By John B. Moore
rockers La Dispute could have easily churned out a paint-by-numbers collection
of distorted guitars and aggressive vocals for their second full length and
chalked it up to the clichéd sophomore slump. But in the three years between
their debut full length (Somewhere at the
Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair) and Wildlife, the band faced a slew of life changes.
They managed to
fill the three year gap with a handful of EPs, 7 inches and splits (seven in
all), but quickly realized their next proper follow up would have to be more
than just a collection of disparate songs. And it is.
The complex Wildlife has a conceptual theme that
connects the songs together and rather than screwing it up with my own
half-assed explanation, La Dispute vocalist Jordan
Dreyer was kind enough to explain it to me, along with answering a few other
questions about these Grand Rapids, MI-based punk band.
Can you talk a little bit about the concept behind the new
Wildlife is set-up as a collection of sort of stories/poems annotated by
the author and split into thematic sections by four monologues. The idea was to
find a way to discuss a more diverse range of topics than we have in the past
while still maintaining a personal emotional narrative throughout–with those topics being what’s addressed in the
stories and the annotations/monologues that personal connection. At the same
time, we wanted to write a record that was in a way conceptual, but didn’t
necessarily need to be thought in that context. Oftentimes, I think records
with a linear narrative narrow the ways in which a person can enjoy it, and not
everyone wants to sit down and listen to something front to back. Weaving that
linear narrative throughout a set of somewhat separate songs/stories/whatever
kept it open to listening to it both as an album-length story and as a
collection of totally different and unrelated-if-you-want-them-to-be songs. At
least that was the intention.
When did you get the idea for this?
The initial idea came up pretty early on after our previous full
length but really didn’t fully materialize for quite awhile. Shortly after Somewhere… I decided that I wanted to
branch out more from what I’d discussed on previous releases lyrically but
wasn’t quite sure exactly how to do that without straying too far from whatever
niche we’d carved out. Part of that was I felt some of the stronger and more
rewarding songs on that record were the ones that weren’t about my own life and
relationships, and part of it was that I, over time, became witness to some
pretty astounding stories, either from a chance meeting or from just being in
close proximity to something. On top of that, and on a more general note, we
were at a different point in our lives; three years older and being confronted
by a different set of questions and challenges. In a way I think the older you
get the more complex things become, and the record is indicative of that. But
I’m rambling, as always. Essentially, we had all these stories and we needed a
vessel to house them. The book/annotations idea gave us that and gave us the
thematic diversity to accomplish all the things we wanted to musically, which
was quite a bit. Three years time didn’t just give us new experiences and
stories; it gave us a whole new understanding of who we are as individual
musicians and as a group. We wanted to cover all of that musically and setting
the record up the way we did allowed for that. Going back to the idea
developing over time, the initial conversation about the idea snowballed every
time we all sat down together. In a way, the idea got the wheels turning and
writing the music finished the job; kind of transformed the idea into a whole
new entity. I don’t know. It’s kind of a strange birthing process.
This is pretty ambitious
for a second full length. Any idea how you’re going to follow it up?
I don’t know, to be honest. We don’t really think about it that
way. Like I said before we were at a different point in our lives both as
individuals and as a group as we were when writing Somewhere… and I’m certain we’ll be at a different point in our
life when another idea presents itself. Writing and recording an album for us
is essentially just taking a picture of that time, so using a previous work as
a measuring stick is kind of worthless. We’ll have to see what happens.
What’s the music scene in Grand Rapids like right
Grand Rapids has a fantastic music scene and we are forever in its debt.
Really. There are so many phenomenal people writing incredible music, running
amazing spaces for shows, and in general taking care of the arts there that I
will eternally be proud to call it home. There’s an arts cooperative that is
communally run for shows and art showings and the like, a great bar with a 400
capacity venue run by some really good friends of ours, and a bunch of awesome
bands. Jowls, Radiator
Damages, Cain Marko, etc. Look into it if you’re reading this.
So what’s next for the
Right now, vacation. We have the rest of the year off to
recuperate from the first 10 months of it and we’re all enjoying the down time.
Of course, you never really shut it off, and even now we’ve started the ball
rolling on some things we’re all pretty excited about. None of which is
concrete enough to announce at this point but you’ll know as soon as it is. As
for tour, we’ll be heading to Europe and
Australian sometime in the near future, and we’re starting to formulate plans
for a headlining tour in the States come spring or so. We’ll let you know.