Evidence to support any band reforming and, as a whole, being worth a fuck after decades of inactivity is typically very slim. If there are any exceptions to that, save Connecticut’s Jeromes Dream, to date, they escape me. JD have rolled the dice against the odds of time and, if their first song in eighteen years is any indication, hit directly on seven.
Jeromes Dream’s track-record is virtually immaculate, by punk-rock standards; they released two albums (the longest of which clocks in at under 30 minutes) and an array of split-singles (including the highly sought after Orchid/JD split) during their bombastically brief 4 active years as a band (1997-2001).
Rumors began to surface over the last few years. Noises and utterances via social media and YouTube: New profiles under the band’s name, a new website, YouTube bumpers about a new record, etc. It drew my attention and I followed them and signed up for a mailing list. This was to be a lengthy process. Producers were assigned and reassigned to the fabled project. Just when it seemed like we were, perhaps, being strung along, the first fruits of tangibility were offered to us in the form of a new tune a few weeks ago; “Cataracts So Far”.
A part of me is so used to saying this wasn’t worth the wait that it’s sort of a knee-jerk reaction. But in this case, it was totally worth it. I left “Cataracts So Far” on repeat for hours the day it came out and it didn’t lose its luster much, if at all.
The production here (Jack Shirley on the boards, by the way) is a perfect balance of polished and dirty. The pace and rhythm of the tune itself brings to mind Jawbox’s “Savory”, but doesn’t copy it by any means. The band is together…of one mind. From the onset of the song, the feeling that this isn’t just a commonplace, half-hearted attempt at a reunion is very apparent. They’re approach is that of a band that has spent their hiatus reflectively. They came back refreshed, like they’ve woken up from a good nap. The vocals are a persistent, strategic shout that captures a particular aesthetic akin to that of 2001’s Presents. All in all, this is instantly one of the greatest tunes in the history of Punk-Rock, in my opinion.
This spurned a lot of curiosity on my part about many things where Jeromes Dream is concerned. Therefore I was thrilled when founding member/drummer Erik Ratensperger agreed to answer some of my more nagging questions. Interview follows:
Tell me a little about how the band started, originally.
We’re originally from Connecticut and back when we started in 97, the punk and hardcore scene was thriving. There were shows every week, and amazing bands came through all the time. Nick and I would always see each other at shows. We were both sort of in the social circles at the time. But it wasn’t until this guy Kyle Mullens introduced me and Jeff at a venue called the Tune Inn in New Haven. We were both looking at records and he flat out said, “You two should play music together.” At the time, I wasn’t playing with anyone, but I want to do something. And what I quickly realized, was that Jeff was already playing music with Nick — who I had no idea played guitar at the time. So we decided to get together to see what would happen. Our first time making music together was September 13, 1997. We played in Nick’s mom’s basement.
Who were your primary influences early on?
It’s difficult to say who our primary influences were: we were discovering new bands at every show. It was such an exciting time because the discovery process was so organic: a band like 400 years would come through, and we’d be like. “Well, that was fucking awesome, and wow, this type of band exists.” Then buy a record and wait for them to come back. That happened with countless other bands that came through CT. I’ll never forget when Refused came to the states for the first time in 95 — I was blown away: I had never seen a band for that much energy and intensity before.
At the time, we really appreciated bands like Jasmine, Party of Helicopters, Sleepytime Trio, Paul Newman, Hurl, Don Cab, Angel hair, Reversal of Man, Portraits of Past, Swingkids, Maximillian Colby, Shotmaker, Jonah, Drift, Piebald, Converge, Orchid, Oxes, Roadside Monument, Trans AM, Boys Life, Mineral, Rye Coalition, Rorschach, 1.6 Band, Coalesce, Torches To Rome, Chavez, Botch, Festival of Dead Deer, Current, Tristeza, Palatka, Volume 11, Gasp, Boy Wonder, Oneida, Braid, Compound Red, the list goes on — we felt these type of bands were doing incredible things, making incredible music that truly meant something. But our musical tastes always varied.
I always felt JD was more so influenced by circumstance, more than anything.
Tell us about what all you got up to during the nearly two-decade break?
The short answer to this is we went on do other music projects over the years, and kinda just rode the rollercoaster, ya know? So much happens in 20 years. A lot of ups and downs like anyone else. Love and loss, and everything in between.
What precipitated the reformation? How did that play out?
We spoke as a band for the first time in 2017 — we more or less lost touch with each other over the years for no real particular reason other than life taking its course, and things just playing out that way they did. But I think we arrived at a similar conclusion, that Jeromes Dream was such an important aspect of our lives, no matter how much time passed, and we felt a need to return to it in some way or another. The prospect of “doing something” came up, but we had no idea it would have led to pre-selling an LP we haven’t made yet, selling out the pressing, writing and recording said LP, and preparing to tour with bands like Loma Preta and Touche Amore. It’s just bonkers.
Why did you pick “Cataracts So Far” as the lead single?
We felt “Cataracts So Far” is a song would almost serve as a palate cleanser for what’s to come. It’s both accurate and misleading at the same time. This record is our first ever LP, and everything kinda fits together as a whole — so to even release a song as a “single” is kind of a weird concept for a band like this. But it’s also interesting to read people’s responses towards the one song because some have been quick to conclude that “this is it”, even though, it’s really not.
We didn’t expect or seek out this record to become what it became — we were keeping pretty open-minded about it: but when we whittled around 25 songs to 12 and sat with it, we realized that it had a cohesion to it that we haven’t really established before.
Would you consider your new album as somewhat of a departure from your old material? Why or why not?
We think this LP is an evolved version of where we left off. It seemingly has elements from both the 10” and Presents, plus has 20 years of additional life experience stacked on top of it, creating an “evolved” sound, but not necessarily different. I do think this LP is the most musical album we’ve made. And I also think in a way, it has the most purpose.
Is there something to be said for writing music at a more advanced age? That is, is there a greater catalog of life experiences to draw subject matter or the music itself from? Explain?
I think experience and your current circumstances undoubtedly influence what and how you create. It’s about the headspace you allow yourself to get it in… and the willingness to break down any barriers, and preconceived notions of that the result should be.
Does Microspy plan to expand its roster at all or is it just a means to release your own material?
Microspy will serve as a creative platform with no particular boundaries. I’d like to do more music projects with it beyond JD, but would also like to roll out a podcast, and other types of media.
What would you call Jerome’s Dream if you had to hang a genre on it?
We’re a punk band that plays whatever the fuck we want.
Did you guys pick up where you left off seamlessly or were things awkward at first?
It was seamless and right. The communication between the three of us has always been so specific and unique. I don’t have a bond like this with anyone else.
What have you been listening to?
This week: Soft Kill, Daughters, Loma Prieta, Gouge Away, Otis Redding, Juliana Hatfield, Smashing Pumpkins, Andy Shauf, Slowdive, Charlie Parker Quintet, The Cure
What’s next for Jerome’s Dream?
We’re so excited to play live again. So excited to see how this new chapter of the band’s life unfolds.