By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Dan Alber was used to the live event lifestyle, as he had performed with Lennon Stella on the “World War Joy Tour” with The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds Of Summer.
With the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly emerged in 2020, large gatherings and generally past enjoyed human experiences all grounded to a halt.
In a year defined by uninvited changes and wishes for how life once was, Alber remotely collaborated with his fellow Vin 90 member Chase Weber to create their sophomore effort ‘Summer In Our Dreams,’ released via Hardspeak Records and highlighted by the single “Blue Continent.”
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to speak with the Nashville, Tenn.-based duo about ‘Summer In Our Dreams’ and more.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about you guys?
Chase Webers – What to say? I’m a self-taught electronics engineer. I built a LA2a and LA3a during the quarantine, I’m deep into anime – just finished “Durarara,” I bake cookies quite a bit – I’m the baker in my house, the wife, not so much. I don’t know, Dan, can you help? You’re into basketball, right?
Dan Alber – Big sports guy! A lot of pickup basketball happening and I follow both the New York Mets (MLB) and Manchester City (PL) very closely. I’m just obsessed with the discipline and resilience required to be a professional athlete.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Nashville to someone who has never been there before?
Chase Webers – Depends on where they’re from. From the West, I’d say “Country/Southern Portland.” To the musician, I’d say “The Most Affordable Place in the World to make High Quality Music.” With family, “Lots of Great Food and Everyone Smiles at you.”
Dan Alber – Yeah, overall, Nashville is a cool place to be. A lot of small businesses trying to create something. That fires me up! Finally got a good ramen house. The city is still learning what it is, but it’s growing. It’s finally to the point where there’s a new name for an area every year. Still needs better public transit though.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about alt-pop?
Chase Webers – The freedom right now. Every few years, there’s an opening for a new sound to pop. No one knows what’s gonna catch, so you craft poppy, sing-along, chanty melodies over whatever sounds you can think up, no matter how weird and let the people decide.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your sophomore EP ‘Summer In Our Dreams’?
Dan Alber – It just felt like such a blank canvas to create on. We made it in April 2020, when both of our lives had flipped pretty dramatically due to the pandemic. This just felt like such a place where we could channel all of our confusion and energy and heartache into something meaningful. It’s a record defined by the magic of human connection – the fragility of which we so quickly discovered.
Chase Webers – Honestly, it was a dream. Yes, we weren’t together, but we wrote this record in probably, the first month of lockdown when emotions were high and it was a wonderful escape and emotional release to have a place to express the feelings we we’re both having. I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about it, but I think it really helped us both process and go through the mourning of the loss of a year.
Music Bugle – What made you want to release “Blue Continent” as a single?
Chase Webers – I’m pretty sure “Blue Continent” has always been Dan’s favorite song. Mildly upbeat, but still contemplative. It’s a great summation of the EP. Hopefully, it was a good hook, ’cause I love how this EP flows as a whole. We definitely saved my favorite songs for the release and if people liked what came out first, I can’t wait for them to hear the whole thing.
Dan Alber – Yeah, that one’s on me. I just love the song.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Chase Webers – Loss of work, loss of space, loss of finances. Really puts things into perspective. I’ve had a mild case of it and it wiped me out for a week. Haven’t been that sick in 10-12 years, but incredibly grateful to be healthy, given what’s going on.
Dan Alber – I’ve been lucky enough to have dodged it to this point, but it has certainly flipped my daily life upside down. I went from traveling 250-275 days a year as a touring bass player to having been gone maybe 40 in 2020. Because of that, there’s been so much growth in my personal life! It’s been a hard year, but a happy year.
Chase Webers – On a very different note, I got pretty decent at cooking Asian food from being home so much.
Music Bugle – Which of your newest songs were the hardest to write?
Chase Webers – I would say it’s surprising how easy these songs were to write. They definitely gushed out. As far as length of time, the guitar for “Hillsboro Belcourt” has been hangin’ around for a while. Was almost an interlude on the last EP, but we decided to save those for later. For subject matter, “Blue Continent” and “Hollow Holiday” really dwell on the beauty of life that passes us by, which is a hard concept to come to terms with. Hindsight shows us what we should value, but it’s up to us to accept it and change.
Dan Alber – Agreed. I toiled over the “Fire Fight” track for so long. Just wanted that one to be absolutely perfect. Lyrically, that one means so much to me and I wanted to make sure the track did it justice.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Chase Webers – I’m an album guy. Super into “SuperGood” by Duckwrth and “Featuring Ty Dolla $ign” by Ty Dolla $ign. Also, a 2020 favorite was “Dinner Party” by Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper and 9th Wonder, plus their remix record of the same thing. I could listen to those all day.
Dan Alber – There’s this Andrew Belle record from like, I dunno – maybe 2017, called ‘Dive Deep,’ that I swear I’ve listened to every day for the past three years. It’s a beautiful collection of songs.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Dan Alber – A long night walk through the city with a good record in my ears. Does it every time.
Music Bugle – How would you define the year 2020?
Chase Weber – I frequent churches and in Fall 2019, every church I went to had a series about “2020 Vision,” Saying 2020 would be an awesome and revealing year. In many ways, I’d say 2020 was a great year, because it showed us the people we really are when all is stripped away. There’s a beauty in seeing the chaos of what truly is.
Dan Alber – Hardest year, happiest year.