The Story of Ian & The Dream
The story of Ian & The Dream began in high school, when frontman Ian Ash and bassist Chivo decided to join musical forces and create what is now one of the most popular bands in Wisconsin, and soon to be beyond. Before the duo came together in 2008, both men had made their presence known in the local music scene; Ash had won the Summerfest Pepsi Talent Search at 13 while Chivo made a name for himself in several hard rock projects.
Fast forward to 2016 and Ian & The Dream, who is now a trio, have played more than a handful of big stages, opened and/or performed for a number of high-profile acts, and earned plenty of praise for their art.
The band’s latest release, Ian & The Dream, creates a universe of magic as Ash sings about the human condition: living honestly, loving fully, and existing in the moment. The trio expertly combines sounds from the past few decades, which we all know sound vastly different. There’s an undertone of comfortable nostalgia within with the modern flair that is no doubt influenced by Grammy award-winning producer Stephen Short.
The band announced in mid-May that their second full-length album will be entitled New Dreams. It is set to be released on September 9th, 2016 and, according to frontman Ian Ash, fans should “expect to be surprised.”
I got the chance to chat with Ash via email and pick his brain on the new album. My first question for the frontman was a typical, run-of-the-mill prompt, asking “What can we expect from the new album?” Although my question was simple, Ash retorted with a complex albeit insightful answer.
“It’s one cohesive statement- songs flow together, cross-fade into each other- kind of like how one dreams at night, right?” commented Ash. After making the connection between this statement and the album’s name (New Dreams), I realized this was going to be an amazing interview.
When asked how the writing process during this album differed from their debut album’s process, Ash gave me answer that I just couldn’t paraphrase:
“Psychologists say that when we dream, the parts of the brain that deal with storytelling, meeting unfulfilled needs and resolving emotional tension become active. How is that any different from songwriting?
Are our dreams happening to us passively? Or are we in fact active creators and participants in our dreams? Sometimes when I write, I’m stuck in this zone- I hear melodies come to me all of a sudden out of thin air- and then I get to craft a song- but am I the creator or not?
On some songs, there was a deliberate attempt on my part to simplify my writing. I was listening to a lot of stuff on the radio and I thought, maybe I should write a song that’s just 4 chords all the way through. The result ended up being our lead single from the album, “The Girl Who Knows Everything.” I think it sounds a bit like Foster the People mixed with MGMT. We live in an era where there’s a big emphasis on rhythm and fresh sounds, so I was conscious of that when choosing the songs for this album.
At the same time, I’m a big believer that you should write what inspires you, no matter what the style may be- and that unrestricted sense of writing hasn’t changed for me. I love writing stadium rock songs, soft piano ballads, and lots of places in between.”
The frontman went on to explain how the album differed on a much more technical level, saying that he had the play the role of producer AND writer while learning how to separate the two jobs.
“I try to keep ‘writer’ Ian separate from ‘producer’ Ian- that is, I try not to be too self-conscious during the writing process, but then very self-conscious when I’m going to commit a song to tape,” said Ash. ”I’ve found the writer-producer relationship to be interesting and one that desperately needs complete trust, so to be your own writer and your own producer has got to be an experience like no other.”
Do yourself a favor and sift through their ReverbNation page; the music you’ll find is a true treasure and will fit into whatever playlist you’re currently jamming to. The first single from New Dreams is called “The Girl Who Knows Everything” and was released yesterday, with a full music video to follow suit. Look out for the album to be released September 9, 2016. Take a chance on Ian & The Dream because, as their bio states, “To boldly go into new territory, that is The Dream.”