WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN | PHOTOS: JOHN STARS
Moments are often sought to be captured by any means necessary. Recounts are, by their nature, diluted through interpretation, memories fade with the passage of time, perspective blurs the lines and exaggeration contorts the foundation of every event. In all of this though a singular crucial element to claims of truth, understanding and empathy is often famously overlooked; detail.
Perhaps most ironically of all, whilst we depend on detail as an impartial, unwavering safeguard of fact, this same pillar of integrity is the cornerstone on which the finest and most convincing works of fiction are founded upon.
“I have probably spent an uncommonly high amount of time in my life thinking about tragic events“ – Jordan Dreyer
Across their releases La Dispute seamlessly intertwines these extremes, grounding their catastrophic yet worryingly accessible recounts of tragedy and loss in real-world events. But, whereas other narrators would depend on the scale and grandeur of the horrific nature of these happenings, in his writing Jordan Dreyer, lyricist of the Michigan five-piece, instead spares no expense in magnifying the specific experiences of each subject unfortunate enough to have found themselves embroiled in the often harrowing series of events.
“I have probably spent an uncommonly high amount of time in my life thinking about tragic events“, admits Dreyer, clasping his hands and laughing as he does. “You focus so intently on a thing that you lose the context in which it exists and it becomes less intense. Jordan details inquisitively, “In that way I think spending so much time thinking about people dying, you learn how to be detached from it.“
For something that is so easily forgotten, La dispute chooses to weave the essentials of detail into what, on face value, appears to be the mundane aspects of routine, giving way to a collaboration with the everyday in an ode to its preservation.
“So much of our first couple of records are telling other people’s stories, so it was important to me to be a very dutiful observer and to tell stories accurately, to try my best to capture the integrity of the moment, which involved a lot of putting myself in the perspective of someone who has gone through something terrible; “Jordan says in offering an explanation into harmoniously lending the grounded hand of truth to the romantic appeal and danger of fiction.
“ I think had a really sat down and considered the implications of speaking about someone else’s experiences that were not exactly my own then I would have had more reservations.”
Whilst the visceral detail in which the band are able to reimagine tribulation and pain is now seen as the entrance to the rabbit hole their discography create, arguably it was their 2011 full-length release, Wildlife that best captured intrigue in this bold new style of narration. “With wildlife, from my perspective, a lot of it was total unabashed recklessness,“ Jordan recalls, “ I think had a really sat down and considered the implications of speaking about someone else’s experiences that were not exactly my own then I would have had more reservations.”
But in their dedication to their art, immortalising the passage and most macabre instances of others the post-hardcore chroniclers felt more pages could yet be added to the story closest to them. “It’s a very recent thing, the group’s drummer Brad Vander Lught says in how finding their footing in their own lives hasn’t come easily. “It’s only really in the last year I feel like I have finally figured out after 12 years of doing this how to function when I’m home and when I’m on tour.“
In a band that is so consumed by the routine of others, peering through an abstract perspective of a normal life before it’s consumed by grief, the band find a connection with their subjects in that they too could at times seek the more ordinary aspects of life. “We spent the best part of seven years touring, six to nine months out of the year and we worked part-time jobs when we got home…. we were gone a lot which made it difficult to have a normal life, to have a routine, to have relationships of all sorts of varieties. I think after doing that for so long there was a part of us that definitely craved some normalcy.
“It’s a formative part of your life where you are pursuing a career, figuring out a routine…”
“I think that it‘s an under discussed side to committing to living largely in different cities every night because it does get really hard,“ Jordan says, lending an explanation to the price on an artist’s ambition. “It’s a formative part of your life where you are pursuing a career, figuring out a routine, and when you’re a month on a month off it can be really hard to figure out.“
But in committing to their craft at such whilst still in their life’s infancy, as Jordan explains, it has become all they have ever known. “I have spent mos of my adult life from what I remember being alive in La Dispute so I‘m not really good at anything else. You dedicate yourself to your craft and you commit holey to that. “
“There is definitely something about being in a band that you attribute to youth“, Dreyer comments, “we started this band when I was in high school, not long after that we started touring and made the decision to pursue it full time as one does in their early twenties, as one does just because we could and it was something that we loved to do. “
“You start to think about the shelf life of what you do, “continues Dreyer, pausing and ensuring to be deliberate in his wording. “That doesn’t occur to you or really anyone when you’re 20 and just doing whatever. You‘re not thinking about 10 years in the future, you’re certainly not thinking about 20 years in the future or your financial security, the concept of starting a family or having a home.”
Yet despite how engrained the creative catharsis of La Dispute is into each member, during the writing process for their latest release “Panorama“, the outfit felt although they were too disconnected. “Jumping straight back into a record there is a lot of stress and pressure too because it’s a fourth record and a lot of outside pressures that come along with it. You have those thoughts of ‚ When do we call it‘, candidly sighs Brad. “Just knowing that it’s finite and that it doesn’t matter if there is a next record is very freeing, we all had that conversation and that truly was the turning point. It relieved a lot of pressure..”
“Everything is a journey; everything is something to be learned from as a snapshot of your life that exists that way.”
“It was interesting that to break through that we went back to square one. We trusted our instincts on this record whereas on rooms of the house we were very deliberate in our approach. Having that honest conversation with ourselves and stopping what we were doing, which was working in separately, which we did a lot of during rooms, bringing everyone into the same space. In a more metaphysical way, going from being very frustrated to having those small epiphanies you guys had from writing together. “
Yet despite the painstaking writing process, years of critical acclaim and success the band have enjoyed throughout their career, Jordan seems most eager to be seen akin to the subjects that fill the verses of the band’s musical accounts. “I have always felt uncomfortable with any title“, murmurs the frontman. “ At what point do I call myself a writer when there are so many immensely talented people that I fully accept that I don’t belong in the same ballpark with and musically I don’t want to call myself a musician because my band mates are and have been for a very long time.“
Disregarding his reservations about accepting his title as a profound lyricist, Jordan does share that he holds the band’s past workings in high regards, believing to have always done the sensitive nature of their subjects justice. “I feel comfortable with everything that we have done because I feel that we have done everything we have honestly, for ourselves and without compromise because I think that’s the big thing. “
“Everything is a journey; everything is something to be learned from as a snapshot of your life that exists that way. It sort of does not belong to you anymore, it’s like they become signposts of your progress as a human, not just as an artist. “
It is this last statement that I believe best reflects La Dispute. They are a band of progression, whether instrumentally, in the dynamics of their vocal delivery or the perseverance and growth shown throughout their songs. Everything successor instils development, and despite the violent uncertainty of human nature, La Disputes epic recounts will continue to give us perspective on morality, being judicious with time and spending it for the benefit of all.
Panorama is out now via Epitaph Records.