Iconic New Jersey band Dramarama has returned with their new single “Hold Me Tight,” a song lifted from their first album in fifteen years, Color TV. This is their seventh record and a long wait it has been, but one worth it for a group that has now amassed a storied, 38-year history. The record marks a new era for the Drama boys and one in the works for the past decade. It hasn’t been continuous, with parts of Color TV completed in intermittent recording sessions, but it all eventually kind of worked itself out. The album title is inspired by singer John Easdale’s own personal experience of when he was four and his family bought their first colour television. Like almost every child, this was a groundbreaking moment for him and he is commemorating it with this new release.
“Hold Me Tight” is a traditional rock n’ roll love song that has one of the most infectious hooks you’ll hear this year. Commenting on the motivations for the song, Easdale said, “This is one of the few ‘we’re gonna be okay’ love songs I’ve written. I’ve always struggled with self-worth and often set out to prove to the most treasured people in my life that I was undeserving of their love. Such was the life of this now-recovering drug addict. This song is my promise to be a better person instead of the one who breaks things into pieces.”
Color TV may be the most vibrant record that Dramarama has ever recorded. It’s truthful, real, and authentic to the core, showcasing a band that just sounds glad to be back writing, recording, and doing what they love. The album will successfully strengthen their significance, not only for long time fans of the band, but also for new listeners who are just discovering this gem of a group. To further discuss “Hold Me Tight,” Color TV and recording again together, we caught up with Easdale to ask him a few questions.
I really enjoy the musical arrangement on your new single “Hold Me Tight.” It’s got that addictive quality to it and the band sounds really tight. Was this a collective effort of all five of you? Or did one or two of you write most of the song?
John Easdale: “Thanks! I wrote ‘Hold Me Tight.’ I’ve been the songwriter for Dramarama since the very beginning. As far as tightness, the five of us have been playing together for decades. Three of us (myself and guitarists Peter Wood and Mark Englert) grew up and graduated high school together, and our rhythm section, bassist Mike Davis and drummer Tony Snow, aka The Thunder Brothers, have been with me since the ‘90s. As a result, there’s a level of comfort and respect for one another that really helps the process.”
I particularly liked the guitar parts of the song; they really give the song a flavour as well as a solid structure. How did you come up with the guitar riff?
“I was trying to harken back to doo-wop, rhythm and blues and original ‘50s rock n’ roll. Although I usually have a good idea of how I want a particular song to sound when I write it, Mark and Peter always come up with their own riffs and flourishes which considerably add to the final result.”
It’s quite obvious from the lyrics and just the title that “Hold Me Tight” is a love song. Are the lyrics inspired by a personal experience? Or did they just somehow come pouring out of you?
“My lyrics are almost always inspired by personal experience. In this case, the recurring phrase, ‘oh hold me tight,’ was there right from the beginning, and I took a little more time tinkering with the verses and the bridge. It’s not so much about a singular experience but more an overall feeling. This is one of the few ‘we’re gonna be ok’ love songs I’ve written. It’s my promise to be a better person instead of the one who breaks things into pieces.”
Your new album Color TV is your first in fifteen years and it’s composed of a collection of songs accumulated over a 20-year period. Whereabouts within that two-decade timeline was “Hold Me Tight” written?
“This is one of the newer songs in the collection. I was always a very selfish person, I think most addicts are. It is only in recent years that I’ve come to realize how lucky I am to be surrounded with people who love me, who have stuck with me through some very ugly and unpleasant episodes which I alone caused. I didn’t always appreciate that fact.”
What motivated you guys to release an album now, fifteen years after your last? When and why did you decide the time was right to put out new music?
“We’ve been working on this, off and on, for nearly ten years. It has taken that long to get it exactly the way we wanted it to sound. It’s always been difficult for me to release an album, to set myself up for the judging. All too often, after a record would come out, I’d listen to it and wish I could go back in time and make changes, either to my performance or even the recording itself. I’m pretty confident that this time, that won’t be the case.
As far as deciding when or why the time was right, there is no way of knowing what will happen after you release an album. We have always just tried to make the best records we could, and have been lucky to be able to make records since the ‘80s. The idea that we are still doing this, to me, is nothing short of some kind of small miracle.”