Interview with Classless Act – “It’s kind of a story about being a victim of circumstance.”
When we mixed up our zoom codes and ended up in a surprise interview with Derek Day of CLASSLESS ACT, little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. This charismatic lead singer of this up-and-coming American rock band won us over instantly, so when the release of the band’s debut album, “Welcome to the Show,” was on the horizon for June 2022, we knew that we needed another interview with them STAT to catch up on what’s been up since their recent tour, and how they’re feeling about their first album coming out at long last!
Hello again! I am back with… tell me again who you are because I love to hear you say it.
I AM DEREK DAY from CLASSLESS ACT. [laughter]
Such enthusiasm all the time, I absolutely love it.
Thank you. [laughs]
Well, it has been about a year since we last talked. You guys have done a whole tour since then, you’ve got your first album coming out, so… how the heck are you?
I’m doing fantastic. I mean, that tour was crazy. It was like forty shows in sixty days. We recorded a whole album and we’re dropping it in like a week… no in a week and a half or so. June 24th. A lot is going on and we’re leaving in like 4 days to get on the road again. So I’m feeling fantastic.
There ain’t no rest for the sickest.
[laughter] Yeah there ain’t no rest for the sickest, baby.
Sounds like you guys haven’t gotten much of a chance to rest at all. Are you even… emotionally prepared for the release of this album?
[laughs] Does it look… does it look obvious? It looks like I haven’t rested in a while.
It looks like that kind of good exhausted, like you guys have been having a great time.
Thank you. Yeah, and really it has been. Being on the road has been super tiring but always fun. It’s really weird. Like you’re always tired, but really having a great time.
You talked before about the great band chemistry that you guys have. So now you’ve officially road-tested it so… still strong team? Still all-in?
Yeah, that’s a great thing to bring up actually, because we learned a lot about each other, but no, we just love each other way more. We really, we just vibe more. Now we make more jokes about other things and it’s just awesome. It’s amazing.
Now you have tour memories and inside jokes to go back to as well.
Yes, yes, that’s true. Yes.
Well, speaking of the tour, I have to ask, obviously, best Spinal Tap moment from the event? I know you have to have a few.
Oh, the whole thing was like Spinal Tap. [laughter] The whole thing. I can’t… I mean, we’ve literally had moments where we were just walking around like, where do we go? How do we get to the stage? Best Spinal Tap moment. Oh, man. I wish I thought of this because there’s a lot. I don’t know, probably just… well, okay, so there’s been many times where… we’re the first of three bands on that first big tour. So there’s many times where we didn’t get to soundcheck and we just had to run on stage. I think it was maybe like, just somewhere in Washington or like somewhere like in Denver or something where we just ran onstage without hitting a single… we never got to plug in and just ran on stage and we’re like, “Alright, let’s play.” We were in tune and we sounded good, but it was just, I don’t know, I always thought that was funny. Like, you didn’t have a chance to check your sound, you just like went on and started playing and I don’t know. It doesn’t sound exciting, but it’s really exciting for a band that needs to soundcheck. We just never did.
Well, that sounds like a good time one way or the other. So obviously a big tour and, as I said, road testing the band chemistry, so did you learn any big important lessons as a band on this first tour that you’re going to take on to your next tour?
I think we all learned collectively to be easygoing and be really… try to be as easy to work with as you can be. We didn’t have to learn the hard way. We just learned through going through the motions. We’re like, okay, there’s a lot of different people involved. Every venue has a whole different team and managers and everything, let’s just trying to be helpful and be awesome and try to be as cool and appreciative and grateful, and we were.
Positive energy. Exactly. Actually that’s another lesson. We learned I think to be even more positive within our own team, when we’re in the van, when we’re in the hotel, or wherever we are. Let’s just show love and appreciation to each other about what’s going on, like, “Hey, this is awesome. That person was awesome. This is cool.” And it just gets bigger, just feels awesomer. That’s the big lesson.
Positivity breeds positivity, I love it. So did you get to try out all of your album songs on the tour or were there any songs that you didn’t play live?
No, we didn’t get to play all of them. We wanted to really kill it, so we picked like our favorite eight or nine songs and we just played [them] over and over again. We just needed to just really kill those because we just wanted to be awesome.
