+ AV Club
The bonds that hold Dubinski in place are unbreakable. Four brothers who’ve literally been through everything together – from childhood through adolescence, success and grief – using music as the gel to hold them in place. Brought up in rural Scotland – Glenlivet in Speyside, to be precise – but with deep roots in North Yorkshire, their songs could only come from a place of complete trust, shared adventure, and total abandon. And the musical result of this familial experience: it’s rock meets pop, delivered in a manner that’s uniquely theirs – high energy bangers interspersed with introspective repose, all delivered with electronic production in an organic setting. Dubinski are making 21st century anthems, and it’s time for the world to listen.
It all started out with small town boredom and sibling rivalry. Needing a hobby, one brother started to play music, joined by the next; before they knew it, the full brood – Eugene, Donal, Eoin, and Fergus Gaine, had formed a band. “I started out playing pots and pans as a kid,” explains drummer Eoin, the eldest of the four, “and then these guys gradually began choosing their own instruments. It all started from there!”
At first they did what all many kids do, making a racket while their obliging parents made themselves scarce. Eventually throwing shows at the local hall, the four-piece rocketed through classic songs from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Queens of the Stone Age, essentially figuring out how to be a band. “We started out learning covers of our favourite songs by our favourite bands,” says Fergus (guitar). “From there, it was a matter of progressing to our songs. We’d been writing together for a good while actually, mainly because we started so young.”
Forging their own music centric world, the band became a point for the brothers to express shared experiences, to move ahead in their own determined lane. “It would have been a lot different if we were by ourselves trying to do it, but we had each other. And thankfully our parents didn’t care about how loud it was.”
Leaving their sleepy, whiskey trail hometown behind, Dubinski relocated to Edinburgh, sharing a tiny flat while working out how to make the band work in a new setting. Fresh songs followed, and fresh challenges, too – like how to soundproof their ad hoc rehearsal room. “A few of us lived together in a tiny flat for a few years,” recalls bass player Donal. “We built a practice space in a box room, and we’d squeeze in there. Eventually it all got a bit much though!”
Gradually, though, things fell into place. Word of mouth spread, and Dubinski were booked to play a key slot at Scotland’s primary creative arts showcase: XPO North in Inverness. Playing their hearts out onstage, renowned veteran producers Mike Horner and Robbie Nelson stood at the back completely transfixed by what they saw. They didn’t know it when they came offstage, but the band’s lives were about to change.
Invited down to RAK Studios in London to record, the wheels were set in motion for their debut album. Dubinski had the songs, and now they’d been given a direction. Working with incredible intensity, the four-piece set about constructing their first full length statement, poring over every single detail. As singer Eugene puts it: “We had a collective image of the album, and how we wanted it to sound. Mike and Robbie made that vision a tangible reality.”
Dubinski pushed themselves to the limit, working through their songs in incredibly focused 14-hour shifts in the studio, with Mike and Robbie pushing them further and further. One song in particular took 36 takes to nail it, as they were tracking it live in order to capture the true essence of the song, and refused to accept ‘good enough’ after the first 35 takes. Nothing was left to chance in their pursuit of perfection.
Midway through those sessions, however, the band were called home to deal with a family tragedy – the unexpected loss of their eldest brother. Taking time out to from the recording process, they had to walk away from the studio in order to deal with his passing. “It obviously shook us a lot,” recalls Fergus, “we had recently lost our mother as well, so we just had to take time to do our thing and grieve before continuing. Once that finally happened, we were determined to carry on with the band”. “Being a band (of brothers) is a form of therapy for us,” says Eugene, “making music can be such a release… just by putting a part of yourself into it.” Dubinski will forever be marked by their tight familial bond, as the band’s name is their mother’s maiden name.
The band’s eponymous debut album is a direct reflection of their challenges and shared determination. Each song is distinct on their record, marked by incredible creativity and an inherent belief in one another. A stunning feast of outrageous pop-edged songwriting, Dubinski’s self-titled debut is everything these four musicians have been working towards all their lives. It’s a testimony to their dogged determination, and also their innate positivity – after all, the record is themed around the law of energy return. Eugene explains: “The law of attraction is a philosophical suggestion that positive thoughts bring positive results, and conversely negative thoughts bring negative change. This piece of work is an exploration of the fact that both are found in our lives and that we welcome those inherent changes.”
The songs on the album are as diverse as they are dynamic. ‘Soothsayer’ is a dark yet spirited lead single, with its sinister vibe matching a minor chord guitar run that supplements Eugene’s vocal part. ‘MTSB’ takes things in another direction, its electronic-soaked production boasting a vapor-wave aspect to their work. It’s a song “inspired by the idea of an alternate reality, where things can be felt, heard and seen,” says Eugene, “not too dissimilar to our own reality, but with strange subtle differences. A different dimension perhaps, that can only occasionally be accessed.”
‘Fall Right In The Grave’ is framed by darkness and loss, but then ‘Beyond Me’ is an upbeat indie banger, one that hints at the band’s live prowess. ‘Gotta Get Out Of This Place’ is rooted in their hard-working studio dynamic, with producers Mike and Robbie pushing Eugene to record his vocals through countless takes before the perfect version emerged.
Taken as a whole, Dubinski’s debut album is a shattering, cathartic experience. It’s a record fueled by brotherhood and trust, by loss and the empowering impact of communal emotion. More than anything else, it’s a launching point, a marker of the sheer will that has dragged Dubinski from the Highlands of Scotland out into the bigger world. “I sometimes wonder what the hell we would be doing if we didn’t have a band,” Eoin muses. “It’s the umbilical cord that keeps us all together.”
Manchester M1 3NJ