It’s 8.20 AM on a sunny winter’s day in Sydney and I’m dialling Virginia, USA.
The first call drops out after about 1.2 seconds…I hit redial…and there’s an immediate pickup: and I’m greeted by a loud and long “Helloooooooo!’
It’s Derek Day, lead vocalist from up and coming LA rockers Classless Act on the line! ‘Hey I’m sorry I didn’t notice the call-that call was like, so quick! I don’t know what happened!’
That’s OK man-I’m in Australia, it can be a bit weird phone wise-we still talk into coconuts and stuff… (laughter)
Our first exchange-and it seems Derek likes my name… “Leeno Dee-I gotta say man you got a great name-that’s a great name my man!”
Thank you Sir. “It’s way cool!”
Derek, it must be said, has an infectious personality-you can feel the enthusiasm he has for what he and his band are doing. It’s a refreshing positive vibe that makes him easy to like. Quite apart, of course, from his liking my name…
Classless Act’s beginnings go back a few years, having all found each other over social media, which for musicians is I guess today’s equivalent of street press. The line-up evolved over those years having once also featured drummer London Hudson, son of Guns n’Roses guitarist Slash. Singer Derek Day was the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place and the picture does indeed now seem complete.
So, Derek, I’ve seen some live clips from the current tour, and looked at the official videos on YouTube -which I’ll ask you about later, but I must say for a band that pretty much came together on social media, Classless Act seem to have a very unified, team like spirit. I assume you all had pretty diverse backgrounds so I’m wondering are there any particular bands that everyone would agree on as being influential? Bands all the members of Classless Act could say you have as common ground? ‘Well yeah! We all love Queen and we all love The Beatles and we all love Led Zeppelin. Those three-no one in the band can deny it that we have those three in common. But everyone in the band does have, like, varied tastes-it just goes way out. Some people love like, you know, some really weird out there stuff (laughs). Oh and we actually do love Kiss too!”
Four out of Four. At this point I’ve deduced Derek and his band have excellent taste.
There’s been quite a buzz going around and I’ve been getting told ‘wait until you hear the Classless Act debut album – (Welcome To The Show) – you’ll love it- it’s one of the best rock albums of the year’-and I hear that a lot-but I’ve gotta tell you now that I’ve heard it I have to agree. You’ve made a great record – great production and songs. So well done! “Woh – thank you so much! That really means a lot”
Not at all. There are some great tunes on there. Tell me a little bit about the recording of this album-a lot of artists spent COVID in lockdown either writing or remote recording. Was that the case with Classless Act? Was it done over that prolonged lockdown period or did it happen quickly once the doors opened up again? “Yeah. We actually recorded half of it in 2019 with Bob Rock producing and we were feeling really good about it right when everything hit the fan – the world stopped and Bob had to go back home (to Canada) when COVID hit and we were like ‘Oh Man-we only got half a record done! And we reacted by just writing and writing all this new kind of stuff. So we kind of moved away from playing hard rock, like kind of old punk music into more like, say, slower, maybe more melodic songs and so we kind of meshed these two things together. We wrote all these new songs and recorded but we couldn’t fly Bob out because things with COVID were still a bit weird but that’s when we met Joe Chicarelli, (U2, Elton John, White Stripes and The Killers) who then finished the album for us at Sunset Sound in LA right at the start of 2021 so we had all these new songs, old songs, new vibes, old vibes up and down like a cool weird rollercoaster”.
That’s great-when you’re doing an album and by the time you’re well into it you find that you’ve come up with new material that you wanna put on there that gets you excited so that’s a pretty cool thing. “Yeah-that’s exactly how it happened!”
Your namesake track- Classless Act -features a guest vocal appearance from Vince Neil from Mötley Crüe – and was produced by your bassist Franco Gravante – how did Vince get involved? Did he actually come into the studio with you or was that a remote recording? “That was a remote recording – Vince was in Nashville while we were on the road travelling all across America doing another tour. He was actually in the middle of rehearsals for this current Stadium Tour – and he was just like, super busy but yet he still offered us his amazing vocals on that track which we’re super grateful for. He sounds great”.
Which brings me to another song- This Is For You – which features a guest appearance from The Darkness‘ vocalist and guitarist Justin fucking Hawkins!
‘Yes. And that is actually his middle name! His birth middle name!’ (Both laugh).
I wouldn’t be surprised. The solo he played on that song is just bullshit great. (More laughter) ‘I love that- (laughter) That’s the best way to describe it! ‘Bullshit great’!I love that!’”
