interview with absolutepunk.net
06/11/2011 § Leave a comment
Original posts can be found here.
“Last year, I had a conference call with both Jordan Dreyer (La Dispute) and Jeremy Bolm (Touche Amore) to talk about their split, Searching For a Pulse/Worth of the World. The frontmen were asked to come up with questions with each other while I moderated. This is the first half a humorous, yet insightful interview from the two men and good friends. Almost a year later, and both bands are about to release two anticipated follow-ups.”
What were the initial talks for you guys to do this together for the time that you guys have been friends and touring bands? What got the ball rolling?
Jordan Dreyer: The very initial onset?
Yeah, who came up with initial execution?
Dreyer: Yeah, it was very early on. We were such good pals. We had similar mindsets. It was very easy to agree to do a split together. As far as the specifics went, I don’t know. There was a conversation that Jeremy and I had when Touche was on tour in Chicago, when we were playing at a friend of ours house. We sat on the porch outside. We kind of talked about collaborating thematically and conceptually – make it more of a cooperative experience, than just two bands writing songs separate from each other and putting them on a record.
Jeremy Bolm: That’s pretty much how it went. When we became friends, we were [on the idea] of doing a split together. Then, as time went on, we were playing shows together and the idea did come up in Chicago. We wanted it to be more than a usual split kind of deal.
Well, if you guys want to start off talking about the split, go ahead…
Dreyer: Yeah. Jeremy and I prepared some questions here. On that note, the initial onset was that conversation we had. The intention was to collaborate throughout and pretty specifically on the concept matter and lyrics. Because of busy schedules and all, it kind of evolved on its own and sort of strayed from the initial plan. The conversation was the jumping off point, despite the fact that we strayed away a little bit. We still ended up talking about really similar things, which is interesting. The question I have for you buddy is “Do you think that relying on responding to you in that conversation rather than that calculated approach we talked about, made for a better product in the end? A more honest and organic outcome, I guess?
Bolm: I’d say so, because it wasn’t us trying to think hard about writing specific things that went into it. I guess we didn’t really pick a specific topic, so it came natural. Plus, not really having to focus on a specific thing, came out more honest and direct as you said.
Bolm: Kind of awesome and coincidental.
What do you mean you guys wanted to take a calculated approach? Were there specific topics and that was strayed away from?
Dreyer: Well, not necessarily. In a broad sense, there’s two ways of approaching art. There’s very calculated, deliberate, whether you get down to how intricate I guess, whether you’re painting or creating a song. The other option would be, introduce a general topic. That’s what we talked about in Chicago, general dissatisfaction and how things were going in our own lives and how we perceived things and our initial thoughts. We kind of took it in our own directions, but in the end, we really rocked comparable conclusions. It wasn’t that we necessarily abandoned the whole cooperative approach as much as it changed and became a thing of its own as opposed to a pre-planned [endeavor.]
Bolm: As opposed to us specifically picking a thing to do. “Our songs going to be about this, and you should have a similar sort of thing.” We ended up doing it all on our own. It came out similar anyway.
Dreyer: I think it’s really cool. Either way, I think both approaches to our writing have a lot of worth in them. I think it’s interesting to see people with similar mindsets make comparable products. Jeremy, do you have a preference? Do you think taking a kind of spur of the moment approach creates a better end result?
Bolm: Definitely. It’s definitely more natural…
Dreyer: Like the organic evolution of the thought is one of my favorite things about the split musically and lyrically.
Bolm: Yeah. Absolutely. [Pause] Okay, I’m going to go with my first question. You’ve always had a way with your lyrics to describe situations more in depth. Does this come natural, or is this something you were influenced by with anyone in particular?
Dreyer: I’d say it’s a combination of both. Obviously, the people you indulge yourself in are going to show up in your writing. I don’t know, I think it’s both of those things. In some ways it’s who I am as a person and how I perceive things to people who I admire the most showing up. I think it ties in, because I admire those people because of the way they write.
I think it’s interesting that a lot of people have been bringing up who wrote what on each song. What I find interesting is not necessarily who wrote what as it is each vocal was approached in each way. Jeremy, one of the things I liked about your vocals on “How I Feel” was it was very abrasive against Vass’ bass playing. Jordan, I like the way you came in on Touche’s fast tracks with this quick approach that I hadn’t seen the band do on Horse – more quick paced. It definitely seemed like you guys approached new territory. So in two parts, was it nervous to approach each others songs and not feel like you were imposing ideas, and was this a way to explore new territory for future writing?
