Jeromes Dream’s new album feels raw and entirely their own. Like in their first incarnation that ended in the early 2000s, the band’s new untitled record packs a unique brand of punk that at this point, feels like it exists as its own creation above any genre standards, not that many artists around this corner of the music community ever paid much attention to those in the first place. Fundamentally, they’re here because they feel a deeply set personal stake in what they’re doing, making their music a real grassroots creation to join the other similar creations circulating. Drummer Erik Ratensperger shares: “I don’t think it ever left us. Sure, time took its course, we grew up, life evolved, experience happened, but this music, this band as a concept is something that has been so ingrained in us at such a young age, it’s really as if it’s been embedded in our DNA. Punk rock. DIY. The need and desire for real artistic and emotional expression… JD was and is the purest platform we’ve had for that.”
How Jeromes Dream Came Back
In the time between their 2001 record Presents and the, well, present, the members of Jeromes Dream largely went their own separate ways — literally, ending up in three different states when the time came in which they got their new album underway. Ratensperger shares that the first reconnection was made that allowed their new album to grow when he and vocalist (and bassist) Jeff Smith decided to have a three-way call with their fellow former bandmate Nick Antonopoulos, who they hadn’t been in touch with for years following his guitar playing for Jeromes Dream around the late 1990s. Their ultimately hours-long September 2017 call was a success, and the ball got rolling. Ratensperger suggests the band members were “starved” of the freedom of expression that Jeromes Dream provided since it faded into the shadows and left only its music all those years ago.
The writing that eventually got underway took place mostly across the country, ending up with the band members only getting about three weeks or so together to write and rehearse while actually in the same room before entering the California recording studio The Atomic Garden run by Jack Shirley. They’d originally planned to record on the other side of the country at Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou’s esteemed God City Studios in Massachusetts, but as the band members can attest in the face of the process getting them here in the first place — life happens. During that process, they took 25-30 songs down to the dozen we hear on their new album.
The band have been completing a lion’s share of the work surrounding their new album on their own. Ratensperger shares: “It’s time-consuming, emotionally and creatively demanding, but also extremely rewarding and empowering. Some people like to draw their own conclusions about what it takes to make something like this happen, but you can’t really know what it entails unless you actually do it yourself.”
Where They’re Going From Here
Of course, many of those in the band’s immediate vicinity do know exactly what the do it yourself lifestyle is like, leading to an apparently primed spot for Jeromes Dream to plug in. They’ve got shows coming up throughout the rest of this year with leading bands in boundary-pushing heavy music like Loma Prieta and Vein, and they share that they’re happy that the empowering punk spirit they were a part of at the turn of the millennium lives on. Two back-to-back stops in New York with Loma Prieta sold out rather quickly.
It’s not even just their own shows that are providing a jumping off point for their happiness, though. Vocalist Jeff Smith shares after attending an Oakland area show featuring the screamo bands Elle, Joliette, Hawak, and Nuvolascura: “It was so invigorating to be back in such a familiar environment after having been absent from it for so many years. The kids were so positive and supportive and excited. It made me happy to know that a world we were a part of so long ago has grown exponentially and that there is a strong community of people making special music nearly 20 years after JD last played.”
That’s really where the band want to go with their new record in the first place, they share — further into the DIY punk community that continues to provide grounds for such potent expression from artists literally across the globe. Smith discusses his lyrics as hopefully a jumping-off point for people to “take a minute to recognize and embrace differences in thought and experience,” a process that could serve as a combat to what he perceives as “a complete breakdown in communication between people.”
Plugging Into The Thriving DIY Community
The counter-trend he’s hoping to help push against that development still flourishes in the modern technology-driven age via the punk and screamo and related music community. Smith definitely himself isn’t all doom and gloom and as he goes into these upcoming runs of shows with some leading underground bands, he hopes to launch a conscious effort to further connection. “We used to be so closed off to everyone and everything when we played live,” he explains. “We’d go into our own world and I used to joke that if anybody got too close to us, they would burst into flames. But now I want to feel the community. I want to feel the kids at my back and know that they are connecting with us on whatever level feels right to them.”
The fact that twenty years after Jeromes Dream released a record, people are coming around to see them attests to the lasting power of the DIY heavy music scene in the first place. “People and bands old and new are still bolstering DIY ethics, but at greater scale, due to the reach of the internet and social media,” Ratensperger adds. “Communication is so much more fluid and less of a task. We were recently talking to Tobias and Conrad of Soft Kill about this — how everyone who’s involved in punk music is so much more connected these days. I think technology, in this case, is a very good thing.”
Looking more directly into the future, he goes on: “My hope is that kids see the real opportunity they have in front of them to do things the way they think it should be done and to not be dictated by the fear of other’s judgment or disapproval. Creativity, artistic expression, whatever you want to call it, should be done how you feel it should be done. No fucking barriers, no molds, no rules, no templates. To me, that’s as punk as it gets.”
Listen to a single from the new Jeromes Dream album below. Get the full release July 19 via the band’s own Microspy with distribution by Deathwish.