There was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the Peterborough air. Right in the middle of the high street, tucked in between your classic high street shops, is Met Lounge. To the ordinary eye, everything seemed calm and peaceful, but the club was about to welcome a score of ecstatic fans, buzzing to see one of the UK’s hottest upcoming pop-punk power units, Dream State. Of course, there was a wealth of support bands as well – Chapter and Verse joined Dream State as their main tour supports, and Dirty Days and The Ultraviolet were also on the bill as well. We grabbed a chat with The Ultraviolet and Chapter and Verse, as well as an exclusive interview with the one and only Dream State.
The Ultraviolet (📸 by Steven Haddock)
The night’s gig served as a chance to catch-up with the Lincolnshire band – last time we’d chatted to them was at Louth’s Gig in the Garden, which was a massive success all around. So what have the guys been up to? “Fuck all…nah, we’ve been recording our new EP. We also opened the Loft Stage (which was in Home Nightclub) at 2Q, which was good. I asked them how they had found the crowd at Lincoln’s newest music festival: “really really good considering we were the first band on that stage!”. Speaking of that shiny new EP, it’s named Ode to the East Coast, and we did wonder whether the title was a tribute to the wonders of Skegvegas, Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe which lie on the Lincolnshire Coast. Well, it had nothing to do with Skegness, that was for sure: “The way it came was that Ben (The Ultraviolet’s singer) used to work in a bar and we got a new ale called ‘East Coast’. The other part of the EP’s name actually comes from a Twenty One Pilots song Ben was obsessed with, called ‘Ode to Sleep’”. Admittedly, we aren’t huge Twenty One Pilots fans, and neither is drummer Russ (judging by the snoring sounds he made as soon as the group were mentioned!). Although, we were ensured by them that everything before Blurry Face is great; we’ll be the judge of that. “There will be a song about Skegness on the next EP; it will be called ‘Skeggy Pier’!” the band joked shortly afterwards. That’s a gigsandfreudianslips exclusive for you right there.
We noticed that on the band’s Facebook page (although not even all the members themselves were aware of this!) that The Ultraviolet were teasing new material during their set – did we manage to squeeze any information out of them? “The last song on our set, which doesn’t even have a name yet – that’s brand new! We only wrote it last Tuesday and lyrics yesterday. It’s our favourite track for lyrics to date, and we love the changing chords in it too”. Once we had heard it performed live, later on, that same night, we instantly digged it and we subsequently predict huge success for it…once the lads come up with a name for it. We also wanted to find out at this point how the group obtained tonight’s supporting slot in the first place: “Good question! We just badgered Steve (owner of Met Lounge) for a really good support, and it worked! We’ve played here a bit before so he was like ‘sure you can play’”. It turns out that the band have ventured into Peterborough plenty of times before, whilst it was our first trip over. Russ had seen a band called Bad Obsessions play there over 10 years ago, and whilst we thought it was pretty neat…the rest of the band disagreed.😂
At this point in the interview, one fan after another recognised the band – many high fives, and photo opportunities followed. It was great to witness first hand the love people have for the band, and the praise people were giving their vocals and instrument work. In between welcomed interruptions, I asked The Ultraviolet what they enjoyed most about performing live; Russ answered immediately with: “Ben’s energy…you don’t know whether he’s going to hit a symbol or knock you out! We love the unpredictability of performing; you don’t want to be boring!”. There are, of course, aspects of performing live which are not so favourable: “Well during some shows some of the members sweat like a bastard! Also, when you’re getting really into a gig and everyone else is except for the crowd, then that’s a bit annoying”. We understand this; we’ve been at gigs where we’ve been the only ones having a good time, and we agreed with the band about getting loose a bit more.
Once the craziness had died down a tad, I got The Ultraviolet’s thoughts on the festival lineup everyone waits to hear every year: Reading and Leeds. “It’s disappointing! Download looks good this year, and we’re considering going. The quality of Reading and Leeds is definitely going downhill”. Russ interjected at this point that he had a spare ticket for Slam Dunk to sell. We’ve seen the headliners for the rock/metal festival, and we 100% agree. Finally, we asked the guys whether they would be exploring Peterborough’s night scene, or having a quiet night in. Turned out, it was neither of these: “Well the Dream State guys are staying over at ours, so we’re going to have a house party! Rock n roll!”. We were invited along but had to decline due to our long two-hour journey back home.
