In the age of Covid, when many of us are still cooped up in our homes, everything can feel a bit too much at times. Sometimes, all you want to do is scream and shout. For one Andover band, that’s just part of the day job.

Formed in 2018, DREAMEATER is made up of Sam Culverwell on vocals, Lukas Tiley on Guitar, Gareth Jones on Bass and Olly Newcombe on Drums. With an EP released last month, and work commencing on an album, The Advertiser sat down with the band for an interview.

Their current success is a long way from the drama studio where the band’s members first cut their teeth playing shows. For Sam and Gareth, the support of an “awesome” member of staff for a “pretty annoying metal band” got them on the way.

“Our teachers definitely had a lot to play in helping us with music,” says Sam. “We had a head of year called Si Cleggett. He used to stay later on Fridays to let us practice. No other teacher’s really going to stay around, but he always liked metal and always believed that we could do something.

“We’ve always had people supporting us, even like our drama teacher Sean Flavell, who made a whole music department for us. We’ve always had people like that pushing us into it, and always loved being in music, annoying our parents.”

Why metal then, if even they acknowledge they may have been “annoying”? It comes down to a matter of personality. “We’re not all going to start wearing the same clothes and doing pop songs,” says Gareth. “That’s not who we are.”

“I liked how annoying it was,” adds Sam. “It’s angry and loud, which I thought made it really interesting. It’s a good way to express aggressive and raw emotions. I feel if you presented it on a different platform then what we have to say wouldn’t come across how we wanted it to come across.”

Soon, the members of what would one day become DREAMEATER were “being terrible at music,” but with their eyes firmly on their future. As they developed, they began to draw the attention of the local music scene.

“The Andover scene has always been welcoming,” says Sam. “It believed in us from a very early age. I remember, back before the Rockhouse was really a thing, Steve Dillon and Tony Noakes invited me for a chat,” says Sam. “They instantly trusted me to put on a show when I was 16.”

Olly chimes in: “The Rockhouse has been nothing but brilliant, from the day they’ve opened we practised there in the week, [Tony]’s never asked us a penny to play there.”

With the band having developed their musical skills independently, Andover College saw them finally come together. While Sam, Gareth and Olly had all played together in various combinations before, Lukas got into the band via a different route. “I used to do merch for the guys,” he admits, and got into the band when a previous guitarist left. “I spoke to Sam about it, and he said here’s all these songs, you’ve got to learn them, and that’s how I got in.”

Lukas’ joining was not without its consequences, however. “We took quite a big risk in deciding we wanted to go with something else, and not release it, to get this new sound,” he says. “The feedback we’ve gotten has been nothing but good, considering we took such a big risk.”

“Binning off the old EP cost us about £3,000,” says Gareth. “It was a setback, but a couple of demos later we were in talks with a couple of labels from the States, so it shows that risks do pay off. You’ve just got to keep pushing for it.”

Sam agrees. “As much as we’ve been lucky, you’ve got to put yourself in the position to be lucky,” he says. “We’ve been putting in the graft, always trying to tour, always trying to make ourselves better and step out of that local band shadow.

Even though they’d now been signed, the hard work didn’t stop. “There’s so much you don’t think about when you press play,” says Olly, “everything that has to get done to get it to the point of release.”

In total, the band has a team of seven, including its own members, working on everything from the music to publicity. “We’ve been very lucky with it,” says Sam. “Without a lot of people doing a lot of hard work, we wouldn’t be doing it. We definitely need guidance because we are morons!”

With an EP in the works, and the band gaining traction, it’s easy to consider lockdown as something throwing a massive spanner in the works. DREAMEATER, however, disagree, saying that in fact, it did them “the world of good.”

“We’d been trying to do all this online work and play shows to stay active,” says Gareth, “but that got taken away, so all we could do is online, so we’ve really smashed it.”

“Releasing our EP Bleed over it was actually a good idea,” says Sam. “It’s actually worked out pretty well! People have really been wanting to check out new music and find new bands during this time. It’s really helped, the numbers have been awesome.”

“It’s helped us gather our thoughts about the future of the band and our new music,” says Lukas, “so we’ve been able to focus on that.”

However, lockdown has had one main consequence - gigs. Having last played in February in Oxford, the band is chomping at the bit to get going again. “We’re ready to go when the government lets us,” says Sam. But it’s not just for themselves that the band wants to get out there.

“We’ve got to book, as these venues need to make money,” says Olly, “and we need to play gigs again. We’ve just got to keep booking, and be hopeful it will go ahead.”

While they wait, they’ve got plenty to be getting on with. Next up is a full album, which they’re hoping to record next April. Once that’s done, they’re aiming for a summer release and a tour.

For now then, it’s back to the studio while everyone works out where live music will be going next. Though lockdown has provided this minor setback, it’s been pretty positive for the band on the whole.

“We’re not used to having people care about our bands,” says Sam, “so it’s quite overwhelming and all very new. I like to think some people found satisfaction in listening to my pain.”

DREAMEATER’s debut EP, Bleed, is out now from Famined Records.