Classless Act Gear Up For Mötley Crüe Opening Slot Friday At Wrigley Field
Categories: NewsPublished On: July 8th, 20221960 words
Two weeks removed from the release of their debut album Welcome to the Show, following a spring tour with blues rockers Dorothy, Los Angeles rock quintet Classless Act are back on the road alongside Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett as opening act on “The Stadium Tour,” one of the summer’s most anticipated outings.
It’s the culmination of a whirlwind year for the group, helping to usher in a new era of rock alongside young acts like Dirty Honey, Greta Van Fleet and Mammoth WVH.
Classless Act formed in 2018 and the run in support of Dorothy, which stopped at Chicago’s House of Blues in April, marked the group’s first major tour following two years forced off the road amidst pandemic.
While the extra time allowed them to fine tune Welcome To The Show – an album produced by legendary producer Bob Rock (Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Bon Jovi) in Crüe drummer Tommy Lee’s home studio which features guest appearances by Justin Hawkins of The Darkness as well as Mötley vocalist Vince Neil) – 2022 has allowed them to hone their live act, tweaking a performance that needs to resonate in massive outdoor stadiums as well as it does within the intimate confines of a small club.
I spoke with Classless Act about working with Rock on their first album, the importance of social media for a young band and performing Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field (an early set scheduled to begin about 3:45 PM). Highlights from two conversations recorded backstage at House of Blues in April and last week over the phone prior to a ‘Stadium Tour’ appearance in Charlotte, North Carolina follow below.
So you guys formed in 2018, right? How far along were you by the time the pandemic hit in early 2020?
FRANCO GRAVANTE: We had just finished the first half of the album right before the pandemic hit. We were scheduled to finish it and then that happened and we wound up on standby for like a year.
The cliche phrase these days is that “rock is dead.” I don’t subscribe to it. But what’s it like being part of this new, younger generation of rock groups helping to usher in a new era of rock?
DEREK DAY: What Zappa said about jazz: “Jazz isn’t dead. It just smells really funny.” It’s funny when people say rock is dead. That’s the name of Dorothy’s first album: ROCKISDEAD. That’s her first album but she rocks so hard.
How did you guys wind up on the Mötley Crüe radar?
FRANCO: We recorded the first half of the album in Tommy Lee’s studio actually – it was produced by Bob Rock. He used to come down in the middle of the sessions and just listen to it and have fun. He’s a pretty cool dude. Bob Rock and Tommy were friends. We’d spend a lot of time in the studio with Bob. We did like eight songs or something.
What was it like working with and learning from Bob?
DANE PIEPER: Even though Bob has produced bands dating back to the 80s and earlier, he was always willing to experiment with us, which was amazing. Because sometimes rock can be kind of put in like a bubble. But with all of our songs, he’d be like, “Why not try something out like this?” That was kind of his catchphrase: “Why not this?” So, a lot of experimenting. And, at the end of the day, we had a lot to learn from him. So, we really didn’t take a moment for granted.
Did you guys grow up as Mötley Crüe fans?
DEREK: Absolutely. My first band was like a Mötley Crüe, Skid Row cover band. We’d cover all of that stuff.
Growing up at a young age, where were you discovering acts like that? Who was exposing you to that stuff?
GRIFFIN TUCKER: Personally, for me, my parents are a huge factor in the music that I grew up with. Especially going to school, my mom would always play the radio. She always knew that The Beatles would be a safe thing to listen to when I was young. But I would always listen to all of their CDs. You’d get the classics like Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses and Queen and all of those great bands.
DEREK: Siblings, yeah.
I was listening to “Time To Bleed” this morning. And I love the message that’s in there about taking action. It’s a very nonpartisan message. How important was it to strike that chord and make sure that was part of the album?
CHUCK MCKISSOCK: I feel like it was very important.
FRANCO: I’m responsible for the music. Derek and Justin Hawkins gave me a hand with those lyrics and melodies. The message is pretty cool. One of my favorite lines is, “Woke ain’t a word, I think you mean awakened.” That always cracks me up. Shout out to Keith Nelson for producing and mixing that song by the way.
