Dreampop is like a love child of psychedelic rock and disco. Throw in a mix of R&B and nu-disco, and you’ve got yourself today’s interviewee! My lovely friend & the mind behind Dreampocket, Sam, recently chatted with me about his newest adventures and endeavors:
D&D: I think every interview these days has had to start with the obligatory COVID-19 questions, so let’s start on a less depressing note! How’re the cats?
Sam: The cats are good! Nice memory! They live with a family member now because my new place doesn't allow pets. I got to see my boy, Takeshi, just the other day. He always comes to me and follows me around like a little grey puppy. I love him so much.
D&D: I never forget a cat! Beforehand, you mentioned Warped, and I think that’s a great place to start. I spent time on Warped too, but we never even crossed paths back then, which really speaks to the true scale of that monster. What was your favorite behind the scenes/backstage memory from Warped?
Sam: Yes, monstrous! It's a whole traveling city, nearly. My favorite memories mostly tie into the barbecue nights, those after-hour shindigs with bands playing for the Warped community. Those nights were magical. Too many adventures to choose a fav! Once though, on a barbecue night in Florida, one of my tour buddies and I got pushed into a lake full of alligators by a drunk girl, that was pretty rad! It was the wife of a band member too known to name haha
D&D: You know, I’ve asked that question for years, & it always comes back to the barbecue. The alligators are a new addition, though. I’ve always wondered, since it’s all just bands & road crew, was there ever anyone that stuck out as a grill master? Or, alternatively, was there anyone that was never allowed within twenty feet of the grill?
Sam: Moises from Cold Forty Three was the grill master both years I was on, but we all pitched in on the flipping and prepping. Inebriated festival attendees with backstage passes were always kept at a safe distance, though.
D&D: I hear that haha, I remember the last year watching backstage passes get irate at security because MIW had a closed set. A lot of people want Warped back, Fronz has been pretty eager to take over Kevin Lyman’s position even. What’re your feelings on it?
Sam: Kevin is King. He did something nobody ever has. I know Warped had him working his ass off. If someone else wants to take it over, they'll need to be strongly dedicated and intimate with the inner workings of it. I don't know Chris personally, but I know he's a bonafide Warped vet. If he goes for it, then by God I'd support it because we never want to see it die.
D&D: In the last couple of years, even before COVID-19, our scene really took a hit with the loss of Warped & the drop off we had from being “trendy.” Which seems like a great point to start talking about the beautiful city we both call home, Nashville. How do you feel about the space for alt/rock in the city as it is right now?
Sam: If there was more of it, I'd definitely be going to more shows. Pop is on the rise in Nashville, which means that pop-punk is close too. I think kids are always gonna want rock music. That's one of those genres that will always evolve but never dissolve, even our sub-genres are evolving now. Alternative music in Nashville isn't as rare as people think. Stations like The Buzz still keep up with national alt-rock. Andy on The Buzz interviews and spins lots of great local bands. We could use a metal station though! I think once shows are back in full swing, we will see a return eventually.
D&D: I’m certainly of the mind that we have what we need for a stable scene in Nashville, it just takes some coming together. It’d be great if the majority of both alt & country culture stopped looking at each other sideways for no reason. Do you personally take influence from country?
Sam: We don’t bring much influence from country music to Dreampocket, but I've always made a point to mingle in different circles no matter what genres of art we create. We are all just here to live our best lives. The influences for Dreampocket come from the ‘70s and ‘80s dance era, with a touch of pop-punk in the vocals. Each song has its own nod to a different flavor, but they all tie together with synthy ambience and real guitars. Always gotta have at least some real guitar or piano in there I feel like, which is a hard habit picked up from my punk days. I guess you could consider my piano playing style a bit twangy though, haha
D&D: I actually wanna talk about your punk days, but we’ll come back to that! First, I’d like to stick with talking about your influences and music right now. What would you say is the most surprising influence you have? Something people would never guess. I’d also love to know if you’ve got any big non-musical influences that make their way into your art.
Sam: Probably Refused, the Swedish hardcore punk band. They are my favorite! But on the other side the card is James Taylor's entire discography as well. That man really knows how to put a song together. Also love me some Showbread.
