Making a Din - Dingus Khan
T hese are extremely exciting times for Manningtree's Dingus Khan who seem to be one of the most endearingly strange bands I have encountered... and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
An eight-piece from the estuary town that's most famous for being the home of Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, Dingus Khan came together in the front room of singer/guitarist Ben Brown, more by accident than design.
Describing themselves as "rising like a behemoth from the sludge of the Stour Estuary", Dingus Khan congregated around Ben and drummer Nick playing songs and their mates who were standing round watching wanting to be part of it.
"We would be playing in our living room, with drums, instruments and recording equipment set up," explains Ben. "All our mates, who were all in bands as well, would be round and looking sad because they weren't playing, so they all picked up an instrument and joined in."
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The result is a band of three drummers, three bassists and an electric ukulele player as well as frontman Ben on vocals and guitars. Unusual perhaps, but distinctive and interesting too.
That was last year and things have been happening quickly for the band, despite a few early difficulties.
"We played some gigs around Colchester and then this rumour got round somehow that we were the worst band around and couldn't play and that we had instruments with missing parts.
"I think people just thought we were noisy and broke our instruments, so it was hard going for a while."
The good people of Colchester were soon won over when they actually heard Dingus Khan play, their spiky, lively alt-pop proving an irresistible mix for many listeners.
Before long they were getting London gigs and caught the eye of one the guys behind the hip indie label Fandango and Fierce Panda. They stepped in to replace headline band Wave Patterns on a Club Fandango night and obviously impressed, signing up to the label for a single release, with Knifey Spoony released in March this year.
Dingus Khan's live shows have a reputation for being exciting and unpredictable but Ben says they just do whatever feels right on the night rather than premeditate anything. He does admit, however, that they're prone to jumping and dancing around and that they're shows can be rather lively.
"It does depend a lot on where we're playing. There's sometimes not much room to move around with eight of us. But we just go for it."
Gig-goers in Chelmsford got a taste of this when Dingus Khan played with The Kabeedies at Bitterscene in January and it seems there's a real buzz around the band this year. So much so, in fact, that they're booked to play a number of festivals over the summer including Latitude at Henham Park for which they were put forward by BBC Radio Suffolk.
With festival slots also booked at Play Fest in Norwich and Bestival in the Isle of Wight, it looks like being a memorable summer for the band. Especially as Ben has never even been to a music festival before.
"When me and Adam were in a band called Elfred and the Uber Peas, I remember being in the back of a car and saying 'one day we'll play a music festival and it'll be the first time I go to a music festival'. And it turns out it is.
"It's really exciting. You never think these things are going to happen, even though that's what you want to happen.
"It was like when we did a session for Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music. We always listen out for the Band of the Week on his show and think we want to be on there, and then we were.
"It's kind of weird. When we first started out, someone offered to put out all my strange, home recordings on two tapes and that was mindblowing at the time, that someone would want to do that, even though it was on such a small scale.
"Now we're going to play these festivals, it's a bit much to take in. If someone had said to me a year ago, you'll have a single out in a year's time, I would have taken that."
Dingus Khan have another single, Made A List, out on July 23 and again Ben is pinching himself.
"It's weird to think that it started out as just a home recording done with a mic in my bedroom and now it's going to be out there, it's a single."
It seems like Ben will have to get used to that feeling as Dingus Khan have recorded an album which he's keen to have released before the year is out. How is it shaping up?
"I think it's really, really good, but I guess I would.
"All the songs are written on an acoustic guitar in some shape or form, so I guess you could call them pop songs."
A debut album, another single and festival appearances this summer. Not bad for a band who got together in someone's living room.
Dingus Khan play the Latitude Festival at Henham Park, Suffolk on July 12. They release their next single, Made A List on July 23. Find out more and listen to their music on their Facebook group.