Derek Day Vocalist for LA’s Classless Act Chats About Superstar Collabs, Long Careers and Why Rock Is Far From “Dead”

Derek Day, Vocalist for LA’s Classless Act, chats to us about Superstar collabs, long careers and why rock is far from “Dead”…



“Rock is Dead” or so people keep telling Derek Day, vocalist for Los Angeles rock ‘n’ roll band Classless Act. Not that the frontman agrees with them. Having just dropped their debut album, Welcome to the Show, an album that features guest appearances from both Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil and The Darkness vocalist Justin Hawkins, it would seem that rock music is very much alive and screaming.

Not only that but, following the release of the album, the band hopped onto one of the hottest rock show tickets of the Summer when they joined Motley Crue and Def Leppard for their long-awaited US stadium tour. Prior to the tour, V13 jumped on the phone with Derek to chat about the album, the band, working with music icons like Vince and Justin and whether they have what it takes to still be doing this in thirty or forty years time…

So Derek, thank you for your time…

Derek Day: “Of course. Thanks for having me. This is going to be super fun.”

I hope so, I’ve got a lot to ask you and there’s a lot of common interests. I want to go back to do a bit of a deep dive into the band, how you guys got together, influences… that thing. Then to the future really…

Derek: “Oh, cool. Absolutely.”

I believe you got together over a common love for music. How did you make that connection with each other?

Derek: “That’s a funny story, It was like a modern day newspaper ad. We all found each other through social media and stuff. Yeah, I mean, we’re just fans of each other as well. Like I followed the guitarist for a while and I ended up being in his band, and everyone just liked each other style and aesthetic. We all had our own bands but we wanted to come together to make a cool new rock and roll band.”

What was your vision when you got together? What what did you want Classless Act to be?

Derek: “It was weird at first because we had some different members at the time and we went through a bunch of different members. In the beginning, it was just rock and roll. It’s always been the concept of like, straight ahead rock and roll, even to this day. I think even in 50 years, it’ll be the same too. At the same time, like, we don’t want to necessarily be stuck to one style or vibe because everyone in the band can like play guitar really well and play piano pretty good and we all have ideas for progressive type things. So, the initial idea was just like let’s just start something that’s like hard hitting, straightforward, raw emotion and honest because we felt like that was missing.”

Okay. You’ve obviously got a shared love of music. Is there a common band you all you all love?

Derek: “It’s a little bit different for each of us but I think we all meet in the middle with The Beatles and Queen.”

I grew up near Liverpool where the Beatles formed and my mum has seen them play in working mens clubs near where I grew up. She met John Lennon at a working mens club just before they got huge.

Just going back then. I mean, pre-rock and roll, we all grew up on pop music so what was that band or song that you heard on the radio that was your, and I call it my holy fuck moment, where you thought wow, this is it, this is the music I want to listen to. Is there a band or a song that did that for you? I know what it was for me.

Derek: “It’s a little underwhelming, or might sound like it, but I think ‘Leila’ by Eric Clapton or Derek and the Dominos. I’d been listening to disco for a while because my Mom had blasted it since I was a baby and I always thought it was amazing, but I never thought like, Oh, this is something I want to create until I heard that with stacked guitars. It sounded like a weird, ethereal thing that sounded really strange. Yeah, I just wanted to create it. What was yours?”

It was ‘Wild Side’ by Motley Crue and the video with Tommy’s spinning drumkit and the pyrotechnics and Nikki Sixx and, yeah, that was that… It went downhill from there.

Derek: “That’s so funny. They start the set every night of this tour with ‘Wild Side’.”

Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to that tour coming into the UK eventually.

Derek: “Oh, they will come to you.”

Okay, just going back to you forming in 2018. The last two years have been a bit of a challenge for everybody. You have the album finally coming out coming out. Did you feel like this is a new beginning or a restart for the band?

Derek: “Yeah, totally, totally. I mean, it was also a new beginning last year when Griffin joined the band. This line-up has only been together for a year but that really put some new energy into the band and to each member. Even though we finally have our first album release, we’ve been sitting on it for two years which was frustrating, super-frustrating.

We were just constantly bickering with our management and stuff but they told us to wait because we have to go on tour with it. You can’t just release it, and let it die. You have to push it.We all have like a 100 songs in our head that we need to get out. It’s very literally maddening. We’re going mad but, now that it’s out, it’s like, oh no, the birds leaving the nest. I don’t want to release it out there. You only get one first record. Haha. So

Seriously thought, it is super refreshing and super exciting because now we can start moving.”

