INTERVIEW: Peter Repousis + Simon Kapsis (DREAMERS CRIME)
If kicking ass and rewriting the rule book was a crime, then Sydney's hard rockers Dreamers Crime would definitely be found guilty; born from a myriad of creative influences and individual ideas, this heavy five-piece have never been the type to conform to expectations, and their long-anticipated debut album 'No Compromises' due out in November is set to be a raging affair that won't pull any punches.
Merging crushing riffs and soaring vocals with sweltering beats, Dreamers Crime has a sound that never quite falls completely into metal or rock territory, and they make no apologies for this. In fact, it's this very concoction that has led to the group being labelled as the new sound of hard rock, and their lack of conformity coupled with their charismatic live performances has resulted in an ever-growing fan-base, as well as a significant maturing evolution of their sound. The release of the new album is just the beginning of a huge couple of months for Dreamers Crime, with an album launch just announced late last week - but before 'No Compromises' drops next month, frontman Peter Repousis and guitarist Simon Kapsis took some time out to chat writing, recording and relationships (but not the ones you may think)...
TIANA: Hi Pete and Simon, thanks so much for your time, it's nice to be speaking to a Sydney band for a change. For a while now the thing that keeps popping up for Dreamers Crime is you guys being described as having "the new sound of hard rock". I'm kind of intrigued what that means to you guys...I feel like I can hear it evolving from your earlier stuff in your melodies and your structures, but what does that label actually mean?
PETER: Well, when that sentence came about, I was actually finalising my vocals with Dave (Dave Petrovic, producer and engineer extraordinaire) on the last day of recording. And I asked him, I go "look man, the one thing I struggle to answer is when people ask 'what do you sound like?'...I really don't know what to tell them". You know? And he goes "you guys have elements of metal, but you're not metal. And you guys aren't rock cos you don't sound like your classic rock bands. You guys are not nu-metal you guys are nu-hard rock. You guys are the new sound of hard rock"
TIANA: And obviously Dreamers Crime do have some metal tendencies, and heavier tendencies. A lot of your comparisons and influences seem to be the usual suspects like Karnivool, Linkin Park, Alter Bridge...but did you have specific plans or influences going into this from day one?
SIMON: Mainly what you said, I myself was trying to develop a bit of a nu-modern sound, cos I was always into old stuff. But then I was also getting into more of the modern rock and metal. In terms of myself, it was kind of a learning curve and as we progressed with writing we were just writing all this stuff with a mix of this modern stuff like Alter Bridge, Karnivool, Linkin Park etc...we were just trying to find our sound with our backgrounds and with our different backgrounds we melded the pot, so to speak
PETER: Simon's one of our guitarists, and Mike (Michael Mikulicin) is the other guitarist, and Mike is your classic metal guitarist that can play at any speed possible, very good with riffs so he always brings that little bit of classic metal influence into the sound as well.
TIANA: And for both of you growing up did you exclusively listen to that heavier stuff, or were you into other stuff and you just evolved into this?
PETER: Yeah, that's the perfect way to answer that question (laughs). I'm pretty sure Simon wasn't a metal person to begin with?
PETER: Simon and I definitely weren't...I'm not saying that we were against it but we didn't start off as metal guys. More that we were the rock guys. When I saw Bon Jovi release 'Everyday' off the Bounce album....I heard that song, I saw the video and I was like "those guys are larger than life, that's what I wanna do". And then , you know, Bon Jovi led to Linkin Park, Linkin Park led to something else that's heavier, and then heavier and then heavier and then you start venturing into metal out of the rock world and you combine them together.
TIANA: It's that natural evolution, and interesting that Linkin Park for people of certain generation was a jumping off point for a lot of us into heavier music.
PETER: Yeah, they exposed a lot of people into the metal world, they were that crossover. And Chester's voice was that in-between voice of being super melodic and with this nice clean tone, but then he had that versatile scream and the power.
TIANA: So there's been a little bit of time in between new music for you guys, 2014 you had 'What Is Real' come out, but you've been gigging and writing solidly in between...
SIMON: Yeah, I'd say we started writing for the new album about two years ago, and it was a bit of time writing amongst ourselves, but I think we must've taken a year off since the EP, started writing again and then went back into the studio just last year in September with Electric Sun. It was a bit of a process, but well worth it in the end.
TIANA: Was it a conscious choice that you wanted to take that extra time this time round?
PETER: We knew we didn't wanna rush it, but at the same time we didn't want to spend 10 years making Chinese Democracy 2.0.
SIMON: In saying that, I fucking love that album...
PETER: I'm not dissing Axl and the boys, that album is quality (laughs)
TIANA: And Dreamers Choice have also been gigging pretty solidly over the years, and you've had some pretty varied appearances, ranging from opening for an NRL pre-game to supporting Underside...has there been a particular live highlight so far?
SIMON: Yeah I'd say the ANZ stadium gig before the NRL match was a big experience for us. Just the set up and the excitement...yeah I would say that one for me. But Underside was a good gig too, we'd wanted to play Oxford Arts for a long time. They were a great band to support.
TIANA: How did the NRL gig come about?
PETER: (laughs) It's funny you ask that question, I worked at Canterbury Leagues as soon as I finished high school, and they're associated with the Bulldogs and I did a lot of the function set-ups, the board of directors knew me...and then one day I sent them an email saying could we open up one of the games, and they were like "yeah sure, no worries!". And it was all organised, how long we had to play, the soundcheck, it was a proper gig. We had schedules to stick to, we had our own backstage area downstairs, it was access all areas. It was a good eye opener to what's hopefully going to come next.
