WHRB Sits Down with DREAMERS’ Nick Wold Before Show at the Middle East
Noah Covey: One thing I always like to get started with is a question about is how DREAMERS came to be? So the name of the band, one word, DREAMERS, all caps. Is there a story behind that? Or does it have something to do with how you guys came together?
Nick Wold: Initially, there is. It's more of an idea. We thought of 10 billion band names and hated every single one, right? Such a minefield of things like this will be interpreted the wrong way. This name is stupid or this one has been done. We were shocked that “Dreamers” had not really been done. I already had lots of lyrics about sleep and dreams and I was obsessed with that topic. And also, John Lennon, “you may say, I'm a dreamer.” John Lennon’s my biggest influence. And it was kind of a lot of different reasons like that. I thought it was just a great name. I thought it was bold and strong. I like one-word band names. We aim to be dreamers and to attract dreamers, thinkers, imaginaries.
Sofia Andrade: So speaking of your influences, I noticed you guys are from Seattle, right?
Nick Wold: Just me
Sofia Andrade: With Seattle being such a big music Mecca in the 90s with grunge music and all that, do you see any of that influence in your own music?
Nick Wold: Yeah, I grew up in the ‘90s so it was just kind of there, just kind of the water that I swam in. You know? It was a joke that some people had Jesus, we in Seattle had Kurt. So yeah, I loved Nirvana, Soundgarden, and all that stuff growing up. Then I also got obsessed with 60s rock: Beatles, Hendrix, The Doors. And the 90s grunge movement was also into that music. I wanted to try to carry that torch somehow.
Noah Covey: We have both played in bands before and love music, obviously. And I'm always really curious, what is your band’s, or your, songwriting process look like? Is it a joint effort? Do individual members lead the way in different songs?
Nick Wold: I'm the main writer. I wrote the first record before the band was fully formed, before we met Jacob [our drummer]. But we started writing together a bunch on the second album, Launch Fly, Land, and that went super well. We're lucky that we get along in that way, because I’ve played in bands before where creative relationships didn't work out so well.
We usually set out to write a song and finish it in a day. That’s just how we do it, especially now that we’re on tour all the time. We’re home for 10 days, and we'll try to write 10 songs. I have all these things in my mind that I've been thinking about forever that I want to write about, but often I find it works best to just have no idea, just start kicking up the dust and see what happens.
Sofia Andrade: We've noticed that you guys have changed your sound quite a bit from the first EP to your newest album, Launch, Fly, Land. How can you describe that evolution and what brought it about?
Nick Wold: Yeah, I think it's natural. I don't think we consciously tried to change. I think it's partly where we're at in life and what we're able to get away with. The process was different for the first record than for the second. We had the first album all written then went to this big studio, Sound City, and the label got us some big name producer. But with the second one, we made it more ourselves. Things land differently that way, a different stage of life. There's also a lot of different kinds of rock that we like. If you've done one thing, been there, done that, you want to try something a little fresh. You evolve and you follow where it goes. We're writing a bunch right now, and it's even more different than before.
Sofia Andrade: Does most writing get done on tour or separately?
Nick Wold: Usually at home. I've tried writing on the road and failed, miserably. I’ve heard some people can do that, but there’s too much stuff going on during tour and not enough time to really think. I do better if I don't think about it at all when I'm on tour and then I come home fresh.
Noah Covey: Your biggest hit to date was “Sweet Disaster.” Why do you think that song became so popular? And what was it like for the band to be receiving so much attention, starting with that one song?
Nick Wold: I don't know, it's really kind of luck. That song was my favourite from the first album before it came out, but there's a lot of songs that we love that we think are really great but then people just react differently. I had a radio DJ tell me like, “Man, that song just researches so well, every time we poll fans, no matter where they are, they always like it and will just keep asking for it.” That's awesome. I'm really happy to have that. But uh, yeah, I don't know what it is. We have some songs that do well and some that don't. We just had our second top 10 from this album, which was good. I think we're all gamblers a little bit in that way. Everyone is out there and history is rolling the dice. You don't really know what's going to work, you just have to keep rolling.
Sofia Andrade: I remember for me, “Sweet Disaster” was the first song that I heard that got me into your music. So, if someone is getting into DREAMERS, do you think there’s one song that encapsulates everything?
Nick Wold: That song is probably a good way to start, I like the lyrics. It's kind of the drunken DREAMERS manifesto. Yeah, start there, man.
