“A cross between Blade Runner and a Tim Burton film”: Last Dinosaurs’ Lachlan Caskey on AI, Capitalism, and the Band’s Space-Age Transmissions, ‘KYO’ & ‘RYU’

Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai
Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai
Lachlan Caskey discusses the making of Last Dinosaurs’ cyberpunk sci-fi sister records ‘KYO’ & ‘RYU,’ two EPs whose songs explore AI, capitalism, narcissism, and humanity’s self-destructive tendencies.
Stream: ‘KYO’ – Last Dinosaurs

If we can relate to things from 1000 years ago and our trials and tribulations are the same, then something hasn’t changed.

Eons from now, in the year 3023, a dying satellite emits the last remnants of a changed humanity that it has to cling onto.

Somewhere on a cyber-centric planet, the punk youth of the future are tapping into these radio waves, and there they find the music of the past.

This is the setting and prologue to Last Dinosaurs’ newest record, KYO. The EP and its concept are a critique on both capitalism and narcissism. This is a world that has been ravaged by events of the past, and now the trend of the youth is to musically relive that very past.

'KYO' EP - Last Dinosaurs
‘KYO’ EP – Last Dinosaurs

“It’s like a warning from the past that we haven’t changed and past history is bound to repeat itself,” Last Dinosaurs’ Lachlan Caskey tells Atwood Magazine. The goal of these songs, he explains, is to highlight both the absurdity and the destructive nature of the time we are living in now.

Released April 5 via Nettwerk Music Group, KYO exists as a sibling to Last Dinosaurs’ 2023 space-age EP RYU, which the band introduced to the world as a “collection of transmissions” intercepted from that dying, future AI satellite. Both KYO and RYU are based in the same universe, yet distinct from one another; the differences between the EPs and their tracks are a direct reflection of the band.

Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai
Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai

Last Dinosaurs’ two frontmen, brothers Sean and Lachlan Caskey, together with bandmate Michael Sloane, write and produce together in a way that is more futuristic than traditional. While they’ve made previous records together in the studio, Last Dinosaurs have found that the world has developed beyond the need for everything to be done in one location.

As such, KYO and RYU were written across international borders. With Sean Caskey located in the brothers’ native home of Australia and Lachlan in Los Angeles, California, time and distance had to be crossed in order for the album to come into existence.

This coincidentally reflects the time and distance that the record’s concept and the songs themselves cross. A time capsule of its own, the album consists of tracks both written specifically for this release, and tracks backlogged up to eight years into the band’s history.

The best part is, this isn’t just an audio album.

The release is paired with a comic book co-written by the band’s members and illustrated by Chris Yee. This artistic visual accompaniment fleshes out even more of the complex universe inhabited by RYU and KYO.

“It’s kind of a mixture of Blade Runner and Tim Burton,” Lachlan Caskey says.

The cyberpunk world is inspired by an AI generated image from artist Luke Nugent, based out of the UK. Sean Caskey had come across Nugent’s work in a Pinterest browse, and after getting in contact with the artist, a whole universe soon unfurled.

KYORYU - Last Dinosaurs
KYORYU – Last Dinosaurs

Nugent is now the cover artist for the new album, involved heavily in the process and creation of the band’s sci-fi world. This is just the beginning of their exploration into what will come.

“I’m damn sure we will produce other things born out of this universe,” Lachlan Caskey smiles. He and his bandmates don’t know exactly what is to come next, but that’s the beauty of a world created from imagination: It never has to stop growing.

Last Dinosaurs’ KYO and RYU have been packaged together for a physical album, entitled KYORYU, set to release on International Dinosaur Day (May 21st) 2024. Dive into this cosmic adventure below as Lachlan Caskey discusses the inspirations behind Last Dinosaurs’ new music, their space-age transmissions, and more!

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:: stream/purchase KYORYU here ::
:: connect with Last Dinosaurs here ::`
“Paranoia Paradise” – Last Dinosaurs

Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai
Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai


KYORYU - Last Dinosaurs

Atwood Magazine: Thanks for speaking today, Lachlan! To start, how long has Last Dinosaurs’ new album been in the works for?

