The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza lead singer Jessie Freeland and guitarist Josh Travis sat down with us to answer a few questions about their latest disc, Danza III: The Series Of Unfortunate Events. As has been the case with the band’s previous work, this record is an all out ravenous assault on the senses. The grinding double bass combined with ultra technical guitar work creates an unrelenting series of tunes that are sure to provide the backdrop for some serious mosh pit activity in the live setting. Here is what the guys had to say.
Now that your brand new CD titled, Danza III: The Series Of Unfortunate Events is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Jessie: I know that bands say this all the time, but I am completely not kidding when I say this is my favorite record yet without a doubt. I am extremely stoked by the fact that we set a goal to make this album sound a certain way and we hit the mark very, very close in my opinion.
Josh: I think we are very happy overall with the outcome of the record. You know how everyone always has things they wish they would’ve gone back and done? There are a few things we could have done differently, but we will live with what we have and won’t complain too much about it.
Playing such visceral music in a recording studio must be vastly different than at one of your chaotic live shows. How did the recording process go for this disc?
Jessie: The process went very smooth in my opinion. Tracked drums first, then guitars and bass, then vocals. The studio starts out fun but gets old really fast. Constantly doing multiple takes, having to be on point and precise and pretty much just having to live there for weeks at a time. Overall though there were no extreme problems, and we knocked the record out fast.
Josh: Playing live versus playing in the studio was a huge difference for us. Live, things are much more relaxed and more fun than anything else. However in the studio, it was much harder, mainly because every word, every guitar note, every bass hit, every kick, snare, just everything, had to be as close to perfect as we could get them. Granted you can always go back and fix things, and start to become very mechanical, but we wanted to keep it as live feeling as possible. Overall, the recording process went extremely fast! Drums were done being tracked in less than 24 hours. The longest and most painful part of the recording process was the guitars. It took me a very long time to get what I was shooting for.
For this release you have added Mike Bradley on drums. How did this come about and what does Mike bring to the table?
Jessie: We heard about Mike through our friends in the band Straight Line Stitch. Mike has def brought a lot to the table and is without a doubt the tightest drummer we have had yet. He is also down as fuck for the cause. The dude does not look for a hand-out like previous “fill in” members have done in the past and picks up the slack on anything that needs to be done.
Josh: I worked at a venue back home when we weren’t touring, Tons of nationals run through the place weekly. One show we had, included the fellow Tennessee band, Straight Line Stitch. After I spoke with guitarist Pat Pattison about us looking for a drummer, it was almost immediate that he threw Mike’s name at me and said he would get a hold of Mike for me and put us in contact. After a couple weeks I got the call from Mike, asked him to do a couple videos from some “Danza II” songs. Of course he had to one up me and did 4 songs instead.
Needless to say we set up a time to meet up. I sent him the pre-production tracks. A week later when he came to jam, he knew almost the entire record already. Here’s the part that sucks… Mike is playing drum parts that I put together, not that he put together. Therefore you are not seeing or hearing even a fraction of what he is capable of. I mean that literally, not even a fraction. We have already been working on lots of new material, and don’t worry; you will be seeing much more of Mike coming out in the new stuff. He came in and made himself an asset to the project from day one. Playing and writing with him is so easy because we both speak the same language on theory. Not to mention he plays to a click track live. Mike is stuck with us now.
Your lyrics seem to be a bit more topical and darker than on your previous two records, dealing with more serious current event issues like politics, sociology, human relations and so on. What was your inspiration when writing this record?
Jessie: It was honestly pretty easy. I basically just pin pointed multiple unfortunate events and wrote about them. I either wrote about these events that took place in my life, or did my best to put myself in the shoes of those who had these events happen to them.
Josh: The lyrics on D3 are very to the point, no beating around the bush going on here. It’s not about games and being silly for us anymore. We have gone through a lot of serious things in the last year alone that contributed to the direction of this record. We didn’t want to go full tilt on everyone and go 100% into current events but we did want to hit home with the topics in our songs. We hope people that would have never given us the time of day, will give us the time of day now, and that everyone that was ever with us before will still be with us now. We want to be a lot closer to our friends, fans, family, whatever you’d like to call them, and expressing our views about things is a way to get very close to us. More than just like a band that says “hi, I’ll sign your shit, bye…,” we like to hang out with our friends and fans. It’s not about the rock star shit; it’s about connecting with each other.
How much confidence do you have left in our society and politics?
Jessie: There is no such thing as confidence in politics in my book. As far as our society goes I really don’t know. I can only hope that the general population can wake up and see what is going on around them. Honestly, I don’t know how much confidence I have in that though. I guess more than anything I am just trying to have faith.
