Whitney Flynn & Jesse Sendejas of Days N’ Daze

Train hoppin’ Texan’s, Days N’ Daze, have a brand new record on the horizon. As such, we tracked down founding members Whitney Flynn and Jesse Sendejas for a little chit chat about all things Days N’ Daze.

In fact, the new record, “Show Me The Blueprints“, officially drops today – May day. May 1st, 2020. Not only does this mark their first album for Fat Wreck Chords, its also their first non-DIY effort. You see, the folks in Days N’ Daze have always done everything for themselves. From the obvious parts like creating the music, to the mixing and releasing and everything and anything else you can imagine. And then probably things you can’t. Such is the Do It Yourself mentality.

Twelve years in, the fine folks in Days N’ Daze have chosen to let some of that ethic be handled by someone outside of the band. A first. That outsider, though, is the notorious Punk Rock label – Fat Wreck Chords. Fat Mike and company know a thing or two about DIY – and how to market anything to anybody, too. If you need an example of this truth, I challenge you to try buy a first-printing on colored vinyl of any of the label’s releases. Good luck.

“My main interest in workin’ with Fat was the chance to work with folks who’ve been playin’ and recording music for a while longer than me”, explains Jesse Sendejas. “The prospect of bein’ able to work with people I’ve looked up to musically and learn from them was somethin’ I just couldn’t pass up. Also, not gonna lie, it was really nice to not have to worry about runnin’ a board and mixing myself and all that. It was nice to be able to focus solely on the performance.”

“We have always said that with our music we wanted to work with friends and people we trust”, adds Whitney Flynn. “Having the opportunity after so many years of DIY to do just that with a broader audience and more connections is everything we could ask for in a label. The only thing that’s really changed with the band is the fact we aren’t recording in a closet anymore. Besides that, Fat Wreck has been the most encouraging and accommodating to us. Definitely being super respectful of our bands years of work.”

I personally feel that the groups sound was always building towards what this new record is. The eleven songs on “Show Me The Blueprints” are the epitome of the group’s evolution. A perfect balance. Harmony between the gruff and the sweet. The band consists of four main members, and a plethora that join in when the call comes in. As such, Days N’ Daze are able – and certainly willing – to compose songs with all manor of instrument. A close listen will reveal accordions and banjos. Ukuleles and washboards. Something called a gutbucket as well as the acoustic guitar.

But the instrument that brings it all together, is one that the band was originally against using. Fearing it didn’t have its place, amusingly enough. That instrument is, of course, the trumpet. And its usage, albeit nothing new to Days N’ Daze, is at its finest on this new output.

“We introduced the trumpet about three years after we formed the band in 2011”, says Flynn. “Previously, I was doing mainly vocals and some keyboard. But I had been playing the trumpet since I was a kid. At first we were hesitant on introducing it into our music because we really hadn’t found our sound yet and didn’t see it as fitting with what we were doing at the time. After having an electric bassist we found that bass lines were the key component to the trumpet sound in our music and it kind of took off from there. Personally I was ecstatic to bring my instrument of choice and expand my skill into the songs we write. I think looking back it was a real turning point in not only my confidence as a performer but also taking our music to where it is today.”

The number of instruments used has grown as the band has. Spreading far further than the typical folk punk or bluegrass band. And as such, I wondered aloud what else may one day be incorporated into their sound. Perhaps some form of further experimentation. Perhaps the duo of Flynn and Sendejas are content with the way the band now is, or perhaps we will find a harp solo ringing out someday. Time will tell.

“I always wanted to have a slide guitar in the mix of one of our songs and was stoked we got to fit it in on this new record”, says Flynn. “I had the idea for our last full length, “Crustfall”, to put in a sound clip of a movie reel behind one of the songs. Which ended up coming out awesome. The fact that we have a set live performance and a different recording lineup of instruments gives us that freedom of doing what ever we want which changes from song to song sometimes. Not sure what we’ll have in mind for future recordings but I’m always anxious to see what we’ll come up with next.”

“Yeah, I agree, adds Sendejas. “Having just the four of us live, typically, frees us up in a studio. We’ve always layered instruments when we record and that’s always been one of my favorite parts of the process. I’d really like to try out a hurdy-gurdy, we’ve had piano in a couple songs before but I’d like to incorporate more of that, and maybe some flute or tin whistle.”

Admittedly, I had to resort to Google to find out what a hurdy-gurdy was. It’s a medieval stringed instrument that produces sound by a hand crank-turned wheel. Something along the lines of a steampunk violin. Only not retrofuturistic. As always – I digress. How great would a tin whistle be on the next Days N’ Daze record, though! Think about it! 

See also : Days N’ Daze “Show Me The Blueprints” Review

Asides from the plethora of interesting instruments, “Show Me The Blueprints” also has many great lyrics. Much of it obviously comes from a place within. Through experience and miles traveled down life’s rickety paths. There is a real sense of realism in these words. Honesty. Some seem to be influenced by the great pen. Novels perhaps. Yarns of some kind no doubt.

