Headed back to town for an early, all ages set Wednesday night as the opening act for The Maine at House of Blues, I spoke with DREAMERS vocalist and guitarist Nick Wold about finding creativity on the road, music's ability to shake the culture and work on new DREAMERS music...
Having formed in 2014, and with only one full length album under their belt, DREAMERS is very much still a band discovering and forming its musical identity.
For vocalist and guitarist Nick Wold, the 90s are an inspiration. It was a time when music was a bit more likely to drive culture and Wold was front and center, in Seattle, as groups like Nirvana did exactly that.
Wold grew up in Seattle and, at 18, moved to New York, where he discovered punk through its revival by artists like The Strokes.
Being based now in Los Angeles can at times provide a bit "sunnier" feel to new DREAMERS music. Though Wold is quick to point out that as the band continues work on new songs, some have taken on "more heavier themes, darker themes than the first album," despite the new locale.
Having toured behind their debut full-length album, 2016's This Album Does Not Exist, for nearly two years, the band has been fueled creatively by life on the road. "We kind of wrote the first album before we were even really fully formed as a band," said Wold. "Now that we’ve been together, and been on the road, I feel like we’ve kind of figured out a little better what our sound is."
I spoke over the phone with Nick Wold about making new DREAMERS music, the influence of John Lennon and much more. A lightly edited transcript of that conversation follows below...
Q. Let’s start with Chicago. You guys have been here a number of times recently, with Lollapalooza probably the highest profile appearance in 2016, and you’ll be here again this week with The Maine. Any particularly fond memories stick out?
Nick Wold: We love playing in Chicago. We have played many, many times over the years. Even before this band, we’ve all been in other bands, we lived in New York for many years and Chicago is always the best stop in the middle.
We played at Lincoln Hall last year with Zella Day which was amazing.
Chicago was one of the first cities to play us on the radio so ever since the beginning it’s been crazy.
When we played Lollapalooza, it was one of our first festivals but it went really well. There was a big crowd on the side stage for us and we were blown away.
Q. Speaking of Chicago, on This Album Does Not Exist, you collaborated with Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha on “Little New Moon,” right? What was that process like?
NW: That was kind of a dream experience for me.
We were writing a bunch of songs in L.A. and our manager hit him up because he heard he was writing with artists and may be down to write. So I just went in to a studio in L.A. and he was a super cool, chill, down to earth guy and we just kind of jammed and came up with that song.
Q. Since the 90s, you’ve lived in Seattle, New York and now L.A. Each of those cities obviously has a unique musical identity and, especially over the course of the last couple of decades, pretty significant, lasting musical contributions. How has each city influenced you as you continue to establish an identity with DREAMERS?
NW: You think everything’s on the internet now and it’s all the same... but it totally does influence you – where you are.
Growing up in Seattle, of course, I was obsessed with grunge and Kurt Cobain. He’s like the patron saint of Seattle. So that’s kind of deep in my bones, the whole 90s thing and grunge. It’s kind of where I come from.
But New York is when I discovered punk and CBGB. I lived there when The Strokes were kind of the kings of the town and they were reviving all that kind of punk rock. So we have a thread there.
Now that we’re in L.A., often the music is becoming a little sunnier. I’ve noticed that happening a little bit even though I try to stay depressed like a Seattle person. The grunge kind of can go from like Nirvana to Weezer. Suddenly, instead of [Nirvana’s] “Rape Me,” it feels like summer, you know?
Q. The debut DREAMERS full length, This Album Does Not Exist, came out a little over a year ago. I know you’ve been busy on the road but have you been working on new music?
NW: We’ve been working really hard on it. We toured pretty much nonstop for about two years and the last few months we’ve taken some time to write. So we’ve been writing a ton of new music and we're starting to work on recording.
Q. How has being on the road influenced your creative process?
NW: It’s influenced it massively.
We kind of wrote the first album before we were even really fully formed as a band. Jacob, our drummer, wasn’t in the band yet. It was kind of more of a project where we were just dreaming about it and trying to get it to happen. And now that we’ve been together, and been on the road, I feel like we’ve kind of figured out a little better what our sound is.
We’ve been through a lot that kind of – I think I’m contradicting now what I just said a second ago – the songs kind of have some more heavier themes, darker themes than the first album. Besides that, I think it’s going to be kind of more of the same [but] more developed.
Q. Obviously, we’re at a point in the music industry where things are kind of continually gravitating away from the full album and toward singles and EPs. You’ve got the full album under your belt now as well as a couple of EPs. What kind of form do you envision the new songs taking?
NW: We kind of planned on writing an album and we ended up writing so many songs – we’ve written over 40 songs now – so we’re probably going to be releasing an album, some singles that aren’t on the album and then an EP after. Something like that. I don’t know. The more the merrier.
We can release singles which can be geared for the radio, or whatever people want to hear, but then the album... since it doesn’t have to be a single, it can be anything.
We can kind of just put out all this music that we’ve been sitting on.
Q. We’ve talked about the 90s and during the 90s artists typically waited three or four years between albums, that album “cycle.” Now it seems like it’s important to just continually keep new stuff coming. How important is that, to constantly have something new coming out?
NW: I think it’s important - even just as an artist to keep developing and keep trying to always find that new thing.
I think it’s going to be about a year, a year and a quarter after our first album and we’re already ready to do another one.
There’s more bands now, more music, and it never hurts to just keep on doing it.
Q. You grew up during a time when music was really able to shake the culture. You mentioned Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. I feel like we see that less today. In your opinion, does music still have the power to change the world?
NW: I think it absolutely does. Even if it’s not being utilized that way all the time.
I think more and more, as the country gets kind of crazy politically, we see young people being interested in talking about things like, "How should we live?" and "What should we do?"And culture, music and art always have a role to play in that. It’s true.
But I think now, people don’t form their identity so much around what kind of music they like. When I was a kid, either you liked grunge music or you liked hip hop and that kind of identified what kind of person you are. But now, I think everybody kind of just identifies as themselves and they listen to all kinds of genres. Which I think is cool – because we like to cross pollinate in that way.
But, yeah, I think music always has a chance to speak and provoke ideas and thoughts.
Q. Who are some artists you feel have been particularly effective in that role?
NW: One of my ultimate heroes is John Lennon.
He’s an obvious choice but it means a lot to us. “You may say I’m a dreamer” It kind of speaks to why I wanted to be a musician in the first place or what I thought the ultimate goal could be.
The only way that lasting change happens in the world is when culture changes. And just the spread of ideas, the peace movement, music, art – cultural change is the only real change that sort of pushes the world forward.
That’s when we move the needle and I think it makes a big difference.
- Jim Ryan ( @RadioJimRyan )
(Details on Wednesday's DREAMERS concert at House of Blues below)
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
House of Blues
Doors open at 5PM
Show starts at 6:15PM
Also performing: The Maine, Night Riots
Click HERE to purchase tickets