Last year, I had a conference call with both Jordan Dreyer (La Dispute) and Jeremy Bolm (Touche Amore) to talk about their split, Searching For a Pulse/Worth of the World. The frontmen were asked to come up with questions with each other while I moderated. This is the first half a humorous, yet insightful interview from the two men and good friends. Almost a year later, and both bands are about to release two anticipated follow-ups.
What were the initial talks for you guys to do this together for the time that you guys have been friends and touring bands? What got the ball rolling?
Jordan Dreyer: The very initial onset?
Yeah, who came up with initial execution?
Dreyer: Yeah, it was very early on. We were such good pals. We had similar mindsets. It was very easy to agree to do a split together. As far as the specifics went, I don't know. There was a conversation that Jeremy and I had when Touche was on tour in Chicago, when we were playing at a friend of ours house. We sat on the porch outside. We kind of talked about collaborating thematically and conceptually - make it more of a cooperative experience, than just two bands writing songs separate from each other and putting them on a record.
Jeremy Bolm: That's pretty much how it went. When we became friends, we were [on the idea] of doing a split together. Then, as time went on, we were playing shows together and the idea did come up in Chicago. We wanted it to be more than a usual split kind of deal.
Well, if you guys want to start off talking about the split, go ahead...
Dreyer: Yeah. Jeremy and I prepared some questions here. On that note, the initial onset was that conversation we had. The intention was to collaborate throughout and pretty specifically on the concept matter and lyrics. Because of busy schedules and all, it kind of evolved on its own and sort of strayed from the initial plan. The conversation was the jumping off point, despite the fact that we strayed away a little bit. We still ended up talking about really similar things, which is interesting. The question I have for you buddy is "Do you think that relying on responding to you in that conversation rather than that calculated approach we talked about, made for a better product in the end? A more honest and organic outcome, I guess?
Bolm: I'd say so, because it wasn't us trying to think hard about writing specific things that went into it. I guess we didn't really pick a specific topic, so it came natural. Plus, not really having to focus on a specific thing, came out more honest and direct as you said.
Bolm: Kind of awesome and coincidental.
What do you mean you guys wanted to take a calculated approach? Were there specific topics and that was strayed away from?
Dreyer: Well, not necessarily. In a broad sense, there's two ways of approaching art. There's very calculated, deliberate, whether you get down to how intricate I guess, whether you're painting or creating a song. The other option would be, introduce a general topic. That's what we talked about in Chicago, general dissatisfaction and how things were going in our own lives and how we perceived things and our initial thoughts. We kind of took it in our own directions, but in the end, we really rocked comparable conclusions. It wasn't that we necessarily abandoned the whole cooperative approach as much as it changed and became a thing of its own as opposed to a pre-planned [endeavor.]
Bolm: As opposed to us specifically picking a thing to do. "Our songs going to be about this, and you should have a similar sort of thing." We ended up doing it all on our own. It came out similar anyway.
Dreyer: I think it's really cool. Either way, I think both approaches to our writing have a lot of worth in them. I think it's interesting to see people with similar mindsets make comparable products. Jeremy, do you have a preference? Do you think taking a kind of spur of the moment approach creates a better end result?
Bolm: Definitely. It's definitely more natural...
Dreyer: Like the organic evolution of the thought is one of my favorite things about the split musically and lyrically.
Bolm: Yeah. Absolutely. [Pause] Okay, I'm going to go with my first question. You've always had a way with your lyrics to describe situations more in depth. Does this come natural, or is this something you were influenced by with anyone in particular?
Dreyer: I'd say it's a combination of both. Obviously, the people you indulge yourself in are going to show up in your writing. I don't know, I think it's both of those things. In some ways it's who I am as a person and how I perceive things to people who I admire the most showing up. I think it ties in, because I admire those people because of the way they write.
I think it's interesting that a lot of people have been bringing up who wrote what on each song. What I find interesting is not necessarily who wrote what as it is each vocal was approached in each way. Jeremy, one of the things I liked about your vocals on "How I Feel" was it was very abrasive against Vass' bass playing. Jordan, I like the way you came in on Touche's fast tracks with this quick approach that I hadn't seen the band do on Horse - more quick paced. It definitely seemed like you guys approached new territory. So in two parts, was it nervous to approach each others songs and not feel like you were imposing ideas, and was this a way to explore new territory for future writing?
Bolm: Well first, right off the bat, to the way we approached different songs, I know when I wrote the lyrics for our two songs and Jordan wrote the lyrics for his two songs, we went in knowing each other in mind, knowing how the other would deliver the parts. I recorded the vocals for our songs and their songs in New York with them, just because we knew we would be around each other, we'd have to schedule tours around that. Jordan and I would sit in the vocal booth working it out with him and how he wanted my parts to sound. It was the same deal [with our songs,] I kind of knew what I wanted Jordan to do. He ended up doing it pretty much better than I expected him to. As for lyrics and stuff, all the Touche Amore stuff is written by me and all the La Dispute stuff is written by them.
