Nick Chiericozzi and Mark
Perro have been busy leading punk band The Men for the past six years. But not all of the duo's musical impulses and experiments fit with The Men, so they started Dream Police as another creative outlet.
"It started a few years back, 2010 or so. We always had some stuff that didn't really fit in with what The Men were doing. It was this funky outlet for us and eventually after The Men had five records, we decided to get back to something smaller," Chiericozzi says. "It really came from the same place (as The Men), but it didn't seem like a premeditated thing."
The Dream Police debut, Hypnotized, is in some ways a wilder affair than The Men, a drum-machine driven krautrock-meets-psychedelia excursion that sounds like anything but a side project for Chiericozzi and Perro.
"It was refreshing and it felt like it brings something out that is more a representation of us than some of the later Men stuff," Chiericozzi says. "We'd established this really big sound and sometimes something gets lost in that."
The duo didn't initially set out to make an album, just started writing some songs last year after a long tour, an experiment to get back to the songwriting process they had at the start of The Men, but going in a different sonic direction. As more songs came, they started thinking about self-releasing an album, but ended up passing the music to their label, Sacred Bones, which agreed to release Hypnotized as Dream Police's debut.
"We thought about calling it The Men, because it was just us at the center of it, but the band had grown to five, so that wouldn't be right or fair," Chiericozzi says. "All of our songs come out of some sort of relationship we have together making music. It's hard to explain, but it didn't feel like it was a Men album."
The character of the album started to emerge once Chiericozzi and Perro started experimenting with a Roland 707 drum machine.
"It was Mark on drums for a lot of the songs, some of them he was playing piano," he says. "Eventually, we realized the aesthetic of the drum machine would be cool to explore with. We hadn't done that in a while, nothing centered around that for The Men, and there was this moment of 'Let's go in that direction.'"
The recording spanned about six months, with Chiericozzi and Perro and engineer Kyle Keays-Hagerman toying with sounds, meticulously shaping every tone and every part until they had the songs they wanted.
"Mark programmed all those beats and then he and Kyle would try to get the right drum sound for the track. The drums sound different on each song. It's funny because it's a computer and you think it's not going to change, but it does, with mixing and what we added to it on each track to make it stick out," he says.
"It was a challenge because we really wanted to play everything on it ourselves. The energy was cool. We hadn't written songs together in a little while because we had another songwriter in the band now," he says. "We hadn't worked together in a certain way and it was cool to experience that again. It had been kind of lost with all of the touring and everything. There's the spark we knew was there and went back to that."
The album opens with the title song, a blend of wild guitar and powerful drumbeat that's both a throwback to the primitive punk of The Men and a step in the direction of futuristic electronics.
"That track has a lot of stuff going on. We layered everything around a beat, added a cool synth arpeggio and some cool distorted bluesy guitar," Chiericozzi says. "Centered around that drum machine, all those elements worked well."