The Dangerous Summer’s AJ Perdomo On New Album ‘Gravity’

The Dangerous Summer

The last few years have been full of changes for The Dangerous Summer. From pursuing independence for the first time to finding a new home with Rude Records, there has been a lot of growth, learning and consideration for what the band needs. However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the heart and soul they injected into every song released over that time. Creating a canvas of emotions, from elation to despair, has always been the name of the game, and now it feels like they have once again perfected the colour palette with their new offering.

That’s ‘Gravity’, a full-length of stratospheric proportions. Managing to feel exploratory and vast as much as it is down to earth and gorgeously human, it’s a record that delves into the things that are important to you in a world that is moving faster rather than slowing down. Finding solace in the small stuff, pulling joy from every opportunity, and feeling gratitude for every breath of air that passes through your lungs is an album that is as much a summer soundtrack as an inspirational guide.

The Dangerous Summer Gravity

To learn more about how it came to be and what it represents within the band’s endless journey, Rock Sound sat down with vocalist/bassist AJ Perdomo…

ROCK SOUND: With ‘Gravity’, it feels like this is a moment that so many pieces of The Dangerous Summer have slotted into place. It’s a real fork in the road for what you have been trying to do these last few years…

AJ: “You’re right. I feel like many older fans that we have had who may have thought, ‘They’ve lost it’, have come back and slotted into place as well. They are coming back around. They came back around on ‘Mother Nature’ too. You catch people at these times, which comes from capturing the essence of what you are again. You do a lot of swings to get there. I feel like when you have tracks like ‘Fuck Them All’ and EPs like ‘All That Is Left Of The Blue Sky’, they are side tracks within that. They still did really well, ‘Fuck Them All’ is one of our biggest songs, but it still feels like this different kind of song.

There are these ones that stay true to our mainframe, and people are starting to see that right now and complimenting us on bringing some of that old sound back. Much of it also comes from introspection and diving deep into the lyrics. I had a moment on this album when I realised that my thing was singing about my hope for this world and trying to describe a better future for people. I want people to believe in it the way that I believe in myself. It brings me back to being a kid when I was trying to inspire as much as inspire myself.”

RS: That’s a big factor in how the band has ebbed and flowed because it has always come from where you are personally. The band is the vessel for what is happening. The energy on ‘War Paint’ and ‘Golden Record’ is very different to the energy of ‘The Dangerous Summer’ and ‘Mother Nature’, and this album works in the same way…

AJ: “100%, and with this album, I felt on top of the world when we made it. That feeling of, ‘Wow, still get to go to the studio and make music together’. When you’re in that space, you get kind of manic about music. You become obsessed and crazy about it. We were recording ‘Gravity’ just as ‘Coming Home’ was coming out, which made for a very interesting dynamic. Also, we were reading a lot of what people were saying, and people weren’t super nice to ‘Coming Home’. I get it. How do you meet someone else where they are? Wherever I am in life, that’s where I am. I’m just trying to make honest and true songs within that.

And that’s the crazy part about writing music. When I work with other people, writing songs for them, it’s different. When you’re writing it for yourself, you need to make every single word completely accurate to how you feel. Otherwise, you can’t do it. Something inside of you is saying, ‘I’m singing these words, and I’m going to make it mine’. So, with this, I was just at a good place.

In life, everything is just about timing. You show up to a place, and the magic speaks to you, and it feels incredible. It’s all about those waves of going up and going down as well. And people will meet you when they meet you within those ups and downs.”

RS: It’s the same with every part of your day. If you wake up and are already thinking, “Fuck today”, then you’re not going to allow yourself to have a good time. The same surely occurs when you’re in a band. You don’t want to play a show, you’re subconsciously not going to be at your best. It all comes from how you perceive what you are going through…

AJ: “It’s crazy how you start to see things like that. Even if you’re writing a book and must type out this whole long story, you start with just a few words. That’s how I work with lyrics as well. I have to then follow it. I follow them along and write a story, and it’s all about you being there for that story. With ‘Gravity’, it all felt new and fresh, as if climbing into a new vessel. Having the time to sit at my computer and figure out the big puzzle. It’s a lot of work, but feeling that freshness and excitement created a new energy. It allowed loads of different types of songs because of that, which makes it harder to define. We wouldn’t come in thinking any certain way. Music becomes more like water when you allow that sensation to take over. You just keep on pushing.”

