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Interview: Jordan Dreyer Talks La Dispute's Chicago Connection Before Sold-Out Metro Show

By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 4, 2014 7:00PM

Chicagoist speaks with La Dispute's frontman Jordan Dreyer (center)/Photo: Jon Stars

Grand Rapids-based post-hardcore outfit La Dispute has been playing in Chicago for years, each time returning with a larger and more fanatic band of supporters.

Their latest album, Room of the House—a concept album about the end of a relationship and its effect on the couple's shared living space—is more adventurous than ever. Like the band's previous releases, it's a wasted effort to attempt to classify Rooms of the House by genre but La Dispute's signature frantic energy and raw emotion is still there. As per usual, lead singer Jordan Dreyer is the sweater and the music tugs and churns the string that seeks to unravel him.

Before La Dispute's sold-out headlining show at the Metro this Saturday, April 5, Dreyer had a few minutes to catch up with Chicagoist.

CHICAGOIST: Hey, Jordan. It's cool to be talking with you. I've been a fan of the band for a long time now. I saw that La Dispute's show at the Metro is sold out on Saturday. That's great, but not very surprising, so congratulations!

JORDAN DREYER: Thank you. It's pretty wild. We're excited. Chicago's always a great time.
C: I know you've played at the Metro a bunch but is this your second time headlining there?

JORDAN DREYER: Yep, second time. I don't even know how many times we've played there, maybe four or five?

C: What's been your favorite of the new Rooms of the House songs to play so far?

JORDAN DREYER: That's tough because it's fun to play every new song. It's always fun to play for people but there is a degree of autopilot when you've been playing songs for three years. It's fun to play [songs that are different for us] like "For Mayor of Splitsville." It's not like any other song we've ever written. It's cool to play the two "Woman" songs. I think those are two of the songs that we're collectively most proud of and it's just a nice change of pace to dial it back down and have it be more intimate than a heavier song.

C: I understand that for this album a more secluded recording space was necessary but I'm curious if you'll ever do any more recording in Chicago. Your sophomore album was done here, right?

JORDAN DREYER: Well, we did one session in Chicago and one in Europe [for that album].

C: Even though the band is from Michigan, it seems like you've always had a real connection to Chicago. Is that just a geographical thing or is there more to it than that?

JORDAN DREYER: I think it's proximity but of all the big cities in the country there's not one that we have a deeper history with than Chicago. We've been playing Chicago for as long as we've been playing anywhere outside of Grand Rapids. It's always been a special place for all of us. We started off going there to play basements and living rooms. We've also done a lot of national tours that we aren't headlining so we don't always get to play at home. Chicago and Detroit have kind of been unofficial homes for us.

C: I can't speak for the whole city but I certainly enjoy when you play here and it's cool that you're always treated well. You seem to have such a rabid fan base here in Chicago. I'm surprised that I haven't heard more local bands coming out with a sound that's similar or with obvious influences. Can you think of any Chicago or nearby area bands that you think are great up-and-comers in your genre?

JORDAN DREYER:You know, I'm not as tapped into the network as I should be. All of the bands from Chicago that I know and love we've already been playing with for years and years. Chicago is a really interesting place. It's our big city. It's our New York or LA and I think it's reflective of the differences in attitude that you get in the Midwest and a result you get a really powerful crop of music and art.

It is a weird thing to think about when I was younger and we were starting to play music and the bands that I loved. Now almost ten years later it's not outside of the realm of possibility that someone did hear our band as it did have an impact on them as a person or as an artist. That's a pretty crazy thing to think about. I'm sorry, I just kind of avoid your question a little bit though.

C: No, it's totally cool. I liked the answer anyway. I've been wanting to ask you about this next one for awhile. When you toured here with Hot Water Music last year a local publication—no need to name names—heavily implied in its review of the show that your songs, specifically lines like "Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself" [from "King Park'] encouraged listeners to hurt themselves. I know that's not what that song is about and I feel like alternative styles of rock music get stuck with that unfair stigma a lot. What's your reaction?

JORDAN DREYER: I think that sounds like somebody not doing their homework. It sounds like somebody taking a specific line out of context and not digging any further. Because that is a line that was actually spoken and was pertinent to a very powerful story about something that happened in my hometown.

I talk to more and more kids who, for one reason or another, open up to me about difficulties they've had. Again, if I think back to a younger me and think about the difficulties that I struggled through, things that were cathartic and therapeutic to me were hearing Hot Water Music and actually hearing it. To hear kids tell me that [about my own band], it's a pretty incredible feeling.

I think all of the songs that we've ever written are a story and part of a conversation about what confronts everyone, difficulties and catastrophes. I think that's the human experience and I think it's part of the responsibility of art to give us an avenue with which to express those things that are hard to talk about.

To me, thinking that any of our music is encouraging that type of behavior is absurd. It's just talking about things that have happened and trying to gain a better understanding. I think that for a lot of younger people, that's what resonates.

C: Definitely. I'm glad we had a chance to talk about that because I felt the same way you did: 'Someone didn't do their homework.' Okay, hopefully this is an easier question to answer. It's one of my favorite questions for bands and artists with a pretty good Chicago connection: What's your favorite place to grab something to eat or drink in the city?

JORDAN DREYER: We always make it a point to get Chicago Diner. It's really the only restaurant in the country that we always eat at when we're in a certain city.

C: Do you have a lot of vegetarians or vegans in the band and crew?

JORDAN DREYER: We've got multiple vegans and multiple vegetarians. But all the meat eaters eat there too. The Reuben at Chicago Diner is the best sandwich in the world.

C: Anything else we haven't talked about yet?

JORDAN DREYER: No, talking to you just makes me even more excited to play the Chicago show. it really is some place that's always felt like home. Not even just because we grew up playing but growing up in Grand Rapids, we would drive to see shows at the Metro. There are those little moments when you're in a band when you have stop and say, 'Whoa,' and selling out the Metro is definitely one of those.