A Shoreline Dream from Denver, Colorado, recently released the leading single “Seek To Hide” from the upcoming new album “Melting” LP which releases later in the summer. Once again, this amazingly progressive shoegaze postpunk outfit nailed me with its music as ASD is a constellation alone in the vast sonic universe with the DNA of a band of certain importance. Huge things are happening in their albums and that’s why I asked them for an interview that they kindly accepted, and it turned out to be a stunning chat with the band. We talked about all things ASD, the new record, music in general, technology, the current dystopia, they also gave us their gear (so if you are a nugaze shoegazer yourself you’ll find some pretty nice stuff in it). Please welcome Ryan Policky and Erik Jeffries!!!
Hello ASD, welcome to WL//WH. Let’s go straight to your new single ‘Seek To Hide’ which is the leading track of the upcoming ‘Melting’ LP; The song is an amazing nu-gaze glory, and I’d like to ask if the whole new album will be sounding similar.
Ryan: Appreciate it! The album does have that cohesiveness we always kinda strive for. Each of our albums represent a certain time period. This one was basically the end of 2019 to summer 2020. We chose a basic style we were looking to play, gave ourselves a few new tools, and jammed most of these songs out in a few sessions. The production then could all come together at once to make it feel like a time period. I call it music you listen to at night while driving to the top of a mountain. It’s otherworldly but familiar.
Erik: When looking at the whole album it is similar in the sense of having our style and feel but I feel it has a lot of range. Some tracks are heavier or have a heavier side like “Turned too Slow” and “Seek to Hide” and we always like adding in an acoustic song and this one is called “Downstairs Sundays”. One track “Always That Reason” has some fairly experimental guitar phrasing and felt like I was able to explore different ideas and sound textures on the title track “Melting” and “Atheris Hispida”.
I read in one of your statements in the press kit that “This song ‘Seek to Hide’ is true diving into the fact that we are a society so caught up in a digital world that when something real actually happens we have no idea where to turn…It’s confusing and bizarre watching the world around us become more digital than ever before.” Do you think that the digitization of the world will lead to dystopias, or maybe people will have to find a new perspective on the exploitation of technology?
Ryan: I do see a major evolution coming soon with a coming generation. One which views social media and shared information as a big no. I can only hope that something good will come from all this mess. I think that’s what we’d all like to see, I hope. I for sure don’t want it to look like the futuristic scenes from Terminator, but sometimes it does feel it’s not too far from being possible.
Erik: I think digital dystopias already exist and they are growing. For example, access to technology is already creating an unlevel playing field for many and that may get worse in the future. My hope is that there is a balance coming on the heels of this immersion in digital spaces.
The first verse of the lyrics of the song is pointing a terrifying anomaly on the very modern life on the planet. Will the whole ‘Melting’ LP be one likewise narration?
Ryan: The album goes all over the place lyrically. It’s kind of a journal of events and experiences, with a recollection here and there. Some of it may seem very politically motivated, but trust me it’s for sure just based on life as translated through the eyes of the members of A Shoreline Dream. It’s charged, but still very hopefully depressed as always.
It is absolutely obvious that ASD releases new music only when you need to say something. From 2014’s ‘The Silent Sunrise’ LP and on we find a string of maxis, a live performance in KEXP, and 2018’s ‘Waitout’ EP. I’d like to ask how long did it take to compose and work on the new album, and what has occurred to decide to return with a full-on 10-track record?
Ryan: To be quite honest, ever since the album is 2010… “losing them all to this time”, the band has never been the same line-up for very long at all. We’ve had so many different members over the years and that’s what’s made the music always feel fresh. However, when Erik and myself work on something together, it always has this sort of unique but familiar quality to it, and when we came from three members back just the two of us, we found writing the songs almost happened all on their own. Like two ghosts finding each other and speaking the same language. It flows out non-stop. We could probably write 100 songs a year if we sat out to do it, and this album we were motivated to do it. To finally finish the album we have been talking about forever now. It’s not what we said it would be at first, but it’s just as magical as our first album “Avoiding the Consequences” and that for sure was the biggest motivator for me. I had the same excitement for this as the track “Love is a Ghost in America” all those years back.
Erik: I would say some of the ideas and concepts go back to late summer 2019. We were exploring initial ideas then the music started to come together. We started simply bouncing around ideas around the studio and exploring different rhythm ideas. Then it seemed as if we kept pushing each other. There were several instances where I really tested the boundaries of what would work with our music. Without missing a step Ryan would come back with something taking the ideas even further. Once COVID hit it became apparent that we needed to push ourselves and do whatever we would to continue working on music. For me, it helped with my focus on getting through personally challenging times.
From the band’s first release ‘Coastal’ EP 2007 and on we notice a band that appears like constantly refreshing and reinventing the wider nugaze/ shoegaze style. Also, we find many other elements in your music like ambient, post-rock, some indie charms, circumstantial psychedelia, and a keen on the darker shades of music in general. Where are you artistically emerging from and where are you heading with the ASD ‘flagship’?
Ryan: That’s a tough one to answer as I seriously believe all our albums write themselves. Whatever mood or vibe we are in, we just somehow complement each other just right that it becomes almost like a jam band thing. Like when practices go on for 3 hours and you forget what instrument you are playing. Influences are aplenty for me, my friend… and touches of goth and metal kind of come through on some numbers. The other day I noticed that one of my favorite bands who I always think we sound like “The Gathering” were following us. That is amazing. They invented this really dreamy death metal kind of thing that touched on doom that just changed my views on music in general. I would say A Shoreline Dream is almost a next-generation version of that same sound. This hopeful depression. A light-hearted tragedy. I have no idea where we’ll go next, to be honest. I jump back and forth in moods like no other, and the music always follows it seems. Before this I finished up an industrial album, screaming my lungs out. I have an idea these projects are sorta melding.