Lachlan Caskey: Wow, good question! I don’t know, it’s probably something like a year. The rollout times for the music, after it’s done, are always ridiculously long because that’s just what the marketing necessitates. Yeah, I swear to God, we had this thing finished a year ago, but there was a bunch of stuff we had to refine. And dare I say it, I definitely prefer it not to be like this, because you get rushed into getting something done, and then all of a sudden the music’s just sitting there, doing nothing, and you just wish you could be working on it still, but somehow you’re not allowed to.

How long was the writing process, then?

Lachlan Caskey: Well, it was like some songs had existed for literally eight years, and then other songs that we did two years ago, and then other songs that we’ve just written within the past two years or year. So yeah, it’s a mixture. Big mixture.

So it's kind of got pieces from all over from different parts of the band's history?

Lachlan Caskey: Yeah, Pretty much!

The intro video for the album is very much like a time capsule, so that feels like it ties in with that a little bit.

Lachlan Caskey: Yeah. Funnily enough. There are a lot of serendipitous elements to this. The video that you would’ve seen, that’s my brother’s EP, and my EP is being released at the moment. It’s called KYORYU. But the funny thing about RYU, aside from the fact, yes, it is about a satellite, and the only other ambient song that we’ve ever had was a song called “Satellites,” and we didn’t realize that. Also, RYU is my brother’s Japanese name, and that is the Japanese word for dragon. And it’s 2024, the year of the dragon, so something special is bound to happen.

That wasn't all planned?

Lachlan Caskey: No, definitely not!

With songs written some years ago and some just now, can you give us a peek at your songwriting process and if it's changed for different songs?

Lachlan Caskey: Probably the only difference is that Sean and I worked very separately. Sean worked principally by himself, and then with a producer named Oscar Dawson. And I did the exact same thing, except I worked with a friend of mine named James Angus. Conceptually it’s a proper, live, studio recorded album. So we went into the big expensive studio in the big room with the big SSL console and tried doing it that way for a while, working with a guy we respect a lot who’s great in his own right, Scott Roscoe, but it didn’t pan out how he wanted it to. We started the album very much in a forum that we’re not used to making music in, which is in a completely collaborative sense of four guys in a room with a producer feeding back on you. That’s how it started, and we kept some elements maybe, but we basically clean-slated it and just DIY-ed it again. So that was separate and different.

So you did separate parts, and then came together?

Lachlan Caskey: That’s how it’s worked for the past three releases, yeah.

Because you're all in different places. I know you're in LA, right?

Lachlan Caskey: That’s right, yeah. And the other boys are in Brisbane, Australia, where we are born and raised – but again, nothing new. I’ve lived out of Australia as much as I can in the past five years, so I’m very used to doing it by distance.

Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai
Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai

Does your new album have any tie-ins to your previous records?

Lachlan Caskey: It’s just these two that sort of follow a story, completely separate from anything else. It’s also because we’re producing a comic book to go with it. It’s a story in a universe that the music, the video clips and the comic all conform to the same universe basically, so it stands alone in that way.

Are you all working on writing that comic book as well?

Lachlan Caskey: Yeah, we had, and it’s done. Sean’s parts are done and it’s out. My part is not out yet, but it’s done basically. And yeah, I don’t know what we’re gonna do with it. It’s gonna come out at some point. I don’t know if it’s gonna come out in two pieces. I’m not able to divulge stuff, but I’m really happy and stoked with the story that we’ve created, and the illustrator has done just the most incredible job as well. So we’re pretty excited about that.

Is that all worked on in the same way that the album was, in different parts and then pieced together?

Lachlan Caskey: Separately again, yeah. My part and Sean’s part are quite separate.

Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai
Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai

So what was the inspiration behind the sci-fi theme for the new album and the storyline? What gave you guys the idea of that story?

