In the doctor’s office: A look behind Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice

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In the doctor’s office: A look behind Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice

Dr Sure
words by noah redfern

Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice is one of those unique, quirky Melbourne bands that catches the eyes and ears of all from one mention of their name.

Blending influences of punk, electronic and psychedelic music with a touch of politically charged humour, Dr Sure’s is led by Dougal Shaw. 

Dougal grew up in Queensland, in a small town called Emu Park not far from Rockhampton. With its lack of access to everything from clothes to music, Dougal’s solution to these issues was to just make things himself.

“If you go there when you’re older, it’s like a beautiful, idyllic seaside town. If you go there when you’re super young, it’s like a little playground, because you can just run around. But then there’s this whole middle period where you’re getting a bit older, and you want a bit of action and you’re like this place sucks – that forces you to get creative.”

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Until much later, it wasn’t on Dougal’s radar that you could form a band. Being a tiny town, there weren’t live music venues, there weren’t rehearsal spaces and there just weren’t that many people to get inspired with. Luckily, coming from a creative family, he kept busy with many a project. If Dougal wanted something, he’d just make it for himself.

“For better or worse, if I want something done, I’ll try and do it myself before outsourcing anything”

This philosophy would follow Dougal when he made the change to living in Melbourne, taking with him the ethos in his new home. Building home studios, self-recording music projects and working on every step of the creative process, Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice became a DIY art machine for Dougal Shaw.

Constructing his first “shedio” in his old share house in the inner north of Melbourne a few years ago, Dougal now has a basement recording space where the magic is made. That even includes Dr Sure’s latest music video for their new single Outside Looking In, with the setting of the video being a revamped colourful basement I recognised immediately. 

Crossing bands and mediums, Dougal Shaw is also a tattoo artist by trade, and much of the attitude and creativity of his body art goes into the visual design of Dr Sure. Doing all the album artwork from 2019’s The West up to their latest release BUBBLE, the continuity between sound and picture is marvellous to behold. 

Directing music videos, designing tour posters and more, the sentiment of “I really love just making shit” follows the man through all his work. When the band has finished the album, Dougal immediately has a whole set of tasks to work on. As soon as the music is finished on a record, he makes a list of all the peripheral projects and gets to work.

“If I have too much time to think about the world – I will literally spiral”. More than anything, Dr Sure’s is a personal therapy for Dougal, and a passion project he choses to share with the world.

Their latest release BUBBLE is another act of self-preservation: a release that embodies the initial idea of Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice. To get some stuff out, get it off your plate, let it be free.

“I’d gotten back to that point I was in the past where I had all these songs that I just didn’t feel like they had a home – I needed a one size fits all kind of thing. Get it out as a mixtape, not a super formal thing.”

Check out Dr Sure’s latest release here. Catch them live this Saturday at the Northcote Social Club here.