Dream Phases’ “Don’t Forget Love” was drawn from the “endless well” known as heartbreak. The doomed relationship that inspired the song was a couple stuck in two different places in their lives with one unable to give or receive love, says frontman Brandon Graham of the song, off the Los Angeles-based trio’s upcoming second album New Distractions, out Nov. 10
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“The verses detail myself entering into love, but also trying to be cautious,” Graham tells American Songwriter. “It may be a cliché [but] the chorus is me stating that love could possibly help the other person or that they will hopefully believe they deserve it.
Running more than five minutes long, “Don’t Forget Love” blooms around the many phases of unrequited love—You know I was doing just fine before, you came around / You know I’ve given you my heart. “The takeaway here is definitely a cliché, but it’s that old saying, ‘it’s better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all,'” says Graham. “I’m definitely a hopeless romantic, and for all of the heartbreak I continue to pursue love when I feel it.”
When the band’s friend Spooky, who runs Non Plus Ultra, an art performance space in Los Angeles, told them about some set pieces from an old Mac Miller shoot, they began visualizing “Don’t Forget Love” around a retro late night show.
“We came up with an idea to recreate an old ’70s late night talk show, a la The Johnny Cash Show, Dick Cavett, Playboy After Dark, complete with a host, an actress, friends sipping cocktails, and the band performance space,” says Graham of the video, starring Stu Pope, McKenna Mobley, Neil Soiland and Aliya Hashemi.
“We built the set and painted the platform pieces colors from the ‘New Distractions’ album cover,” adds Graham. “It captures something of a combination between those old late-night shows and public access TV.”
For Dream Phases, New Distractions, a follow up to their 2019 debut So Long, Yesterday, is a result of more introspection, particularly when the world closed down around the pandemic in 2020. Recorded during quarantine, New Distractions started as a solo project for Graham before it quickly embodied bandmates multi-instrumentalist Keveen Baudouin and drummer Shane Graham.
Lyrics, chord progressions, and melodies came all at once for Graham on New Distractions. “In the past, I would make fully fleshed out demos,” says Graham, who now writes the skeleton of a song before constructing its arrangement with the band.
“This song was a little bit of a hybrid as only Shane and I recorded the instrumental parts, and Keveen added a few harmonies to the later choruses,” adds Graham of “Don’t Forget Love,” which he says is also more straightforward, lyrically than anything else he’s written previously for Dream Phases.
“I would try to have several levels to the meaning, and sometimes with no meaning at all,” shares Graham of his previous approach to writing. “I think a good song communicates some kind of feeling or idea that resonates with you. It could be a number of different feelings, but as long as it makes you feel something then it is probably good. The best songs inspire you to create.”