Star Scene: Jordan Dreyer ~ LA DISPUTE

LA Dispute Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Jordan Dreyer’s scene is as accepting as it is diverse. The singer of post hardcore band LA Dispute states: “My scene is full of a variety of people. My scene is diverse, I hope. I really appreciate how my life has improved by a multitude of voices and how I’m able to use my own voice to improve the lives of others. I think that’s all of our scene, and that’s one of the things that we really value about our shows. And I hope that comes across and I hope that at every turn, we are capable of emphasising that so people feel able to participate. And then maybe there’s a coffee shop and a bookstore.”

Dreyer’s, and LA Dispute’s, ever-growing fan base is due to this feeling of acceptance and inclusion, as well as their unique take on hardcore.  Dreyer himself had a solid start with music from his dad’s record collection. He reminisces: “I got lucky. When I was very young, when I was first being introduced to music, I was listening to the music that my dad listens to. I was filing through his records much to his dismay because he was constantly afraid I would break or scratch something. But he let me do it nonetheless. I never got a hard ‘no’; just an ‘oh, please be careful’, so I was listening to Bob Dylan and listening to Neil Young, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Jackson Browne, that sort of thing.”

Dreyer continues: “That’s my earliest memories of loving music and then I got older and then I got into Rage Against the Machine before I found Punk Rock when I was 14 or 15. One of my best friends to this day, at the time his older brother was the cool one, and he was also the one with the CD burner. So, I got a lot of free CDRs of Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike and Planes Mistaken for Stars, and that kind of thing, out on No Idea Records, and then Modest Mouse, and I got into heavier music pretty early, and still love metal, but hearing Neurosis was formative for me. So, I don’t know. There’s a lot of different [genres]. I also love At the Drive In. I remember my oldest brother telling me that I had to hear One Armed Scissor. And then being in my sister’s old bedroom when she went to college and trying to record the song off the local alternative radio station. And I didn’t know what the song was. So, he just told me that there’s a song called One Armed Scissor by a band called At the Drive In, and I had no idea how to hear it. So, I just waited til a song came on that I really liked and then hit record. So, I got everything but the first 30 seconds of that song and knew it was At the Drive In. So, that was a pretty specific musical memory.”

The diverse musical influences are apparent in LA Dispute’s music – especially with the vocals. Whether Dreyer speaks, yells, or whispers his lyrics, the tone and melody convey the music’s message perfectly. Dreyer states: “Well, initially it was very impulsive and came from a lack of actual skill. I can’t really sing particularly well. So, when we first started making music together when we were very young, that was just what happened after I conned everyone into thinking that I could sing in their band. So, I’m certain that it was a lot of the music that I was listening to at the time, too, but it just happened. And then over time it’s gotten, I think, more controlled and it’s more honed as a craft just by having done it for so long in a group of very talented people. So, a necessity. And also, I think when you’re not able to utilise melody to make your parts compelling, you have to figure out other ways to do it. So, various rhythms that allow for intensity level or introducing variations of melody in places, slightly askew in order for it to not get repetitive and boring. So, all of these different things, really.”

Dreyer’s vocals do control emotion and intensity in all of LA Dispute’s albums, but especially in their latest release, Panorama. The stories behind the lyrics and music take place on the route he and his partner would drive from their home in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids to the city of Lowell, where she grew up. Everywhere along the drive are places where people have died: a pond where a man drowned walking home in the winter, multiple places where people crashed driving drunk or were killed in car accidents, and one place where years prior a city worker found a Jane Doe decomposed. Panorama is intended to be a wide angled shot of that drive, with the stories of those tragedies becoming focal points that create a larger narrative. Dreyer himself had to connect with the people and their stories and then find strategies to help him cope with that intensity of emotion. He states: “It’s a difficult thing in multiple respects, obviously, trying to put yourself in the position of somebody who has experienced devastation is taxing. I’ve done it for so long, and it’s been the thing that I felt most pulled toward, that you come up with strategies for coping. And at a certain point because you are able to so fully immerse yourself into the process, you lose sight of the specifics. And in that regard, I think you immunise yourself to feeling it too directly. The other difficult thing for me is that I think there’s a lot of responsibility when you decide to tell another person’s story or even to place it adjacent to your experience. You want to just be very careful, to be respectful of the complexities of a given situation instead of just the emotions that accompany it. So, I think that is probably the hardest thing for me is to commit to something finally because there’s always the feeling that you’re not doing good enough for the people who experienced it.”

