Volume 91, Issue 85
Wednesday, March 11, 1998
home and dry
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Happy Days are New again
WE'RE A BIT TOUGHER THAN OUR YOUNGER COUSINS, THE HANSONS. High school rockers Days of the New perform tonight at the Nac. The opening act is By Divine Right.
By Carey Weinberg
"Is this the University of Western Ontario Ga.. Gayz..Ga"
"Yeah, I can't read the name, I just smoked a big one."
"Um...were you supposed to call yesterday?"
"I don't know man, I just got this time written down," drawls Days of the New's skin-man Matt Taul in a thick Louisiana accent.
Early complications aside, Taul spoke on the days preceding what's new. The band brought their brand of acoustic guitar rock into the limelight with sombre overtones and a droning resonance through close to 10 years of playing. The foursome comprising Days of the New account for two children and a divorce. Their lyrics and sound convey years of blackness and alienation. All of this at the ripe old average age of 18.
"I am the one receiving the pain from you / You would make these lies... I am the ground and the dirt / walk on me / Face of the earth." (Face of the Earth).
These are the scrawlings of a young, dark and brooding soul who's lived through enough pain to give him a voice. The band can not be written off as generic tortured white-boy rock. And even if the group tends to sound somewhat derivative of the dark and twisted musings ˆ la grunge godfathers Alice in Chains, they are making a solid mark on the music industry and plan to stick around for a while longer.
"This album put us on the map and we're not going anywhere but up," claims Taul. "People think because we're so young that we just threw a band together when we first heard Nirvana last year or something. We put in our time man, we're totally legit."
The boys began playing when they were nine and 10 years old and they haven't looked back. "Music was the way for us to get out. We come from a place that's fucked. You either wind up an alcoholic or a serious drug addict." (Granted he was stoned for the interview, but we're talking about a different category of drugs).
"Thoughtless in heart/ desperate in honesty/ Failed from the start/ wasted and suffering/ Supply them their drugs / just don't take them away / Scared of a change/ existing only/ To bring me down" (The Down Town).
This song typifies the sense of alienation spawned by the white ghetto environment in Charlestown, Indiana where three of the band members grew up. It's this environment that creates the angst which comes across so honestly on their debut CD. And they've hit a nerve.
Producer Scott Litt heard their nerve hitting potential and with R.E.M., Nirvana, Hole, Patti Smith, Liz Phair and the Indigo Girls to his credit, he understands what potential can translate into.
And translate they have hitting Billboard's Top-10 with "Touch, Peel and Stand," opening for Metallica on their upcoming tour and selling tremendously well. Songs of alienation often do well, but the nerve their poking makes sense to the people buying their albums. The generation of record buying whelps are in a society where the standard narrative no longer makes sense. Jobs were once guaranteed if you went through school. Now there is no definable end to the journey which perpetuates the omnipresent feeling of alienation and waywardness already absorbed by teens.
Days of the New is speaking the language which says what many kids feel and they do it with songs that are catchy. "We're a lot heavier in concert than on the album," Taul says of their sound. "I mean, we were influenced by bands like Metallica and Pantera and that comes out when we play live.
"Our next album will have a harder edge than this one, just come to the show and you'll see what I'm talking about." It's strange that Taul points to a harder sound when the band has already accomplished their goal of getting away from the trap that was their home, but roots are roots.
The haunting sounds of Days of the New will reverberate through London this evening for their sold-out performance at the Nac. Try and catch them before they consider early retirement when they hit 20.
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