Interview: Rhys Wilcox of Dream State
With a hometown show to cap off 2018 in The Bunkhouse on the 15th December, we thought we’d catch up with the Swansea borne-and-bred melodic hardcore outfit to pick their brains on this year’s overwhelming successes and grab the chance for a chin-wag. Rhys Wilcox talked to us during a brief lull in their busy schedule;
Swansea Music Hub: It’s been year of highs for the band, from touring with The Amity Affliction and Babymetal, making appearances at leading festivals such as Download, 2000 Trees and The Great Escape and releasing a rather stunning cover of Linkin Park’s ‘Crawling’ for the “Songs That Saved My Life” charity compilation. If you had to pick one experience as a band from the last 12 months as a ‘standout’, what would it be?
Rhys Wilcox: Thank you! 2018 has been a year of amazing experiences which we'll treasure for the rest of our lives, especially the shows and festivals. Our EP has had a truly humbling reaction and we are so thankful to everyone who's been there with us along this journey. The standout moment, without a shadow of a doubt, has to be winning the Kerrang! award for Best British Breakthrough; it's the kind of thing that's so unreal you don't even bother to put on your bucket list!
SMH What has been the hardest part of keeping up such a relentless tour calendar?
RW: Touring is equal parts life-affirming and brutal. Huge amounts of time and hard work go into making each and every performance the best it can possibly be and I think it's often taken for granted how much bands invest to make things work. The hardest part we face at the moment is staying financially afloat when everything's expensive and flexible jobs are a rarity. There's a perception that we're a "made" band, but while our prospects look promising for the future, it couldn't be further from the truth.
SMH: If you could organise and perform on your dream lineup, what would the rest of the billing look like?
RW: Depends on the show! I'm going to go for a UK focused line-up and say: BMTH, Architects, While She Sleeps, Marmozets, Boston Manor, Loathe, Rolo Tomassi, Holding Absence, Crooks, Svalbard, The Decoy.
Throw us in anywhere!
SMH: Tell us a little about your writing style. Is it a collaborative process when it comes to your songwriting? What do you generally start with when putting tracks together?
RW: Our writing process varies a lot, but the general procedure is the same. We tend to figure out the basic structures of the song first and then add finer details to individual parts along with extra layering. Once we've got something fairly complete, it's just a case of refining it as much as possible before we hit the studio!
SMH: How has your music evolved since starting Dream State? Have your personal music tastes changed and have those changes affected your band’s style?
RW: I can't speak for the "Consequences" era because I joined further down the line, but "Recovery" was definitely moving towards a more contemporary sound. There was a lot of experimentation that went into crafting the EP and it felt like we really found our identity in those songs. It's important to keep things as fresh as possible and challenge your music taste; you can't really explore new sounds if you don't open your mind to what's out there!
SMH: Do you have a favourite track to play live and, if so, why that specific one?
RW: My favourite song can vary depending on how the audience is reacting to the show. One of the things we found from touring Europe is that each city seemed to have its own unique taste and energy, so no two sets felt the same. If I had to pick one from a performance perspective, I'd say "Solace". It's got a bit of everything in it!
SMH: Where was the first show you, as a band, performed? Do you have a standout memory of that show?
RW: Again, before my time, but it would have been at The Golden Lion pub in Carmarthen. Anyone who knows that place will have an idea of how it went down! I actually played my first gig there too which was an open mic night. It's funny how we've crossed a lot of the same paths as young Welsh musicians and I think it really shows how important it is to keep local venues alive. Support your local scene!
SMH: What are the top five songs on your band mixtape whilst touring?
The Plot In You - ‘Feel Nothing’
Architects - ‘Doomsday’
Loathe - ‘White Hot’
The Amity Affliction - ‘Feels Like I'm Dying’
Don Broco - ‘Technology’
We have a Spotify playlist that we update now and again if you want to hear more!
SMH: Is there another Welsh artist (or artists) that excite you right now?
RW: For me, I'm currently loving Only Fools and Corpses, The Decoy, They Live We Sleep, Breathe In The Silence, VAILS, Frown Upon, Ssssnakes, Holding Absence, People and Other Diseases, Hot Mass and many more.
I've probably missed some, but there are tonnes of hidden gems in the Welsh music scene right now!
SMH: If you had to dish out one ‘pearl of wisdom’ for emerging artists, what would it be?
RW: Always try to be self aware and take a step back now and again to look at how you're progressing as a band. It's so essential to be honest to yourself and seek out things that you can improve. Record your performance regularly (even if it's just a phone video in the practice room). That said, this applies to all aspects of band life, be it image, art direction, self promotion, even self enjoyment - make sure you love what you do!
Dream State’s sold-out Swansea show at The Bunkhouse caps off their 2018 calendar, but make sure you catch the band on their European tour in January, or their UK tour in March-April of 2019 at a venue near you!
For more information, pop on over here!
Interview by Joe Bayliss