With Dead Day Revolution it's best to just toss aside the usual hyphenated descriptions, sub-genres and categories that are all but a plague in music these days. The Los Angeles band has many stylistic colors, tones and flavors within their sound, but it all flies under the bold and proud banner of rock'n'roll.
That's evident throughout their stunning debut album, On Our Own. The trio of Mike Sandoz (vocals, guitar and primary songwriter), Skeeter Joplin (drums) and Cristian Sturba (bass) rock with an undeniable fury through such rhythmically varied tough-punching tracks as "Dancing on the Corner of Death," "On Our Own," "Children of the Night," "Just One Question," "New Eyes of the World," "Needles" and "Ghost," echoing the best and hardest acts that came before with a trademark take all their own. They also seamlessly shift from acoustic atmospherics and crackling electricity on "Bury My Soul" and summon up soaring magnificence on "Wait." From the taut opener "Just One Question" to the atmospheric closer "Wait," it's clear "there’s a real intelligence, a high musical rock'n’roll IQ going on here," notes Devon Jackson, freelance music journalist for Rolling Stone, Village Voice and Entertainment Weekly.
The 12-song collection was "very well mixed and produced" (Fabryka Music Magazine) by Larry Goetz, veteran recordist who credits include working with such diverse acts as John Cale, Demi Lovato, Alejandro Escovedo, Maia Sharp, Guitar Shorty, War and the Vitamin String Quartet, among others. Adding keyboards is guest player John "JT" Thomas. And found within the lyrics is an inspiring message of how to rise from even the deepest depths, fight for yourself and triumph as implied by the name Dead Day Revolution.
"It's the last thing I thought I'd be doing but what I always wanted to do," says Sandoz of arriving in Los Angeles five years ago and starting "a band coming to kick in your door," as That Music Magazine says of the group. Yet becoming a group that has "rocked the foundations" (Examiner) of the city's top venues seems all but fated for its three members.
DDR (for short) is Sandoz's first band, yet music has been his primary passion even before he started playing guitar in the fifth grade. During his teen years in suburban south New Jersey and later southern Louisiana he "was really never in the position where I found like-minded musicians," he says.
Sandoz started writing songs in college, and through his years working in the oil and gas industry and traveling through North Dakota, Texas and Colorado, "I'd sit in hotel rooms and write songs and record them on Pro Tools," he explains. By the time his work landed him in L.A. in the summer of 2009 he had some 60 numbers he'd composed.
After getting his first sleeve tattoo in a marathon 28 hour session, his tattooist Zoey Taylor introduced him to her brother Skeeter, who was "blown away" by Sandoz's songs and musical approach. "He said, 'Let's do this, no limitations, whatever comes to us, build from there,'" Joplin recalls. "That's the attitude of my favorite rock'n'roll and free jazz/avant garde artists. He's such a raw talent with a lot of soul."
Joplin grew up the son of a rock'n'roll bassist and guitarist, and first started drumming at age 12 when the family inherited a drum kit. Through his teen years he and Zoey backed their Dad playing gigs in the Portland, OR area. A dedicated player who practices all but daily, he followed his sister to Los Angeles in his early 20s and began playing in a number of bands on the local scene.
"I was playing in three bands and about to go on tour with one of them," says Joplin, when he signed with Sandoz to start Dead Day Revolution. With Taylor on bass, they gigged at such top L.A. clubs as the Troubadour, Viper Room and Whisky a Go Go in their first six months as a band, igniting a buzz with their quick-punching attack and Sandoz's impassioned songs.
When Taylor bowed out to concentrate on her artistic endeavors, Cristian Sturba was the natural choice to round out the trio. He'd played with Joplin in two previous bands, and had seen Dead Day Revolution and found them "awesome." A native of Buenos Aries, Argentina, he grew up the son of a jazz pianist in a family with four previous generations of musicians and a home where his father's group regularly played in the living room. He started on guitar at age seven, began gigging in bands at 14 plus adding drums and piano to his musical skills before switching to bass at 19. A major Guns N' Roses fan, his ambition was to meet and open for Slash, which he did with his band Son of a Gun after arriving in L.A. in 2004.
As DDR began tracking the songs for On Our Own they earned high praise in the media after posting two of them on ReverbNation. "You gotta love a band with the word Revolution in it," noted MuzikReviews.com. "It just slaps you in the face like a can of Rock Juice first thing in the morning. The music of Dead Day Revolution will have the same effect on you. It rocks, it's fresh, and with only two explosive tracks so far they certainly got our attention."
The group's broad and distinctive rock'n'roll sound defies being pigeonholed. "I think that when people have a hard time classifying your music then you are onto something," notes Sandoz. He cites such diverse inspirations as Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie, The Cure, Roy Orbison and Townes Van Zandt. Joplin's love for what he calls "late '70s greasy New York punk rock like Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Johnny Thunders and The Cramps" invests the band with what Regional Musician tags as the band's "aggressive neo-punk" attack, and he has turned Sandoz on to such new favorites of as outsider rock legends like Arthur Brown and Suicide.
From the beginning Dead Day Revolution has avidly worked the Internet and social media and touted their gigs, and as a result they've been featured on radio and in the media plus landed on the cover Regional Musician magazine. With frequent shows throughout the L.A. area including such major stages as the House of Blues, DDR have become "fast rising princes of punk-influenced rock‘n'roll" (Subba-Cultcha.com) and primed the pump for world conquest when On Our Own hits the street.
So it's no surprise when That Music Magazine predicts "it's only a matter of time" until Dead Day Revolution wins over the masses with their bracing, take no prisoners sonic boom. Sandoz credits their swift ascent as much to how they play their music as how it sounds and what they have to say. "There’s only one rule in rock'n'roll,” he concludes, “and that’s to say what you want and mean it.”
|▼ Medium 1|
|1||Just One Question
|3||Dancing on the Corner of Death
|4||Children of the Night
|5||Bury My Soul
|6||New Eyes of the World
|7||On Our Own
|9||Down the Road