Non-music influences. What a cool question! I'd have to say Van Gogh. His style looks like an airy dreampop tune come to life. The writing styles of quick-wit comics too, the ability to turn a phrase and get a point across in an entertaining way is impressive to me. My favs are Chappelle, Craig Ferguson, and of course THE legend, Mitch Hedberg (rest in peace).
D&D: Now adding “Showbread” to the list of the best band names I’d never heard before. You’ve done some rebranding recently, am I to guess you’re working towards new releases? Perhaps even an album in the future?
Sam: Yes! AND yes. I just put out my second music video from the upcoming record, Nightpeople. The singles I have out now will all appear on that record later this year, save for the Soundcloud exclusives. I'm so stoked on it. My man, Wyatt Urban, at Unkeleddii Studios is a great producer and we've been working hard on it for a minute.
D&D: Great opportunity to ask one of my all time favorite questions, do you have any memories (good, bad, or just plain weird) from shooting one of your music videos that’d you’d like to share?
Sam: When we filmed the video for "Moonsmoke" in downtown Nashville. We were working on a storyline with actresses and trying to catch B-roll along the way. When we filmed the bit in the liquor store parking lot, the part inside the store kinda just unfolded after we decided to ask if we could just film a quick moment. They were so super nice, they said we could do whatever we want. One of the clerks ended up having a cameo in the video as himself. That ended up being one of the coolest parts of the whole video!
D&D: What about any crazy show stories? Whether it be one you played or one you attended.
Sam: Okay yes—One time when I was on the road with Cold Forty Three, they were playing a show in Wichita, Kansas. This was the early days, but I'll never forget it. The show was at a renovated pizza place. I can't remember if they went first or second, but it was all pop-punk bands so we thought everything was groovy gravy. These guys love to swear on stage. They were irreverent, they had even recruited a ridiculous blow up doll to sit on the drums. I think halfway through their second song, I overheard a conversation that made it clear we were playing with all Christian bands to a room full of church kids. I ran to the stage and yelled into Moi's ear "its a Christian show!" and he had no idea what I was saying. They stayed in character the whole time. Needless to say we sold no merch that night. Looking back it was all truly hilarious and in the end I'm glad the integrity of the show wasn't compromised by the surroundings.
D&D: Haha, that sounds like a great place to talk about the aforementioned punk days. Is there anything else you wanna share on that topic?
Sam: Pop-punk & post-hardcore were everything to me in high school. Cartel and Fall Out Boy to Saosin and Underoath, very different but they were and still are favorites of mine. I followed both sounds, the metal/alt rock was my vocal obsession. I've done screaming in a few baby bands back in the day, but I always knew I wanted to do my own thing, which is where the pop-punk influences came out. I played out so many times a week that having a band to back me wasn't guaranteed, so I ended up just doing a mostly acoustic project for several years. That project evolved into more of an alt-rock vibe towards the end, which led me to rebrand when I moved back to Nashville a few years ago. The reach between alt-pop like Dreampocket and alt-rock is not that far. It's all about energy, hooks, and dope riffs.
World War Dinosaur was probably the coolest band name I was in. It was me + CFT, and we had two songs. One of them was called Shark Attack, and the breakdown was literally just the famous ominous music from Jaws. It fuckin’ slapped, though.
D&D: I absolutely love that name! I think we’re winding down here, it’s been a great interview, but first I’m curious if you have any peer influences you’d like to talk about?
Sam: Hell yeah I do. I'd like to shout out the boys in Jet Black Alley Cat. They were super kind to me, helping me to get started here and their music is fantastic. So sad they're on a break now but I can't wait to see what they do next.
D&D: I’ve published photos of them at another publication. My friend, Amanda James, took some amazing shots, they’ve got a fantastic stage presence!
Sam: Truly they do! They'll probably be my fav band from Nashville forever.
D&D: Alrighty, are there any final plugs you’d like to add before we close out?
Sam: I mean, I guess listen to my music y’all! DreampocketVEVO for visual experiences, @dreampocket on Instagram, music streaming everywhere!