RS: A big thread within this album is space, or at least the vastness and beauty of space. Staring into the unknown, unafraid of what is on the other side, and more hopeful of something incredible. However, alongside that stratospheric feeling, there is that thirst for connection that you can only get down on Earth. Such a juxtaposition of wonderment and humanity, it’s a lot to harness…

AJ: “It’s an exploration of the mind. It’s an exploration of yourself. I live a mile down the road from the studio we were working at, but I would never go home at all. I would work all day, go to sleep as late as possible and then do it all over again. But my girlfriend had a nervous breakdown because of it, she was calling out that she needed me. Then my daughter is over in New Jersey, and she calls me, asking when I’ll come home to see her. But I’m in this space; I’m doing this. It felt very lonely, to be honest. You start to understand what David Bowie was saying when he went, ‘Ground control to Major Tom’. He was lonely out there, and I started to feel like that.

We were pushing things to another level that we hadn’t been before. At a time when so much is going on, the band is the business that it is, and you just need time to dig in and do everything. That’s also the time when the world around you needs you, and you start to question why you are not down on Earth with everybody else. It must be nice, and you start to get feelings of resentment. You’re doing all of this, but what is it really all worth? It gets complicated.”

RS: You start to consider whether the past versions of yourself would even like who you are now. Are you doing right by yourself? Are you doing right by the people who love you? In these situations, you’re thankful to have the band as that vessel that has always been there, no matter what. The Dangerous Summer is the constant through everything and allows you to attempt to make sense of it all…

AJ: “My job is tied to such an emotional thing. My success, being able to feed my family and pay rent, is also hinged on this creative process that I live within. So you do get really confused about your own emotions. What’s emotion, and what’s business? But within all that, I just wanted to keep on taking the band as far as I can. Yet you start to wonder why you’re not much bigger than you were five years ago. I talked to Derek from Mayday Parade about this and how he felt being in his band. He said it felt like they had been the same size for ten years, and I get that. It’s probably not even true, but you start to wonder if you are truly more successful. You start to chase that dragon to get to the next level. That comes with doing it for so long, and it can feel like the world wants you to stop. But you have to keep on going. You can think about what’s on the other side, but it doesn’t truly matter what’s there. Being able to do it, play to the fans, and still make albums- that’s everything.”

RS: As much as you want to present positivity, you can’t gaslight yourself into thinking that everything needs to be a pick-me-up. You have to show both sides of the coin. You need to show frustration, confusion, and anger…

AJ: “We all have our dark days and our sad days. And when you’re in the middle of that, you will think, ‘There must be a happy day ahead’. Yet you can’t quite picture it.  It’s kind of like the weather. When it’s cold, you can’t remember what it was like to feel the sun on your skin. But you must keep going and unload that bad as much as the good because that’s where you find some ground. All of the times we have hit rough moments as a band, it’s grown a new leaf or a new piece. The hard parts are the best parts. They are the best places for growth and strength.”

RS: Also, you’ve found a group of people who are all on the same wavelength as you to be a part of the band with you…

AJ: “I think about it a lot in terms of Star Wars. We’ve created our own Star Wars as a base, and now you can work with new people within that universe. They know the scope of what you’re about and the sound you have. It’s like working with JJ Abrams, knowing we can make something special because they get it. The rest of the band will say something like, ‘Hey man, I always thought that The Dangerous Summer needed something like this’. They speak to The Dangerous Summer, but they bring their own voices and conversations. Being in a band for so long, you lose people along the way. How often do you make friends, and they fall out of your life? But it’s like the seasons. With a new season comes new friends and new vibes. People have to do what they have to do. But all I know is forward motion and putting one foot before the other. I keep getting signs from the universe that I must be here in this seat and doing what I am doing. So that’s what I’m going to do.”

RS: There’s no fun in winning the lottery every week. There’s no point enjoying the highs if you can’t question the lows. But you’re in a position where The Dangerous Summer keeps existing within both, even when your back is turned. The cogs of the machine keep on turning…

AJ: “So, I heard something about how GWAR have a contract where even as the members quit or move on or die, they replace them so that it goes on for hundreds of years. I feel that about The Dangerous Summer. If anything happens to me, keep it going. It’s something that’s beyond us. The Dangerous Summer is bigger than me. The reason why I have people come and do this with me is because it’s a big thing to lift. One man can’t do this alone. I’m just trying to keep the heart beating and keep it alive because I’ve seen what it’s like for it not to be there. To have it back and to see what memories we have been able to make since, there’s a timeline where all of that could have been erased. Where would my life be without that?”

The Dangerous Summer’s new album ‘Gravity’ is out on June 21. Get your copy on exclusive violet vinyl here.

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