Track By Track: Dream Machine - Living The Dream

By John A. Wilcox

Dream Machine is a fun band that pushes all my buttons. Pop, prog, rock and an undefinable something else. Retro in a way, forward-thinking in another. Matthew & Doris Melton are the creative core. Living The Dream is packed with all of the above and more. Matthew & Doris take us on a journey track by track...

Track 1: Come Along
DM: This song was originally written on piano and I think I had some 80's hammering piano riffs in my head from a car ride home hearing Hold The Line by Toto. No one hammers out keyboard riffs quite like David Paich. We decided to use the inspiration to create a more upbeat and lively song in contrast with some of the darker and heavier psych we've delved into in our previous albums. Come Along consists of multiple layers; the foundational upbeat piano track, then Matthew's harmonic guitars, Moog Rogue synth, all on top of a dynamic drum track laid down by our drummer Billy Odyssey. Matthew wrote the lyrics on this song as he does with most of our tunes. The concept is ultimately rooted in feeling like you want to create a new movement in your beliefs, friendships, life choices - and to ''come along'' with the idea of change and the people who praise it. Doesn't matter what kind of change - ultimately just being dissatisfied with your current existence and having a desire to become a better person. The music video for this song illustrated that sometimes you may have to slash through a few obstacles to get there. (We do not advocate violence, ha ha).

Track 2: Without You
MM: At age 27 I had a near death experience where I found myself floating in an endless sea of blackness. I was shown a holographic "rolodex" of my life including "images" of things and people that I also did not recognize. I had no body but was still "Me" if that makes any sense? I was able to flip through the translucent and almost iridescent "images" and feel them with the will of my mind. This experience led me to question how I fit into society and on a broader level, how reality is constructed. "Without You" seeks to explore the struggle of realizing that the world isn't what it seems on the surface.

Track 3: You Forgot To Dream
MM: One of the more mellow songs on the album, it's ultimately about the observation that people sometimes lose the willingness to "dream" and pursue their life's ideal outcome. It's almost like we've been conditioned to stigmatize believing in your dreams and aspirations. I wanted the song to feel like a friendly whisper in the ear of the listener reminding them to go back and revisit the things that first got them excited about life. A grooving bass line drives the song, chorus guitar, some signature Doris Melton Moog Rogue synth licks and some light chorusy pads from the Roland Jupiter 50, and of course all recorded to the Tascam 388.

Track 4: In A Dream
DM: In A Dream originated with hammering piano melodies similar to the ones previously heard on Come Along. Sometimes when writing a song I have a particular feeling I'm trying to convey but in this case I just wanted something that could really rock on stage! Matthew is the man with the pen and has written the lyrics for this song. If you haven't noticed yet, a lot of our song titles contain the word ''Dream''. This is purposefully done because it feels like modern civilization forces us to believe in a matter over mind universe, whereas mind over matter is always the actual force at work. Anything we're capable of concocting within our mind's eye is ultimately achievable. This particular song has to do with learning the power of the mind, mastering it, and facing ''my darkest shadow'', as is sung in the song. There cannot be light without darkness and a power can be obtained in mastering the darkness within ourselves instead of attempting to subdue it into submission and conformity. It was really fun recording the vocals on this because they're all over the place and they interact with all the instruments on the track, like passing on a torch from vocals to guitar, guitar to synths, etc. One time when recording the main piano track I managed to play the whole thing with no mistakes except for one chord during the coda at which point I screamed ''f***ing damn it'' from the top of my lungs. I didn't re-record that track until the last moment, so my foul language remained in place when recording all other instruments, including vocals. My brain hasn't been able to un-hear it, so for me, I hear that same ending.

Track 5: Until Tomorrow
MM: We did a music video for this song which was quite the experience. Doris plays a street urchin of sorts in search of cosmic guidance, to which I present her the solution: join the church of ''Meltonism'' which is a secret cult that we actually operate in real life. Our fellow cultists at the church await her arrival and after some dancing, we all pass on to the next dimension upon consuming arsenic laced kool-aid. This one has a similar energy to You Forgot To Dream, and strays from the prog hemisphere quite a bit more like: easy listening meets casual disco includes a Fender Rhodes track, layered guitars, and more of the Moog synths.

Track 6: Blame It On A Dream
MM: I'll never forget the day that I realized that no one is coming to the rescue. Society lies to us in many ways and most wake up to life's search for meaning at some point only to realize they're a day late and a dollar short. But what if we hold on to the dream? That's where Blame It On A Dream seeks to chainsaw through the banality of life and the phony facades that will never give you what you really need. Realizing now that it's a similar message to The Saints' song Know Your Product.

