Dream On Dreamer: Soul To Squeeze
In a world where new record labels seem to be popping up every other week, signing an array of bands that all seem to sound startling similar, it can be easy to forget who the people behind the band actually are. Enter Dream On Dreamer, the Melbourne crew doing things on their own their own terms and looking to breathe fresh life back into a largely monotonous scene. Mere weeks away from the release of their third album, Songs Of Soulitude, we grabbed frontman and everyone’s favourite German, Marcel Gadacz, to chat about taking the independent route, breaking the mould, and doing it for the fans.
If there’s one thing that defines Dream On Dreamer, it’s that every record you’ve put out has been a great departure from the one that preceded it. How do you feel about Songs Of Soulitude?
I think bands tend to say that they always put the most work into a record or whatever, but I think with our records the progression has been that we’ve continued to push for our own sound. This upcoming record is seriously something that we crafted because it was something we really wanted to create. We have this passion for this style of heavy music and I guess it just defines who Dream On Dreamer is. I’d like to think this was the first time it came across and I really hope people can hear it. We hope we crafted something that was very unique, so hopefully it doesn’t sound like anything else.
How relevant is the title to what Dream On Dreamer are trying to convey? What does Songs Of Soulitude actually mean?
It was quite funny; when I came up with the name I was in one of those floating tanks where you just float for hours. It literally is you – it’s just a connection with yourself. There’s nothing around you, you really try to switch your mind off and be yourself. This whole thing of finding yourself and growing up, the solitude itself, is spending time with yourself and finding out what’s important for you as a human as you develop and grow. That’s what we tried to make come across. It’s solitude, but we wanted to put our own spin on it and put the word soul in it because it is quite passionate and personal. I feel like the title was exactly what the songs were portraying, just spending time with yourself and learning about yourself and knowing how to be and how to learn in order to be a stronger person inside and outside.
This was your first independent release as well. Did you find it liberating or did it bring out more stresses than expected?
It actually was very enjoyable because there was no one telling us what to do. It was totally up to us what the record was going to sound like, who we were going to go with and what producer was going to work on the songs for us. It was something we could be really proud of in the end. We financed the record by ourselves and it was the first time we’d ever done that. Usually what happens is you’re signed to a label and it’s kind of like a bank, they loan you money and eventually you’ll have to pay it all back. It kind of sucks to be talking about money in that scenario, but we managed to pay for this record ourselves and own the full rights to it. If anything it was more of a chilled process because we didn’t have to impress anyone else, we just created something that we were happy about.
Do you find being dropped from Rise Records has actually worked in your favour and stopped you from being categorised as just another band on that label?
Yeah, I mean all these labels are doing really well, they have this formula that works for every band they’ve put on their roster. When we were recording our very first album we had the goal to push in that direction because we knew it would work. We would go to a certain producer and it was clear that the record with them would end up on Rise. It’s fairly easy to be achieving those kinds of goals for yourself, and once you get to that stage when you’re signed to a label, you start to realise that it doesn’t mean anything. There are so many bands that sign contracts for the next couple of albums and don’t actually know what they’re getting into. When you’re a fresh band and you sign to a label and they contract you for three or four albums, you don’t really know what’s going to happen in that time and what the downsides are. You’d love to be independent but you can’t because you’re contracted. With this release it was a blessing because we were able to do it ourselves and it really just meant we had freedom and it worked really well.
Do you think being contracted stopped you from releasing something that might’ve suited the label more, but might not have necessarily been what the band wanted to put out?
Yeah I think so. I’m not really sure if this is the vibe people are feeling, but when you listen to bands from a particular label they seem to always sound the same and its boring [laughs]. It’s boring as an artist and I feel like it’d be boring as a listener and supporter of the music too, to have a different brand name or band name but to be exposed to the same sound, and have everyone trying to be each other. There’s really no point in that. I’m not saying it’s like that with every label but I feel like it should be about integrity and about creating a form of art that is your own. We definitely try and push that and I feel like this new record really came together naturally.
You recorded with what’s been described as your dream team (Matt Goldman, Matt McClellan and Kris Crummet), what did they bring to the new record?
When we first started Dream On Dreamer, bands like Underoath, Norma Jean and The Chariot were the ones we looked up to. The sound they were creating was unique. Doing some research and knowing that those artists were coming out of studios like Glow In The Dark in Atlanta and having worked with Matt Goldman, it made us feel like that was something we could do. We feel like we have a unique sound, and if we were working with a producer who pushed this unique sound out of us, we couldn’t end up with a record that sounded like anything else. Having had those people work for us inspired us. At the end we were so proud of it because of it sounding so organic, it’s still super heavy, it’s still Dream On Dreamer and that’s what they were helping us create.
