L.S. Dunes: Pandemic "Life Preserver" and Rock's Best New Supergroup | Revolver

L.S. Dunes: Pandemic "Life Preserver" and Rock's Best New Supergroup

How members of My Chem, Circa Survive, Thursday and Coheed channeled existential dread into explosive emo
L.S. Dunes 2022 press 1600x900, Nicole Mago
L.S. Dunes
photograph by Nicole Mago

Circa Survive and Saosin singer Anthony Green may have made his name fronting two of the most important post-hardcore bands of the Aughts, but it wasn't until the 40-year-old musician formed the new supergroup L.S. Dunes with his pals in My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria and Thursday that he created something that would impress his 10-year-old self.

"I spent a lot of time as a kid listening to music and imagining myself in the band," he tells Revolver today. "I can remember being in the backseat of my mom's car and listening to Core by Stone Temple Pilots and fantasizing that I was the drummer or the guitar player. If I went back in time and played my younger self the L.S. Dunes album my heart would have just exploded with joy. My younger self would be so proud of me."

Indeed, the project's debut album, Past Lives, is the sound of five music lifers rediscovering the joy of rocking out at a time when that pursuit had been cruelly halted. Formed remotely in 2020 after the pandemic stamped out everyone's touring plans, vocalist Green is joined by My Chem's Frank Iero (guitar), Coheed's Travis Stever (guitar) and Thursday's Tim Payne and Tucker Rule (bass and drums, respectively). Across the album, they veer from mathy experimentalism and urgent hardcore heaviness to unabashed rock-star riffing. "It reminds me of everything I love about rock & roll," says Green, "from At the Drive-In to PJ Harvey to Nirvana and the Breeders and Queens of the Stone Age."

The band members' paths have intertwined for more than two decades, when they all began to dominate the East Coast post-hardcore scene around the turn of the millennium. They've toured together, shared rehearsal spaces and attended each other's kids' birthday parties. Thanks to all of this shared history, L.S. Dunes felt natural and easy from the outset. "We skipped all of the weirdness behind figuring out how everything's gonna work," Green explains, "and everybody just jumped in headfirst."

"To start a band with people that you wanna hang out with regardless is an awesome thing," adds Iero, calling in from the Oakland stop of MCR's massive reunion tour. "Those types of bands are normally ones that you start when you're young, like in high school, and that's what this felt like." Green sums up the feeling with an apt analogy: "It's like when you go on a first date with somebody, and you just expect it to be like, OK, we'll see how this goes … and then you're like, Holy shit, I'm fucking in love. I'm ready to propose!"

L.S. Dunes was also a much-needed source of support and catharsis for the musicians as they all dealt with the myriad uncertainties of the pandemic. "Circa Survive was due to go on tour in three weeks when the [lockdowns started]," Green says. "I was devastated. I have four children, and I didn't know how I was gonna provide for my family. I tried to keep my cool as much as I could, but I really had a breakdown. I couldn't fathom having any hope."

"There was definitely a sense of depression and desperation," confirms Iero, who had been days away from the My Chem tour kickoff in Australia when everything was canceled. "This project was very much like someone throwing [us] a life preserver — [we] clung to it." With no expectations beyond the vital need to make something, the band were able to indulge in pure creativity and freely channel their turbulent emotions into the music. "It was like hitting rock bottom," explains Iero, "and when you hit the bottom, it opens the door to freedom."

Green recalls the recording of the ripping lead single "Permanent Rebellion" as a key turning point. The singer had initially planned to write a melody for the chorus, but instead he just let loose an intense barrage of screams. It worked perfectly, and the rest of the band was onboard. "Everybody [was] just championing each other's ideas, and that just makes you wanna go even harder," he says of the creation of Past Lives, which was recorded with producer Will Yip (Turnstile, Code Orange).

"I know that I desperately needed a project that was heavier and more aggressive, just because I was feeling all these emotions. It's nice to have a place where I can yell and scream and go wild." Meanwhile, Iero was similarly branching out, incorporating mathy guitar techniques like tapping that he had never used in previous bands. "Something really, really special about this band was that risks we were taking that normally wouldn't end up on a record ended up on this record," he says.

Lyrically, Green explored the panic, mistrust and denial he saw bubbling all across the country as the pandemic became a divisive political issue. "We needed illumination — we needed light being shone on all this fear and hatred around us," he says. Meanwhile, Green describes the record's most personal song, the blistering opener "2022," as "the most fucked-up song I ever wrote." Penned in 2021, it presents Green's grim vision of the future ("If I can't make it 'till 2022/Least we'll see how much I can take") and also refers directly to when he survived an overdose: "I sometimes wish she hadn't found me on the night/I tried to disappear."

"That's a heavy statement, but it's true — and sometimes the truth weighs a ton," says Green. "I feel bad for my family who has to hear that song. Before the song came out, I sat with my kids and I told them, 'Hey, listen, this song is coming out, and I want you to know that you can always talk to me about anything, and that we can get through anything together.' It's really important for me to make sure that they realize that I love them, and that they're worth it."

Now that Green has reached the year he once feared he wouldn't, "2022" has become a triumphant anthem for the singer. "I'm in such a different place than I was when I wrote that song," he reveals. "So to sing it now feels very victorious." L.S. Dunes realized that celebration at this year's Riot Fest. It was their first show — and only the sixth time they had ever played together in-person as a band, including rehearsals.

"I was so nervous beforehand," says Green of the show, the attendance of which rivaled the singer's set with Circa Survive the previous year. "[But] when I got up there, it felt like our hundredth show. It felt like we had been a band for 10 years. When we played 'Permanent Rebellion,' everybody went nuts, and people were screaming along to the chorus. It's more than you can hope for. I feel so lucky."

"It was, hands down, the best first show I've ever played with any band," adds Iero. "It felt magical."

And as far as L.S. Dunes are concerned, this is just the beginning. Now that the world has opened back up, Green, Iero, Stever, Payne and Rule are all busy as ever with their respective projects, but there are no plans to leave L.S. Dunes behind. "We haven't even begun to experience and experiment with what we have," says Green. "Once we get together in a room to actually write songs or to jam — which we've never done as a band — that shit is going to explode."