How would you react as a teenager if you were told that, in 2022, you would not only have your debut album released but you would be touring with Motley Crue and you would have Vince Neil contribute to the album?

Derek: “I don’t even know because, as a teenager, I was very much into Cream and Hendrix. I was very much into psychedelic stuff musicwise. So, first of all, I’d be like ‘What? Who is this person in the future?’ That’s a whole different style and stuff. But, at the same time, I just wouldn’t believe it. Even when they told us you’re on the tour about a year and a half ago, I said ‘that’s not gonna happen. That’s not happening. Come on. Come on…’ They told us by email when the world could shut down at any minute. Now, we’re on the original run before it got rescheduled.”

Were you supposed to be on the original tour plan?

Derek: “No, there was this other guy Tuk Smith, who recorded and was about to release his record but then the world shut down. Then everything was pushed, so it was just timing and everything and we just happen to have our record ready to release whenever and it was still fresh. So it, was just perfect timing. I’m not exactly sure what Tuk is upto now. I think he’s releasing another record, but we’re just really lucky.”

Artwork for “Welcome to the Show” by Classless Act

How did Vince come to be on the album. How did that collaboration come about?

Derek: “Oh, well, first we got on the tour, which involved a lot of moving parts and a lot of back and forth with management and all that. We recorded the first half of the album with Bob Rock, who’s done the Black Album and a bunch of other stuff. He’s also done Dr. Feelgood, probably their biggest album. Yeah. But Bob suggested when he first met us, that we record it at Tommy’s place as he has a cool studio under his house. Tommy would peek down and listen to some of the unfinished material and air drum to it, and even say hi. I think that put us on his radar. That helped on pitching ourselves to the management and wanting to go on tour. Then, once we were on the tour, that’s when we’re like, we have this song. It’s our namesake song. It sounds like Vince’s, it feels like something he would kill it on. Not only would it help us, but it will help the song. So we sent it to him on a whim and he just happened to have a couple of days to do it. It was his way of welcoming us to his show and for the tour coming up.”

As a fan, everyone has a favourite Motley Crue story to tell. Do you have one?

Derek: “Oh, like one that I’ve personally experienced?”

To be fair, recording your album in Tommy’s basement is a fairly decent story…

Derek: “Well, we’d been there about a week and a half there and he would come down to see us. I think at one point, we created a drum set out of a box, a cardboard box as that’s how Bob Rock works but then, Tommy asked to play on it then he started playing on it. We all gathered around wondering what was going on. As far as on the road, we haven’t communicated so much. We’re just so busy. It’s giant. We did get say hi to Mick and Nikki and Tommy at one point, you know, they’re super nice. As far as their crazy, crazy stories, I don’t know? I’ve seen The Dirt and I’ve seen a lot of Howard Stern moments they talked about, all their crazy things. They had that crazy contest with not showering. I thought that was interesting.”

Yeah, that was brilliant. Right, you mentioned the album title, Welcome To The Show and you’re touring with a band who has one of the most elaborate rock shows that we’ve ever seen. If money was no object for you, what would you what would your ultimate live show be for Classless Act?

Derek: “You know, I thought I always knew what I wanted it to be and then I saw Motley Crue do a show. This is my first time experiencing them. Our guitar player has seen them four times and I think Franco saw them once but this is my first time funny enough. It is insane. It’s got smoke, a light show, the screens are fantastic, giant blow-up girls, it’s just insane and I have so much respect for that. I never knew I wanted something like that. Until now. So, yeah, it’d be something of great grandeur. You know, each tour would have its own theme. Motley Crue have a sort of a post-apocalyptic set this time. I would pick a favourite thing and we would just make it a whole thing. Maybe fireworks of some sort to match to the music? Giant, crazy destructive looking things flying around but, on top of all of that, a lot of communication with the audience.”

That sounds brilliant. Aside from Vince, you’ve also collaborated with Justin Hawkins. What was that because he’s another larger than life character?

Derek: “Oh, he’s so cool. Offstage, he’s who he is onstage, but really super-duper nice. That was the weirdest thing though as we just asked him to write with us. So it started off with writing sessions over Zoom, because he lives out there in Switzerland. We had a song we couldn’t finish so our management reached out to him and asked can you help them finish this song. We wrote 10 demos for it but we just couldn’t finish it. Justin was like ‘yeah, I’ll help these lads, they seem like nice people.’ And I finished it in a heartbeat. We became good friends over WhatsApp sending funny pictures back and forth then we wrote another song but only one of them made the album “Time to Bleed”. After that song, we told him we have this other song that’s already written but did he want to record a guitar solo over it as there’s one on there but it wasn’t good enough and he said yeah. We’re just buddies and mates it’s just nothing but delightful and fun. He’s so funny. A real character.”

