Los Angeles-via-Brooklyn trio DREAMERS have spent the past few years touring non-stop, playing everywhere from tiny bars and massive arenas to festivals such as Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot and Firefly. Along the way, Nick, Nelson and Jacob have shared stages with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, X Ambassadors, The 1975, Bleachers, Atlas Genius Catfish and The Bottlemen, Weezer, and The Griswolds, while garnering coverage from Fader, Entertainment Weekly and Paste, among many others. In 2016, the band released their debut full-length album, ‘This Album Does Not Exist,’ which spawned a national radio hit, the electro-sprinkled pop gem “Sweet Disaster,” which hit No. 7 on the Alternative radio chart and was spotlighted on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation for several months. Three other songs also charted nationally: the ’90s throwback “Drugs,” the crooning “Wolves (You Got Me),” which initially charted on Alt Nation in late 2014, when DREAMERS were still unsigned, and the soulful, brisk power-pop of their single “Painkiller.”
In 2018, the band continues to push the envelope and explore exciting new musical territory. With the release of ”Launch,” the first of two EPs to be released in the lead up to the band’s sophomore album, Dreamers reinvent the breakup narrative and deliver a selection of songs with intense cathartic power. On ”Launch” — an EP centered on new beginnings —the band channels that raw emotion into a tightly crafted sound that’s guitar-heavy but textured with electronic elements. Co-produced by their touring sound engineer Tyler Tedeschi, the EP captures the unbridled energy Dreamers brought to the masses with their live show.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Dreamer’s Nick Wold to discuss his life in music, his evolution as an artist and the making of the band’s ambitious new series of EPs.
Music is your true love, so let’s start at the beginning. What are you first memories of music?
All three of us are lifelong musicians, and have been doing it in some way our whole lives. I grew up in Seattle and have early memories of listening to my big sisters’ cassette tapes, The Cranberries, Nirvana, Bush. When I was 11 I really wanted to learn saxophone and had to go over to my neighbor’s house who was in the Seattle Symphony to show me how to put the mouthpiece on. I didn’t think it would be a career back then, I just liked learning tricks.
Going back to your humble beginnings, what went into finding your creative voice early on?
I moved to New York for college and started trying to write songs in my early 20’s. I was really obsessed with The Strokes and all my first songs sounded just like them. Later songs all sounded like Nirvana or Radiohead. It took a while just writing hundreds of songs trying everything and slowly seeing what works and what makes sense. Now I feel like we have a pretty great idea of what our own voice is, of how we can best communicate with alternative music. We’ll probably keep changing and searching forever, it has to always evolve and be new.
Who had the biggest impact on you?
I had an art teacher in elementary school who had a huge impact on me, I thought it would he so cool to be an artist like him, an actor, performer, creator. I’ve been massively inspired by John Lennon and Bob Marley. I love artists who put philosophy into their music, who make it important by living inspiring lives.
Dedicating yourself to your art is a big step. Did you have reservations about taking the plunge?
I remember pacing around as a young man trying to make that decision if I was going to try to really do it. I decided that music can be an important and positive force, and that artists have the power to advance the human conversation. That became a big goal and justification for me, and I felt like I’d always regret it if I didn’t try.
What performers and people behind the scenes helped shape the artist we see today?
There are so many for all of us, influences, people who helped and people we learned with. I had a couple of incredible teachers in high school who showed me how to learn and practice and become better. I had a band before Dreamers in New York called Motive, and we struggled and toured in a brokedown van and learned the ropes for years together. Our manager Ari has been with us from the beginning, helping shape the direction and everything we do.
“Dreamers” has a unique sound. What went into finding that sound and direction as a band? Was it obvious from the start?
We had an idea that we wanted to be like the grunge bands from Seattle in the ‘90s but done in a totally futuristic and electronic way that they never could have done back then. We had all our influences and tendencies and just wanted to make it great. I feel like over time the sound just starts to take on a life of its own.
You released a new EP titled “Launch.” This will be the first EP of a series of three – the third EP will be the conclusion/full album. What made this approach right for your band?
We had such a crazy two years writing since our song “Sweet Disaster” came out and we had so many opportunities to tour. We were on the road basically the whole time and went through endless experiences, breakups, triumphs, journeys. After the record were done we felt like the music had a bit of story arc so we wanted to tell it in three distinct parts. It feels more fun to us as well, to have three digestible episodes rather than just one big list of songs.
