Interview: Dylan Chenfeld of Rebounder
Written by Kiersten Gerard
“If you go deep enough on anything I do there’s a 90s New York reference.”
Rebounder is the product of combining a passion for music and a deep rooted love for anything to do with New York City. Created by Dylan Chenfeld with the help of his brother Noah, and joined by Cobey Arnor and Zack Kantor, Rebounder has been releasing genre bending and endlessly catchy tunes for the past three years. Having toured with artists such as The Neighbourhood, Dayglow, and Nasty Cherry, Rebounder has been building quite the following (and rightfully so.) We recently got the chance to sit down with Dylan to chat about his creative process, advice for aspiring musicians, and Nancy Sinatra.
What is the origin story of Rebounder?
I’ve been playing guitar and writing songs for a million years. I had played in a lot of bands but I’d never had one that was my own. I was always the drummer or guitarist, never the main creative guy. My plan was to tour with a bunch of bands filling in for whatever they needed, to learn about touring, see how it goes, and then go back and apply everything I’d learned and the experiences I’d had to my own songs and band. The plan to have this project had existed for a long time and two years ago I finally felt like I was ready, with both my abilities as a songwriter and as a producer. I had learned enough to know how to make my songs sound the way I wanted them to. My brother and I just started releasing songs and went from there.
How did you land on the name “Rebounder”?
I wanted a name that didn’t necessarily give off a genre. I feel like if you hear a band called “Depths of Hell” you immediately think of metal music, likewise if you hear a name like “Sports Adults Dads Moms” your mind goes to indie rock. I wanted a name that didn’t have any connotations with music.
I’m a big Knicks fan, I have Knicks memorabilia all over walls in my studio. I’m also a massive fan of Makonnen, and he has a lyric that goes “Back in New York, I feel like Patrick Ewing.” I was trying to think of something with Patrick Ewing because he’s one of my all time favorite Knicks, so I typed his name into google and he came up as “The Knicks’ number one rebounder.” Honestly, using the phrase “The Knicks’ number one rebounder” would’ve been sick, but it’s just a bit too long. I saw that no one else was using the artist name Rebounder and I didn’t want to think about it anymore so that’s what we picked. It’s kind of hard to google- when you do you see trampolines, trampolines, our band, more trampolines- but it’s easy to find on Spotify and Apple Music and that’s what I was looking for. If you go deep enough on anything I do there’s a 90s basketball or 90s New York reference.
What does your songwriting process look like?
Sometimes it’s super quick, I just need something to get started. I wrote “Meet Me at the Bar” walking home from a bar. I was really inspired and sang the whole song on my walk back. When I got home I took my guitar, found the chords, and it was done. Some songs start with an instrumental riff that I’ll come up with rather than starting with vocals. That happened with “Slow Angel.” I had the riff and then I had to write a song around it because the riffs were just too cool. Sometimes I’ll start with production on my computer. I wouldn’t say there’s a set process but I typically need some sort of jumping off point. After working for a bit I usually hit a wall and that’s when I go to my brother. About 75% of the songs are me and him. Rarely I’ll get it done on my own.
How has Covid affected the band?
It hasn’t been cool, I’ll say that much. We were playing a lot of shows pre-covid so it sucked not being on the road. But during all of this my brother and I have been able to spend a lot of time writing and producing. We made an entire record, deleted it, made another record, and now we’re going to be rolling out those songs. On top of that I spent a decent amount of time in LA working on other people’s music.
I feel like the fans that we were going to make last year on tour with our friends’ bands we’ve still kind of made through social media. It sucks to have our first year of touring interrupted but that wasn’t unique to us. We’re definitely thankful for all of the online opportunities.
What was it like to tour with Dayglow?
Awesome. I love him and his crew. I love his songs. I can’t say enough kind things about him. It was super fun and I hope we get to do it again sometime soon. Audience wise, it's always rough when an artist picks an opener and you can tell the fans aren’t really interested. This experience was the opposite of that. With Dayglow, they didn’t know us the way they knew him, but they were super engaged and awesome. You could tell they were into it. That was exciting because it felt like such a good fit. It was amazing, we got really lucky.
If your life had a theme song what would it be?
“I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City” by Harry Nilsson.
What is your strangest concert memory?
The Neighbourhood once dedicated my favorite song to me, that was fun. Shoutout to them. Everyone in that band knows that I love the song “Prey.” I remember one time we were opening for them in Canada and we were loading gear out while they were performing. Before playing “Prey” they said “This one’s for Dylan.” I was actually outside of the venue when this happened so my drummer was like “I think they just dedicated a song to you,” which people haven’t really done since the 60s. After the show I asked if I was the Dylan they dedicated the song to and they said “Are there any other Dylans on this tour?” That was fun.
Who have been your favorite artists to play with?
Neighbourhood and Dayglow all day long. We also played an awesome show with Cautious Clay and Remi Wolf right before quarantine. That was really fun.
What is your dream venue to play?
We’ve played the Bowery Ballroom in New York a lot as an opener. I grew up really close by and I’d walk by it everyday so getting to play it as an opener has been super exciting. Headlining and selling out the Ballroom would be it.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to make music?
You know that uncanny valley thing where right before something looks human it looks really weird? I feel like there’s a point right before perfection where you’re working so hard that you’re not really changing anything and you’re definitely not helping yourself. I resided there for a long time as an artist. You do have to work hard but make sure that you’re not just spinning your wheels. Another piece of advice, don’t destroy spontaneity because you need to meet your rigorous standards. If something comes easy don’t spend too much time editing and changing it. Trust your gut. Don’t be so precious.
Any future release plans?
We’ve got a whole record that’s done. That’s going to come out after the release of our cover of “Hold On, We’re Going Home” which should be out May 20th. I think we’re going to take all the singles we’ve already released and re-release them as an EP. I also spent all of quarantine working my ass off with my brother to write and finish up a bunch of songs, so those will be released soon as well.
Any plans to play live soon now that Covid restrictions are lifting?
We’re playing two festivals in Ohio, Wonderstruck and Wonderbus. Hopefully
we’ll book more live gigs soon. We’re going to do a few street fair/house party/roof functions in New York during June/July. The second it makes sense to start playing in venues again, we’ll announce something.
Anything to plug?
Nancy Sinatra just did a great reissue of her hits called "Nancy Sinatra: Start Walkin’ 1965-1976.” She also just turned 80! I urge everyone to check that out, it's so out of control good. I would also like to use this opportunity to give a big shout to my brother Noah Chenfeld. He’s got a bunch of really cool solo songs that he just finished that’ll be coming out really soon.
Keep up with Dylan and Rebounder on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @reboundernyc! And check out the "Hold On, We're Going Home" cover below!