No pressures at all?
Bolm: [Laughs] Yeah, not to mess up their song and Jordan probably feels the same way.
Dreyer: There's pressure when you're lending yourself to someone else's art, you have to be cautious of...well, we're super self conscious of our voices. It's like, Jeremy, why would you want my stupid voice on your song? [Laughs] The fact that Jeremy and I were in the same place when we were recording, it helped to converse back and forth. I knew when Jeremy wrote the part for me and I wrote the part for Jeremy, I had an idea of the other person's voice. I wanted it to not be Jeremy doing my voice. I wanted it to be specifically Jeremy. I think vice versa.
Bolm: Absolutely. When we were in there, Jordan had a couple of ideas for me to do parts on "Why it Scares Me" and after listening to that song, I was like "I will ruin this song." [Laughs] That's why there's just that one background part.
Dreyer: Well, also, if there had been more time on our side, I think there probably would have been more Jeremy on "Why it Scares Me." We were on a deadline.
Bolm: That song is so good the way it is, I would have had to fight you over that one. [Laughs]
Dreyer: [Laughs] We almost fought during the recording. We were trying to amp each other up with our angry faces. I wish there were video for it. In regards to the direction, I don't know if we had a specific map in our head as to what it was going to sound like. It was just kind of a natural progression for the songs. It was fun for us to think of Touche while writing and get kind of an innovative brush as we hoped they would do as songwriters, but still be us. I don't know if our next release will be heavier or aggressive. I don't discount it. We'll just have to wait and see. Also, for your songs Jeremy, I think you guys branched out from the normal formula, and that to me is what's great about the whole split is the way Touche challenged themselves and how natural it [came out]. It doesn't sound forced. So many times when bands have a tendency to step out of their boundaries, it has a tendency to sound forced.
Bolm: Well, thank you. It had been soooo long since we recorded any songs. So much time had passed between the writing of the first full length and these split songs. We had been on a lot of tours, and a lot of those songs were written three months before recording. When it came to the first day of sitting down and writing the songs, "I'll Get My Just Deserve" came so fast and natural. Then we wrote "I'll Deserve Just That," as the second song, and we were hesitant because it sounded so different. It ended up being our new favorite song. Of course I was hoping kids didn't walk away from this because it was totally different. We were very happy with it.
Dreyer: You think there will be more of that on the upcoming full length?
Bolm: Um, I would hope so. We started writing, and the three songs written so far are more intelligent I would say? The music is far more structured. I don't think any of the new songs break a minute-thirty. It still has that appeal to it.
Dreyer: You guys have a time period for the new record.
Bolm: Yeah, we're hoping to have it out by spring. You guys too?
Dreyer: Ideally. We're still discussing when everything is going to come out. It's taken us a lot longer to complete something than we thought it out. We're pushing for as early as possible to put it out. We're writing parts that we're all super excited about turning out.
Bolm: Well, hopefully you'll have a good chunk of your record written before October when we go on tour [with Envy].
Dreyer: We're hoping so.
Bolm: We are as well. [Laughs]
Dreyer: I would like to ask a completely unrelated question. This is about a member of your band. I want to confirm or deny about your drummer, Elliot, who is a dear sweet man. I want to know whether or not he wanted to abandon a life of punk and hardcore for a nomadic life in the woods in California.
Bolm: [Laughs] That is very true. I wouldn't say he was going to abandon the life of hardcore or punk, because I think the fact that he'd live in the woods is the most punk thing...
Dreyer: The most punk thing...
Bolm: We met Elliott through Trash Talk and we need a drummer desperately. We needed someone to go on tour for two and half month long tour. Elliott was instantly called and he dropped out of school and came down to do this. He told us about month in, "You guys totally saved me from living in the woods." What? "I was going to grab a tent and go hangout with some creatures in the mountains." That is completely true.
Dreyer: None of this is related to the conversation.
Bolm: That can lead into my question as to whether or not you're afraid Kevin will leave your band to become a stand-up comedian.
Dreyer: I am always afraid Kevin will leave the band to become something, especially being a comedian. I would pay a good amount of money to see Kevin perform stand-up. So hopefully he doesn't read this and gets the idea to leave La Dispute. I enjoy being around him all the time.
Bolm: You have to be listening very carefully to get some of the most golden moments in your life.
Dreyer: Absolutely. Kevin Whittemore. MVP.
Bolm: Give him a reality show,
Dreyer: Oh. [pause] I'm going to make that happen. That's going to be the cash cow for La Dispute.
Bolm: I can actually go into this next question with the last question you asked me. The music for "How I Feel" and "Why it Scares Me" is a little stripped down. It's a lot more straightforward. Do you think La Dispute is heading in that direction? Is there some more ripping songs to come?
Dreyer: I'd say. A lot of the songs we're writing sound a lot more organic. I know that it sounds corny, but we're just going to sit in a groove and see where it takes us. We're not going to stray completely [from the last album] but we'll see.