The Dhima brothers look like a pocket-rocket version of Guns N’ Roses.
Their band, Mixed Up Everything, is a YouTube sensation, with their long locks and ad-hoc gigs on the streets of Melbourne’s CBD winning over fans worldwide.
Now the band of four young brothers – Todd 20, Kevin, 19, Blake, 17 and Koby, 16 – is riding out the coronavirus pandemic in Albania after being stranded there in the middle of their European tour.
“We’ve been on the road, touring now for 18-plus months, covering a lot of ground around Europe,” lead singer Todd told The New Daily.
“We’d just finished a tour of South Tyrol, and were midway through the Belgium leg of our tour when coronavirus news started making headlines.
“We soon realised we were going to have our next few dates cancelled, so we decided to wait it out in Europe as it was much cheaper and easier than flying back to Melbourne and then flying all the way back to Europe to resume the summer tour, or so we thought.
Of course we underestimated how long this lockdown was going to last. Now there’s not much we can do except wait until everything all opens up.”
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Luckily, a fan offered the boys their beachside apartment in Albania.
Normally, the Balkan country would conjure images of Dracula and moody skies, but there are much worse places to wait out a pandemic, the grateful band members said.
Someone very kindly offered us their holiday apartment here on the beach near the Mediterranean Sea, and we’re stoked to be here,’’ Todd said.
“It’s suitable for us because the cost of living is very cheap, the beach is literally metres away and the weather is like Melbourne summer at the moment – what more can you want?
Plus the people are very friendly and the food is good as.”
They are only allowed out for a few hours each day, so they go to the beach. Otherwise, they sit at home, playing music.
The brothers look so similar they might almost be clones.
They grew up putting on free gigs for their parents in the family lounge room. Before they learned guitar and drums they used tennis racquets, and their vocals admittedly used to be a little shaky.
“’We’ve been jamming together since babies really, goofing around with tennis racquets for guitars and mum’s cushions for drums – singing in front of our parents all our favourite ’90s tunes,” Todd said.
“Our first performance was 10 years ago in front of our primary school. So officially you would say that’s when we started, and Koby joined very soon after that first performance. He was just five when we started.”
To keep the country safe Albania imposed strong lockdowns, including closing its borders, when the country recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 8.
The nation has recorded 31 deaths, is heading for a recession and, like most of the world, trying to balance the economic fallout with squashing the spread of COVID-19.
It’s a hard trick to pull off.
The Balkan state’s political elite have been accused of covering up the number of cases, and on Saturday ordered one of Albania’s biggest TV stations to close indefinitely for allegedly not respecting social distancing.
The station had been critical of Prime Minister Edi Rama and his socialist party.
Dad is the band manager and mum was their teacher until Koby finished school at 16. Their folks are with them, and the boys say they’re happy to let their parents do the worrying.
“We realise it could be a while (before we come home),” Kevin said.
But it’s a crazy ride and we’re not the types to worry much about the future. We take life as it’s thrown at us – ‘she’ll be right mate’ kind of attitude.
“I think we just let our parents do most of the worrying part.”
Their old-style rock outfits and flowing hair are definitely part of the charm. They’re young, don’t care about school and just want to jam.
And their fans love it. One video of them playing in Melbourne’s mall has 11 million views.
The boys had just recorded their latest album in Belgium when COVID-19 hit.
They haven’t been able to make music videos, having no access to recording gear – so instead they got creative.
They asked their fans from around the world to submit a video of themselves performing their latest single.
“We just threw it out there, and announced that we want all of our fans to star in our new music video,” Blake said.
“The only way for us to do that during this pandemic would be for everyone to send in their own video of themselves jamming out to our new song while in isolation.
“We got them to sign up, so we could send them our single, as it hadn’t been released yet.
“Our fans jumped at the idea, and before we knew it we had hundreds of applications and videos to sift through!”
For a family of six, the flight home is expensive and currently almost impossible. So they’re just waiting it out.
They miss their mates, and custard doughnuts from Acland Street, but mostly, Koby said he just wanted to eat a real pie.
“An epic meat pie that I’m craving at the moment – it’s the little things that we took for granted while we were in Melbourne,” he said.
But for now, they just have to wait It out, said Blake.
“For the time being, we need a ride out this ‘corona thing’ here and then when the world goes back to some kind of normality, we want to get back to touring Europe again, playing those shows that got cancelled and rocking stages again.”