Be specific: Mr. Dream on sounding dirty in pretty times and singing with LCD Soundsystem


Mr. Dream carries on a tradition of New York bands "driven a little nutty" by the city. (Photoby Ani Katz)

Does it feel weird to be playing music that’s influenced by a certain era while so many of those bands are actually getting back together themselves?

Adam Moerder: It’s weird in the sense that rather than having girls throw their underwear at us, we get cornered by husky bearded guys in flannel who want to discuss the merits of Boss’s discontinued DM-2 delay pedal.

Nick Sylvester: Or the PH-1. A lot of those guys want to know when we’re gonna do our phaser record.

Do you think you’ll really be big when that reunion tour hits?

Moerder: I assume you mean “big” physically ... in which case, yes. By 2025, corpulence will be a sign of success in rock, much like it was for billionaires during the Gilded Age.

There’s lots of inviting and pretty music being made these days. You guys aren’t doing that. Is there something more fulfilling about being a bit dirty or sinister?

Matt Morello: We get excited about certain things that happen in songs, certain sounds, the incredible feeling you can get at some shows. Volume. Music as a really physical thing. We’ve kept being a band because we’ve felt ourselves actually doing some of these things that we love — including pretty stuff, actually. I think a lot of Adam’s melodies and guitar parts are super pretty.

Moerder: I really relate to a strand of New York bands who come off as a bunch of normal people driven a little nutty by the city. I’d put Suicide, Talking Heads and Sonic Youth in this category, among many others. I get this impression that they’re trying to do a fairly straightforward rock or pop song, but a nearby train’s blaring through the walls, or they’re getting elbowed in a crowd, or they’ve had too much coffee, and the straightforward song’s now knocked askew. So maybe the dirtiness and nastiness and neuroses you’re hearing in Mr. Dream are a product of environment, too.

(On the LCD Soundsystem connection, after the jump.)

But the lyrics are also funny sometimes. It seems harder for bands to be multiple things at once these days, they need to be neatly pigeonholed.

Sylvester: I remember James Murphy telling me that the first LCD Soundsystem album, which was all over the place musically and emotionally, was his way of setting posts for a sonic pasture. “Movement” and “Never As Tired As I’m Waking Up” were on the same record as “Too Much Love” and “Daft Punk” — super different songs but they were are all “LCD Soundsystem songs,” if that makes sense. He gave himself a lot of room to do stuff like “New York I Love You” that way, and “All My Friends.” Another way of saying this is that bands write their own ticket. Some bands deliberately pigeonhole themselves. Sometimes bands want or just need a “thing,” and they take that “thing,” whatever it is, to its breaking point. It all depends on what you’re going for.

I saw you guys mention singing backup vocals at the final LCD Soundsystem show and thought it was a joke. But it was true! How did you get that call?

Sylvester: James has been a friend for a while, since before I moved to New York actually. He had tweeted about needing a men’s chorus a few weeks before the last LCD shows. Both Matt and I sang in college, so I told James that between the two of us, we could probably cobble together a chorus for him. That’s it, really. There was no tense audition or anything. James was relieved because he knew he could trust me and Matt to get the specific vocal gestures and references. The chorus is called the State Street Singers, or the Up For Anything, Down For Whatever Choir, depending on which member you talk to.

Moerder: If Mr. Dream ever needs a backup soundsystem, I’m sure James and the entire band will drop whatever they’re doing and come play a show with us.

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