One of the things I love about watching new bands on tour and then watching them as they grow is you get to see them starting a little more nervous and like, “Okay, we have to nail this it has to sound really good, we have to impress everyone,” and then after you know a couple of albums cycles, maybe that first album starts to come really naturally and then maybe then [the band] starts to play with it a little bit more and stuff like that. It’s really, really fun to watch. So, did you feel that you went through any of that nervousness in the early shows, getting a little more natural as it went?
Yeah, absolutely! I went through like a weird… I learned so much about my voice and a lot about my body. Like I didn’t know I could do things and I was so nervous, I didn’t realize it was me locking up and not being as awesome or breathing as much, so it was it was a nervousness in a different way. It was more technical, but yeah, because we’ve played a bunch of shows here in L.A., so I felt like, “oh, we got this, I could kill it,” but I didn’t realize until like the tenth show, “oh, this is how you sing, this is how you move,” and stuff like that. So yeah, in a weird technical way, yeah.
That’s interesting, because I guess you’ve been pretty used to the same stage for quite a while as the house band of the club. So you got to now go out and try all the different stages and see what different flavors there are out there.
Yeah, yeah. Oh my god, and it’s been so cool. We’ve played like, House of Blues, we played – like you said – clubs, we played theatres, we played smaller bars. We just touched on every little thing in America. It was so cool.
Well, so first of all… I love this album. You absolutely lived up to my expectations completely, not a single disappointing song on it. I was really delighted. What’s even better is I feel like either you guys or the label or someone played a magnificent prank, because all of the singles kind of give you guys this vibe of being this young MÖTLEY CRÜE, GUNS ‘N’ ROSES kind of band. But after listening to the whole album that feels like an insult. It’s so much more interesting and diverse than just old classic hard rock/hair metal. Absolutely unexpected, blew my mind. I was really impressed.
I love that! I love you! Thank you for saying that. Wow, I don’t know what to say to that. I just think… thank you, because we really we love that classic rock ‘n’ roll style, but we also love veering a little bit and maybe being a little weird or being a little funny or having more intricacy and more you know, whatever. I don’t know, something else.
Oh, well, it’s great. You love when you find a band and they release some really good singles and you’re like, “okay, yeah, this is like good, modern hard rock. It’s all right. Yeah, that’s fine. It’s perfectly okay.” Then you listen to the whole album and it sounds kind of the same. But no, you guys snuck a bunch of other stuff in there, but not in the singles. So you’ve painted kind of a certain picture of yourself, but then there’s like all of this extra spice for the people who picked the full album and who decided to check you guys out completely. There’s like, really just again, you’ve got like jazzy stuff and then you’ve got like, more moody stuff. And the last two songs, for example, are just so great. I can’t even say if I would classify “Circles” as a ballad or not. It could be, it could not be…
I think it is maybe a sort of ballad, a 12-string guitar or a ballad? Yeah, I mean, that’s awesome. I really appreciate you saying that. I think… yeah, we just like… yeah, I don’t I don’t know. And trust me, this album was born out of like fifty demos. You know, we wrote like a hundred songs and we were like, “okay, let’s pick these twelve and do this.” So there were things that were like really David Bowie-ish and things that were really Tom Waits-ish and really weird like, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS-ish, and all these weird, crazy songs, and we’re just like, “okay, maybe, maybe that one.” And you’re right, the singles are a lot more hard rock, but the whole album has like, “oh, maybe I’ll do this.”
Maybe Derek’s gonna try a little bit of a lower range and maybe he’s gonna rock it completely.
[laughter] I’m excited!
Well, tell me what some of your favorite songs are to sing, because it sounds like you’ve got a lot to choose from and it sounds like they’re a lot of fun to sing, too.