Chapter and Verse
Chapter and Verse (📸 taken by Jennifer McCord)
Once the gig had drawn to a close, and countless t-shirts and hoodies had been sold, I spoke to Josh from the London rock quartet. Josh made us feel relaxed and welcomed even before the interview began. So, how did Chapter and State earn their main support slot on the tour? “Our management team is actually in the same kind of group as Dream State’s management. We found out about them through our management – they announced that they were going to do a headline tour and we pitched to them. We said that we wanted to support them, and they were kind enough to say yes! Our management company is called Unifiers, and they also own a record label called UNFD, which Dream State is signed to. We’re doing different things but with the same company – we’re in the same boat and we’re one big family together”.
It’s a small world in music, after all. We’d done plenty of research (stalking) of Chapter and Verse’s social media prior to the concert, and it turned out that their latest single ‘Magazines’ had recently been played on one of Metallica’s legends Lars Ulrich’s Apple Music radio shows. I asked Josh whether it had sunk in yet that him, and thousands of other people, will have heard their track. “It’s a really surreal experience! We don’t know how Lars managed to get hold of the track; our song is on Apple Music and it gets on Apple playlists, but we got tweeted by Lars himself a couple of hours before he played it. We didn’t ask for this – we feel humbled and very grateful that he liked the song”. The moment was extra poignant to the band, as one of the members has always been a Metallica fan – “Darren’s (Chapter and Verse guitarist) absolutely loves Metallica – when I first met Darren his bedroom walls were covered in Metallica, so when we found that that Lars really liked what we were doing, Darren, in particular, was emotional. The band was one of the reasons Darren picked up a guitar in the first place, so for him to appreciate what we’re doing now is crazy”.
The video for ‘Magazines’ is part of a narrative for their upcoming EP, a cool concept which follows in the footsteps of what other bands have done with their videos. “We’ve created a narrative for our new EP; we’ve devised this fictional story that explores the emotions and the feelings behind the EP. We tell this story through the videos and the artwork for the music, and ‘Magazines’ is the first instalment of a much bigger picture”, Josh explained to me when I asked him how he would interpret the group’s video. “The meaning of it is quite abstract – it does not have a definitive meaning; people perceive things their own way and the video is down to personal perspective. It will be what people make of it; some people may find conclusions and others may not”. We moved on to chatting about the UK festivals Chapter and Verse have lined up for this summer and asked Josh which one he was most excited to play and why. “The biggest one we’ve announced is 2000 Trees, and this going to be insane; we’ve been really lucky to be asked to play it. It takes place in a really cool setting, and we’re on the same bill with loads of bands we aspire to be like or influence our music. We’re still in the motions of booking more festivals, so we hope to announce more soon”.
With this tour and a whole host of other live dates ahead of them, we wondered if the band have made any pre-performance rituals before they hit the stage, and Josh humorously confirmed that they had! “I have a rigid warm-up routine; I do the same thing before every show. I start with a physical warmup before moving onto a vocal warmup; Alex, who’s a photographer who has joined us and Dream State on tour, has said that it is one of the weirdest things he has ever seen! We have these weird sayings before every show too; they’re too weird to even begin to describe to you what they are! We also all give each other fist pumps before performances too; if I’ve gone on stage without fist-pumping all the boys individually and without saying the phrases, then I feel like something will go wrong!”.
Another huge element of performing and touring is being away from loved ones; fortunately, the band all have a strong support unit in one another, and from their very supportive partners. “I live with my girlfriend and I miss her huge amounts. We are all in relationships and that makes it easier. We all very much understand how each other feels I guess. It is not easy to be away for a month from the people you love like friends and family, but all you can do is stay in touch as much as possible, and when you do get to go home be excited about it!”. Josh added that being away gives him the opportunity to miss his girlfriend and they are both cool with that; if he got to be with her all the time then he would never miss her, adding that him missing her whilst he is gone for weeks at a time makes him ‘love her more’. He has already planned exactly what he is going to do once he is back home from tour: “I’m going to get into my PJs, and my girlfriend and I are going to binge watch Mad Men! We are about halfway through the series; neither of us wanted to watch it without the other person, so we’ve saved it until I come home and we are both so excited to see the rest of it!”. Luckily, there are only a few more weeks to go until Josh and his girlfriend can catch up with the rest of the iconic American series.
Dream State (📸 taken from their Facebook page)
There was only one place to start our interview with tour headliners Dream State – questioning the band about the moment they found out they had received a prestigious interview with arguably the country’s leading rock magazine, Kerrang! “We found out through our management; shoutout to Chris and Jane who are the dream team! They basically told us that ‘we’ve got something cool coming up’! They always ring us when they’ve got something they want to hear our reaction to”. I asked them if they were able to put their reaction to the news in words: “It was a surreal moment for us and it took us by surprise; being featured in Kerrang was on our music bucket lists”. Some of the band’s initial reactions to the news included ‘fuck me’, and ‘holy shit’…so this speaks volumes about how much the interview truly meant to them all. An interview in such a well renown publication has come quickly in their career, considering the band only formed just over three years ago. “Jamie and CJ met through college”, Dream State explained when we pondered how they met, “then a few of us met at a Download Festival when we camped together. We met Rhys at the beginning of March last year”. Fortunately for Rhys, he felt he fitted into the group easily: “Joining the band was so seamless, and I gelled with the others straight away. It’s been pretty fun and the year has flown by. I actually had a dream that I would end up joining the band. I was in a band before Dream State, and I think that has helped us get along together”.
