The Dungeon Band history is a long and very involved journey that started over 15 years ago in the outback of Australia and has led to international success and Dungeon being one of the best australian heavy metal band. The story takes many twists and turns along the way and will take some time to read! Hope you’re comfortable!
Dungeon Band began its life as heavy metal cover band in the Australian outback town of Broken Hill, in August 1989 and was formed by ‘Lord’ Tim (guitar), Ian Debono (drums) and Eddie Trezise (bass). After trying out a few singers, Tim just ‘fell’ into the position of lead vocals, due to a lack of available singers. Soon, Jason Hansen (guitar) and Carolyn Boon (keyboards) were added and Eddie was replaced by Randall Hocking. This line up stayed together for six months.
During that time, Dungeon band played sold-out gigs, did newspaper and radio interviews and gained a loyal fan base. In July 1990, Randall and Jason left the band and were replaced by Dale ‘Fletch’ Fletcher (guitar) and Jamie Baldwin (bass). Over the next 6 months, more gigs were played, Ian left and was replaced briefly by Darryl Riess and then by a drum machine.
In February 1991, Fletch left the band, but not before introducing a new guitarist to Dungeon who played in Fletch’s cousin’s band. The guitarist’s name was Dale Corney and he became a solid part of the band for almost 11 years. By March of 1991, all that was left of Dungeon was Tim, Dale and the drum machine. They played several gigs over the next year as a duo, with electronic backing and Carolyn from the last line up helping out with backing vocals. By Christmas time, Tim and Dale decided it was time to record a proper demo to get some record company interest.
January 1992, Tim and Dale travelled 1100 kilometers (around 700 miles) to Nu-Town Studio in Sydney. In just one week, they recorded, mixed and produced a staggering 19 songs! This amazed Greg Hopping at the studio who sent a selection of songs to a local music paper to get reviewed. The reviewer (Stuart Coupe), an admitted disliker of heavy metal, said things along the lines of ‘Dungeon are a classy, textured and sophisticated hard rock band’ … ‘Dungeon sound better than half the hard rock bands with record deals – simple as that.’
Praise like that prompted Tim to relocate to Sydney in April that year. Dale would join him early the next year. The search for a new rhythm section had begun again! Things didn’t go very well, however! Over the next 3 years, they tried out MANY guitarists, bassists and drummers in the hope of putting together the perfect band: 3 guitars, a scary bassist and a double-kick drummer from hell!
No one worked out until they finally settled on George Smith (bass), Andrew Brody (drums, who Tim met through a ex-guitar student of his who played in Andrew’s previous band Dr. Zeus) and Steve Mikulic (guitar, also a former guitar student of Tim’s). This line up, with drumming help from Virgil Donati (drummer for the band Southern Sons, Planet X and a very respected drummer world wide) and Jim Yannieh (a session drummer who answered one of Dungeon’s many ‘drummer wanted’ advertisements) recorded the demo CD, ‘Changing Moods‘. Although Andrew stayed with the band for a few months, eventually he parted company and it was back to advertising yet again!
August 1995 – Tim receives a call from one of the drummers Dungeon auditioned way back in 1992, Wayne Harris. Wayne was playing in a band called Maximum Carnage but was looking to do other projects on the side. This suited Dungeon just fine! Wayne auditioned again and this time got the job with no problem. Rehearsals began again. Internal band tension flared up (again!) and resulted in George being replaced by Justin ‘Juz’ Sayers, the bassist for Maximum Carnage. As they were having just as many problems with line up changes, their band was side-lined for a while so they could concentrate on Dungeon. Just as Juz joined, more turmoil was going on inside the band. Steve Mikulic departed, leaving Dungeon as a stripped-back, streamlined metal machine.
In early 1996, Greg Hopping and ex-managing director of BMG Music Publishing Australia, Jim Shipstone formed the record label Nu-Town Records Australia. Nu-Town signed the band and distributed copies of ‘Changing Moods‘ throughout Europe, Japan and America in the attempt to license distribution and manufacturing deals with major record companies. The first company to bite was TDK-CORE Records in Japan. They liked ‘Changing Moods‘ and other demos from Dungeon so much that they insisted they release them just as they were in Japan. (The songs were remixed and Juz replaced the bass lines, though.) The album was called ‘Demolition‘ (the band’s poor attempt at humour!)
While things were starting to look very positive, Wayne didn’t seem to share everyone’s enthusiasm. He wasn’t rehearsing the songs and showed no interest in the band at all. It all came to a head when he refused to be associated with the Japanese album. This caused no end of problems for both Dungeon and Nu-Town Records. The solution: A good friend of Juz’s, Tyrone McMaster stood in for Wayne, essentially becoming Dungeon’s new drummer (although he had no drumming ability whatsoever!). Tyrone (who was known as ‘Ty Blakely’ on the album) appeared in all of the Japanese photos and press-releases. Wayne was soon fired after that.
