Every band — or at least every band that is doing it right — places a premium on authenticity. You should be true to the music, and the music should be true to your roots. If either end of that agreement is missing, your sound will lack soul and passion. But even among the most serious devotees to authenticity, La Dispute is known for turning that knob up to 11.
Scoffing at laymen’s attempts to shove the band into a particular genre, La Dispute has shown itself to be more than willing to tinker with its sound, experiment with convention and allow itself to pursue avenues that many bands would shrink from. This is reflected in the band’s own creation more than a decade ago when frontman Jordan Dreyer joined the group with no previous experience in songwriting or singing.
“I’d say it’s still a learning process,” Dreyer said in a phone interview, describing his process of growing into a lead singer. “When we started I was 17, so I didn’t even have enough years in my life to have any experience. I loved doing it from the start, so that definitely helped. But as far as owning your craft, there are always new developments, and there are always new things to learn from.”
From that early stage, La Dispute wrote songs from an intensely personal space and kept that constant drive for authenticity. That slavish devotion to the concept runs so deep that band members have admitted to feeling disingenuous playing some of the older material, simply because it no longer reflects where they are in their lives now.
“Yeah, I think it’s vitally important,” Dreyer said of the much used “A” word. “It’s been our idea since day one. When you’re making the kind of music that we make for any kind of ulterior motive, it comes off as cloying. It’s always been important to us to stay true to who we are, and I think people gravitate to that, which is cool.
“It’s a strange thing to take a snapshot of a time in your life. Do that, and it’s immortalized. You can’t run away from those things, but when you’re in a different place, you have to learn to re-contextualize them in your mind. There’s a dialogue that takes place with the audience, so it’s easy to do on stage. You think less about how you feel in the moment and more about how it resonates with the people who watch you perform.”
As their life stations evolve and the band continues to mature and grow, La Dispute’s sound ranges across a number of genres, dabbling in prog-rock, post hardcore metal, even spoken word. In 2014 the band left its long-time label, No Sleep Records, for the opportunity to start its own imprint and have greater freedom to pursue its muses, which has led to another learning process.
“It’s easy to look at something and say, ‘I could totally do that, that’ll be easy’,” Dreyer admitted. “But then there are realities that you never thought of and have to learn to overcome.”
Since working under its own label name, La Dispute has launched a pet project it calls the “Hear, Hear” experiment. Referred to as a supplementary series of works, “Hear, Hear” provides La Dispute with yet another day to test its own boundaries.
“We conceptualized this project that could be not just incentive (for preorders), but also a supplement,” Dreyer said. “We wanted to be able to do something that allowed all of our members to express themselves. That’s what makes it fun, being able to approach it differently.” CV