BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
From the Metropolitan Area that is Northern New Jersey comes Concrete Dream, a four-piece Trap Metal band consisting of Vocalist Jeremiah Mayhem; Guitarist John Kennedy; Bassist and Vocalist Alejandro Mena; and Drummer Juan Bang.
According to the band’s biography, Concrete Dream’s “trap metal” sound first hit the studio in 2017 with Producer Ricky Armellino (This or the Apocalypse/ Ice Nine Kills). That demo reached the hands of New York Hardcore legend, Lord Ezec (Crown of Thornz, Skarhead, Danny Diablo). When Lord Ezec first heard the fusion sound and its clear and raw power, he signed the four-piece to his new venture, “E-Train Records.”
With a self-titled, full-length album out, the band has been storming the stages with headline shows as well as opening for heroes such as Nonpoint and POD. Concrete Dream is definitely a band that lets the music do the talking.
TSOR: Tell me about what makes Concrete Dream work as a band.
JEREMIAH: It’s funny, we’re all so different. Like as individuals, as men, we’re all different signs of the astronomical chart. We’re all just from different upbringings; we’re all from different nationalities. But you know, we had a key thing in common, which is metal, and we all bring our own ‘Jersey’ to it. We all had the same concrete dream, which is to live for our music and not have to be slaves to the system. So that’s what really brings us and binds us all together. We’re all just so different, it’s crazy. It’s like, opposite attracts, it’s the duality. There is a brotherhood here. We really pride ourselves on being brothers, there for each other. We always challenge each other to be the best. As a brother, you have to inspire each other. We talk to each other probably 25-times-a-day!
TSOR: You describe your music as ‘Trap’ or ‘Trap Metal.’ How would you define that?
JEREMIAH: You know, it’s funny: So many people are like, ‘Oh, you guys are trying that.’ And I guess it’s because the way that I rhyme a little more of a new school way, which is, you know, derived from the Southern style, the rapid Southern Hip Hop. That’s where Trap originally comes from, the whole style and the whole aspect of it. A lot of my songs are coming from the streets. It’s coming from a place of what I’ve seen and what I’ve been through personally. I’m coming from that environment and at the same time I was a metal head. Depending on who you were with, it was either cool or weird. So like that’s where a lot of it came from as far as like fusing, Trap Hip Hop with Metal, pushing forward into the sound and being where we are in music right now, on the forefront of music. Whether it’s in Spanish, English, whatever, it’s become this crazy culture, a crazy subculture of sound. And when I first started the hashtag, I’d say about six years ago, there was like maybe 20 pictures on Instagram. Now it’s at 72,000 pictures in four years. I knew the music was going to blow up like this. And it’s only going to get bigger and bigger.
TSOR: So when Concrete Dream got together, you formed with the idea that you were going to do Trap Metal?
JEREMIAH: Yes. We’re in it. Some people are gonna love it, a lot are going to hate it, you know? But we’re going to continue to try to figure out the perfect combination and blend just like all the greats before us did, like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park…I can go on for days naming bands. When John first came into the band, he was like this progressive player. He challenged himself, and so did Alejandro and Juan. They were like, ‘This is a challenge we’re going to take on.’ And they accepted it with open arms. Our management company accepted the challenge to work with us, the people who signed us to the label did. They are all backing us and helping us put our stamp on the scene. We’re authentic and we really are trying.
TSOR: What do you believe separates Concrete Dream from other bands?
JEREMIAH: The stories. I feel like my stories are true and they’re coming from a true place. At the same time, you have what John, Alejandro and Juan are looking at, too. Like I said, what’s gonna separate us is the authenticity, all the different minds that come together to make our music. It’s not just one guy, you know. It’s a real team, and a real team effort from the words and music, to the beats, to the clicks, to the sound.
TSOR: What do you want your music to convey to potentially new fans?
JEREMIAH: You know how you’re running through your life and working hard? There are days where we all feel like we’re running in place, what “Catch 22” is about.
We’re all in like the same situation, we’re all going through it. It’s how you handle it, how it affects you as an individual. It’s kind of like the message of the whole album. I’ve had a concrete dream, because it’s like every song had a message of healing and trueness. People can really relate, because I feel like a lot of people are in relationships that they shouldn’t be in – either with love or work, or a situation you want to get out of. I feel like that’s the genuine message of all our songs together.
