic Dirt were one of Australia’s most beloved rock groups of the 90s and early noughties, with tracks such as Dirty Jeans and She-Riff on high rotation across Australia. However when bass guitarist Dean Turner lost his battle with cancer in 2009, an indefinite hiatus was called. Now, almost a decade later, the band are reuniting for Hotter Than Hell this December. We caught up with Magic Dirt guitarist Raúl Sánchez to find out how the reunion has felt and what he’d been up to during the hiatus.

What made you guys decide it was time to play together again?
I don’t think we ever discarded the possibility, but we kind of just let things go for a bit after Dean passed away – we felt like we’d been very intensely touring and performing, but then in February this year at the Barwon Club in Geelong there was an event on that was very special which Adalita was performing at and they wanted Magic Dirt to play – Adam and I got up and we played five Magic Dirt songs and it felt really good, so we just thought ‘what the hell, it feels right so let’s give it a shot again.’ It just felt like the right time. We have a few things in the pipeline related to reissues, so it just all felt like the right time to do it.

How was that first performance back without Dean?
It’s really hard emotionally, because you always get memories and he’ll always be missed – no one’s ever going to play quite like him. But we’ve been fortunate to find some friends that are really sympathetic to his style and the band and the way we all played, so have slotted right in. That February gig, Matt Bailey played and it was awesome. This weekend we played our first official reunion show as a band with a full set and had Steve Patrick on bass. He nailed it, it was really awesome.

It’s been about 20 years since you first joined Magic Dirt, have you seen the band’s music evolve?
Definitely! It’s funny because it’s changed, but stayed the same. We’re a guitar band and always will be – we like our music heavy, powerful, and emotional with a good splashing of jammy psychedelia. Then there’s pop and a lot of facets which I think is one of our greatest strengths.

Do you remember much from the last time the band stopped into Townsville?
Oh god, I honestly cannot no! Hahaha! We’ve done it a fair few times though and always love going up to North Queensland: it’s always fun, the people are great, the weather’s beautiful, and you just get to have a bit of a holiday and play – can’t ask for more really.

What have you been up to since the band went on hiatus?
I definitely haven’t stopped: I play in a couple of other bands, Midnight Wolf, River of Snakes, and played with Tex Perkins in a band called The Ape, we toured around and I’ve also been doing a movie and animation composition – it’s been non-stop, and it’s all music. My life is music.

What are you most excited about at Hotter Than Hell?
Obviously playing for a big crowd and having fun, hanging out with bands like Spiderbait and Shihad, it’ll be like the old times – we’ll all be a little more stiff and sore, but I’m sure we’ll all give it everything we’ve got on stage.

What should we expect from your setlist?
It’s all the classics, we’re trying to keep it as varied as possible from the albums so people all get a taste of their favourites. We love that too, playing the older stuff as well as the ones that are more recent – I wouldn’t really say new anymore!

Any plans for the band following Hotter Than Hell?
At the moment we feel like we’re just going to play together and do this tour for now – and if everything goes well we’ll stick together and do what we can, but for now just going with the flow and waiting to see how things turn out.

Anything else to add?
We’re just looking forward to seeing our fans up there – it’s all for them. Thank you.

Catch Magic Dirt, Spiderbait, Shihad and more at Hotter Than Hell, Kirwan Tavern on 1 December. Click here for tickets.

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