Formed in the summer of 2018 by Wolves&Wolves&Wolves&Wolves member Jake Jones and drummer Paul Lowe, Rough Dreams is based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. Gathering influences from bands such as Hot Water Music, Jawbreaker, The Loves Ones, and other Punk, Indie, and Emo bands, Rough Dreams released their debut self-titled EP earlier this year and have spent a good chunk of 2019 touring in support of it. I recently had the chance to talk to Jake and Chris from the band to talk about the EP, their inspirations, life in Tennessee, and their life outside of music.
First off, can you tell me your names and what you do in the band?
Chris: Chris. I play guitar and sing some of the verses and choruses.
Jake: Jake Jones. I sing and play guitar.
How did the band come together?
Jake: Well, Paul (drummer) and I had been working on rehearsals for a reunion show with our old band Your Favorite Hero. He’d been asking me to come down to the practice space and jam for quite a while. The band I had been playing with wasn’t really doing much so I’d gotten bored and written some songs.
I took Paul up on his offer to jam and we wrote a song that night. It was good so we decided to put a new band together. We tried out a couple of vocalists and guitarists but nothing worked. I said, “Fuck it. I’ll sing.”
My old friend from high school and from my very first band as a teenager just happened to come to town to visit so we put a bass on him and that’s pretty much how he came to be the bassist. Paul and I had known Chris from the local Knoxville Punk Scene. His band had just come to an end so I invited him to come try out. He literally nailed every song perfectly so the rest is history.
You released a self-titled EP in January. Can you tell me a little bit about the writing and recording of the record?
Jake: Well, those four songs had been recorded back in 2015 under the name Fire At The Marquee (shit name, I know). They were recorded and mixed at Oneder Studios by Nick Diener (singer of The Swellers). That band broke up and I joined a band called Wolves&Wolves&Wolves&Wolves as a bass player. The record was shelved and never released.
Once Rough Dreams became a thing, I suggested using those songs along with the others we had written. We added Chris’s guitar parts at our friend Zach Householder’s (guitarist of Whitechappel) home studio and Ty re-recorded the bass tracks with Miah at the Soundlair in Knoxville. Chris added his vocals as well. So basically, the debut EP is a Frankenstein recording that took quite a while to come to fruition.
Chris: I recorded my guitar tracks after I’d only been in the band for a couple months with Zach Householder and he has a very meticulous and rigorous recording routine that really helped me solidify my parts. It was exhausting at times, trying to play to perfection, but he was always super encouraging and positive, and brought out the best in what I could accomplish. The late-night collaboration where we hashed out the solo for “Her Name was the Road” is the one thing about the recording I’ll never forget. Every time I play it live, I’m brought back to that night, recording that part over and over, trying to get the perfect take.
Is there a story behind the band name?
Jake: Ty suggested it. It’s from a line from the song “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” by Otis Redding. We thought it sounded great and it wasn’t taken by any other band.
When did you all first get interested in playing music and were there any musicians that inspired you to start writing and playing?
Jake: I have always been a music fan. I discovered Punk Rock back in the second wave 90s explosion and fell in love. I joined a band with some skate buddies (Ty was the guitarist) when I was 16 and I’ve literally been in a band every day of my life since (not counting my first semester of college [laughs]). I couldn’t even play an instrument or sing but they let me be the singer for some reason. I was terrible.
I’d say my biggest inspiration was a band I went to high school with called Plaster. They were amazing and I thought to myself, “If they can do it, I can do it.” I still draw a lot of inspiration for my guitar solos from their lead guitarist Jeremy James (R.I.P.). He had such an amazing way of writing the most memorable “story book” solos without showing off and cramming in tons of unnecessary notes. You could hear them once and remember it. Also, I’d say …And Out Come The Wolves by Rancid is probably my biggest musical inspiration of all time. Those songs are pure gold!
Chris: The first bands I remember loving were bands my older cousin introduced me to when I was a kid. Poison, Guns ‘n’ Roses, and Bon Jovi, all of which I still listen to unironically to this day. I started playing drums at a very young age, and my mom’s friend’s husband happened to be the drummer for Bob Dylan (who I didn’t even know of at the time). But I’ll never forget the day he sat down with me and helped me tune my drums and went over rudiments for hours and left me a cassette tape to practice drumming along to. Even though I eventually switched over to guitar, that showed me that being a musician takes so much more than strutting around on a stage.
Rough Dreams is based out of Knoxville; let’s talk about that for a bit. What is the overall music like in the Knoxville area? How is different from the nearby scenes of Nashville and Memphis?