What do you take away from working with people of that calibre?

Derek: “One thing I immediately get is that you have got to be really kind. They’re both so kind and in a business that’s very mean. I think they’re keeping that kindness because of how mean it is, and, they’re so successful. Kindness goes a long way in business and good relationships as there’s a lot of mean decisions that have to be made anyway and I’m sure they are dealing with that too. But that’s the first thing I learned… that and professionalism is everything. Being on time and fixing any sort of thing. Being quick as well. Even when we were writing with Justin, who would have a solution pretty quickly where maybe we hit a wall creatively., like, Okay, well, there’s this this isn’t that we could try one of these. He’s really quick on that.

Take Vince Neil and the Crue team as well. So far, we played about eight shows and we’ve played in like 110 degree fahrenheit heat… there were things breaking down every day but they’ll fix it in like five minutes. It’s like it never happened. I’m watching the Crue show every night and Def Leppard, watching these guys and, every single night, they’re killing it. They’re not missing a beat. Or, if they do, it’s like they play it off like it was so intentional. So professionalism and kindness is everything. I know it’s a cliche answer, but getting to experience it from these guys, that’s where it’s at.”

When you started the band back in 2018, you obviously had a vision for what you wanted the band to be and where you wanted to go. Has that vision changed now you’re working with people of that calibre? Have you thought that we can reach this level where these people want to work with us so, maybe, we are on a different level?

Derek: “A little bit. I know that a lot of the members of the band want it to go very left, maybe in a certain direction but I think it’s super important to keep our core initial sound which is just rock and roll and rawness. We keep all that stuff seperate. Like the producer jokes all the time. When we were in the studio we would throw out like, I don’t know, a kazoo and he’d be up for it but joke that for your fourth solo album, we’ll do that. It’s like the funniest joke ever because it just shuts you up really fast then we just get back to making a record. It’s so important to keep this core sound we’re trying to develop but, every album, we do we can like loosen up the shoulders a little bit and try to make something a little more fun.”

Looking forward to the future. What about the long term? If you look at a band like Aerosmith who are still going now, do you think for a band like Classless Act, that career is achievable given the throwaway nature of the music industry these days?

Derek: “Yes, I totally am and that’s a great question. That’s like a question for like, analytic experts though because the music business is nothing like it was and, and I think it takes a certain beast to really overcome that. I always tell people that, before this band started, I had my own thing I was going on tour and stuff. Franco is from Argentina. He had like a few bands and he was touring America at the time but we all came together for this band, because we wanted to form something mega. I don’t know if you’ve seen Power Rangers but they just came together to create this mega robot to defeat the giant space aliens. Metaphorically, the giant space aliens is this crazy new music business that is insane but I think we can do it. People say rock is dead but if you look in LA, 3 million people live there and 2 million of them are in rock and roll bands.

Everyone is trying and they’re playing guitars, they’re trying to play rock and roll even though people say rock is dead. It’s just not many people have… I don’t know, there is a lack of urgency. When I met these guys, I could see the urgency in their eyes. Then, we attracted a certain management that was perfect for us where they had a lot of urgency, then our label. Everything’s working just right to one vision. Let’s do it. Let’s punch it in.”

And that leads into a final question. In the UK, the same question comes up every year at festivals that obviously they get the big headliners like Metallica or Aerosmith but they’re not going to be around forever. There’s always talk about the next big band and who is going to take their place. If that band was Classless Act, what do you think you can offer the modern rock fans these days?

Derek: “I think we we always we pay homage to our influences and you can hear the influences pretty clear. If you hear the album, it’s very clean, very, like Beatles and or maybe like more Guns ’n’ Roses too but we’ll always try to open up an avenue for something else. I think we offer the modern rock fan, something fresh. What we try to do is take funny or different influences and try to throw them together. It’s like, here’s rock and roll in a new light. Also on this album, everything is cohesive yet, at the same time, you might find that there’s something for everyone. Like, if you hate this entire album, you might like one note, in the third verse of this one song. If you’re a pop fan or a rap fan or a fan of anything you’ll find something on here that you like.”


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