TSOR: So, you would label yourselves a self-help band?!
JEREMIAH: Music is supposed to make people feel good! I feel like a lot of bands and a lot of songwriters are losing touch with that. That’s something I want to instill in our music, that I’m telling stories as opposed to just talking crap, you know what I mean? I feel like all music really is self-help, but I wouldn’t call it that. I feel like it all should be that way. I know there are some bands that pride themselves in that and I respect that. I respect anybody’s movement. I just want our stories to be relatable. We’re all cut from the same cloth.
TSOR: Just in time for Halloween, you have a song called “Buckout Road.” Tell me about that!
JEREMIAH: In upstate New York, there’s this road, you can Google it or look for it on YouTube. I call it out at shows and people actually claim to know what I’m talking about! It’s freaky, it’s scary. Moral of the story is: Don’t mess with the albinos! You can’t make this stuff up! But, the song is funny and like a comedy – dark horror comedy! I talked about it in my own way. I was like, what if I go on a haunted ride with my girl, we’re smoking a blunt, and we just get lost and start arguing, you know? And it’s just a simple argument that turns into a crazy car crash and I was like a murderer! We’re shooting a video to it and we’re going to release it before the end of the year is out.
TSOR: Did you film it at the real Buckout Road?
JEREMIAH: Right now, it’s at an undisclosed location. We can’t tell!
TSOR: New Jersey has to be the most densely populated state that is filled with bands. How does a band stand out in such a glutted market?
JEREMIAH: The only way for bands to survive is to unite. Go see each other’s shows. Bring your crowd to the shows. We’re trading off bills. Play with a band from another state in your home state, and vice versa. And that’s what you do, that’s how you survive. Bands can’t do this by themselves. If you can’t even bring 20 people to a show, then you have no business being out there. I really do pride myself and all the Concrete Dream supporters that come support us. We’re very fortunate and I’m very happy about that. People come to have a good time and we give them that – it’s not just a show. We have a very good crowd that’s open to everybody, all sexualities, all nationalities.
TSOR: What do you think contributes to a band’s longevity in this business?
JEREMIAH: You know, we’re not in this for money. If you’re in this for money, you are completely out of your mind. There’s nothing to hide here. We’re just trying to rock, to make people feel good and keep it moving. Longevity is just making an impact on culture. And we’re still relatively young. I’m just turning 30 this year, and the other guys are like 29. We’re in our prime. But look at the numbers we’ve done! The proof’s in the pudding with us. It’s like, we’ve been out one year and we caught up already with the bands that have been out there much longer. And you know what? We’re not asking for a handout, either. We know we have to earn it or else.
TSOR: What is something you wish you knew then instead of now?
ALEJANDRO: I came late in the game – I was a baseball player. I came into the scene when I was 22-years-old. So I transmitted my passion for baseball into music, but I always played by myself, I was never really involved in the scene. When I got into my first band, I wish I had communicated a little bit better and just valued everybody’s opinions and hearing everybody out. So that’s something that I wish I did. I learned from that.
TSOR: You guys have any haters?
JEREMIAH: Yeah, all of our girlfriends hate us! We’re really involved in this. Just joking, they understand why we spend 12-hours-a-day on social media promoting the band, and they love it. But it’s all-or-nothing for us. We might be the underdog at times, but we thrive from that. You can go on Instagram and there are people who are telling us we should just die! Someone called me like an evil Iggy Pop. That was pretty funny, actually! But, we follow everybody and we interact with our fans on all platforms. That gets us a lot of scrutiny and some people are gonna hate. I mean, people hate what they can’t understand, right? And a lot of people don’t know what we’re doing. Some just want pure Metal while others want pure Hip Hop. One thing I know is, we’re not gonna stop making music.
TSOR: What’s coming up with the band?
JEREMIAH: We have a lot of cool stuff coming up. We are doing this charity event to help save this historical cemetery, St. Joe’s (The Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery) on Saturday, October 26th at the FM Restaurant Bar and Lounge at 340 Third Street in Jersey City. We have been challenged to pick one of our favorite bands to cover, which will be Limp Bizkit. I’ve never been in a cover band in my life, but we thought it was a really cool and kooky challenge. Limp Bizkit was one of my main inspirations growing up. We’re pretty much going to follow them to a “T” but we’ll throw in some Concrete Dream in there!