I’m ready for this question, because we just had like an 8-9 hour rehearsal yesterday – oh my gosh – for the tour and we have one coming up soon. I don’t have a watch, anyway. My two favorite songs… three favorite songs to sing… one is “Haunting Love.” I love singing it because it’s such a challenge. The lyrics come right after the other and there’s no second to breathe and it teaches me how to sing correctly. I’m still learning how to sing it, to be honest. I love “Haunting Love” and it’s just… beautiful melodies, written by our bass player, Franco [Gravante]. And I love singing “Circles,” because it’s just it always makes me tear [up] and it always makes me feel like it’s… it’s a song that is talking about what we’re doing now. It’s like, live your dreams, live them, and we’re living our dreams. So when I sing it now, I get really emotional. It’s really nice. The last one maybe… oh my god, okay, there’s two more. I’m sorry. [laughter] There’s no favorite, I just have so many, I just love them all. I love to sing “Made in Hell,” because it’s a crazy super weird song to sing. It’s really high, but that’s another song where I have to use my diaphragm and just think, but also have fun. It’s funky and feels good with the funk. And “Give It to Me”! I love singing “Give It to Me.” I feel like kicking my legs up in the air every time. That sounds really hard rock, but somehow it feels funky to me. I don’t know why. But yeah, those four.
I love it. Good choices, always. “Circles” has been popular in this house. When me and my partner are walking around, every time that one comes on, someone’s always like, “yeah, this is a good one. Yeah, this is real good. Yeah, we like this one.”
Fun fact, that was produced by Bob Rock who did METALLICA, he produced the “Dr. Feelgood” album by MÖTLEY CRÜE, he did Michael Buble. So he gave it that real ethereal, fun, cool space.
I love it. My other maybe even surprise personal favorite was – now I’m gonna say it wrong, wait – “The Storm Before the Calm,” because I love a good word play and it just it works. It works real well.
Damn, Bear, shoot! Yeah, everyone calls it something else or yeah, whatever before the whatever. [laughter] But that’s awesome. Thank you, that’s great. That one is so fun to do because it’s like a modern thing. It’s super feels modern. We’re trying to be a little more modern.
I like it. It’s good that… it doesn’t need too much energy to show off what it’s got going on. It’s more of like a subtle punch in the face than a blindside.
[laughter] Regardless, a punch in the face.
[laughter] Indeed. All right, so were all of these songs on this album written with like someone from the label or someone from another band or with a guest or is there anything that’s just pure you five on the album? Or does it all have a little hint of someone else in there?
That’s a great question, actually. So like, two or three of them are just me. I just wrote them. Some of them are just Franco, the bassist, and he plays keyboards and guitar himself. He’s a genius. He also produced our main song, “Classless Act,” our last single. Then there’s like a handful of songs that we wrote with really cool songwriters. Keith Nelson from BUCKCHERRY, producer and guitar player, we got to write with him. We got to write with Justin Hawkins. We wrote “Storm Before the Calm” with a really incredible songwriting group called The Heavy and we were just writing with everyone over 2020. So a lot of those… it was them and the whole band, you know, it was everybody and, you know, there’s a song on there called “Walking Contradiction.”
Ooh, I like that one.
You like that one? Cool! That one has sort of a… I don’t know, an alternative maybe MCR kind of vibe.
It fully reminds me of “Helena” by MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE.
Yes! I love that, because frickin’ “Helena” is like… I love MCR. I love it. And “Helena” is a genius song. Oh, but that song was something Dane [Pieper] wrote. Dane is the rhythm guitar player, but he has these great choruses, he has great structures. He’s like, “let’s play this.” And then Chuck [McKissock], the drummer was like, “how about this on the guitar?” He like plays guitar too. So it’s very intuitive and people were really involved, grabbing things, and then we had maybe an outside writer suggest how to take it to a pop place. It’s like things were written in all sorts of ways on the album, which I really love.
Sounds like a lot of fun though, too. You get your own flavors, but then you get little bits of inspiration from all over the place.
Yeah, totally, from different people. We’ve written with guys from Nashville, from New York, from Switzerland, from here in L.A., and just us, so it was… it’s like, how can you not get a great feeling from that? So fun.
Well, the other major thing I wanted to ask about then was these music videos, because again, someone’s playing some sort of prank here because there’s no part one in these shenanigans.
You’re busted! You’ve released part two, part three, and part four of this music video story – that’s very weird, I must say [laughs] – but yes, we don’t know what the inciting incident was.
