Art Vs Science - Keyboard Warriors
Art Vs Science – Keyboard Warriors

Art Vs Science have had a busy year, with the release of their Create/Destroy EP, their Creature of the Night Australian tour, and an upcoming appearance at Welcome To The Valley. Outside the band’s music, vocalist Dan Mac made the news with an imploring letter to his local MP, Don Page, in an attempt to stop sniffer dogs at festivals to prevent panic overdose deaths such as Kalamunda teen, Gemma Thoms, at Big Day Out 2009. Catching him on the phone just after relaxing in his backyard, SHAUN COWE chats to Daniel McNamee, aka Dan Mac, about juggling music and politics.

“People aren’t using our democratic processes the way they’re intended to be used and that is writing and being in touch with your local representatives,” McNamee says. “Most people think that democracy is just turning up at the ballet box every three years and saying left or right, you know? And that’s what I thought for a very long time too, but there’s actually far more to than that. It’s actually getting involved with the policing process as it’s happening day to day.”

Why some may find the sentiment surprising coming from a member of the jovial party band, the great duality of Art Vs Science is the intellectualism behind the music – both McNamee and drummer, Dan Williams are law graduates while Jim Finn holds a commercial pilot’s licence from the University of New South Wales.

As McNamee talks about his future plans to write to Malcolm Turnbull against Australia’s anti-terrorism laws, such as preventative detainment measures and ASIO officer immunity, it becomes clear his love of law is still strong.

“Democracy’s just constant bickering,” he says. “You just need to keep bickering to make sure it doesn’t all slide into shit.”

One of the reasons behind McNamee’s letter was seeing the unhealthy relationship between festival-goers and crowds. For the band’s recent show at Macquarie University’s Conception Day Festival, McNamee says he threw the olive branch out and got members of the present police force to come and dance for Flippers.

“I wasn’t feeling particularly positive and I was trying to think of something I could say or do to fix that, so I brought them in to dance,” he says. “Because normally the police are always seen as this sort of bad guy, standing at the back with a scowl on the face and it was a really nice way to get everyone together.

“[They should] just be there in case there’s a big fight, or in case there’s a riot, or someone’s assaulted, or something like that. An actual protective role. Not protecting the drug law regime, protecting the actual people at the festival – protecting their health and safety.”

As for the music, McNamee’s the first to admit he’d never classify Art vs. Science as a political band but he feels their beliefs have started to creep into songwriting, citing the band’s recent single, Create/Destroy and its message about the destructiveness of people.

“We probably hid behind the jokes a bit,” he says. “When we started we didn’t want to really expose much of ourselves at all and would often go way over the top for that reason,” he says. “Now I’ve sort of become a bit more comfortable in my own skin. I don’t mind introducing a bit more of my own personality in the newer songs we’re doing now, which is slightly more vulnerable than the image we’ve been portraying.

“I’m actually writing a song about Tony Abbott at the moment,” he says. “I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I could be wrong. I’ve never met him and I’m not his psychologist, but it’s like he’s attached to a dream. Like, a sort of utopian idea of what Australia is, maybe an old-fashioned idea of what Australia is. That’s what he reminds me of. He’s sort of bit by bit to try and make it like that – like with the knights and dames thing.”