Coping with tragedy, loss, and grief is another aspect of the album where the motif of healing crystals are woven into the lyrics. Dreyer states: “I wanted something external, a symbol or motif to represent a process of healing from a loss or from a tragedy. And I wanted to pick something that was also representative of how that process occurs in the things that we seek out to help when we’re struggling. I didn’t want to do something too heavy handed. I didn’t want to talk about religion or something like that; I didn’t want to become a character on its own or to be implied as some statement for or against. So, healing crystals just clicked when we were first coming up with ideas for the record. I first started presenting my ideas to my band mates when we were starting to write the record. It was a weird synthesis of multiple things; it represented to me the shift towards spirituality that I think people are making. Like astrology and ways that we try to make sense of our existence, particularly in the face of circumstances beyond our control. I think everyone is confronted with that – that powerful, existential dread with everything that has happened in the past couple of years. And then beyond that, I think it was just pleasing aesthetically too. I thought it was cool and the language of crystals is very specific and interesting. I spent a lot of time on websites that I never would’ve thought existed when we were writing the record, and reading about properties of crystals. It is a deep well.”

LA Dispute are currently touring their latest release, and are heading to Australia next month. Dreyer states: “I still love tour. Obviously, it’s like anything else. There are pros and cons. The cons I think some are very obvious, being away from home for long stretches of time, being away from your loved ones and the comforts of your own space and that sort of thing. We’ve been doing it for a long time, and I know how to function as a traveller. The hardest thing is really just being away from the people you love, but you still get an immense degree of satisfaction from getting to play music with my friends, for people, and I’m very thankful still for the opportunity to do so. So, I get to go to different countries across the world and get paid to do the thing that we love to do for people who are enthusiastic about it. So, it’s pretty fucking incredible.”

Dreyer continues: “I think that just the general idea that just the general state of affairs between us and our crew while we travel is probably much less cool than people expect it to be. So, I would say that is it. It’s a lot of wondering where you’re going to find food at midnight after a show and a lot of trying to sleep on a bus, a lot of sitting around on your cell phone, which is probably the thing that I’m most embarrassed to admit is that there was no better environment for pissing away time than being on tour and not knowing what to do with yourself. So, it’s really easy to fall down Internet hole and never get out of it. So, other than being away from partners and family, I would say that the hardest thing is trying to motivate yourself to be a productive person when your life has such a specific schedule. It’s hard to sleep on a bus and you don’t leave till two in the morning. There are difficulties trying to just manage your own self-care and your own mental health.”

Nevertheless, Dreyer and band are thrilled about the upcoming Australian tour. Australian audiences can expect “a lot of love,” Dreyer states, “I am very excited to play shows. It’s been a long time, and it was very fun to come back for Good Things Festival, and I’m really happy that we were able to do that. But I feel like we’ll be much more at home in smaller venues with people closer and with the shows a bit more accessible for everyone. So, I’m excited for some smaller shows and to go to some smaller cities and to be around people who might otherwise have had to travel hours and hours to be somewhere. So, just in general, I think we’re looking forward to playing and being somewhere that always meant a lot to us.”

Catch Dreyer with LA Dispute when they hit Australian shores next month.

TOUR DATES:

Thursday 5 September – Amplifier Bar, Perth 18+

Friday 6 September – Newport Hotel, Fremantle 18+

Sunday 8 September – Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide Lic A/A

Tuesday 10 September – Barwon Club, Geelong 18+

Wednesday 11 September – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave 18+

Thursday 12 September – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+

Friday 13 September – Pelly Bar, Frankston 18+

Saturday 14 September – Wrangler Studios, Melbourne All Ages

Sunday 15 September – Metro Theatre, Sydney Lic A/A

Tuesday 17 September – The Basement, Canberra 18+

Wednesday 18 September – Dicey Riley’s, Wollongong 18+

Thursday 19 September – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle Lic A/A

Friday 20 September – The Triffid, Brisbane Lic A/A

Saturday 21 September – Coolangatta Hotel. Gold Coast 18+

Sunday 22 September – Sol Bar, Sunshine Coast 18+

Tickets on sale now via destroyalllines.com

Grab Panorama now @ https://www.ladispute.org/

About Mary Boukouvalas 1147 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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