Noah Covey: Yeah we saw the manifesto on your website. Does it echo your goal with the theme of dreaming and sleep?
Nick Wold: With a name like DREAMERS, we felt we had to say what we meant by it. And to me, rock and roll is philosophy. It’s how to live life. How should we be? I feel like I learned how to be a person when I listened to John Lennon or watched Kurt Cobain and heard what he has to say. The manifesto shows our statement about [the philosophy]. We want to be dreamers, thinkers, imaginers, doers. We feel like that's the artist’s role in society and we wanted to put that out there in a strong way.
Sofia Andrade: Speaking of the artist’s role in society, I'm very interested in your thoughts on the indie and alt scene right now and your place in it.
Nick Wold: I don't know about our place in it. We found kind of a scene in LA with alt bands that are really collaborative and cool and supportive of each other, and we try to foster that and that's awesome. We made our video for our song “SCREWS” which is based on the idea of wanting to show that vibe and all those people that are really cool. It’s different to when I was living in New York, where everybody kept to themselves a lot more. Generally, I think alt is as good a genre name as any because I feel that rock music has always been alternative or underground or the thing that's the other option from the mainstream. I always felt like, I love pop music, but mainstream pop music doesn't usually have enough for my brain to chew on, or it’s just too easy or something. I think alt is a place where we can mix some artistry with what's fun and cool.
Noah Covey: I read an article that describes your music as cosmic rock. Do you think that's an apt description?
Nick Wold: I like that. I think it's just because we talked about the cosmos a lot, our interest in science and outer space. I don't know if that defines the music so much as our head space, but I'll take it.
Sofia Andrade: The whole idea of genre is really interesting to me; the fact that there can be a genre called cosmic rock, and the fact that alt has so many things within it. What are your thoughts on defining music like that?
Nick Wold: So it's useful to talk about genres of music because you want to try to figure out what it is, but it's also really difficult because music is so hard to define. Like Frank Zappa said, talking about music is like dancing about architecture. It’s a really inadequate way to communicate. And music speaks for itself, but he will want to understand why people want to classify it with everything. So, go ahead. It's hardest for us [DREAMERS] to classify ourselves because we're just so in it, you know. Because we can't ever really hear our music, objectively, ever.
Noah Covey: Can you talk a little about one of your newest tracks, “Die Happy,” and the story behind its lyrics?
Nick Wold: “Die Happy” was just a true story of a good night that I had with a lady friend. And we think about existentialism all the time, I always think about existential philosophy. It's an idea about life and death and thinking about how if you experience these good moments, then it's okay when you die. It's a weird existentialists’ happiness, even though you're happy thinking about death; it's weird, but something comfortable to me. I think people are often uncomfortable thinking about existential ideas like existence and not existing and stuff. But I've always found it fun and interesting, and, in fact, comforting to deal with it.
Sofia Andrade: Do you find that a lot of your writing is about these big concepts, or do you find it is more about real world experiences?
Nick Wold: I definitely keep going to [philosophy]. More than other writers that I know, I find myself saying “this song is about death,” for example. I like when rock is philosophy, but the philosophy works even if you're not thinking about it, the music just gets in your body. What drew me to writing music in the first place is that I had these crazy feelings that I thought were so profound. Everybody has those things that you couldn't communicate with words, you know? But I grew up playing music, and I feel with music, you can express things that are crazier than you can with words. Maybe you can with poetry and other art forms too. But it was wanting to express these big ideas like what is life and what does it mean to be and who are we? I grew up without religion so that's my way of thinking about these big things. There's a lot of that in 60s rock as well, people thinking on that level, doing acid, reading literature...
Sofia Andrade: It sounds a lot like what I get from The Doors’ music.
Nick Wold: Like the Lizard King himself, Jim Morrison.
Sofia Andrade: Your band has grown and I think that you're definitely on an upward trajectory. More popular songs like “Die Happy” and your album Launch, Fly, Land are all really big releases. Where do you see the next step?
Nick Wold: We want to keep it going for as long and as far as we can. We're dreamers, we aim for the moon. Our goal is to play the first sold out arena show on the moon right? If we have enough time, we'll get there. If we don't, we’ll land somewhere between here and there. And that's all good as long as we can keep doing. The more people that hear about us, the better. The coolest thing about rock is when there's a ton of people together in one place, just to make noise.
//This interview has been edited for conciseness and clarity.