Callan Orr, the guitarist for Melbourne based post hardcore outfit Dream On, Dreamer, talks us through their single 'Don't Lose Your Heart'.
‘Don’t Lose Your Heart’ started in a cold loading dock somewhere in Sweden, back in December of 2013. Zach [Britt] and I were re-stringing our guitars while Zach was warming up his vocals. He started to sing a melody that struck us both immediately. Zach quickly recorded it on his phone and started to put in some lyrics. He sung, ‘Kid, don’t lose your heart,’ which somehow just resonated with us, and we knew this had to become a song. He picked up his guitar, chose the appropriate chords, and within about 90 seconds, the chorus to ‘DLYH’ was written.
When we got home to Australia, we took the voice recording and tried to make it into a song – it sucked. Still, we liked the idea and were keen to come back to it. A couple months later we tried again, and again it was terrible. I started to think maybe this wasn’t meant to be a song, so we left it. Six months later, Zach insisted we try again.
Reluctantly, I opened up a session and we laid down the chorus. I got Zach to sing it once with the guitar and once softer on the piano, which would later make both the chorus and intro. Seeing as this song was giving us so much trouble, I decided to write five different verse options, from which we chose the most fitting verse. Same process for the pre-chorus, post chorus and bridge; we probably wrote 20 parts for this song. We tried structuring the song at least ten different ways before deciding on the final configuration. I’d never written a song like this before, and hopefully will never have to again. By the end of it, we thought, “Okay. We have a song – it’s not the strongest, but it’s a song. Maybe we can release this.”
Marcel [Gadacz] then wrote the surrounding vocals. We got our good friend Jarrod Salton from former Melbourne band, City Escape, to sing the bridge backup vocals. This dude’s voice is so incredible that it seems a gross injustice to have him featured on a song as a backup vocalist. But what he put down just brought so much vibe to the song; he gave it exactly what it needed.
Once we had the song demoed, we decided to team up with legendary Aussie producer Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, etc.). After meeting in person and clicking immediately, we sent him the song. Forrester replied in a very enthusiastic manner, which I really wasn’t expecting; I’m always very sceptical to praise. Quite often it is given out far too easily, but Forrester didn’t strike me as the guy to put on that facade. He's a very genuine dude. It was truly moving, and reinvigorated us to get this song over the line. We got to work tracking the song together at Sing Sing studios in Melbourne, before taking the track up to Dave Petrovic at Electric Sun in Sydney to work on the vocals. We have worked with some truly world class folk, but he is in a class all of his own.
Next, we worked on the crowd chant. We wanted it to sound massive, so we got creative and asked fans to submit their vocals by singing into their phones and sending it in. We got hundreds of submissions, which we compiled into Pro Tools and printed as one huge group chant. So in the song, you're actually hearing the voices of our fans. It worked out way better than we ever imagined.
We went through 15 mixes and masters between two engineers before settling on the final mix. Here, the whole imagery around the song began to take shape. We knew we really wanted to incorporate an acoustic piano as the main visual element. This was solidified when Marcel put together the single artwork, which then translated over to the music video concept.
We shot the video over five days, during which we went through a number of edits. This process was almost just as gruelling as the writing/recording process. Shout out to Ed Reiss for his amazing vision, going above and beyond to meet our over-the-top demands, and to Zach for risking serious injury for the sake of a great click-bait thumbnail.
Today, we have this to show for it. In case you missed the start of this novel, this started in December of 2013, and was almost a two year process. That is a stupidly insane amount of time to put into one song. We worked on this song until we literally couldn’t any longer.
This is a song that we can truly say we are proud to have created. It's no secret this was our first relevant song in some years, and the response has been very encouraging, especially being a completely independent band. Without management or record labels to promote our work, I don’t really know how it all came together. I know every band says this, but we have the best fans, and they’re the only reason I can think of as to why this song is such a success.
For more of Dream, On Dreamer, visit the band's website.