Just as Wayne was fired, things started to go very wrong in Japan. The album was doing very well indeed, selling over 5,000 copies in just the first few weeks and there was interviews and reviews in Japanese Metal magazines such as BURRN!. What was to be the second album was demoed, ready to be recorded and things were looking good.
Then all contact with TDK-CORE Records stopped.
Everyone later found out that there was a management re-shuffle and the company decided to radically change musical directions. As a result, in February 1997, contracts were terminated between Nu-Town Records and TDK-CORE Records. The album was only promoted for 5 weeks, but even in that short time, it sold over 5,500 copies. Not long after that, the contract between Nu-Town and Dungeon was also mutually terminated.
Ordinarily, this situation would be a very demoralizing thing, but during the negotiations with Japan, the band was introduced to Steve ‘Stevo’ Moore, drummer from the high profile Sydney thrash band, Addictive. Addictive were on the verge of breaking up and Stevo was looking for a new band. Dungeon was that band… Now, with Stevo behind the kit, the band had renewed enthusiasm. The demo tapes of the 2nd album were distributed to many web zines, magazines and record labels in an attempt to get some exposure and a new record deal. The reviews were nothing short of incredible, consistently scoring close to top scores. The only thing preventing the band from recording the new album (which would be the 1st ‘proper’ release) was money.
Finally, in mid 1998 after a LOT of saving, the money was finally there. Dungeon booked into Powerhouse Studios in Sydney to record their 1st real album, ‘Resurrection‘. At the same time, deals from all over the world, from high profile record labels were literally pouring in. At one stage, there were 10 labels to choose from! Contracts were narrowed down and the album was completed in August. The next 12 months were filled with outrageous live shows, gaining them a loyal Australian fan base and road-testing the material from ‘Resurrection‘.
In July 1999, Dungeon signed a world wide deal with Warhead Records and ‘Resurrection‘ was released in September after numerous unavoidable delays. One such delay was the departure of Juz, leaving to form his own project, King Oath(which also briefly featured Tim as a guest member). Enter Brendon ‘Dakk’ McDonald – the ex-guitar student of Tim’s that introduced ex-drummer Andrew Brody to the band in 1994. By sheer coincidence after 3 years of no contact with each other, Tim and Dakk met online and started chatting about what they were up to. During the course of the conversation, Tim managed to convince Dakk to swap instruments and join the band! Dakk Jumped at the chance and immediately bought a pro-bass rig and learned all of the material.
Now, with a new line up, a new label and a new album, Dungeon was once again ready to take on the world! Further cementing their resolve to become the biggest heavy metal band in Australia, Dungeon appeared at many large festivals such as Australia’s largest metal event, Metal For The Brain, which they appeared for the last four years, headlining the main stage in 2001, Metal Warriors Metalfests in Melbourne several times and other high profile festivals such as Bloodlust, Morbid Tales, Screaming Symphony and Wintersun. Dungeon also supported Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, Power Metal heavyweights, Edguy and Nevermore, Norwegian Black Metal icons, Mayhem, Opeth, metal’s first lady Doro, and German Thrash legends, Destruction on their latest Australian tours.
Of course, if there was one thing the band had learned over the last 12 years was that nothing is ever set in stone. In March 2001, Warhead Records ceased trading and all stocks of ‘Resurrection‘ were solely distributed by MGM Distribution and by the band itself right into the album’s 3rd pressing. Even without a label, the album continued to sell well while Dungeon completed writing the next album. Many of the songs had been road-tested thoroughly, some becoming new live favorites already.
The incredible sacrifices of years of hard work had taken its toll on every member, particularly Dale. At what was originally planned to be a routine band meeting in August 2001, he announced his intention to leave the band. The parting was on very good terms and he agreed to stay around until a suitable replacement was found. Word was put out amongst the underground metal community that Dungeon was looking for a new guitar player.
Enter Stuart Marshall. Stu had first seen Dungeon during their Yngwie Malmsteensupport in 1999 and instantly became a fan. By a strange twist of fate, he got to talking to a member of the Sydney thrash band, Dark Order, who told him about the position in Dungeon. Phone calls were exchanged, meetings were held and Stu passed the audition process with flying colors! So certain that he was the one, Dungeon announced at a Melbourne gig in September that it would be Dale’s last show with the band. The pressure was on now to deliver since Metal For The Brain XI was only weeks away and Dungeon was headlining one of the main stages. Deliver they did – Stu played his first gig with Dungeon in front of over 1500 people, after only being officially in the band for 5 weeks!