Very cool. Did you have an existing relationship with Justin – had you met – or did you just approach him about it – how did that work? “Before we met Justin we were writing a song (which became Time To Bleed) over and over again – we had ten versions of the one song – we couldn’t finish it the right way – it just wasn’t coming together. We tried within the band, we asked other writers to get involved, and then our manager suggested – ‘hey-I have Justin’s contact – maybe we can reach out to him? I think he might have the special sauce. (Laughs) And so we sent him the demo – we reached out and he liked the demo. He had some free time and so it was like a Zoom session… and that song ended up being Time To Bleed. And he coined that phrase – (Time To Bleed) – talking about the world crashing and…we don’t have time to bleed. After that we just became good friends over like Whatsapp. And we had This Is For You already recorded but then we were like, dude, maybe we should have Justin like, kill it on the solo and it was just one of those things – we asked him and he said ‘sure lads!’ And he did it and he killed it and it was amazing”.
And you guys are doing the Stadium Tour right now (featuring Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Joan Jett) right? How many shows in are you at this point? “‘Yes Sir! We’ve already done three stadiums so far.’
Are you getting a chance to stick around long and watch all the other acts or is it a case of not having the time and having to pack up and get on the road to the next stop? “‘Well yeah, we try our best. We’ve already seen all the other acts at different times and it’s an incredible feeling but we’re driving in a van -like everywhere- and you should see the routes for this tour! It’s totally crazy. It’s like we’re going up here and then we’re going down here and then back again to where we were… it’s just like so crazy. And unfortunately we have to sometimes leave early ‘coz it’s like these twelve hour drives we’re doing. But we’re having the time of our lives!’
You’ve played a lot of shows thus far but is this your first real full scale tour together? “Not really. We’re so lucky. We’re so lucky to have had this last minute crazy tour come up from the end of March to the end of May-like a two month tour, and it was four shows a week with an LA band called Dorothy and there were club dates and like theatres and that was our first real crazy road trip together. The band and our tour manager. Man, I tell you we were driving on snow, we were driving in heat we were driving everywhere and we like, yelled at each other, we loved each other we hated other people, we loved other people… it was just this crazy beautiful thing that brought us so close. So now we’re doing this one and we’re just like- it’s great – a little more difficult but it’s definitely not a tough crazy first tour.’
How are you all holding up though? It can get pretty taxing with all the travelling and so on. Do you find you have to make lifestyle adjustments to keep fit? “Yeah, I think everyone in the band, along with our tour manager too are changing our lifestyles. We’re waking up way earlier than we… really want to… (laughs). We have to eat differently, we have to drink certain things, and maybe not drink certain things(laughs); our whole lives are changing really. And even on this tour- though it’s the second tour we’ve done it’s still like a whole new learning experience. I gotta tell you, I’m learning things about me-I gotta like, you know, act a certain way, internalise things and eat things (both laugh) and maybe, exercise a certain way- I dunno it’s crazy, crazy! But good”.
Looking at the series of videos you guys have put out-there seems to be a very present positive energy all wrapped up in a sense of humour that’s pretty entertaining, and with a seemingly continuing storyline that features the hapless Farley character. Are those a collaborative effort from you guys? ‘Yes Farley (laughs). That’s fantastic-thank you. We hope that comes across. The videos were kind of like a last minute thing because we were about to go on tour and hadn’t the album wasn’t yet ready for release but we thought ‘we need videos right?’ So we made them really quickly and it was a super collaborative fun experience. Our management was involved which was really nice because we asked them like, ‘give us ideas’ and they helped move things along and it was just a crazy fun experience.”
The Stadium Tour runs for quite a while, I think it’s about thirty more dates? So you guys are gonna be busy. But how soon do you plan to see the rest of the world? Are you keen to take Classless Act to Europe, the UK, Australia? “Absolutely, absolutely. Like our big plan is to just keep going, like keep touring, we’re just so grateful the world is not locked down anymore, and businesses are opening up again, people are out and smiling again. What we realised on the first tour was that people were getting there early to see the bands so…. that shows like, I mean, we’re just so grateful for that, we’re just so happy for that. So, we wanna go all around the world and share what we are and as soon as we’re done with this tour we’re gonna go right out again, and we’re gonna start, I think in October and you can definitely, before 2023, Australia, can definitely expect to see Classless Act. It’s looking like probably in November”.
Excellent. Now, important things: As often happens when musicians talk… the subject turns to… Beer. When I first went to the US I was told it’s all about Budweiser… So of course I tried it. Not to offend, but… “Ooooh…no! I’m so sorry you had to try Budweiser! I’m not a Bud fan, I don’t care what anybody says! If you didn’t like it that’s good-that means you have great taste! It’s like, it’s the cheap stuff! “(Both laugh)
Well, when you get here you’ll have to sample our Beer! ‘Oh my god, of course! We’ll do that! What are the Australian beers? What are they called? “Well, the famous ones you’ve probably heard of in the US are Fosters and perhaps VB – but we have stuff down here like Coopers, Crown, Boags and about a million great boutique beers that’ll knock you on your ass if you let them!
(Laughs)‘That’s what I want!’
Classless Act’s Welcome To The Show is out today – read our review of the album HERE