Published Mar 12, 2014The members of La Dispute have wanted to rent a secluded cabin to write an album for a while now, according to vocalist Jordan Dreyer. So when the five-piece melodic hardcore band went to record their upcoming third full-length, Rooms of the House, Dreyer found a quiet spot that reminded the band of our own Great White North.
"We rented this really cool, former tree farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which you probably have a better understanding of than most people, living in Canada. It's more rural Ontario than it is Michigan; it's very secluded and in the wilderness," Dreyer tells Exclaim! "So we holed for five weeks in this really eccentric cabin and wrote and fished and chopped wood and did woodsy stuff and it was great. It was a lot of fun."
What transpired during those five weeks in the woods was an album quite different than the band — who are now scattered around the globe with members throughout the state of Michigan, one in Boston and one way over in Australia — had ever written before. The record tackles the subject of a fictional couple's relationship turmoil, taking place in a very specific house that Dreyer created from houses of own past.
"I had a pretty specific image in my head about what I wanted the house to be, very much like the houses in this part of the country in Michigan," says Dreyer. "During the writing process a friend of mine came over and we rearranged my folks' living room to look a bit like the house, to try and get me out of a writer's block. So there are specific rooms that I grew up in that I thought about, just because they were familiar to me. And then the cabin also ended up being very similar to the image I had in my head, which facilitated the process creatively."
Rooms of the House is more mature sounding La Dispute, taking their melodic emotional hardcore sound to a more evolved place. But according to Dreyer, terms like "maturation" and "evolution" tend to dismiss past work. With two critically acclaimed albums (2008's Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Vega and Altair and 2011's Wildlife) and a series of EPs already under their belts, the band would rather consider their new album a representation of where they are in the current moment.
"Each album is just taking a snapshot of a certain period in your life and, in way, I think it was, thematically, an inevitability that we would change. Every month that we keep doing this I think we progress and find our own little individual talents and niches. So, I guess it's a maturation in the sense that it's three years after our previous record."
Dreyer explains that he purposefully went into the writing of the new album with a more subtle touch in mind. Known for their verbose statements on tragic events or circumstances ("King Park," an epic song that details the drive-by shooting of a 16-year-old boy, was a highlight on Wildlife), the band decided to focus instead this time on the ups and downs of a romantic relationship.
"This time around I wanted to step away from the overly dramatic stuff of the last record and dial down and try to focus on a more specific relationship, and the smaller catastrophes, and see how that played out over the length of a record," says Dreyer. "I felt this time around that I have settled into a groove as a lyricist. It was fun and challenging to translate these quieter, ordinary fallouts, instead of shootings and mental illness and that kind of thing. It was a difficult and rewarding experience from the day we started until I finally finished tracking, which was a bit of a process."
Recorded with Will Yip at Studio 4 in Philadelphia, the album is the band's first on their own record label, Better Living, an experience Dreyer calls "a bit daunting" and he cites the help of Staple Records (Thrice, Senses Fail), whom the band partnered with for the release.
"We started talking about the idea [of self-releasing] and realized how immense a task it is, logistically. So it was exciting at first and then a bit of a 'oh, shit' moment, but it's been awesome," he says. "The record has been all-consuming and we partnered with Staple because we realized without the support system it would perhaps be too daunting, given the fact that we're all scattered about. So Staple facilitated it and gave us a great opportunity. They've been fantastic."
Rooms of the House is out March 18 via Better Living/Staple Records, but you can also stream the entire record below. La Dispute also have a North American tour lined up that includes a few Canadian dates. You can see the entire schedule here.
Read our full interview with Dreyer here.