It’s nearly impossible for any musician to do anything under the radar in the social media age. Yet, for nearly two years, Davey Havok, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont would practice quietly and away from the public eye without word trickling out.
“Honestly, we didn’t want to tell anyone besides our significant others,” Kanal says over the phone prior to one of the band’s final rehearsals before their upcoming tour. “They did have to know where we were going every day (laughs). We didn’t want to tell anyone because we didn’t know what was going to come of this. It could have been a couple of months and like ‘Eh, it’s not working or make sense.’ It was more of that and let’s see where it goes.”
Formed officially in 2014 following an offer to Havok that was made over dinner in Los Angeles, the outfit known as DREAMCAR quietly carved out material while balancing the schedules of their day jobs. For Havok, that meant adding another side project to his work with AFI.
“He is the busiest man in show business,” Kanal says of the singer. “He is such a prolific and dedicated artist who works on so much stuff. When he shows up, though, he’s so committed and it’s amazing what he can accomplish.”
As No Doubt and AFI shot to prominence around the same time in the mid ‘90s, Havok and his band mates loosely knew each other. It took until 2012, when the singer’s other side project, Blaqk Audio, opened for No Doubt during the band’s six-night stand at the Universal Amphitheater for them to get to know each other, which sparked the burgeoning relationship.
“We’ve always known how dynamic of a performer he is,” the bassist says. “So when the idea sparked, it was like ‘Hey, let’s get in touch with Davey and see if he’d be interested in working on music with us.’ That stemmed out of those realizations that he’s such a great performer, lyricist, songwriter and artist.”
Upon formation, the budding quartet needed a moniker. For Kamal, this proved to be trickier than expected. It’d been years since the formation of No Doubt, so finding a name that wasn’t taken was almost potential minefield.
“Every name was taken and you can find that out by Googling,” he quips. “Every time we came up with a name it was like ‘Yep, of course that’s gone.’ That’s why people have to make up brand new words to find something that hasn’t been used yet. Names are subjective, and for us it makes sense.”
Though it took almost three years from conception to album release, the recording, mixing and mastering took just over two-to-three months in real time. There were between 25-to-30 demos and ideas they worked on before settling on the 12 that are on the album. Having played in a band together for nearly 30 years, it was easy for the rhythm section to compose songs without a set plan for a specific sound. From the initial four tracks they sent Havok, all were sent back immediately and enthusiastically within a few days. All four of those made the record.
By the the time group dropped by the Kevin & Bean show to finally reveal their first single, the ‘80s new wave-infused “Kill For Candy,” the quartet were ready to embrace the spotlight. In the few months since, DREAMCAR have been gearing up for what’s going to be a busy year of touring — even with AFI out on the road behind their latest album.
Now, the band is in the thick of their rehearsals. Despite the three members of No Doubt jamming in together in what they call their “basement rehearsals,” the intensity has picked up with the West Coast club dates and Coachella immediately looming, and East Coast dates to be announced momentarily. “We haven’t played in clubs in many, many years,” Kanal says. “I’m excited to be in those settings again. It’s going to be very different, but I’m looking forward to these at-capacity intimate rooms.”
These shows, which are some of the smallest the respective musicians have played at in decades, are a refreshing reminder of the lack of pressure associated with the project, and reiterates the low-key nature of what’s become a fun project.
“Being able to work without anyone knowing, or any expectations or having anyone to bounce stuff off of, it was really liberating. There was nothing challenging about this process. It was just us making music together, and for that creative space to happen, is really rare.”
DREAMCAR perform at the Constellation Room on Wednesday. For tickets and full details, click here.