La Dispute like to set themselves big challenges. With their debut record ‘Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega & Altair’, they dared themselves to be bold within a genre that was growing ever more monotonous; with their second album ‘Wildlife’, they created a more narrative-based full-length, telling true stories through their own post-hardcore filter. Their third is no different, with the Michigan five-piece once again choosing to push against the boundaries of what’s been accomplished before, but this time, by emphasising the more simple elements of life.
“From a personal standpoint,” begins the band’s frontman Jordan Dreyer, “I wanted to focus in and try to develop a more specific idea over a longer canvas. To try to focus in and look through the microscope; to not focus so heavily on the overly dramatic and obvious moments that the previous record ‘Wildlife’ is about, those catastrophic moments. I wanted to – yeah, like I said - stare down the microscope and talk about something that was a lot less obvious and something that was, in a way, more ordinary.”
Dreyer has become known as quite the wordsmith. Having established a talent for balancing lyricism and cadence with their first record, their follow-up had much more to prove and so, the subject matter grew more intense. Within ‘Wildlife’, the 27-year-old explored darker topics than previously, from the decaying of a local church to the consequence of a drive-by shooting. Each track was weighted upon the stories he had heard in the band’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan and saw him take upon the voice of an unknown author telling short stories of despair.
The band’s third album moves away from grandiose tales of loss and hurt, and moves further into the more personal challenges we, as people, are forced to face every day; right in the very rooms of our houses. He continues: “To try to flesh out everyday tragedy and fall out that we all experience. That was what I wanted to do on my end, and I think on everybody’s end we always want to explore new territory and change the process up a little bit, to challenge ourselves creatively. I think that, in some ways, my bandmates went through the same thing I did, where we wanted to shrink things down and see how that affected their own talents as songwriters. That was really the overarching desire for all of us.”
Moving into more intimate realms presented its own challenges. Focussing in on even the smallest details, after all, can be difficult after a lifetime spent concentrating on the big picture. “Once you commit to an idea, you need to delve in and convince yourself of it. It definitely was difficult to animate the inanimate object, and to rely more on the scenery than on the characters,” he explains. “There’s the challenge of making it matter, making it compelling; of making a kitchen scene compelling by making people feel in the moment, then also, giving people they opportunity to relate to that, and to illustrate, not just the scene, but why it’s relevant to do so. It came with its own challenges, but it was fun. The whole point initially was to challenge our own creative process, so it was really rewarding.”
All part of promoting creativity it may be, but it’s easy to wonder what would inspire the vocalist to want to explore such ordinary territory. Granted, following up the intensity of their last album was always going to be a challenge, but why exactly were everyday problems – and, in turn, everyday objects – so important to talk about this time? “Part of it was in response to ‘Wildlife’,” he concludes. “A reaction to that entire experience, and writing about these moments: shootings, mental illness, stabbings.
“They’re really, really difficult to cope with, and they’re important to talk about, but I think equally important are the anxieties that we all have going through the course of the day. Just those everyday anxieties and moments of collapse, and things that everybody inevitably deals with, whether or not in that specific context. As universal as the collapse of the relationship is, not everyone goes through it, but everyone has periods of disillusionment and days where the things they rely on - for the purpose to wake up in the morning and go to bed at night - disappear in some way or another. It was partly just a challenge to myself to see if I could make those stories as impactful as the stories that didn’t require as much.”
La Dispute’s new album ‘Rooms Of The House’ is out now via Better Living / Big Scary Monsters.
Taken from the new, free DIY Weekly, available to read online, download on Android via Google Play, or download on iPad now.