During this time, besides the chaos of a lineup change, the band was also recording the new album, ‘A Rise To Power‘. Lineup changes and label changes, money issues and constant touring had made the writing of this album extremely difficult and Dungeon had a lot to live up to after ‘Resurrection‘ – this album had to be by far superior. ‘Resurrection‘ suffered both time and budget restraints, both things that were going to play a big role in the new recording too. This time, however, a lot of careful planning made a big difference.
A few months before recording had begun, Tim began testing his new digital recording system to see if it was capable of delivering a world-class product. Besides his own studio, a suitable drum/vocal studio had to be found too. In the search for such a studio, Dungeon recorded set of test songs which turned out so well that they ended up creating a promo CDR called ‘Maiden Our Spare Time‘. This promo, which contained 6 of the live covers that Dungeon regularly played, was sent to various radio shows and magazines for reviews, all of which extremely positive. The demand for this recording to be properly released was overwhelming (although sadly impossible due to a severe lack of money!) confirming Tim’s gear, the studio and the recording techniques the band planned to use was up to scratch.
Recording began mid-September 2001 at R&R Recordings Studio for a week and then continued at Tim’s SLS Studios for several weeks after. This was interrupted due to preparations for Metal For The Brain and was resumed in December back at R&R where the final vocal tracks were completed. The result was a slick, tight, mature album – a drastic leap forward from ‘Resurrection‘ and easily world-class. The search for a new label begun again…
One label that had been watching Dungeon’s progress for some time was Melbourne’s Metal Warriors label, who had recent success in europe with other bands on their roster and were looking to expand their stable of bands. Now free from any contractual obligations elsewhere, Dungeon was able to go into negotiations with other companies, including Metal Warriors. After carefully considering all of the options, a choice was made: Dungeon’s representation for ‘A Rise To Power‘ and co-management would be Metal Warriors.
Contracts were signed live onstage in front of over 600 people in May 2002, mixing was completed and ‘A Rise To Power‘ was released on August 29 in Australia and New Zealand, a highly successful national headlining tour had then begun! Footage from this tour was used for the video clips for ‘Insanity’s Fall‘ and ‘Stormchaser‘.
As you would imagine, although this is already a long story, it’s far from over – with the release of ‘A Rise To Power‘, things got very interesting very quickly…
From the moment the band had signed to Metal Warriors, a search for a world-wide partner to release Dungeon internationally had commenced. Much like before, there was many interested parties but the label that finally won out was high-profile German label, Limb Music Products (LMP). LMP had already forged a close working relationship with Metal Warriors in the past and they had major success with bands such as Rhapsody. Dungeon felt secure enough to sign a 4 album PRIORITY deal with LMP (a deal which guaranteed a bigger push than any other band on the label at the time of every release) in April 2003.
Not long after that, the next surprise Dungeon had in store for their growing army of fans was their first ever international tour that would take them on a headlining visit to Japan for the first Japanese Melodic Metal Festival! Dungeon would share the stage with bands such as Skylark (Italy), Dragonland (Sweden) and Japanese bands Galneryus, Vigilante, Mastermind and Norma Jeane, and travel from one end of Japan to the other.
A few weeks prior to the tour, a limited edition commemorative tour CD called ‘Rising Power‘ was recorded. This album contained remixed and re-recorded older material, new edits of songs from ‘A Rise To Power‘, new cover songs and the Japanese edit of Dungeon’s new video for ‘The Other Side‘. The Japanese tour was an outstanding success with Dungeon selling completely out of merchandise and signed CDs within 20 minutes of the doors opening on the first show! That concert was filmed with 9 cameras and the audio recorded for a live DVD and CD called ‘Under The Rising Sun‘.
Soon after Dungeon returned to Australia, ‘A Rise To Power‘ was released in Europe and the USA, complete with new artwork chosen by LMP to suit the new markets, all to glowing reviews by press and fans alike!
2004 and yet another new chapter unfolds for Dungeon!
The writing of the follow-up album to ‘A Rise To Power‘, entitled ‘One Step Beyond‘, came together very quickly over the turn of the new year, written entirely by Tim and Stu. This material was the strongest ever in Dungeon’s history and the band was eager to return to the studio to lay down their 3rd release (or 4th, if you count ‘Demolition‘ as the first release).
LMP also wanted to release Dungeon’s 1999 album ‘Resurrection‘ worldwide and after carefully considering this idea, it was decided that it would better to completely re-record the album with the band’s new line up and with the new technology that they were using to record ‘One Step Beyond‘. This meant that instead of recording just the new album, Dungeon would be simultaneously recording 2 albums at once. The pressure was on!
Dungeon returned to R&R Recordings Studio and began work on these 2 albums, only to be interrupted by 2 very important things:
Firstly, Dakk had departed the band. What seemed like a decision that came out of nowhere to people outside of the band was actually a long time coming as neither Dakk nor the rest of the band were enjoying working together anymore. Although this never showed on stage, the internal friction finally got too much for everybody.
