Since forming in 2014, DREAMERS have brought both deep introspection and moody defiance to their music, a richly layered and inventive breed of hook-heavy alt-rock. So when vocalist/guitarist Nick Wold went through a major breakup after the release of their 2016 debut This Album Does Not Exist, the L.A.-via-Brooklyn trio made it a mission to put their own singular twist on the quintessential heartbreak record.
“I didn’t have any interest in writing about how devastating the breakup was or how crushed I felt,” says Wold, whose bandmates include bassist Nelson and drummer Jacob Wick. “I was way more interested in looking at how the end of a relationship can sometimes be empowering, and how liberating it can feel to move on.
With the release of LAUNCH, the first of two EPs to be released in the lead up to the band’s sophomore album, DREAMERS reinvent the breakup narrative and deliver a selection of songs with intense cathartic power. On LAUNCH —an EP centered on new beginnings—the band channels that raw emotion into a tightly crafted sound that’s guitar-heavy but textured with electronic elements. Co-produced by their touring sound engineer Tyler Tedeschi, the EP also captures the unbridled energy DREAMERS have recently shown in sharing stages with acts like Catfish and The Bottlemen and Weezer.
The lead single to LAUNCH, “SCREWS” brings that energy to a fantastically unhinged track driven by blistering guitar work and brutally pounding rhythms. “It was written from the perspective of still being stuck in a bad relationship—that feeling of your mind coming apart at the screws,” Wold notes. And as his vocal performance perfectly echoes the frenzy of mental unraveling, “SCREWS” unfolds in lyrics that cut right to the core (e.g., “Never as lonely as when I’m alone with you”).
As DREAMERS uncover the chaos and thrill in romantic destruction, LAUNCH brilliantly shifts from angst to joy to lucid self-reflection. At turns snarling and shimmery, “Black & White” emerges as a viscerally charged epic both wistful and self-effacing (“Looking out of your window at the moon from your pillow/We were so cliché”). “It was written about the first fight I ever had with that girlfriend,” Wold explains. “It’s about the kind of romance where two people who are complete opposites are joined as one, and the push and pull of that.” The EP’s most anthemic and unabashedly hopeful moment, “Fake It Til You Make It” basks in the beauty of pushing forward with your own ambitions. “That’s a song about being no one but still reaching for the stars, and trying to hold on to your joie de vivre,” Wold says. And on the unstoppable closing track “Karma,” DREAMERS switch gears to offer up a feedback-drenched piece of social commentary about what Wold describes as “the greedy and wealthy people in power who choose to do bad instead of good, and how the world is watching.”
For DREAMERS, the impassioned vitality that surges through LAUNCH traces back to their most deeply ingrained musical roots. “I grew up in Seattle in the ’90s, and I think a nostalgia for that time has always stayed with me,” says Wold. “A friend of mine lived near where Kurt Cobain died, so we used to hang around a lot at the park by his house. I’ve always had a romantic feeling for that Seattle thing of living in this rainy, depressed place but making beautiful art.”
After playing saxophone throughout his childhood, Wold headed to New York University to study jazz but soon found himself drawn to making rock music. Once he graduated, he moved into his rehearsal space in order to completely devote himself to songwriting. “I realized that if I didn’t have an apartment I could get away with working one day a week, so for two years I lived in my practice space and got a $20 gym membership to have a place to shower,” he recalls.
During that time, Wold wrote hundreds of songs and eventually crossed paths with Nelson, also a former jazz musician. “I played upright bass in high school and got a full scholarship to college, but instead I ended up touring around the country with this band that did USO tours,” says Nelson, who’s from the small town of Ridgely, Maryland. After years on the road, he moved to New York and started working as a studio musician. “I was pretty burnt out on the music world, but then I met Nick and heard his songs and knew that this was the band I’d wanted to be in my entire life,” he says. “His songs felt really current and new, but at the same time they were referencing the music I grew up on and loved. And the fact that he was living in his rehearsal space was like, ‘How much more serious can you get than that?’”
Arriving in 2014, DREAMERS’ independently released debut single “Wolves” made its way into full rotation on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation and landed in the Top 18 countdown. The band quicklycaught the ear of Stone Temple Pilots (who hand-picked the trio to open a number of 2015 dates), and later paved the way for their signing to Fairfax Recordings. Also in 2015, DREAMERS solidified their lineup with the addition of Wick, whose parents spent years playing in a rock band that performed in prisons all over California. “My dad’s a drummer and my mom’s a piano player, so ever since I can remember there was a drum set and a piano in the living room,” he says. “Whenever I was bored, I’d sit at either instrument and mess around, and by the time I was a teenager I realized that music was all I wanted to do with my life.” With This Album Does Not Exist released in summer 2016, lead single “Sweet Disaster” shot to No. 7 on the Alternative radio chart, and DREAMERS embarked on a relentless touring schedule that’s included appearances at major festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, and Firefly.
As they gear up for the release of LAUNCH, a second EP, and a full-length sophomore effort due out in 2019—DREAMERS have gained a greater clarity about their intentions as artists.“One of the things we want to do is form some kind of tribe for people who might feel alone, or who can’t really find themselves in mainstream culture,” Nelson says. And with LAUNCH, the trio transforms post-breakup solitude into its own form of transcendent connection. “When you hear someone else express the same pain you’re going through, you realize that you’re not alone in the world,” says Wold. “Almost everyone else out there has dealt with those feelings, because it’s all a part of being alive. Sometimes the best thing to do is just listen to the music you love, drink some wine, get it all out, and then move on.”