Dinosaurs Revives the Extinct San Francisco Garage-Rock Scene

San Francisco quartet Dinosaurs are a band of brothers — plus one from another mother. Twenty-three-year-old twins Gil and Wyatt Craddock, their older brother Graham, and their friend Damien Restano formed the garage-rock band out of an actual garage in San Jose in 2013. They now practice in a former porn warehouse off the 101 Freeway, just below Cesar Chavez Street, and, despite their lack of a garage, are still churning out garage-rock tunes.

[jump] Dinosaurs invited me to come by their studio, which has neon purple walls that used to serve as the background for live cam shows, but are now muted by dim lighting and decorations like colorful disco lights and a Misfits poster. The studio’s dingy, repurposed feel matches the gritty, feel-good energy found in Dinosaurs’ music, which is described by lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Wyatt as “fuzz-gaze punk, with old-school rock elements and interesting melodies.”

Though the band originated in the Bay, there’s an undeniable So-Cal, psychedelic vibe to their music. “It’s heavy at times, but still makes you want to dance and bang your head simultaneously,” says Graham, the band’s bassist. The other Dinosaurs nod in unison, noting that mixing family with business doesn’t hinder them as most would believe. Gil, the band’s drummer, reveals that the brothers grew up hating each other, but have since moved past that stage. And, as for Restano, the lead guitarist and only non-Craddock, he feels welcomed as a familial adjunct, even if he has implicated himself as the Ringo Starr of the band since he is the only one who does not sing.

The Craddock brothers grew up in Carpenteria, CA, then moved to Aberdeen, Scotland during their teens where they took music classes to occupy their free time. Eventually, they immigrated back to California, with Gil and Wyatt moving to San Jose for college and Graham settling in San Francisco. Restano, who hails from the Southern Alps of Italy, came into the picture after spontaneously meeting Graham on his first night in the U.S. Dinosaurs officially became a band in April 2014, and went on to record songs about relationships, “day-to-day bullshit”, and, sometimes, about nothing in particular at all. So far, Dinosaurs has mostly kept performances at a local level, rocking out at some of their favorite venues like Berkeley’s 924 Gilman and Polk Street’s Hemlock Tavern. They have traveled down south for shows in Santa Barbara, Fullerton, and Long Beach, but have yet to cross “major tour” off their bucket list (”That’s the next step,” says Gil).

Their first full-length album, Release The Raptors, came out in May 2015, though the band confessed that the project was more as an experimental beginning, with their forthcoming album, Human Condition, serving as their true, debut. “We’re still finding ourselves as band, but this new album sounds a lot different than our first,” says Gil. “We’re not repeating ourselves, but instead evolving.” The 10-track album will be released in February on Astro Lizard Records, a Long Beach label that reached out to the band through an Instagram direct message. What attracted Dinosaurs to the label was their shared vision: Small in numbers, yet big in dreams.
To date, the band’s most notable claim to fame is their song, “Sleep Ain’t True,” which aired on the ABC Family television show, The Fosters. “Sleep Ain’t True” served as the backdrop for a reconciliation between two young lovers as they hang glide over the beach, screaming with thrill at every turn. Dinosaurs would like to think that their song is fitting for the scene, but admit that it’s certainly out of their usual realm. Instead, they divert my attention to news about their February 6 performance at Uncool Fest, along with their upcoming show at the Rickshaw Stop. For a band built on house gigs and intimate shows, Dinosaurs is still as humble as ever, even in their post-ABC Family career.

Dinosaurs performs with Ice Cream and The Tet Holiday on January 14 at the Rickshaw Stop. 

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