Lachlan Caskey: Well, it was a lot of things, but the impetus was that my brother loves Pinterest and I guess through Pinterest, he found an AI-generated image that was hyper-realistic looking. But it was of these two Asian cyberpunks – very crazy cyberpunk-looking guys. Kind of scary. Somewhere like a cross between Blade Runner and a Tim Burton film. Like Edward Scissorhands in the year 3000. And they were holding these mini-TVs. It’s just the most photo-realistic image you’ve ever seen. And he found out that it was this artist named Luke Nugent from the UK who charges an arm and a leg to generate these images for you. We got in contact with him, and the cover of KYORYU and the cover of RYU are two of his images.

Basically, that image just informed the whole universe because my brother immediately thought when he saw that image. Imagine that it is the year 3023 or whatever and that this civilization has collapsed and reformed again. And then the youth of this era… Kind of like how kids got obsessed with SoundCloud music for a second. Imagine if the thing back then was tapping into ancient radio signals and listening to music that’s 1000 years old and discovering algorithmically generated music from an AI satellite 1000 years ago.

That’s kind of what the punk’s like or something like that. And that’s the premise of RYU, is that it’s an album that’s completely AI generated based on this AI satellite that was built 1000 years ago that was actually pretty powerful but is waning. Its battery is damaged in the launch and it can’t last as long as perhaps a nuclear battery would normally last. So it reprograms itself to just be the most practical reflection of civilization, which is to just generate music. But that’s how Sean’s story came, and then my story basically came out of that, as a pure result of that.

Sean’s image story was inspired by Luke Nugent’s image, and then my story is inspired by Sean’s story. The guy who mainly came up with this stuff, the technical details, is a friend named Erick Carrada, he’s a good friend of mine. My first American friend ever, from San Diego. He’s a sci-fi buff and knows everything about every sci-fi story ever, so we got him to write and build out the universe.

KYORYU - Last Dinosaurs
KYORYU – Last Dinosaurs

I love that idea of a sci-fi album. You've been mentioning a lot that it's about this AI satellite and AI in the future, and that's really big right now, people starting to use AI. Was AI used in any part of the album? I know you mentioned it was used for the cover.

Lachlan Caskey: In terms of the actual songs… No. I don’t know what the software is like; I know the software is out there, but no. No AI in the sound. That’s all human, thankfully. We’re all pros. None of us are hysteric about AI. We’re all kind of fans of it, to be honest.

Would you ever end up using AI in songs, or could you see it being used?

Lachlan Caskey: No, no. I mean, we’d love to hear AI try and copy us. That would be interesting. That would be very interesting. But no, we would never go out. Who knows? We might do it. I don’t know.

That makes sense. The album’s concept is that these are songs from “now,” being listened to in the future, and that's the context you're seeing it through. That's something that could happen, that people can be looking back in the future on certain songs. Is there a message you're trying to send with that, or is it just a cool idea that needs to be out in the world?

Lachlan Caskey: It’s just a story. I think the general message about what’s happening in RYU is the idea that… It’s a warning from the past that we haven’t changed and perhaps history is bound to repeat itself. Because if we can relate to things from 1000 years ago and our trials and tribulations are the same, then something hasn’t changed.

My story is the prequel to that story, 1000 years ago. So the present day is basically… The whole character of everything I’m releasing is a critique of capitalism and a critique of the culture of narcissism that is prevailing and just how absurd and funny it is and that it’s just utterly destructive. So I don’t know, we’re not trying to paint any massive message or anything like that, but these are just the things we’re thinking about I suppose.

Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai
Last Dinosaurs © Keaidkumchai Tongpai

Do you have any further plans about the album or the story going somewhere else? Continuing to grow upon itself?

Lachlan Caskey: Good question. No, nothing in place. But I am damn sure that we will produce other stuff that is born out of this universe because I think as time goes on, we want to scale back as a touring band and just become a production house or something. We’ve really enjoyed doing this as well. And it seems like our however small but very, very dedicated fan base is like, they love it.

I think the aesthetics are really on point with the comic and the universe we’ve built. I think if we continue to grow… We’re seeking to be a bit more than just a band of three boys on this one. I think we will continue to do that. So whether it’s in the form of a manga or maybe if we can get the budget to make an anime, that would be amazing. Something like that.

— —

:: stream/purchase KYORYU here ::
:: connect with Last Dinosaurs here ::

— — — —

KYORYU - Last Dinosaurs

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