How did you guys get linked up with Justin Hawkins and what was it like having him on a few tracks?
FRANCO: It was amazing actually. Our manager introduced us to him. Really, really cool dude. He’s the best. He writes songs like on the spot. It’s amazing.
How important has social media been for you guys in terms of both creating and maintaining a bond with fans?
GRIFFIN: One of the big connections that I’ve really realized the more that we’ve played shows on [the Dorothy] tour is just putting so many faces to the profiles that we see on social media. We have so many wonderful fans that interact with us on our posts on Instagram or Twitter or any of these social media platforms. And we play these shows with Dorothy and afterwards we hang out at our merch table. And fans come up and say, “Hey, I’m so and so on Instagram!” And we’re like, “Oh my gosh! I almost forgot that you are a real person!” It’s unbelievable to think that someone outside like a five mile radius knows who we are, you know? And it’s just humbling. It’s an honor to get to see those people face to face.
DANE: I think it’s really important to put a face to the music. I think why some people have the conception that rock is dead is that that kind of icon status really isn’t there that much anymore. When you hear of all of these bands like Guns N’ Roses or the Rolling Stones, you associate all of these things: Slash and Axl Rose with Guns N’ Roses, Mick Jagger with the Stones. With a lot of bands coming out, you don’t really know too many of the names or faces. So I think hanging out by the merch table is great to really let our personalities shine, so that whenever someone sees the name Classless Act, they imagine a face with it and a personality and energy with it.
So how have the stadium shows gone for you guys so far? How many has it been now?
FRANCO: Five? Six? I think five. It’s been going great. People really like it. Everyone is being so nice to us. All of the crew, the production team, the guys from Poison and Mötley, Joan Jett. Everyone has been so kind and generous. They always say, “Whatever you need, just let us know.” But besides that the shows are going great thank god. People are liking it. I’m really having a good time.
Any baseball fans here as we look ahead to Wrigley Field?
DANE: Chuck and I grew up playing baseball and watching baseball. So even performing at these venues, hearing that it’s sold out…
CHUCK: There’s two for sure at Fenway Park which is outrageous. There’s one at Wrigley. So that’s another crazy thing to think about. Baseball, man!
DEREK: I love baseball too. I grew up with it too. I played some tee ball and some other stuff.
DANE: Aside from the hometown shows, there are a lot of new facilities too like SoFi Stadium. Derek, me and Franco saw the Rolling Stones play there last summer. What I’m also looking forward to is the stadium in Las Vegas. It’s brand spanking new. That’s where the Raiders play. So it’s crazy to think that we have the opportunity to play these top notch facilities.
DEREK: To me, it’s become super clear why Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Joan Jett and Poison need a stadium to perform: Because they can just fill those seats up. It makes sense why they can still fill those seats up. They just have the whole audience in the palm of their hands. So one thing I’ve learned about performance is that there’s a certain epicness you need to have to play this kind of music – not just in your presence but in your songwriting. And I felt like, “OK. These are really great songs. And there’s a reason why they have stadiums.” So that’s one thing I learned from an artist perspective.
Being together each night on stage during soundcheck and during the shows, off stage in the bubble, has that given you an opportunity to play around a bit, see how things evolve and see how you can push it?
DEREK: Absolutely. For me, vocally, I’m figuring out I can do funny things and fun things. But we always tend to have a lot of little band meetings sometimes before or after a show or the next day – “Hey, this was cool…” “Hey, let’s fix this…” “Let’s try that…” Mainly those meetings are about performance but every now and then we tweak some things.
GRIFFIN: For us, some of our favorite bands – for me, Zeppelin, I’m sure for Chuck it’d be like the Dead – but one of my favorite things to do when performing songs is like knowing where the line is, know where you can’t go too far but can push it just far enough so that you don’t go too far past. So we play the songs as they’re supposed to be played but maybe we try just like a few different licks maybe – throw it in and put it under the radar. So there’s always a little bit of spontaneity that keeps it fresh every night.