Secondly, Dungeon went out on the road once again with the German power metal stars, Edguy. For this tour, Dakk’s replacement was Dungeon’s long-time roadie ‘GammaRay’ Glenn Williams and due to commitments outside of the band, Stevo’s position was filled by talented drummer, Grahame Goode. The tour was an outstanding success considering half of the band was different, but true to Dungeon form, the band delivered the goods without even skipping a beat.
Freshly back from this tour, another important decision had to be made. It was becoming clear that Stevo was also not enjoying his time with the band, which was made even clearer by the mood in the temporary band line-up feeling better than it had done for years with the regular line up. After a quick meeting, it was mutually decided that Dungeon and Stevo should part ways instead of dealing with the ongoing tension of a strained working relationship.
Dungeon continued to work on the 2 albums, finishing them just in time for a world-wide ‘meet-and-greet’ promotional tour that started in Japan, continued through Europe and ended in the USA. On this tour, many useful contacts were forged with promoters, press and record companies as well as a couple of small shows in Japan with Metalucifer, Argument Soul and Rachel Mother Goose, and in Croatia with Undercode. This successful tour opened all of the right doors to really make a difference in 2005 and beyond.
Dungeon released their highly anticipated new album, ‘One Step Beyond’ in Australia and Japan in November of 2004. In pre-sales alone, it completely outsold all of their previous releases and rocketed up the Japanese charts. The album featured ex-bassist Juz as a member of the lineup in the booklet. Juz, who was very busy with his Platinum Brunette project, agreed to help Dungeon out as much as he could but unfortunately time restraints got the better of him and he couldn’t commit to both bands. While extremely thankful for everything he did for them, Dungeon knew it was for the best that they found a permanent musician who would become a solid member of the band.
2005 saw the addition of Grahame Goode and former bandmate Pete Peric added as the new rhythm section of Dungeon. This alliance was short-lived, however, and severe personal issues saw this new partnership disolve after just a handful of shows, including the Metal For The Brain 2005 Canberra show. The night before that show, the first annual Australian Heavy Metal Awards was held, where Dungeon won Best Live Band and Best Vocals for Lord Tim, nomiated and scoring highly in every single category.
Two weeks later was the Brisbane leg of Metal For The Brain and without a rhythm section, Dungeon had a lot of work to do in a very short period of time. Immediately Glenn was re-hired and a young prodigy called Tim Yatras was welcomed into the band after one audition where he played every song that was asked of him exactly like the album (later revealing he had been a Dungeon fan since he was 11 years old and knew the entire back catalogue back to front). The Brisbane show was an outstanding success, which heralded big things for 2005.
National supports with Angra and Nightwish followed, almost immediately followed by scoring the sole Australian Megadeth tour support slot. So impressed with Dungeon’s performance at these shows, Megadeth main man Dave Mustaine invited the band to join them on part of their European leg of their Blackmail The Universe tour. This timing worked out perfectly for Dungeon as dates had already been booked for Europe and Japan around the time of the tour, in support of the newly re-released re-recorded ‘Resurrection’ album.
This European tour led from Amsterdam to Germany, to Serbia, Romania and finally Greece where Dungeon Band and Megadeth finally parted ways. In just over 2 weeks, Dungeon had performed in front of over 15,000 people, all to a fanatical response. This tour continued with headline dates in Belgium and an appearance at the prestigious Bang Your Head 2005 pre-show alongside Metal Church, Chris Caffery and Nasty Savage. Dungeon’s European tour wound up with a performance at Holland’s RosRock festival before flying onto Canada (meeting up with Harem Scarem’s Pete Lesperance) and continuing on to Japan for a string of headline shows and clinics at The Musicians Institute across the country.
By the time Dungeon returned from this world tour and immediately onto an Australian tour with Fozzy, the cracks had begun to appear in the foundations of the band. Dungeon, who had recently parted ways with their management, was running the tour entirely by themselves whilst on the road, playing in front of one of the world’s biggest band’s very critical audiences. While the shows were fantastic, the hard work behind the scenes took its toll on inter-band relationships. Dungeon returned to Australia exhausted and needing to make some big decisions.
The first of these big decisions were made by Stu and Glenn who left the band to persue their own projects. This prompted Lord Tim to finally disolve the band he’d been part of for over 16 years, only to continue on as LORD, originally his solo side project from 2003. The complete press release for this event was posted here: DUNGEON PRESS STATEMENT. The final Dungeon show was performed on December 11, 2005 at Sydney’s Gaelic Theatre.
And so the Dungeon story ends; a journey that lasted 16 years that went from the Australian outback to the world, and becoming one of the biggest Australian heavy metal bands in history. As a fitting end to the band, there was one final Dungeon album released in 2006 to say thank you to all of the people who were part of the Dungeon experience throughout the years: “The Final Chapter“.