Dream On Dreamer have always touched on deeper issues in their sound, but this album seems to really talk about struggles. Do you think what’s been going on with the members, particularly some health issues, have contributed to this?
Yes and no. I mean it shouldn’t be, but I believe that for me personally music feels realer if it’s about something that I have or that people around me have experienced. We don’t have to lie to ourselves and say that everything we take in on a daily basis is fabulous. We all have a dark side in us and a lot of artists in all types of music are afraid to talk about those unpleasant times. We all have struggles – depression and anxiety are things we know all too well but we never like to address them or talk about it or own up to it. Those things are very normal and I think people should just own up to it a little more and take advantage of the dark times you have in life and grow out of it and become a stronger and better person in the end. At the end it’s all about love and your inner happiness and if you don’t achieve that, what’s the point really.
This album sees you experimenting with your clean vocals quite heavily, particularly on “Delirium”. What that a difficult transition?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I barely ever listen to anything that’s screaming related anymore if I’m being honest. I’ve been experimenting with my vocals for a while; if I was putting a number on it, it would be a year or two. I wanted to experiment with different ways of how I could express my vocals because I came to a stage where what I was doing vocally worked out, but I didn’t want to sound the same all the time. I wanted to grow as a musician as well and not just as a lyricist. It was a challenge to explore other avenues of my voice but it was really fun! When we first started it I was sceptical and told everyone that if you think this isn’t good or this doesn’t make sense, please be honest and just tell me I suck [laughs]. For me it was just a matter of really getting better at singing and experimenting with my voice and finding out what I can do. Having people like Zach in the band, who is amazing at his own type of singing, always gives me inspiration as well. Recording it or putting it onto a song is a bit different to just experimenting and it puts you out of your comfort zone, but I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t feel comfortable. It was a good challenge and I love it.
In between touring and writing, you still manage to find the time to design and bleach a lot of your own merch. You’ve also had a lot of involvement from your fans with this record, and you’ve even recently started a competition where a fan will get to host one of your acoustic shows in their own living room. What is it that makes you want to place such an emphasis on your fans?
It sounds very cliché but without people appreciating our art, I don’t think bands would exist. That’s the end of the story, there’s nothing different to say about it. If there wasn’t people supporting music or art in general, bands wouldn’t be where they are or be able to do what they do. I guess for us, we feel like not many bands get too personal with people because they think of themselves as being better, or they want to be portrayed as being better than their audience. We think we’re all equal, we don’t want to be rockstars, we don’t want anyone to put us on a pedestal, and we just want to be a positive input in people’s lives. We’re all going through the same struggles but on different levels and I think it just really shows how equal we all are. We really try to be a band that doesn’t just create music. I love doing graphic design and I spend a lot of hours every day crafting art. I don’t try to make our art look like anything else; we always try come up with ways to make our art look more personal and unique. Our merch is something that people can be proud of wearing because they’re wearing something that literally only exists once. Every time I bleach or tie-dye a shirt or put anything on it, it’s different, there’s nothing else that is the same. I think for people to have that and own that is very important to us; it makes them more proud to be a Dream On Dreamer fan.
You’ve had a fairly busy touring schedule overseas this year, are you excited to bring this new material over for your Australian tour and for your appearance at Unify?
Yes, for sure. We’ve been going back to Europe a fair bit over the last couple of years. We’ve been trying to explore and create a bigger market for us over there but Australia’s always where we are home and where we started touring together. It’s always exciting to tour your home country and we hope people really like the new songs. We’ve had the same set for quite a while; these new songs are letting us fall in love with the music again and again. There’s a lot of positive energy and passion at shows, and I think it’s going to be personal and intimate. Hopefully we’ll have the best time of our lives.
Songs Of Soulitude is out independently November 13.
Songs Of Soulitude Pre-Orders Bundles.
Dream On Dreamer Tour Dates
Fri Nov 20th – Factory Theatre, Sydney (AA)
Sat Nov 21st – Max Watt’s, Melbourne (18+)
Sat Nov 28th – The Brightside, Brisbane (18+)
Thu Dec 17th – Fowlers Live, Adelaide (AA)
Fri Dec 18th – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth (18+)