Alter The Press!


Interview: La Dispute

Alter The Press caught up with Jordan Dreyer, vocalist in La Dispute before the band’s performance at this year's Hevy Festival to talk about touring, recording albums and preparing properly for festivals!

Alter The Press: You put out your last full-length release, ‘Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair’ in 2008. Seeing as you tour pretty relentlessly, do you feel like your songs evolve the more that you play them live?
Jordan Dreyer (vocals): Yeah, I think that’s the interesting thing about recording anything, even if you never feel like you’re completely done you take this snapshot and it’s made permanent but then you go on to play those songs every night for however many tours and for however many years and I think that they develop their own character like and everyone perfects what they do in the song and things evolve slightly. The core of the song is always the same as it was when it was recorded, you’re still playing what you put down but I do think that it develops a certain amount of character over time.

ATP: Do you consciously update them to keep them fresh?
Jordan: Not generally, we used to switch things up a lot and change parts in the songs, just for the sake of keeping things interesting but that was when we were touring on a much smaller scale. You know, when you’re playing a lot of shows around the same area, it was fun for us to give people an incentive to come back and see us, even if they’d seen us two months prior at the same venue; but the more that we tour and the less time that we spend in one specific area, the less it’s required and also the less time that we have for it. So, we always try to do creative things with the setlist but as far as the songs go they’re the same.

ATP: A lot of people love your lyrics and the variety of influences that go into them. You’ve said that many of the lyrics on ‘Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River…’ are quite autobiographical and there’s a lot of honesty and intensity in there. Do you find it difficult to perform them live?
Jordan: You know what, I don’t. The interesting thing about playing a live set is that every night is a little bit different and I think that even if the songs were written with a specific idea or a specific moment in my life in mind, a specific struggle or experience, I don’t always have to re-hash that to find meaning in the songs. It’s easy for me to find meaning elsewhere, for instance, seeing a kid singing along and seeing the connection that he’s had with the song, that connection between myself and that person is some that’s inspiring, that gives me a whole new reason to feel the song again. Sometimes I do think about what the song was written about but it changes every night.

ATP: The other thing I mentioned was the variety found in your lyrics, and especially in the ‘Here, Hear.’ series that you’ve mostly released alongside your main releases. How do you choose the passages that you use for those?
Jordan: The first two are the ones in which I took sections of books, or stories, or poems and the way that I picked them was that I was trying to show broader context to the songs that were written , the things that were influencing me at the time. So, a lot of the ‘Here, Hear.’ songs, a lot of the stuff that I recite appears also on the record that it accompanied so it was just further exploring those ideas, giving a more direct glimpse into the things that were influencing me at the time. The third one we did as a little more detached from any release so it was just trying to, I guess, show what was going on in my life at the time or to show what I had been working on as a lyricist. So, it depends on which one! For the most part, the first 8 ‘Here, Hear.’ songs were writers that were impacting me at the time or had impacted me in the past.

ATP: The new album. You started recording it last November, where are you now?
Jordan: We’re done! November we were in Chicago and we recorded for two weeks and then we spent almost the entire month of April in New York with the same people at a different studio and we wrapped everything up then, spent a lot of time mixing and trying to perfect everything; our drummer went out to New York for another week before we did a run in Canada which was right before this UK & Europe run and they got it all mixed and we have been working on getting the right master. The songs are all put down, the artwork is very close to being finished and we have a release date and we’re going to be posting lots of information about it coming up in the next couple of weeks.

ATP: You toured in the midst of putting together the album. How did that influence the way that you put it together? Having do things one way, did you re-think and change anything after taking a break?
Jordan: Yeah, I think it was good for us to have so much space in between because it gave us the opportunity to reflect on what we had done to better formulate what it was that we wanted to accomplish. So, I think giving time in between was a good way to do that and also to take our minds off it and focus on the tour and come home and be able to once again jump, full force, back into it. But in another way it’s hindrance because it puts time constraints on everything and it makes it a little bit more of a stressful process; trying not to disappear off the face of the earth and trying to be out playing shows and stay relevant but you’ve also got this thing that’s in limbo just waiting for you back home. It helped and hindered but I think that we’re all very happy with the way that it turned out.

ATP: And when is it going to drop?
Jordan: October 4, I’d say it’s 95% certain that it’ll be out then!

ATP: You’re on tour in Europe at the moment. You’ve played many countries, most speaking different languages. Does it ever surprise when you’re playing countries where English might not be their first language, how much fans still connect to your, often quite literary, lyrics and sing along?
Jordan: It’s wild going anywhere and having people care enough to sing along but it is particularly cool to be in a country where people speak English as a second language, if at all, and to have them still gravitate towards our band is really cool. The one thing that sometimes I think about is how many words I say, I talk very fast and say a lot of things! I guess more than anything it makes me feel like an idiot for only speaking English when people can keep up with me and it makes me wish that I had learned another language. There’s still time I guess!

ATP: Have you played many festivals in Europe?
Jordan: This time around I guess we’ve probably played 5 or 6.

ATP: How do they differ from the US ones, if at all?
Jordan: You know, we haven’t played many festivals in the US to be honest. We’ll play one here or there but as far as a consistent circuit for punk, hardcore and alternative music, I’m not sure that we have one as expansive as UK and Europe. I think they’re pretty similar when you do play them, it’s the same kind of bands and people and same kind of atmosphere. It’s kind of a fun one, it’s different from playing a regular kind of venue show because there’s so many different bands and this interesting conglomeration of people and there’s great opportunities for people to hear new bands and everything.

ATP: Any terrible festival experiences?!
Jordan: Not really terrible ones, but we showed up to a festival the other day and it was the first day of the festival and it was kind of a warm-up day you know and we got there before any of the other bands. Nobody knew what was going on, the stage wasn’t set up, you couldn’t get to the parking lot because it had rained so cars were getting stuck and they were dropping bales of hay… It was absolute madness and all of us were like: ‘This is going to be the worst day of our entire lives!’ But once the show started, a lot of people turned up and it ended up being a really good time. The one thing that we’ve run into pretty much every festival but not this one so far is the rain, mud and being poorly dressed for it! A couple of people earlier asked me: ‘What’s the thing that I have to have at a festival?’ and I didn’t know it until this tour but it’s boots and a rain jacket!

ATP: Final question, is there a moment in the history of the band that made you think: ‘We might be onto something here’?
Jordan: There’s probably quite a few if I thought about it hard enough but the most recent one was playing on the second day of this tour in the Czech Republic at Fluff Fest, this big super cool punk festival. We headlined the second day and there’s like, 4,000 kids at this festival and it was Touche Amore, The Carrier and then us and just staring out in front of 4,000 people and having all these people sing along and people stage diving with the sun setting while it was happening… it was a really, really incredible experience for us and Touche and we all talked about it as one that we will never forget being a part of, so that was a definite ‘Holy Shit!’ moment. It was incredible, definitely in the top 5 moments of being in this band, for me at least.

Words by Nick Worpole

Alter The Press!