Dreamhouse Look to a Simpler Era of Pop-Punk
Dreamhouse are a very self-aware band. You’d certainly have to be if you’re a guitar-based, pop-punk act in 2016. After all, even some of the genre’s biggest acts—Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Panic! at the Disco—have largely favored candy-coated synths over power chords in recent years.
So, it’s kind of refreshing (and nostalgic) to hear a band pretend that it’s 2005. Originally formed in 2011, Dreamhouse started off as a creative outlet for guitarist and songwriter Derek Moffat. “I just wrote instrumentals, and I would give them to [Brianna Jackson, vocalist],” Moffat recalls. “We just kinda wrote instrumentally for a long time. We never started putting vocals to it ’til we started getting more members.” In 2015, the band became a fully realized whole with the addition of guitarist Dan Beltran, bassist Jordan August and drummer Noah Rush.
Dreamhouse smartly held off launching a media campaign until it actually had content ready because they understand the importance of immediacy in today’s social media-dominated world. Says Jackson, “We didn’t wanna be one of those bands where they come out with a Facebook page and are like, ‘Hey, we’re in this band!’ And then it takes ’em two years to write an album. Like, a ‘Stay tuned, stay tuned, stay tuned!’ kinda thing.”
They elected, instead, to announce their existence after everything was ready. Professional photos were taken and a music video was shot, and then they set up social media accounts. In March, Dreamhouse released its first single “Resurface,” and then followed up two months later with “Clever” to keep its profile up.
Speaking of, I point out during our conversation that “Clever” immediately reminded me of the aforementioned Paramore. The band admits that the comparison is common. “I think it’s amazing Hayley [Williams] created such a legacy that you can’t even be a female in a band without being compared to her,” Jackson elaborates. “I think that’s incredible on her end. So, to deny her as an influence would be kind of ignorant because she’s amazing.” So while they readily acknowledge the pop aspects of their sound (and living in a shadow of sorts), they also point out that they “always want to be a guitar-based band” and cite also-rans Circa Survive and Dance Gavin Dance as touchstones to their sound.
After “Clever,” the band spent the summer touring and making a reputation for themselves. Fall came, and with it another tour, including a show with Hawthorne Heights in Sturtevant. November saw the release of Dreamhouse’s third single, “The Current.” The song and video notably feature Veil of Maya vocalist Lukas Magyar, a connection the band had through Moffat: In addition to being a guitarist and songwriter for Dreamhouse, Moffat also owns and operates a recording studio in Milwaukee, 608 Studios, and Magyar just happened to be in the first band that Moffat ever recorded there in 2009. They became friends and stayed in contact with each other.
The band concedes it has great connections (“It’s all about who you know,” Jackson states) and has been “lucky” so far in their young career. That doesn’t mean, though, that any success they’ve had has gone to their heads. The show with Hawthorne Heights, for example, was a “really humbling experience” for them: You grow up listening to them and you remember your middle school years when you’d just jam their CD in your car during your emo phase,” Jackson says. “And then it comes full-circle when you’re sharing a stage with them.”
2016 has certainly been good to Dreamhouse, and they’re looking to finish as strong as they started. Their first EP, Bloom, is due out on Dec. 30, and that night they’re playing a release show for it at The Metal Grill in Cudahy. They’ll follow that with a New Year’s Eve show in Indianapolis.
In 2017, they’ll head back out on the road in January, a tour that sees them hit markets they haven’t yet, including St. Petersburg and Fort Worth. They’re also going to hit Orlando, which might be the most exciting stop for them. “We have a day off there,” says Moffat, to which Jackson adds, “We’re going to Harry Potter World!”
Dreamhouse play The Metal Grill on Friday, Dec. 30 at 5 p.m. with Versus Me, Audacity, Hey, Captain Knight and Never Doubt The Worm. The $10 cover includes a copy of their EP.