Chris: Knoxville is thriving right now. More bands are playing quality music than I can ever remember, and I played my first Knoxville show before I could even drive. Even back then though, there were major divisions in a small scene which, unfortunately, is still the case today. Nashville has been nothing but kind to me, but I am not interwoven enough to know the ins and outs there. El Escapado are the real deal forever though!
Jake: Knoxville has an amazing music scene. There are some killer DIY punk bands like Bad Idols and Princess Possum that are really good. There’s a really good punk scene and at least one good show going on every week. Sometimes two or three. Knoxville has some great modern Rock and Stoner Metal bands as well. I could go on for hours on how great the scene is here. I’ve lived here for a very long time now and it’s always been amazing. Hell, Superdrag, Whitechappel, 10 Years, and The Royal Bangs all came from Knoxville. It’s a great city for music!
What are your favorite venues to play in Knoxville?
Chris: The ones that stay open long enough to have consistently good shows! The Birdhouse and The Brickyard are still going strong.
Jake: Right now, I’d have to say the Brickyard Bar & BBQ. The owners are cool as hell and they are extremely easy to work with. It’s the best spot in town for a DIY band to play. Hands down.
Do you have any favorite eateries and is there any type of food you would consider to be Tennessee-specific food?
Chris: West, Middle, and East Tennessee all have vastly very different foods! I hear Memphis can make a mean BBQ. I love hot chicken from Prince’s or Bolton’s in Nashville. But, in Knoxville, for me it is all about Soul food. Jackie’s Dream, Rebel Kitchen, and Olibea’s all knock it out of the park.
Jake: Eh, I’m a big Mediterranean food fan. There’s tons of places in town to get a good falafel sandwich!
What is the #1 thing you would tell somebody visiting that they must do in Knoxville?
Jake: Go for a swim at the quarry in South Knox and hit up Ijams Nature Center. Then hit the Old City and grab a pint at Urban Bar [laughs].
Chris: Keep an open mind, explore Knoxville College, and come see a local band!
What sort of places in in Knoxville or even Tennessee in general would you recommend a tourist visit that aren’t necessarily so touristy?
Chris: I grew up in the mountains, so to anyone who wants to get not-so-touristy, just holler! Also, that legal moonshine in Gatlinburg has gotten pretty good lately, and most places you can go still sample for free.
Jake: I’d say just drive up into the mountains and find a trail.
What sort of things do you like to do outside of music?
Chris: Listen to podcasts, learn weird things about history, urban exploration, and raise a ruckus.
Jake: I like to hit the gym, lift weights, run, watch movies, hang with my girlfriend, swim laps, drink pints with my friends. Nothing too interesting. I’m pretty basic [laughs].
What is your favorite movie, book and, TV show?
Chris: Movie – Dead Alive, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. I seriously can’t pick a favorite book. TV show – Regular Show or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Jake: My favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride. I could be super pretentious and say my favorite book is something like Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre but, to be honest, I’m not much of a reader. I did really enjoy The Hepatitis Bathtub though [laughs]. My favorite TV show would be either Cheers or The Twilight Zone. Those are my favorite shows to watch if I’m having trouble falling asleep.
Getting back to the music, who have been your favorite bands or artists to do live shows with and are there any that you would like to do shows with?
Jake: Hmmmm. Well, we’ve only been playing shows as a band for six months now but I’d have to say El Escapado is my favorite band to play with. Not only do they bring the shred but I can’t think of a better group of people to slam drinks with afterward.
Chris: We have been so lucky to play with so many amazing bands, there’s no way I could narrow it down to my favorites. I will say I have been listening to a lot of The Carolyn lately though! When it comes to bands I’d like to play shows with, I’d love to play shows with bands like us who are fighting to make that next step like Stuck Out Here or Crafting. But if I’m dreaming big, The Goo Goo Dolls.
What music have you been listening to lately?
Jake: I just recently discovered the band Two Dead Men. They’re from Crossville, TN and are fucking awesome! We recently played with them and have a few shows coming up with them as well. Check them out!!!
Chris: Heartfelt, underdog, singer-songwriter stuff like John K Samson, Cory Branan, and Brian Fallon; older thrashcore/PV stuff like Infest, No Comment, and Crossed Out; Intelligent, unapologetic pop-punk like The Unloveables and Horror Section, and loads of modern DIY/punk bands that catch my interest!
Any final thoughts?
Jake: Nah. It’s bedtime.