How do the new and forthcoming EPs compare and contrast to your debut album, “This Album Does Not Exist?”
We always say that the first album felt like a fun summer record and that the second goes a bit darker into autumn. A little deeper and reflective of the long journey we’ve been on. It was unintentional but it ended up being a breakup album in many ways, not just about the pain of that but also the empowering side of it and everything in between.
Tell us about the songwriting process for your music? What has changed and stayed the same?
Feels like nothings changed except it’s gotten slowly easier, just trying to find ways to express intangible things. I used to think it was beautiful and poetic to write all the lyrics out with a pen and paper, now I’m so lazy I do it all in my notepad app.
Did you have goals, aspirations or a vision when hitting the studio for this batch of songs?
We wanted to turn up the grunge rock dial a little. We wanted to do better and learn from our mistakes and see if we could really make it feel alive. We wanted to just be really honest and not hold back in any way.
What did you want to accomplish technically or narratively that you might not have tried before?
I think we were always willing to try anything and see what works, the new music feels like a natural progression from before.
Since you lived with the songs for a while, which ones resonate with you the most and has you excited to bring to the fans?
All of the songs you hear, that make it to the final stage, are ones that we really love and just have to release. “Screws”’ is definitely a favorite and one that we feel really represents the tone and starts off the story. We’re super grateful to see such a warm reaction to all of the songs though. “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” is a really personal song about dreaming big and trying to make it. “Black And White” is one we wrote three years ago and have been dying to get out in the world. And “Karma” is a bit of a political song, and rallying cry against greed.
Obviously, you have a great chemistry as a band. What do you bring out in each another creatively?
I’m lucky be able to play with such great musicians and people. We all elevate each other and inspire each other to be better, in a no-ego kind of way. It makes the creative process fun and one that can really fly.
You hosted an EP Release party at Harvard & Stone in Hollywood. Congratulations on the release! I’m sure it’s a relief to have it out! What was that experience like?
It was great to be able to have a party where all our friends could come, other bands we’ve toured with and written with, bands we’re bringing on our tour in the fall, the producers we made the record with, our whole record label and some of fans that have followed and supported us from the very beginning. There’s a great scene of people we’re finding in LA who all just wanna make big things happen and help each other.
People might take for granted what you do to keep things moving forward. Talk about what goes into keeping a band like Dreamers on the rails and moving in the right direction.
We take no days off lately and just do it all the time, we just wanna work really hard and take advantage of this as long as it lasts. It’s the best job in the world and what we’ve always fought to be able to do, so it doesn’t really feel like work. It takes a lot of work and no BS if it’s gonna be any good. If it were easy it wouldn’t be valuable.
What are the biggest challenges you faced and overcame as a young band?
We’ve all been in bands for our whole adult lives, sleeping on floors around the country playing to no one in random towns. We’ve had vans breakdown in the middle of the desert, endless sleepless nights driving to make it to the next show. We’ve lost friends and relationships. The biggest challenge of all is probably just believing that you can really do it. I gotta say that all the challenges are nothing compared to what we’ve gained and all the adventures we’ve had. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How have you evolved over the course of your career?
I like to think of music as a slow steady improvement of skills. When you first try to play a guitar your fingers just can’t make the right shapes, but you practice and sleep on it, and it slowly gets easier. I think we’re doing the same thing we always have, we’re just a little better and a little wiser just from having done it a little longer.
You have productive years ahead. Where are you headed musically — short and long term?
We’re going on a headline tour throughout the US this fall, bringing some amazing other artists with us (Weathers, Morgxn and Rad Horror). We’re releasing the second EP soon, and tons more music in the works. Long term we want to see how far we can take this ride, the future is always uncertain but the sky’s the limit. We’re eager to tour abroad. We’ll take it the moon if we get the chance. We want to make crazier and crazier music, and keep expanding our horizons.
As an artist, many things can be said about the current state of music. What excites you about music today?
We’re finding an amazing scene of bands in LA who want to make rock, and new interesting alternative music. Everybody helps each other out and wants everyone to succeed. There seems to be a space for it and lots of listeners who want it. That’s an exciting thing to be a part of and it makes us hopeful for the future of deep and interesting music.
What’s the best way for fans to support your band?
You can support in any way you like, join us, come to a show, buy a t-shirt, like us, follow us, dream big and create joy. Spread the word or just listen to us. That alone means the world and makes this thing valuable.
You faced challenges and learned things from your time with this project. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey?
Be good to people, be nice. You get what you give.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.