You know that little buzz you get when you hear a new band for the first time and you feel instantly and utterly smitten? I hope you do, because it’s just about the best feeling you can get. It’s also one that hit me when listening to Weird Dreams for the first time a few months ago. The four-piece make hazy, slightly off-kilter, pop music and while that sort of description may be sounding all too familiar at present, there is something that little bit special about Weird Dreams that separates them from the rest of the bunch.
With a new single, Holding Nails, coming out on Tough Love Records next month and a debut album set for release early next year, GoldFlakePaint caught up with Doran from the band to find out a little more about the bands background, their influences and what the future has in store for the band…
Hi Weird Dreams, how are you today?
Can you introduce the band for us?
I’m Doran, I play guitar and sing lead vocals, james plays guitar and sings backing vocals, Hugo plays bass and Craig plays drums.
What can you tell us about the bands background?
Me and Craig met a few years ago working in a vintage clothes shop and quickly bonded over a shared love of all things Beach Boys and David Lynch. We procrastinated for about 6 months about starting a band until I began hashing out ideas. I found my feet for this project when I wrote Hurt So Bad and we began practising together. Obviously as there was only 2 of us it was just guitar, vocals and drums, but bass was always my first instrument so that was kept in mind as another melodic instrument as we had planned to be a 3 piece.
I wrote the rest of our first ep, we quickly learnt it and recorded the whole thing to tape in one day with Rory Atwell.
Craig released it on a specially made imprint of his Sleep All Day label called Sleepy King Cassettes (limited to a run of 50 cassettes) in July 2010 and it went down really well and sold out straight away.
We then got Hugo in to get ready to play shows and our first show was Tough Loves 5th birthday, which was an honor to play!
After 6 months of shows I wrote our second ep Hypnagogic Lullaby, and realised the idea of the band had developed and really encouraged more melodic scope. On writing 2nd guitar lines for all the new songs we had James from Cheatahs come play for us and it was a perfect match!
We played a bunch more shows until I accidentally wrote the rest of an album, so we began recording that in may and is now finished and ready for a January release through Tough Love.
Have you been pleased with the bands progress so far?
We’ve tried to keep it as musically pure as possible the whole way and not let anything sidetrack how we want the music to be. I feel there’s a lot of bad paths to take, and releasing 2 ep’s, a split 7″, a 7″ single and an album in a year and a half is pretty good progress if you ask me.
How would you describe your bands sound and who/what are your influences?
Pitchfork called us Psych Pop and I was pretty happy with that as there is a lot of different influences for me when i’m writing.
The primary influences will always be The Beach Boys (Summer Days/Pet Sounds era) and David Lynch. The thing I find most facinating about Brian Wilson and Lynch is their unique sense of vision. Both worked hard on creating something completely right for them and would painstakingly do what it took to achieve it.
Lynch worked with sound designer Alan Splett from as early as the short film The Grandmother where they would do field recordings, layer sounds together, and then play them through the ventilation system at the AFI to create natural reverbs. Obviously as Lynch became more successful the techniques changed a little, but it was always that focus on getting the right texture. His soundtrack work with Angello Badalamenti is amazing also, in Twin Peaks especially. He always sits next to Angelo at a Fender Rhodes and explains each scene until Angelo is playing the right thing. AMAZING!
Brian Wilson also worked heavily on texture, especially on Pet Sounds, where the session band The Wrecking Crew were directed by him from the control room. The instrumentation was very unique and really fascintaing as it was pre-Stereo. Coming from a bass playing background I was always interested in how they had that almost woody sound, and it’s because there’s someone playing a fender precision with a pick, and then a double bass player playing the same lines. The whole live room was almost like an non-traditional orchestra doing take after take until Brian Wilson was happy. I even heard that he made the guys in the band do the harmonies for 3 months because “the air wasn’t right”.
While I’m a big fan of 60’s/70’s soul like Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright etc, me and Craig also really got into The Tammys when Weird Dreams started. I guess we like a lot of 60’s culture, but The Tammy’s sound slightly demented…kinda punk rock. It reminded me of Lynch and the way he makes things slightly uncomfortable by making them more or less than what we consider normality.
Like how Hurt So Bad sounds like a love song but is about a sadomasochist openly declaring his personal version of love. That’s where the bitter-sweet thing comes from.
Can you describe your songwriting process for us?
I play guitar and just kind of follow some sort of inbuilt melodic instinct. Usually singing non-sensical sounds early on and just keep playing until it developes into something. I then leave it and have mostly found that your brain kinda writes the rest of the song for you. So I’ll be walking down the street singing ideas into my phone and rush home to get them down.
Once the idea is basically done on guitar, I record that into Ableton Live with a rough vocal melody, and then depending on what I feel it needs next, programme drums, loop it for a bout 3 hours till I have the right bass line, and then add the 2nd guitar for the lead melodies.
I then work out all the harmonies and record it all in roughly. Then I finish writing the lyrics and double track all the vocals. It’s not always in that exact order though. Sometimes like to play around with motifs of different genre’s, or even just finding a chord in another persons song and see where it goes.
What can you tell us about your musical upbringing?
First thing I ever bought was a Jackson 5 cassette when I was 6, I think. I was obsessed with Michael Jackson when I was young, and listening again recently there is such a vast amount of incredible song writing and textures. I think him working with Quincy Jones was a perfect partnership.
My dad used to play a lot of Beach Boys, The Beatles etc, and my mum played Elvis Costello, David Bowie and Kate Bush a lot. I was a huge Kate Bush fan also.
In my teenage years my life revolved around skate boarding, playing bass, punk and metal. I bought Divine Intervention by Slayer when I was 10, and that somehow softened into Nofx, Strung out, Propaghandi etc when I was 14, then At The Drive-in and Glassjaw were my favourite bands for years after. Not to leave out Fugazi, Void, Hot Snakes, Pig Destroyer etc etc!!
That was another thing me and Craig bonded over!
What is your favourite record of the past year?
There was so much good music out last year, but I think Kurt Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo is probably my favourite this year. Last year probably Happy Birthday.
When and where can people catch you live next?
We’re supporting Spectrals at their album launch party at The Water Rats on 16th October.
What are your plans for the rest of 2011?
Tough Love will be releasing our single Holding Nails on 31st October on 7″ and the release show is being put on by Sex Beat at Shacklewell Arms on 4th November with support from Childhood and Novella. Then we’ll be doing a small UK tour, followed by lots of tours and an album in January.
Finally what is the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?
You REALLY don’t wanna know…
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You can pre-order the Holding Nails Ltd. Edition 7″ via Tough Love Records here.