TIANA: And as a band, especially a heavy band, in Sydney an inevitable topic of conversation comes around the lockout laws and how that's impacting things. But also what are you feeling about your genre in Sydney at the moment, do you see it as something that is thriving?
PETER: It's funny, when we were actually writing and recording the album, we had that thought process...you know, is what we're doing going to thrive in our hometown? We've done a lot of gigs, but it's very hard to pinpoint a band that sounds similar to what we've been doing. And sometimes we've thought to ourselves, should we stay in Sydney or should we try and see where else is gonna start making some noise? But at the end of the day, the title of the new album itself 'No Compromises' comes from a bit of that...the title was a bit of a build up of frustration and climbing over walls and over-compromising what you want to do to cater for others. So this record is a big statement to that - we wanted to make this and it's going to get to where it wants to go on its own terms.
SIMON: Yeah, like why should we make the same style of music just to play for people that want to hear it? At the same time, yes in a way we should...or kind of do. But we want to write our music how we want to write it, at our own pace.
PETER: Don't get me wrong, I love mainstream pop, but at the time we were five frustrated, angry individuals who felt like this was the sound that we were going to make with this album.
TIANA: And that leads me to the exciting news, in November you guys will be releasing your debut album, obviously titled 'No Compromises'. You've released a few teasers already with singles 'I Believe In You' and 'Here We Are', but are there any surprises still to come?
PETER: I think we're going to drop one more track before the album is released, maybe in a few weeks. There won't be a music video this time, just the song. The other surprise is the official announcement of the album launch coming very soon...we're planning a lot around that and we're just building up for the tour as we speak.
TIANA: 'No Compromises' saw you guys working with Stevie Knight and Dave Petrovic, who seem to be the hardest working dudes in town at the moment. Was it an easier or smoother process in the studio this time round compared to last time?
SIMON: Yeah, I don't know how to put it...the EP was definitely quicker, but there was more spent this time round, it was thorough. We went through every bit of detail, so we went through pre-pro over a couple of months. That was well worth it to get the writing, the structure, the melodies and all that before actually going in to record. So everything was done in detail. There were some gears that were grinding, sometimes people were frustrated...it's very hard to write your own music and then have it ripped or changed...I wouldn't say it was easy, but we got there in the end, and we liked the product that we got. It was great working with that bunch.
PETER: Stevie and Dave were acting as mediators and connecting the dots for us. So imagine you are in five relationships, we're allowed that in this situation right? So you're in five relationships, and someone says "let's go out to dinner". And it's like "cool, dinner sounds good" - hence the album. And then someone's like "ok cool, how bout we go here?", but then someone else is like "oh, I'm a vegetarian". Then someone else is a vegan, another's a coeliac, and then the other one is like "I don't wanna eat, but I'll come anyway". That's what it's like having five people at one stage having five different directions for the song, and those two (Stevie + Dave) were able to steer the ship when the ship started rocking a little bit.
TIANA: And is the relationship still intact after this process?
PETER: We're all definitely mates...funny you should say that though, the five who were part of that writing and recording process aren't the Dreamers Crime who we are now.
SIMON: Our bass player has moved on to Melbourne where he now lives. And we've got a new bass player Adam (Adam Plimmer). Brad, who we still currently live with...we all live together too, by the way...Brad our original drummer moved on to other things and we've got a new drummer Jase (Jason Canelas).
TIANA: So 'No Compromises' has been a long time coming for both you and the fans...and this might be jumping the gun a bit, but are you already looking to new material? Or are you just going to enjoy the ride for a little bit?
SIMON: I think it's both.
PETER: Both, yeah I'm pumped for both. I think all of us have been on our phones already jotting down ideas for the next project, as well as taking in everything that's happening right now.
TIANA: Now - one question I always love to ask bands, is there a band or artist that you all listen to that people might be surprised about?
PETER: Who's you're secret group? Are you gonna tell her about N Sync?
PETER: Or Backstreet Boys?
SIMON: Oh yeeeeah!
TIANA: Hey, they've got some pretty tight harmonies, you can't deny it.
PETER + SIMON: Oh yeah!
PETER: They're larger than life! (laughs) But for me really, Bon Jovi's top of the mountain.
SIMON: "Secret" band, come on mate, you said that before (laughs)
PETER: Yeah, I know! But for people who don't know me they wouldn't have guessed that.
SIMON: Well...being a metal guy...I've been listening to a bit of The Weeknd. So that's a bit of an "outside of metal" sort of music...And for the record, I think I heard Mike play Jennifer Lopez in his car not that long ago.
PETER: What song was it?
SIMON: It was something...I just heard this "plaaaay", that Jennifer Lopez song in between Fozzy and Alter Bridge. And Nikki Webster (laughs)
TIANA: Do you guys have a favourite song of your own that you love performing live the best? Or will there be a new contender when the new album drops?
PETER: Do you have one that you're dying to play live?
SIMON: I can't wait to play 'Here We Are'.
PETER: I'm excited to play the title song 'No Compromises'. That song gives me a rush.
TIANA: Well that's definitely something we all have to look forward to when the album's finally out and we get a chance to see it live in action. Exciting times ahead! Really appreciate you guys taking the time.
PETER: Thank you Tiana!
SIMON: See ya!
Dreamers Crime brand new album 'No Compromise' is available to pre-order now, due out Friday 17th November. The guys will be launching the album with a hometown show in Sydney on December 16th. For pre-orders head HERE, for launch show tickets head HERE and for all other info hit up: facebook.com/dreamerscrime
BY TIANA SPETER