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Interview: La Dispute talk ‘spiritual’ new album and flying beers

La Dispute bring their poetic post-hardcore vibes to Reading Festival this summer. We sat down with the band’s bass guitarist, Adam, to see what they’ve got planned for this year.

What’s your favourite memory from performing at Reading and Leeds Festival previously?

It’s been a few years since we’ve been at R&L, but I remember a lot of nervous energy. We had never been before and there’s always a bit of nerves when we approach something new, but it was also Gerard Way’s solo debut after MCR and there was a lot of buzz around that at the same stage where we would later perform, and we also were set to fly from Leeds to Los Angeles to do another festival the next day, so it all sort of built up. But I think some nerves are good, I want to be a little on edge when performing, it keeps me alert.

It’s been a while since you last toured, tell us what you’ve missed the most about being on the road.

We’ve been touring consistently for ten years, so it has become a mostly comfortable routine. I really enjoy seeing friends along the way, people who live in places I don’t normally get to visit so we can spend a few hours together and catch up, hopefully over some nice coffee. Festivals are this way especially, getting bands from all over to play together, it can be like a family reunion.

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Your new album is due for release later this year, how is this release going to be different from ‘Rooms of the House’?

Every record in a band’s catalogue should be different in some way, I think most will tell you “this is the best record we’ve made, super excited to share it with everyone,” to the extent that it has become cliche… but this is the best record we’ve made and I’m super excited to share it with everyone. It is dense, it feels a lot more hearty than Rooms as a whole cohesive piece, I’ve referred to it a few times as “spiritual.”

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Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Do you usually start with the lyrics? Melody? Does it differ for each song?

Generally, we begin with riffs and sort of build up structure around that, lyrics always come last. This album, a lot of the songs emerged even without riffs, they just happened. We had written a lot of songs, scrapped them all and started over, so by this point we were very in tune with one another and these songs formed themselves. They wanted to be performed and we were in the right place and time to perform them. Once we have those sparks we can refine and mold them to suit the project, which we did a lot with this record, but it still felt like a very natural construction.

You’re renowned for your live shows, some people have even said that you put more passion into a song than some bands do in their entire career. What can the crowd expect from your performance at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival?

That is a lot of pressure, but we always perform the best we can, the crowd can at least expect us on our A game. The passion that comes in performance is born in the songs, it comes out in listening, recording, performing, or any iteration the music takes, so it nearly always finds its way in the most blatant form through live shows.

If you could pick any song from any artists that sums up La Dispute’s journey so far what would it be and why?

Right now, because this album has been on heavy repeat in my home, ‘Happy & Sad’ by Kacey Musgraves. You can’t have highs without lows and you can’t have lows without highs, our group has had plenty of both, but things feel very high right now. “They say everything that goes up must come down, but I don’t wanna come down.”

What’s the weirdest thing anyone has ever thrown on stage at one of your performances?

I can’t say we’ve been victimized by very many airborne projectiles. The only instance I remember is someone tossing a beer on stage in Chicago, it struck our drummer Brad in the intro of a song that was just him drumming, and he didn’t miss a beat. In my fantastic memory of the moment, he caught the beer one-handed, chugged it, and threw the cup back, but memories are subjective…

How do you like to get pumped up before you take to the stage? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I do the opposite of getting pumped before we play, I calm myself mostly. All of us have our own things, it’s generally unspoken and we take our own necessary time to be ready and trust that the others are doing the same. Personally, I drink a bunch of water, slow my breathing, make sure I have a clean shirt somewhere nearby to change later, and that’s all it takes.

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What festival essential would you recommend everyone to take with them?

Those big rubber boots. I have learned this lesson the hard way. Our first few times in the UK for festival season I wrecked my fair share of sneakers carrying merch boxes through the mud. Of course, when it is sunny and the grounds are dry, the boots get very hot and uncomfortable, but I suppose it’s good to be prepared.

If you had a food stall at Reading and Leeds what would you call it?

La Disfood.

La Dispute play The Lock Up Stage on Friday at Reading, make sure you’re deep in the pit for their performance.