Cool! That’s exciting because there is a part one. [gasps] Yes, and it’s coming out when the album drops. On June 24th, the album drops and then we’ll throw out a music video in everyone’s face: this is part one! So yeah, and OH MY GOD, I actually love part one. Part one’s my favorite video. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s just, you know, it’s a sequence of events that take place in a world where crime and love and life and happiness, hates and everything, is involved. You know what? Now that I think about it, it’s kind of a story about being a victim of circumstance, the whole four songs. It involves, you know, you can be a good person but maybe life doesn’t go your way. You’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in the end, that challenge itself is something that is wonderful, it’s spectacular. You should learn to you know, conquer it. So it’s a story of conquering the unfair.
I love it. What is it the guy says, he just wants to sit on the beach and eat hot dogs, or something like that?
[laughter] Yes, some crazy thing. Those subtitles are crazy.
The subtitles are crazy and they go really fast too. We had to watch these a few times, just like, “What is going on?”
[laughter] They’re crazy, but we love that. We wanted it to be like that, “blaaah, take them away, take them away.” That’s like our vibe usually. Raagh, you know?
I love it. Did did you actually go to film in hospitals and courtrooms and everything like that or were they all just sets that were set up for you?
Those were sets. And here’s a fun factoid: we filmed all four videos in the span of like 8 hours. All of them like bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.
So that guy that’s saying like, “onto the next shoot,” he’s just being legit at his job?
Yeah! [laughs] Goddang, I love you, Bear. Bear Wiseman, you frickin’… you paid attention. I love that and I love this about you! But yeah, he like comes in and he’s literally just like okay, “let’s go, we don’t have time, we have three more videos. We have two more videos, we have to run.” So everyone’s like, “okay, let’s go,” we change our shirts and everything.
Now you guys have one more big tour coming up. So now you’ve got the prep tour under your belts, how are you feeling going into the big tour now?
Oh man, we feel really ready. We had our first rehearsal yesterday, which is a little foolish because it’s like… leaving like in a couple of days. But we’re playing songs and we were doing things that were like, “whoa, we really have this, we’ve got it.” Like we haven’t played with each other in a couple of weeks. Actually, the first time yesterday and it was like, well, we just know each other’s tendencies and stuff. And we’re fixing things right away, which I really love. Like, “oh, wait, fix this,” like, “change that guitar part,” or “maybe do this,” and you know, so… man forty shows in sixty days really makes you just… intuitive or really awake. You’re like, clairvoyant, you know? So we’re just frickin’ ready. We can’t wait. And it’s something… we don’t know what to expect because we’ve never done anything like this ever before, but we’re just gonna go out and have super fun. That’s all we promised ourselves. It’s like, blaah [laughs] and do that everywhere.
Is there any chance Vince Neil is gonna come sing his song with you?
[gasps] Okay, I don’t know. I would think there’s a good possibility. I would say yes. We haven’t spoken to him about it yet because he’s been super busy. He’s been rehearsing for the last 4 months with the band and everything. But he sang on that on the album. I don’t know. I think maybe, perhaps? I would say get there early guys, because you know, I think Vince might actually do it. We know him, he’s a super sweet guy. He’s a homie!
Awesome. Well, I for one, am deeply sorry that I won’t be able to see you on this tour because I don’t live in the US, but I hope you guys have an amazing time and absolutely check out the new album, comes out on June 24th. I can say right now it’s fabulous. You’ll really enjoy it. Do you have any last words anything else you want to say?
I think… no, you said it all. I just want to say June 24th, June 24th, June 24th, album! Listen to it! Drop it! Follow us on Spotify. Please everyone, if you can, it really helps rock ‘n’ roll get into people’s ears. You know, there’s a lot of other music out there, but if you want rock ‘n’ roll in your ears, follow us on Spotify. It’ll give us more streams and it’ll have 1.21 jigawatts and isosceles triangles, on I don’t know, I feel like I’m saying just random things right now, but you know, that’s all. I just love… and I love everyone who’s been supporting us and I just… and I… Bear! You’re the best. I love talking to you. I wish we could just talk for like 6 more hours. You’re the best. By the way, I promise we’ll be in Europe next year. I promise.
If you get to Europe, I will definitely come see you guys somewhere. Even if you don’t get to Finland. I’ll find you.
Yeah. Yeah. [laughter]
Amazing. Well, thank you so much. We’ll definitely do this again, as soon as we can. I’m sure I have another interview’s worth of questions already, so have another amazing time on the tour and best of luck with the album release!
THANK YOU! Thank you. [laughs]