Track 7: Dreamin' It Over
DM: Intro starts with a Fender Rhodes Riff that is undeniably fun to play. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-paaaa... I wish I could create a song that had this riff as its main piece and as I type this I'm remembering why it wasn't, because it's more of a smooth driving riff and never really ''hooks''. Next I ended up soloing over the Rhodes again with the Moog Rogue. It's one of those melodies that can keep going forever, and probably still is going, somewhere out there... I've always imagined it being the melody that a mycelium network or a vegetable might create if it could play the keys. It continues with a smooth transition into the chorus, accentuated by Matthew's classic signature harmonic riffs and synths sprinkled through the whole tune. Dreamin' It Over is again a theme in which the mind prevails and attempts to mold the reality of the protagonist. It ultimately means that you can dream things over in your mind in order to change the material reality that you currently live in, and in the theme of this song, are dissatisfied with. It also means reconnecting with your original desires, dreams, and intentions; ''When I look in my heart, my dream's been there right from the start'', in other words, I shan't abandon what I am on this earth for, I shall persevere through the hardships and make my dreams come true.

Track 8: Not What I'm After
MM: Picking up where Blame It On A Dream left off, we find ourselves still on our quest to fill the unquenchable void. Prog Rock with an emphasis on rock, but then genetically modified with approximately 4.32% 1980s new wave. When this world keeps letting you down, you almost have no choice to at least poke your head into a few other dimensions.

Track 9: Prisoner Of His Mind
MM: Wrote this song about my father Mike Melton who's unbelievable life story is begging to be told. Perhaps I'll have to tell the full story some day, but it's ultimately the plight of the misunderstood underdog. A handsome auto mechanic growing up in Memphis in the 60s and 70s was forced into his mind from living a perplexing existence with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome which wouldn't be understood until the 1980s. He would often say that he was a "prisoner of his mind" and this was my attempt to begin the telling of his story.

Track 10: You Lost Her
MM: Stay the hell away from Doris Melton! Did you notice the last name there? She belongs to me. Having a YouTube channel is like a magnet for psychopathic creeps who keep trying to seduce my incredible wife. I get it. She is indeed the full package. But here's my story about some maniac who tried to worm his way into our personal life. The synthesizers are the only thing keeping this straightforward pop song tethered to the prog genre but with a chorus like "You lost her in the middle of a dream" we won't be touching the needle.

Track 11: Living The Dream
DM: And at last we've arrived at the title track of the album! We wanted to create something slightly dark and mysterious, because the message of Living The Dream isn't ''we're relaxing on the beach with a coconut'', which, quite frankly doesn't sound bad at all, but the original message of this song is that Living The Dream does not mean manufacturing a copy of what we've seen in movies and on social media. It means finding a deep sense of peace within your being and finding out that life is a game in which we are the decision makers of our own outcome and that we are in fact god-like in that way. Not in the traditional religious way, but in an invigorating and freeing way. ''Lost in a meaningless world, it's nothing as it seems, living the dream, you've been there once before, now it's at your door...'', ultimately attempting to find too much meaning with what we see around us is the source of all unhappiness and frustration in the world because happiness does not exist within the material realm. Being the being you are and understanding the limitlessness of our souls is actually Living The Dream. It also has a much darker secondary theoretical meaning; what if this is all there is? What if this IS the dream and we're chasing after things that don't exist? Choose your path wisely.

Track 12: Top Of Creation
MM: Top Of Creation is essentially a mockery of modern society. What if the people we've become - the versions that are hungry for attention, fame, money, and material possessions, with total disregard to all else that lives and breathes - isn't exactly the top of creation? Mankind seems to make the erroneous conclusion that, because we drive electric cars and have laptops, we're more intelligent than we've ever been. So many times we regard our ancestors as stupid, just because they ''looked to the stars'' for direction and inspiration. What if looking to the stars, being connected and grounded with nature and all that is, and generally being good people is exactly when we were at the top of creation? Knowing a plant for every ailment by heart, understanding the positions of the stars in relation to the transitional phases of the seasons, and most importantly understanding the power of the mind and the language we speak, was an absolute feat of humanity and it seems we've lost all those abilities. Pondering on why we're here, what it all means, and how to improve the human condition was a top priority at one point. Now, it's explained away by the church or by science. There are too many extremes and we tend to push each other into the corresponding groups we were taught to identify each other with, just like a small child plays with a shape matcher toy.

It's the definitive climax of the album, starting off with an organ intro followed by large, long chords into the verses. Then it almost goes into a fighting melody with a slight aggression being sung into existence; ''You've blown through my walls, and the dreams I've been making you've taken them all...'', ultimately calling out all the people who will stand in your way in life, all the nay-sayers, all the vermin that has dedicated sizeable portions of their lives in an attempt to negatively affect mine. Those people will always be there and unfortunately their extroverted nature in combination with the evil they do makes them into excellent enemies. Sometimes these people become politicians, too. So whenever you're feeling like you want to mock anyone who's stood in your way, or the ones on this earth that seem to relish in making it a worse place, this is your fight-back anthem! The Santana jam in the middle was very fun to record and play and we love playing this one live.


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