Erik: I would say we are going to continue to push the boundaries of what people think of ASD and our music. I really enjoy creating expansive sounds while working in recognizable themes that have movement. Ryan handles the final production and I continue to take these ideas and help mold them into the ASD style and sound. I am excited about what the future holds and am excited about the amount of range to explore.
Can you give us please 6 albums that shaped the ASD’s worldview?
Dead Can Dance “Self/Titled”. This was the one I was listening to on repeat during the 2000-2005 era, and it for sure changed my production style. I loved the cavernous dark places they went to on that album. It is always a top influence.
The Smashing Pumpkins “Gish”. This album, whether you can get me to admit it or not is a huge influence on our sound. Erik loved these guys. I did until I read too much about the inner workings. But when it comes down to it, this album blows people away, and I for sure want to try and match the dynamics found throughout this disc. Some of the best 90’s production.
Bethany Curve “Flaxen”. One of the post shoegaze albums that truly floored me and was a soundtrack to many of my long drives. One of the most atmospheric things I’ve ever heard, and for sure a giant influence on the aura we’re trying to put out there. A soundtrack to life with gigantic layers of synth guitar. Gorgeous stuff here.
Cocteau Twins “Heaven or Las Vegas”. The best 80’s production with one of the best vocalists of our generation. To not have this on this list would kinda be insulting as they invented so much that I love. They were the true goth I loved. And to think we have actually been on an album with Robin Guthrie… kinda a dream come true. My vocals always touch a little on the nuances that only the Cocteau Twins could display. Plus “Fifty-Fifty Clown” is one of my favorite songs of all time.
Type O Negative “October Rust”. Never before had a perfect album existed before “October Rust”. The story, the lyrics, the production, the performances, the raw emotion. Such a tragic tale, but one that helped shaped my view on what “good” music could sound like. This album is truly legendary and brought about such a huge following, including myself. The percussion is a giant influence on the new album.
Talk Talk “Spirit of Eden”. Easily one of the best male vocalists ever resides within Talk Talk, and “Spirit of Eden” is one of the most powerful musical statements out there. The brooding, perfectly distorted guitars and atmospheres of symphony within this album are reason enough to explore sound design at all stages of music-making.
Erik: Faith No More “Angel Dust”, Smashing Pumpkins “Siamese Dream”, David Bowie “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”.
Speaking about all things ASD and the rest, it is impossible to me and the readers not to ask about the gear you use to create your music. We are all eyes and ears…
Ryan: It’s funny… the gear we use… it always evolves, but we do have a few places where very specific sounds need to be made, and we gravitate towards them. I wanted to get a classic “Love is aGhost” sound minus the Fender Jaguar, and found the majority of that tone lives within the electro Harmonix deluxe memory man. I developed most of my tone in that pedal. In fact, I would feel comfortable doing an entire set with just it… and also my Engl Fireball 100 and Cab combo. I used to be all about Fender amps, and still have some, but this ENGL kills everything. It does gorgeous-sounding shimmery guitar perfect, and can also do intense death metal palm mutes. For the guitar, I always reach for one of my Schecter guitars for recording. I use a seven-string for most of our tracked material.
Erik: I am a Gibson Les Paul player and I also had a custom Les Paul style guitar built with custom humbuckers. I also use a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe that I had tweaked and a hand-built Fender Bassman-inspired amp. The Bassman is super clean and has amazing tone and depth. For effects, I love my Strymon Mobius, Earthquaker Devices Warden, a custom tone pedal for mid-boost along with Boss delay, Boss reverb and a little Vodoo labs Sparkledrive just in case I need a little more bite.
Which are your current favorite records in the car or at home?
Ryan: I am in love with The Cleaners From Venus… especially the album “Midnight Cleaners”. Such a great record. Feels like a garage rock band with some goth keys and sounds, with some super catchy sub pop melodies. I love these guys most for sure right now. Them and possibly “Hello” and a handful of their songs. Old Garage Rock, Glam and Punk sounds are locked in my mind.
Erik: The new Hum album is fantastic and has struck a chord with me.
Will you be giving live shows after all this Corona-attack ends? What is the news of the band?
Ryan: I just hope to survive at this point, so much drama and politics which has been horrifying to witness. Then possibly we can look for players so we can play live. But hey, if KEXP asks us to play (hint hint) we would for sure do it!
Can you give us please the current situation regarding the live spaces in Colorado? Many stages worldwide are closing, how does Colorado deal with this very serious indeed situation?
Ryan: We are basically without real events right now. I guess baseball is sorta happening, but for sure no shows or cool public events. I throw events in town and actually operate a few pinball machines on the side and it’s been brutal. Watching everyone have to stay shut and inoperable is sad, but at the same time, I for sure would not subject anyone to getting that crap. It’s not good. I had a work colleague almost pass from it, and know of someone’s fiancee dying from it. That’s enough for me to probably not go do much, and it seems that way overall in Denver… although parts of Denver were looking like warzones from all the politics, racism and other stuff that is all over the news. I stay away from people and do work at home. Thankfully I’ve been able to keep that going…. so far.
Erik: We are seeing some outdoor stages open up and a lot more matinee shows. Currently, our bars and restaurants have to close at 10 pm so that is another factor.
ASD, I hope the best for the new album. Thank you very much for your time, the last words on you!
Ryan: We cannot say thanks enough for helping us spread the word of our new music. We also must say thank you for reading this, whoever is doing it right this moment.
Erik: Thank you and we hope everyone stays safe and sane during these crazy times.
Keep up with A Shoreline Dream:
Written by Loud Cities’ Mike