“I think the main thing that drives me personally for lyrics is based mainly around life experience and challenging myself to express my own reality into words” says Flynn. “My writing style is more like poetry getting inspiration from (William) Wordsworth or (William) Blake. And musically from bands like Neutral Milk Hotel or The Taxpayers. I really should be reading more often especially during the quarantine. I just finished a book called A Little Life, which was a pretty heavy read. I’m not sure if I’m ready to dive into another book just yet.”

“Same for me” adds Sendejas. “I mean, I’ve written a song about the movie the Evil Dead and we have Goodbye Lulu that’s kinda just a goofy song. That’s not really about any specific stuff that ever happened. Aside from those few goofy songs we’ve got, everything we write is just because of a need to get thoughts and feelings onto paper. That if we left kickin’ around in our heads, may start to fester or feel toxic. I’ve not been reading enough lately either though. I did read Albert Camus’ The Stranger a few times while we were writin’ Show Me The Blueprints. So, that may have contributed to some of the bleaker lyrical content. Also, I’m a few chapters into House Of Leaves right now which, from what I’ve read so far, I’d definitely recommend.”

I would bet good money on stories the members of Days N’ Daze would tell, sat around a fire, would be quite interesting. Most people that spend a considerable time travelling have great tales. Stories of grandeur and those of great woe. Such is life on the road. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. And sorry I could not travel both. Be one traveler, long I stood. And looked down one as far as I could. To where it bent in the undergrowth.

“I think anyone that has talked to all of us at once about our insane tour stories would be interrupted by all of us. Laughing, cringing or being way too nostalgic and emotional”, teases Flynn. “The years of making it show to show by gas jugging, dumpster diving, busking, sleeping outside and breaking down every fifty miles has a lot of crazy out of this world stories. It’s been the most amazing ride from being just a band to forming our own little family in our own insane world.”

“Yeah, damn, there are just too many ridiculous tales of stupidity, friendship, failure, and triumph to even begin to write about here”, says Sendejas. “I honestly can’t pick just one or even a few without writin’ ya a novel. Next time we’re in the same neck o’ the woods let’s light up that fire and we’ll regale ya with some truly absurd anecdotes.”

I fully intend to take up that offer when live music resumes and we find ourselves in the same location. Prepare the marshmallows! Gather up the kindling, and lets stoke that fire. (When that fire dies down, though, then what will we do? Suffer post-party depression I suppose.)

There are so many different vocal styles on this new album (and those before it). It’s something the band is known for. There are times when the voice is as sweet as spring day in a beautiful field, and others where its as gruff as a knife fight in a train yard. Such contrast between these two.

“We try to focus on differentiating the vocals to compliment each other” said Flynn. “It isn’t necessarily a part that Jesse writes or he sings or vice versa which gives us the ability to use our voices as another musical element to make the best song we can. The inflections of our tone is mainly based on what message we are trying to portray. Sometimes it is sweet but in a haunting way or brutal in the kindest sense. That sort of creating each song as it comes really shapes what the final outcome will be. We definitely put a lot of thought into every word we say and the contrasting vocals help shape that to a huge extent.”

“Yup, Whit pretty much nailed that one” agrees Sendejas. “It’s definitely just a feeling thing. Seems to come, for the most part, pretty naturally the vocal tone we should use for different parts of songs.

The opening moments to the title track starts off with tremolo picking on a ukulele and has an almost death metal growl to it. Halfway through it, it feels like the soundtrack to a Western film starring John Wayne. There is so much going on in Days N’ Daze songs. I remember a time when, for example, punk kids wouldn’t talk to metal kids. And the country music folk would jump and physically attack anybody that looked different in any way, yet here we are, with bands like yours that are throwing everything into a blender, so to speak.

“Having two writers for one band can have that effect! It’s really an amazing process coming up with the final sequence to every album we make,” says Flynn. “We try our best to blend song by song to make the entire album not just fit into one singular emotion I suppose but a back and forth kind of feel. Also going back to the element that define each of us as people we take every inspiration and experience we have to make each song their own. It also gives people the opportunity to hate one of our song but love another, which I think is pretty awesome.”

“On a similar note,’ Flynn continues, “I think Jesse is a mastermind at throwing new elements to even individual songs. I can come to him with a song I wrote and he can turn it into a switch between fast tempo to a waltz. At the most unexpected times. Through the years it’s really helped me learn to look at the songs I write and think…what can I add? what’s missing? That element of surprise I think has helped define us as a band throughout the years.”

“Great answer and thanks for the kind words, Whit!” beams Sendejas. “As far as blending different genres into a single song I think we just get bored kinda easily . I like to try my best and make sure that a song never starts to sound stale halfway through.

The new album, “Show Me The Blueprints” is available as of today from Fat Wreck Chords. Or you can check out the Days N’ Daze bandcamp and score a whole slew of their music in digital form. A lot of which is available for a “name your price” donation. Lets remember that musicians rely on these revenues to survive now. Live music is on hold and stuck on the top shelf where Mammie keeps the cookie jar. Help out if you can!