Q&A with Trent Allen from Dreams So Real; Playing The Melting Point April 27 and Smith’s Olde Bar on April 28
By Scott Roberts
Nearly three years have passed since Athens’ Dreams So Real’s triumphant reunion appearance at 2009’s AthFest (which also included an impromptu, unannounced appearance later that June evening at the Melting Point), and guitarist/songwriter/lead singer Barry Marler, bassist/harmony singer Trent Allen, and drummer Drew Worsham have finally decided to dust off the old equipment and do it again. The band—who enjoyed a fair amount of national success on college radio in the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s—play as a highlight of Athens’ annual Twilight Criterium bike race at the Melting Point on Friday, April 27, and also the following night at Smith’s Olde Bar, marking their first Atlanta appearance in more than 15 years. Bassist Allen, who spends the majority of his time these days as Executive Vice President of sports and entertainment photography company Printroom, took some time out from the band’s recent rehearsals to answer some questions about the reunion shows and what the future might hold for Dreams So Real.
Up until you started rehearsals for these two upcoming shows, have you guys played at all since the AthFest show in 2009?
No, we haven’t played since AthFest. That show sort of just came around at the right time. We were asked by the organizers, and we tossed the idea around and agreed to it. It had been some years since we’d played, I think eight to 10 years, and for the most part our lives had stabilized at that point and it seemed like a credible way to come back and do a show.
So how did the latest reunion come about?
The AthFest show was a lot of fun and the reception we got from the fans was overwhelming and so our intent immediately was to do another show. But it wasn’t really on the top of anyone’s agenda and the next thing you know, three years passed. Troy Aubrey of Foundry Entertainment, not to mention Kyle Pilgram—formerly of Georgia Theatre and the Uptown Lounge—kept hounding us to do another show, so finally back in November, Troy suggested this date in late April that coincided with Twilight Weekend and it was so far away that it was easy to say YES.
I noticed you guys recently launched a new DSR website (dreamssoreal.com). Was that your idea, Trent, since you seem to be the most visually oriented of the band?
Yes, I pretty much took on the task of launching the website. We knew we had a good bit of classic memorabilia—photos, videos, demos, etc.—and we were reaching the point where we needed to do some work to digitize all those things or risk losing them forever. The website, and really our entire social networking effort, became sort of the excuse and the purpose of investing the time and money into getting that accomplished. And scheduling a new show was truly the congealing agent that set it all in motion. It gave it all a sense of urgency.
Should your fans expect any new songs at the shows, or will the sets be similar to AthFest’s “Dreams So Real’s Greatest Hits” type of show?
The show we’ll put on is mainly a greatest hits show although we will be breaking out a few chestnuts from the catalog that rarely get played, but are released in some fashion. We are going to play a “new” song that’s only 18 or so years old, a demo we released that was a post-Gloryline [their last Arista release from 1991] song that was never recorded otherwise. It’s called “Jingle Jangle Man” and we made it available in streaming form on the website last month. Very classic DSR sounding tune. As far as new material goes, we certainly could have it; Barry has what he describes as hundreds of song fragments that just need finishing. But our thoughts are to concentrate on reconnecting ourselves and our fans to what DSR was, and still is, and if we do something new, we want it to pick up logically from where we left off.
Do you guys have any immediate plans for the future as DSR, either more shows or any recording?
You know, our plans are to get through these shows and sort of enjoy all the things (many of which seem a bit like work now—rehearsing, etc.) that come with it and see where we are after it’s over. It’s very easy to slide back into our regular lives, but we have discussed doing something more. We haven’t really figured out just what quite yet. We’d like to write and record new material, no doubt about it, but I think we’re trying to decide why we’re doing it or for what purpose. The best reason is because we just want to, but I think Barry and I both are a little too goal oriented to just say that that’s the only reason. And we have to figure out how DSR fits into all that. And I think you just have to ask yourself, how much do you want music to play a part in your life? Obviously it’s a part of your soul, but having to perform or having to get response, I mean I can do that at home with my wife and friends and it’s in many ways just as powerful as doing it in front of a whole room full or stadium full of people. We’ll just have to see. I’m just happy and, you know, to some degree humbled that if we did, there’d be people who might be interested.
When was the last time and place you played in Atlanta?
I’m not sure exactly when the last show was with the full band DSR in Atlanta, but I’m almost certain that Barry and I played last at Smith’s—with or without Drew, I can’t remember—and my guess is somewhere around 1994 or ’95. So we are talking at least 15 years ago.
I know this question may be a bit late, but I’ve never seen the answer: Where did the name of the band come from?
Barry took the name from the album by Gary Burton. If you search DSR, the first thing that you see that isn’t us is this record. Barry claims he went through a period of being disenchanted by rock music and turned to jazz. This album is actually the music of Carla Bley performed by the Gary Burton Quintet. I’ve honestly never listened to it (I take that back I just sampled about 20 seconds of it), but Barry said the name stuck with him and he’d planned to use it when he started a rock band. And so he did.
Dreams So Real, along with the Dexter Romweber Duo and Kick the Robot, play the Melting Point in Athens on Friday, April 27, and Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta on Saturday, April 28.