Derek Day (Classless Act): We Take Our Music Seriously, but Not Ourselves
The members of Classless Act got together rather unusually, through TikTok and Instagram. They have formed a surprisingly strong team and with their imaginative songs, full of great musicianship, they are making rock 'n' roll fun again. After the release of their debut album "Welcome To The Show", they set off on a long-postponed tour as support act for legendary Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett. While enjoying a day off after the show at Detroit's Comerica Park, frontman Derek Day managed to find some time to talk to us.
You're part of The Stadium Tour with Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett. How does it feel to be part of something so big?
It's amazing, I still can't believe it. I wake up every morning not knowing where I am or how this all happened. But every moment is amazing and I'm learning so much. How to perform, how to sing, how to have fun, how to be professional. It's just crazy.
As the opening act, you have a really short block of time, like fifteen or twenty minutes, during which you can do at most five songs. Are you able to warm up and get into the swing of things in such a short time?
Sure. I spend all day preparing, making ready and making sure that I'm really good for those twenty minutes. We play our hardest and best in such a short time. But it's still fun.
I'm sure readers would be interested to know what your day is like on a tour like this. What you are allowed to do, how long your soundcheck can last, and what you can, and can't use. Can you tell us?
We get there really early. Basically in the morning, way before we perform. We'll set up all our equipment, make a soundcheck and then put it on the side. We're always standing by just in case they need us to push it on stage or need to move our stuff somewhere. We're just ready to. They give us food and we can hang out anywhere in the stadium.
How prepared are you for this tour? I mean, in terms of equipment. How many backup guitars, amps, cases, etc. do you have ready? I don't think you can leave anything to chance on an event this big.
I think it was on our fourth show when one of our amplifiers broke. We have one backup guitar amp and one speaker. That's all we have. Plus one backup guitar, that's all. We're all squeezed into one van and we have to fit everything in. But so far, it's been good. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it's very hot again, but so far there have been no major problems with the equipment.
There was a connection with Mötley Crüe on your debut album, specifically on the track Classless Act, which features a guest appearance by Vince Neil. How and who came up with this idea? Did it come from you or was the collaboration offered by Better Noise Music, the label you're under?
Our label arranged it, thank God. We had the song Classless Act finished and we all thought it sounded like Mötley Crüe, like Vince Neil was in it. So we asked the record company if we could get Vince on the song. They arranged everything, asked him, and he agreed: "Yeah, of course." The chorus goes "Welcome to the show," and when Vince sings it, it's actually like he's welcoming us to his show, which is nice.
There's also a lot of humour in your music. It reminds me of something that Cheap Trick used to do in the past.
Absolutely! I love the humour, all of us like a bit of fun in our music. I like crazy humour, like Zappa, Devo, and maybe Talking Heads. They know how to have fun. We take our music seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously. We want to make fun and make people feel good.
As a band, you're basically reviving the old, classic rock 'n' roll sound, taking inspiration from the 70s, 80s and even 90s. However, the way you guys have come together is quite modern. Describe to us how a band can be formed through social media. How did it all start?
It's crazy. Before I joined the band, the bass player reached out to them on Instagram, they had a singer, but through his Facebook they found me. Then we found another guitarist on TikTok. So we used every platform we could. Then when we were in a room together, that's when we put our phones away and we were trying to see if we're connected. And we were! We got along very well and we love each other. We used social media as a nice tool, but in the end, it's all about how much you like each other. It actually went pretty quickly. We liked each other immediately. Don't get me wrong, of course we fight a little bit, but that's okay. We all want the same thing, and that's what matters most.
You've been active since 2018 and not long after that you signed with Better Noise Music, which is a pretty big player in the music publishing field. How did that happen, was it a result of hard work, luck or a combination of both?
I know what you mean. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I've been playing music here for some twenty years, as have the other members, and we've played and played, but we haven't had any luck yet. It's been a combination of being prepared and learning how to write songs, how to sing properly and how to play our instruments well. But the main thing was when we met. It was just a perfect combination that made people attracted to us. It was us, the five of us, that caught the attention of the label. It wouldn't have been like that if it was just one of us. So yeah, it happened because of hard work in the past and perfect timing. Right place at the right time.
Your debut album is still a fresh thing. But I hear you had a lot of material for it. Have you started planning a follow-up or are you not rushing into anything unnecessarily yet?
We just started thinking about the next album. We were literally talking about it two days ago. We're going to be touring until next year, playing all over Europe and everywhere. We have a lot of material. I'd say at least five songs that we didn't put on the first record might go on the next one. Maybe we'll start writing new stuff. We've been waiting a long time. I'm excited to start writing today and try to get it on the album.
Is it true that you recorded the debut in Tommy Lee's studio?
Yes. And that's actually what helped us get the tour. Tommy would come by the studio from time to time to see what we were doing. So he got a feel for us, which then helped a lot when our management reached out to their management.
Is there any leader in your band? I mean, is there someone who has the main, final word and decides on the final form of the songs, the sound or even the music videos? Or is it that the whole band decides these things democratically?
It's very democratic. Sometimes when we write the songs, I'll bring a big idea, almost finished, so I take the lead on it and decide where and how. But sometimes Franco, the bass player, brings the whole song and takes the lead on it. We give each other the torch, sometimes we pass it to the drummer. It's fun that way. We all play very well on guitar and lead guitar. The drummer is also a very good guitar player, everyone plays the piano a little bit, everyone sings and everyone plays drums. So we keep each other in line. We're all able to be leaders, so we all take that position at different times.
As you mentioned, you're not only an excellent singer, but you're also a very skilled guitarist.
Oh, thank you very much.
Why do you only sing in Classless Act? Do you want to concentrate on singing and it would be harder with guitar?
That's actually one of the reasons I've realized in the last two years, when I learned how to use my voice. But at the same time, Griffin and Dane are brilliant guitar players, which I respect. I love their playing and I think they're perfect for what the band is. If I were playing guitar in this band, it wouldn't be Classless Act, but probably something more progressive. Sure, I write the riffs and give them to the band, but otherwise it has a different vibe. I focus on my vocals and they focus on their guitars, and I think that's a perfect combination.
I even saw on YouTube that you did some video guitar lessons for Fender. I have to say it's quite fun to watch you.
Thank you. I love teaching. I want people to have fun while they're learning.
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