One question we were really keen to ask was whether the band felt women are finally receiving the same recognition and opportunities than male-oriented musicians and bands. This question was especially relevant as Dream State’s leading singer is a strong, independently minded woman, and we felt it was fitting to let CJ take this question on. “There are way more women around than even in the last year, and they are just popping up everywhere. ‘Female fronted bands’ was classed as more like its own genre, but we’re breaking away from that view now, and women are more integrated into rock music. We’re everywhere; we’re taking over!”. Rhys added, ” I feel that the ‘female-fronted’ label marginalises women”. CJ only had to list off a few names to prove her point that women really are dominating rock right now – PVRIS, Marmozets, Wolf Alice and Haim are just some of many successful mainstream female rock and alternative artists around at the moment. “That is also what I love about our fans; they don’t see us as any particular gender, they just view us as a bunch of people which they believe in”.
Another interlocking issue within music is the lack of female musicians and bands dominating festival lineups. We also felt that many festivals opt to stick with ‘safe choices’ who coincidently are usually male musicians, and again we asked for the band’s take on this. “We wouldn’t say the problem so much is male headliners; you do see the same three or four safe bands on rotation playing the same festivals. They just need to accommodate more up and coming bands; it doesn’t matter whether they are male or female. Instead of having the same old bands, you need to include more new artists, to help establish them. Grassroot festivals are the ones really leading this side of things – 2000 Trees has so many amazing bands within their lineup and it’s so good seeing that support on a lower level. I definitely believe that the biggest festivals will catch up with the smaller festivals soon”.
Dream State’s singles are what have drawn so many people to them – after a string of highly successful tracks, at the end of last month they brought out ‘In This Hell’. So, how do the band see the track as being similar, or different from their old releases? “The newer music is different because they’ve been recorded with Rhys in the band now; he adds another piece to the puzzle. Our sound is also more powerful than it ever has been, and we think that we have carved our own unique sound now”. Yes, their tone has naturally changed with the inclusion of a new member, but they’re still got the same ferocity, passion and talented lyricism abilities that led to them achieving millions of streams and YouTube hits with ‘White Lies’. “I believe that it’s (‘White Lies’) resonated strongly with people because of its open and honest lyrics, combined with great guitar tones and bass parts as well. It’s all about not being afraid of anything”. The song also references addictions including drug abuse, which has received a huge amount of positive feedback from fans. “Drug use is something which is rife in today’s society and we feel it can be glorified by bands sometimes. We wouldn’t ever do anything like ketamine – we want to be seen as role models to our fans and looked at the right way by the people who listen to our music”. Dream State received a really touching letter this week from one fan: “They contacted us to say that they had listened to ‘White Lies’, and it put them on the road to quitting their drug addiction”.
Despite their success, it was extremely lovely for us to witness first hand how grounded all the members are, and how their fans are visibly the most important thing to them in the world. When we asked them what the highlight of their tour so far had been, they immediately responded: “The crowds. All of the crowds have been great so far, we’ve not played a bad show yet, and we’re hoping that doesn’t change!”. Their support acts, including Chapter and Verse, had echoed their thoughts, exclaiming how good Dream State had been during the tour so far. “We feel humbled by the support we’ve had from everyone, and we get that tingly feeling every time we watch a fan connect to our music”. These connections have been forged worldwide too; after listening to their latest single ‘In This Hell’, on a whim, a guy from Austria bought a plane ticket to come out to the UK, and had followed (stalked!) them on every date of the tour so far! The band have spoken to this fan a few times and pledged to help get him into one of their shows which had already sold out.
To conclude, we asked Dream State what advice they would give to the kids out there who want to set up a band themselves and become the next big thing. Blogs and bands alike always wish to help out aspiring musicians the best they can, and as Dream State are one of the lucky ones out of thousands to catch a break, we thought to ask what their tips would be. Phrases such as “’Don’t let any doubt in ever’; ‘keep at it’; ‘don’t ever give up’; and ‘believe in yourself’” followed – “they may all sound like cliches, but they are all so true”.
We were privileged to speak to three genuinely lovely bands, and we hope that the rest of the tour continued to go well for them. The bands have recently performed their final show in the capital, and it would be an understatement to say that their tour has gone extremely well!