Josh: Confidence? Trust them as far as you can throw them. Things generally look rigged, predetermined, nothing short of just bogus. Someone’s got hands in the pot, and it sure as hell isn’t the public.
Do you have any special rules or rituals that you follow while you’re out on the road?
Jessie: Yep, show up on time to every venue and don’t flip the van in the process.
Josh: Rules and rituals… well, no we don’t. Mainly we take care of each other when we aren’t beating the hell out of each other. No drinking and driving, no alcohol in the van, no drugs in the van, maintaining the van and trailer, not speeding, and just not to be gross as hell. Just normal stuff, you know?
What is a normal day on the road like for you? Can you walk me through it?
Jessie: Load into venues at fourish, wait… play the show, wait… load out of the venues, wait… get paid, wait… drive to the next town, sleep. Wake up, wait… then do it all over again. There’s a lot more that does go on out there but you’ll have to buy the DVD to see that! Don’t know when it’s coming out yet though so, wait…
Josh: Generally, Jessie and I drive during the day. Mike, Phil and Adam drive during the night. We usually drive over night a lot so if we run into issues along the way we are closer than we would’ve been had we stayed somewhere the night before. So depending on where we wake up at, we usually drive until everyone is awake. Then we usually stop and grab food from somewhere none of us should be eating at, but we do anyway. Continue on to the venue. Arrive at the venue, scope it out on the inside and check for backline area, and most importantly, the bathroom… you wouldn’t believe some of the bathrooms at the venues these days… So, next will probably be a lot of waiting around for load in.
After load in, tons more waiting around time, unless the show is running late. Sometime after, we play, sweat a lot and attempt to move our gear off the stage in a timely fashion. Everyone but Jessie gets the gear off the stage, cased and loaded back up. Then we go hang out. Jessie always heads to merch when we finish playing. Then, guess what… yup, you guessed it… back to the van… Sometimes we get lucky and a friend will give us a place to shower at and hang for a little while, then back on the road we go. Welcome to a day in the life of Danza on the road. I’m leaving out all the prank calls and really stupid stuff that we do, only because you will see video footage of it.
Do you find it difficult being away from family and friends for such an extensive period of time? How do you cope with the separation?
Jessie: Hell yes! Lots of phone calls, texting, email, and thank God for Skype.
Josh: You know it’s different for everyone. Some can handle it much better than others. I won’t get too mushy about it, but we all miss family, friends and loved ones at home. We are also meeting new people and making new friends when we are out on the road. Things get hard when problems happen at home, anywhere from illnesses to fights. That really makes things hard, but in the end we all have each other and it’s the best we can do for that time. That’s when the “taking care of each other” comes in. We all have each other’s back big-time. It’s like we are all brothers here.
What is the one thing you travel with that you just can’t live without?
Jessie: Easiest question yet. My Droid phone. Never leave home without it.
Josh: Well this is a super easy one… All Jessie needs is his phone and he is solid. Mike has to have enough vitamins to save the world, and protein shakes! He couldn’t go two days without that stuff. Phil? Yeah, coffee, period. I’m pretty sure he is making his own blend of coffee right now. He has a portable coffee maker with him ALL THE TIME! Adam will always bring his CD book, he’s always rocking something even if it’s in his headphones, he’s always got some music going. And of course, I’m the needy one. I have to have a way to play guitar in the van at anytime, and my DVD player, and enough movies to put Blockbuster out of business. Do I watch them all? Of course not. But you can bet your ass I’m bringing them.
When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Jessie: Yes, Canadian gun laws. Their government’s policies on that issue is the most retarded shit I have ever heard of. I don’t even care about statistics. I’m from the South and we pack heat.
Josh: You know, being on the road in the States, you don’t really run into a lot of things that very “different” than what you see on a daily basis. Some places are nicer than others, and some places are scarier than others. Nothing ever really makes you go “WHOA, did you see that?” unless maybe you’re going passed a place you’ve never seen before, like a landmark or something. Now, in Toronto, Canada… Now you’re talking about seeing some things you’ve never seen before. We have seen the most beautiful places and some of the most uncool places as well. One show we played in London was literally connected to – I guess it was another venue? Anyway, it was pretty much a gangsta party. No, we most definitely weren’t invited. That was odd. There were some pretty harsh words tossed around but thank God it never went further than that. We didn’t have our heaters with us to clap on some fools with.
Is there anything that you want to say to your fans?
Jessie: Go buy Danza III and “Red Dead Redemption.” Hit me up on Xbox live. Gamer tag: JESSIEDANZA. We love you all!
Josh: To our fans, we want to thank you for sticking around with us through all this turmoil and being patient with us while we got Danza III ready for you all. We can’t wait to see you and hang out with you all again! [ END ]