Bolm: Well first, right off the bat, to the way we approached different songs, I know when I wrote the lyrics for our two songs and Jordan wrote the lyrics for his two songs, we went in knowing each other in mind, knowing how the other would deliver the parts. I recorded the vocals for our songs and their songs in New York with them, just because we knew we would be around each other, we’d have to schedule tours around that. Jordan and I would sit in the vocal booth working it out with him and how he wanted my parts to sound. It was the same deal [with our songs,] I kind of knew what I wanted Jordan to do. He ended up doing it pretty much better than I expected him to. As for lyrics and stuff, all the Touche Amore stuff is written by me and all the La Dispute stuff is written by them.
No pressures at all?
Bolm: [Laughs] Yeah, not to mess up their song and Jordan probably feels the same way.
Dreyer: There’s pressure when you’re lending yourself to someone else’s art, you have to be cautious of…well, we’re super self conscious of our voices. It’s like, Jeremy, why would you want my stupid voice on your song? [Laughs] The fact that Jeremy and I were in the same place when we were recording, it helped to converse back and forth. I knew when Jeremy wrote the part for me and I wrote the part for Jeremy, I had an idea of the other person’s voice. I wanted it to not be Jeremy doing my voice. I wanted it to be specifically Jeremy. I think vice versa.
Bolm: Absolutely. When we were in there, Jordan had a couple of ideas for me to do parts on “Why it Scares Me” and after listening to that song, I was like “I will ruin this song.” [Laughs] That’s why there’s just that one background part.
Dreyer: Well, also, if there had been more time on our side, I think there probably would have been more Jeremy on “Why it Scares Me.” We were on a deadline.
Bolm: That song is so good the way it is, I would have had to fight you over that one. [Laughs]
Dreyer: [Laughs] We almost fought during the recording. We were trying to amp each other up with our angry faces. I wish there were video for it. In regards to the direction, I don’t know if we had a specific map in our head as to what it was going to sound like. It was just kind of a natural progression for the songs. It was fun for us to think of Touche while writing and get kind of an innovative brush as we hoped they would do as songwriters, but still be us. I don’t know if our next release will be heavier or aggressive. I don’t discount it. We’ll just have to wait and see. Also, for your songs Jeremy, I think you guys branched out from the normal formula, and that to me is what’s great about the whole split is the way Touche challenged themselves and how natural it [came out]. It doesn’t sound forced. So many times when bands have a tendency to step out of their boundaries, it has a tendency to sound forced.
Bolm: Well, thank you. It had been soooo long since we recorded any songs. So much time had passed between the writing of the first full length and these split songs. We had been on a lot of tours, and a lot of those songs were written three months before recording. When it came to the first day of sitting down and writing the songs, “I’ll Get My Just Deserve” came so fast and natural. Then we wrote “I’ll Deserve Just That,” as the second song, and we were hesitant because it sounded so different. It ended up being our new favorite song. Of course I was hoping kids didn’t walk away from this because it was totally different. We were very happy with it.
Dreyer: You think there will be more of that on the upcoming full length?
Bolm: Um, I would hope so. We started writing, and the three songs written so far are more intelligent I would say? The music is far more structured. I don’t think any of the new songs break a minute-thirty. It still has that appeal to it.
Dreyer: You guys have a time period for the new record.
Bolm: Yeah, we’re hoping to have it out by spring. You guys too?
Dreyer: Ideally. We’re still discussing when everything is going to come out. It’s taken us a lot longer to complete something than we thought it out. We’re pushing for as early as possible to put it out. We’re writing parts that we’re all super excited about turning out.
Bolm: Well, hopefully you’ll have a good chunk of your record written before October when we go on tour [with Envy].
Dreyer: We’re hoping so.
Bolm: We are as well. [Laughs]
Dreyer: I would like to ask a completely unrelated question. This is about a member of your band. I want to confirm or deny about your drummer, Elliot, who is a dear sweet man. I want to know whether or not he wanted to abandon a life of punk and hardcore for a nomadic life in the woods in California.
Bolm: [Laughs] That is very true. I wouldn’t say he was going to abandon the life of hardcore or punk, because I think the fact that he’d live in the woods is the most punk thing…
Dreyer: The most punk thing…
Bolm: We met Elliott through Trash Talk and we need a drummer desperately. We needed someone to go on tour for two and half month long tour. Elliott was instantly called and he dropped out of school and came down to do this. He told us about month in, “You guys totally saved me from living in the woods.” What? “I was going to grab a tent and go hangout with some creatures in the mountains.” That is completely true.
