Under The Influence: The Retro Stylings of Garage Soul Trio The Dreemers
Listening to The Dreemers is like being swept up in the fantastical stylings of the retro Rock ‘N’ Roll era. The band is comprised of Ben Patrick on guitar, Rob Keith on bass, and Natalie Grieshammer on drums. The trio shares vocal duties, blending elements of 50s, 60s, and 70s rock with contemporary garage sound and new wave soul in their music. Inspired by the likes of James Brown and The Waitresses, The Dreemers kickoff their discography with debut album “Beach Mode.” It is a celebration of summertime vibes and their hometown of Akron, Ohio. The album captures their compelling and satirical lyrics with an emotive analog sound.
They are true believers in the grassroots music scene of their city, performing in a variety of local venues and headlining the following music festivals: PorchRokr in 2016, Signal Tree Fest in 2017, and Love Fest in 2018. The Dreemers have even developed their own record label called the Akron Recording Company to revamp the Akron 1970s sound that they know and love. In this Under The Influence interview, The Dreemers discuss embracing and creating their distinct sound.
Can you share with us how the band formed and when you all started making music together?
The band formed in the winter of 2014. Ben and Robert had been making music together for a few years but when Ben gave Natalie an impromptu drum lesson in his basement, Natalie picked the drums up in a hurry. Soon after Ben tricked Natalie into having band practice with them since she had never been in a band before. It went really well and we said to ourselves we have a band! We played a house show in February and had our first debut out in May of that year.
Since The Dreemers are based in Akron, Ohio and you are even featured in a Spotify playlist called “Where The Hell Is Akron, Ohio?”, how important is your hometown to you? What is the music scene like there?
Akron is a huge part of why we make music and why our band formed. We love the Akron Sound of the 1970’s, with bands like The Waitresses, Tin Huey, Devo and more! Growing up in the old rubber capital of the world doesn’t offer much to do other than make art and music. There’s a lot of honesty and quirkinesses in Akron that really shows through in the music being made here. The music scene in Akron is very supportive and there’s a lot of talent that locals actually recognize and go out to see on a regular basis.
The band seems to have many influences from The Beach Boys to James Brown. Can you share how these artists and others have impacted your style of music and why?
We love the oldies but goodies! We are all products of our parents, we inherited our dads’ record collections and got into vinyl at an early age. Artists like James Brown put their heart and sole into their music and it shows, that’s the approach we like to take. We leave it all on stage. It’s an attitude that is very authentic.
There seems to be a cultural shift in music where many artists are moving away from large genres and craving their own path. What is your opinion on this subject?
Recontextualizing things that have happened before us is something all great artists and musicians have done, how do you take a genre like rock ‘n’ roll and turn it into something that is unique and exciting for today? We are all reinventing the wheel but it’s how you blend those influences together and how you use technology and other cultural influences to shape your sound.
Although the band’s music can be considered Rock, how do you describe your sound?
We call it Garage Soul & Rock N Roll. We like to think of ourselves as a vocal group that also contains elements of rhythm and blues, pop, rock, alternative, punk, new wave, soul, funk, rockabilly, surf rock, afrobeat etc. We love a huge range of musical styles and hope that shows in our music! When writing our songs it’s usually a culmination of all of the music we are listening to in our personal lives, or every once and a while we will say ‘we need a soul song’ or ‘let’s add a Doo Wop section at the end of this tune’. It’s a mix of intentional and intuition for us when we write.
The Dreemers have released the debut album, “Beach Mode”, what does the album mean to you and what do you want listeners to take away from it?
“Beach Mode” is a state of mind. It’s a happiness you get when spending a day at the beach, it’s upbeat, energetic and fun! It is a summer anthem that (we hope) feels like driving an old Cadillac along the sunny coast with your loved ones. Since it’s a state of mind, it’s not about actually being on the beach. We thought, there’s no beach in Akron, but why not have the attitude? In a way, it’s saying we don’t need anything but what we have right here, and that theme is carried out in the album. It’s a diverse group of songs that we intended to capture different themes of summertime and also show off our range of influences. Many of the songs on the album we had already been performing for months and even years, but recording gave us an opportunity to really polish and freshen things up to make them the best iteration they can be. Since we are a three-piece, getting into the studio can be fun because we have the opportunity to add elements that we usually couldn’t do live. Some of the songs that we feel capture our spirit best are “Better Than That”, “Feelin’ Fine”, and “Hand in the Mirror.”
Were there any intentional lyrics featured in the song? If so, what are they and what is the meaning behind them?
“Better Than That” is about a run-in that Ben had with him and Rob’s neighbor and it was a mix of emotions to write and record. They had just moved into their neighborhood and Ben went to dig a vegetable garden that was apparently too close to their neighbor’s property. The spooky red house next door had barely looked like anyone lived there, but the neighbor made himself known immediately when his land was being threatened. The lyrics in this are very intentional because it is exactly what the neighbor said to Ben, “You’ve got to know better than this!” Which he repeated many times as Ben does in the song. Then, Ben went to grab his guitar and wrote the song, at the time feeling a little shaken up from having a not-so-friendly welcome in his new neighborhood. The song is interesting because it is from the neighbor’s perspective and uses lyrics that he either said or we imagined he was thinking!
Listen to “Better Than That” By The Dreemers
Are you working on any new projects? Do you have any upcoming performances?
We were really excited to perform at Ingenuity Fest in Cleveland in September. It’s a big annual festival with music, art, and tech projects that some pretty big touring acts have played at. We are also looking forward to playing our annual Thanksgiving Eve show at Annabell’s, an Akron dive bar and venue, with local band Relaxer, who also has a big following. It’s a great show to play because we always get a huge crowd that is ready to party. The band has had a very busy summer with shows so we are going to slow it down a little for the winter so we can work on a new single to put out by springtime! We are also going to get a couple music videos out from “Beach Mode.”
Is there anything else you would like to share?
A couple years ago we got to open up for one of our favorite bands, Thee Oh Sees, when they came to the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. The show was sold out, there was incredible energy from the crowd, and we got to meet John Dwyer. It was a dream for us. We feel really lucky to have gotten such great support so far in our community in Northeast Ohio!