Dreyer: None of this is related to the conversation.
Bolm: That can lead into my question as to whether or not you’re afraid Kevin will leave your band to become a stand-up comedian.
Dreyer: I am always afraid Kevin will leave the band to become something, especially being a comedian. I would pay a good amount of money to see Kevin perform stand-up. So hopefully he doesn’t read this and gets the idea to leave La Dispute. I enjoy being around him all the time.
Bolm: You have to be listening very carefully to get some of the most golden moments in your life.
Dreyer: Absolutely. Kevin Whittemore. MVP.
Bolm: Give him a reality show,
Dreyer: Oh. [pause] I’m going to make that happen. That’s going to be the cash cow for La Dispute.
Bolm: I can actually go into this next question with the last question you asked me. The music for “How I Feel” and “Why it Scares Me” is a little stripped down. It’s a lot more straightforward. Do you think La Dispute is heading in that direction? Is there some more ripping songs to come?
Dreyer: I’d say. A lot of the songs we’re writing sound a lot more organic. I know that it sounds corny, but we’re just going to sit in a groove and see where it takes us. We’re not going to stray completely [from the last album] but we’ll see.
Jeremy Bolm: Is Kevin writing more, or is Chad?
Jordan Dreyer: I’d say both. A lot of the solos and the lead parts are Kevin. It’s a collaborative effort for the most part. Some of it is orchestrated by Brad and Vass coming up with ideas and Kevin and Chad coming up with ideas over that.
Bolm; Okay. I just like to imagine Kevin with his shirt off ripping the hardest riff…
Dreyer: With long hair?
Bolm: With long hair! [Laughs]
Dreyer: [Laughs] I’m going to harken back to a previous topic. We talked about how some of the similarities just kind of happened. I think we were shocked and excited when we first started playing these songs for each other while we were on tour. We all had realizations that we had written similar parts in our songs.
Bolm: I think the first note on your song is the first note on our song. I don’t think a lot of people have picked up on that. Right off the bat, that’s how special it was for us to work together on this.
Dreyer: What makes that happen? We didn’t sit down with guitar tracks back and forth and try to write something similar, it just kind of happened organically.
Bolm: I really don’t know. I’m going to say magic. [Laughs]
Dreyer: Something you can’t put a finger on. [Laughs]
Bolm: It wasn’t intentional. It just sort of happened. I liked it more knowing that it didn’t happen that way.
Dreyer: Me too. Going back to the lyrical aspect of it, I like the fact that you and I, and this is an extension to the conversation we had in Chicago, but how the songs reflect our locations. We talk about our hometowns and the differences and what not. How much of your surroundings effect your thought process as an artist?
Dreyer: I always hear about the difference in sound from the West coast and the East coast and then the awkward Midwest where we’re from…
Bolm: I definitely feel it plays a part for sure. For me, it’s never been a real straight forward thing. Maybe it’s how the weather has been and how people treat each other…That’s more of the inspiration of Southern California for me…
Dreyer: The people there?
Bolm: Yeah. Maybe it’s because the weather is so nice here that people don’t realize how good they have it and that leads into their pretentiousness.
Dreyer: True. Not to blame the way the weather here, but how stuck in between seasons it can be of how hot it can be and how cold it is. I always think that has a really profound effect on the way people conduct themselves and how people perceive the world. Both sides of the extreme in how summer can be just so humid and uncomfortable and the winter is cold and snowy and have to scrape ice off your car every morning.
Bolm: I can definitely see that and how it effects people here. That can definitely segue into my question. Jordan, you just got a lot of your influence for the tracks on this as weather based influenced, if you lived in California, do you think your b-sides would sound like Pet Sounds? [Laughs]
Dreyer: I hope so. I really hope so. I find it a bit unrealistic. I’m surprised all bands from California don’t sound like that. [Laughs]
Bolm: Right now, I’m currently wearing a Hawaiian shirt on with no shirt underneath and that white spot of sunblock on my nose. [Laughs]
Dreyer: I’m wearing a parka and playing hockey.
Okay, guys I’m going to finalize this with one last question and your thoughts. Jordan we’ve discussed this the last time you were in town. One of the things that I find my year kind of going with is having my faith instilled back into post-hardcore and punk and ethics and what’s going on at No Sleep and what’s going on at Topshelf and what’s going on at Sargent House and Paper + Plastick and these ideals and all this good music that’s coming out in this drought of my childhood of what I grew up with and discovered in high school and college. In the midst of this thing that everyone has deemed “the wave,” what do you guys think of that? What do you guys think of being towards the forefront of this whole new movement?
Dreyer: First thing is, I don’t think the core of music we’re part of ever left. It’s always been there. I think everything kind of comes and goes. In a lot of ways, it’s a whole predator and prey relationship. If a population of a predator is too high, then the population of the prey gets too low and it shifts. I think in some ways it’s gotten too low. In recent years, the whole industry, well, the bulk of it has been dominated by music with no real redeeming social or emotional value. In some ways, the success of bands like us and bands we are friends with and [those labels], it’s a response to that domination to the other side of the spectrum. Stuff that doesn’t really challenge. Stuff that isn’t attaching themselves to something. It’s exciting right now.
Bolm: Kids are getting back into things that are more thought inspiring too. I’m sure, to Jordan as well, kids are getting back into zines again. Kids are further into photography and expressing themselves in certain ways. Kids are coming out and wanting to share themselves in one way or another. I haven’t seen it happen in a long time. That being said, I haven’t seen it happen in the last few years. Like Jordan said, it’s always happened, but kids are more excited about doing it now. Maybe kids will pay more attention to bands like La Dispute and Pianos and Defeater because I feel what kids need right now is something to attach themselves to.
Dreyer: Right. Every single day you’re presented with a million different factors of society that present scrupulous forms of satisfaction. We’re so fortunate to have something like punk or hardcore or whatever you want to call it. It really gives an opportunity to get the focus off capitalistic, materialistic, Western society and culture and really put it back into things that really have a value and that can change for the better. Like Jeremy said, people making things and throwing shows in houses and more and more people are kind of taking their lives back. People are more conscious about what they’re putting in their body and where they’re buying food and what clothes they’re wearing. In general, I think it’s a big shift, but another thing that’s of concern is how quickly that can be turned into a product. I think everyone should be aware of themselves because everyone is trying to make a dollar off of something.
Bolm: How this last year has been for La Dispute and Touche Amore is overwhelming and including some of our friends in it is the way we reacted to it as opposed to trying to be like “Our band’s doing this and our band’s doing that.” Including our friends in it is more important than anything. I think it’ll stay that way for most of our bands and I always want to be included in with those bands.
Follow up questions:
After the songs on the split with Touche Amore, were you guys focused on any specific direction with this record?
Not necessarily. With the TA split, and the split with Koji as well, our approach was fairly deliberate because we wanted them to have some sort of continuity musically. The new record, on the other hand, was completely open-ended in that we didn’t have to balance our sound with any other factors but the record itself, so we just went with what felt natural to us.
Did you guys work on another Hear, Hear session to help out and expand the writing process for this album?
Not this time around. Partly, we just didn’t have the time given our touring schedule, but also there wasn’t really any space left creatively for us to take attention away from the record because it was such a massive undertaking for all of us, both as individuals and as a group. It almost didn’t need it. We’d already spent so much time and effort shaping and reshaping the concept that in the end we’d exhausted so much of ourselves as musicians that another Here, Hear wouldn’t have supplemented anything in the way that it has in the past. We’ll do another one in the future, I’m sure, but we didn’t need to this time.
Your “preliminary dedication” of the record you wrote about on your blog leads us to believe there is a lot more hope in this album, will we see a brighter side to the band this time around?
No, I wouldn’t say so. Maybe unfortunately so. Ha ha. The last record ended on a positive note, but this record details more the struggle itself than the final resolution, if there even is a resolution at all, in a way that I think more accurately reflects how struggles often shape up. They don’t always end well, or as well as we’d like them to, and the end difficulty is finding out for yourself how to manage and move on. That’s in part what this record is about. There’s hope, but it’s more subtle, more complicated, and it’s up to the listener to find or create it.
What key elements set this record apart not only from the last two albums, but from what’s going on in the community right now? Do you feel it’s a challenging record amongst the rest of the revival of great music at the moment?
I really don’t know how to answer that, man. There are a lot of great things going on right now in this community but we’re not gauging what we’re doing by what anyone else is doing or has done. Every band is different, and you can’t really compare the work they do because of that. We hope to be just another part of it.
Seriously folks, pick up Touche’s new record. It’s good. It’s really good. We’re very proud of them.
More soon, stay tuned.