Days N’ Daze, a band from Houston that performs folk-punk, gave me the chance to interview them on Zoom to sit down and talk about interpersonal relationships, music, and other real-life issues. I was allowed to chat with lead singers Whitney Flynn and Jesse Sandejas along with my best friends Leanne and Hannah Swain, for some fan questions. Their music is worldly renowned, with millions of views on YouTube and thousands of followers on Spotify. Along with producing, they independently record and promote their music that touches base with reality, environmental issues, anxiety, alcoholism, partying, and so much more.
Are you working on any cool projects?
(W) “Yeah, I’m volunteering and doing paperwork, I’ve also done this Amazon “pay it forward” thing where you can go to other people’s Amazon, and you can buy stuff from them, and they can do the same for you! This has been the first time I’ve been off in almost ten years. At first, I got depressed, I haven’t spent more than two months in one place in years, so it’s like “What am I going to do with my life? My life is over” And then I told myself, “No, I have so much to do!” And thus, that’s what Days N’ Daze have been doing. They are expecting to release a new album on Friday, and I am incredibly excited to hear what they have in store for us!
What got you into your musical career?
(J) “Boredom, primarily. My dad showed me my first banjo and stuff, but playing music was because Whitney and I moved to San Marcos, and we didn’t know anybody. I had a guitar, and we needed something to fill our time with.” (W) “Yeah, I grew up playing piano and started playing the trumpet when I was (about) 12. So I’ve been playing music my whole life; I never expected to do it for a living, but I am super stoked on it.”
If you were going to be doing anything other than music, what would it be?
(W) “I think I’d be doing the thing I still wanna do, which is finishing my degree in family and child development and open a nonprofit drop-in center for homeless youth. I think I should finish next year.”
(H) What artist do you admire? Have you met them, and if so, how did it go?
(J) “I met, and I know Sturgeon. He’s been my idol for all of my childhood. Whitney actually lives with him. Hanging out with Fat Mike has been surreal, he’s such a sweetheart. I have been dealt a pretty great deal as far as meeting people and have them be pretty nice to me. I remember when we met SonReal and when we were recording this last album at Uncle Studios, and I was waiting to get in the restroom, and the door opened up, and it was SonReal that walked out, I was star struck!”
Who inspired you to make music?
(W) “My grandfather, for sure. He was a blues and jazz saxophone player. He raised me with music, he bought me my first trumpet, and I feel like I play in his honor every time.” (J) “My dad raised me on punk rock and pushed me to learn new instruments. Artistically I think if Whitney and I never heard Pat The Bunny, this never would have been a thing.” (W) “For me, it took a while to get into folk-punk. Jesse pushed me and made me realize I need to embrace this, or I’m going to be miserable for the rest of my life. It took time but it grew on me and I think that incorporating my trumpet and extra formula sounds helps me relate to it in an emotional sense. It went from music that someone’s playing to this music that I’m a part of, and now it’s my entire life.”
(L) What inspired you to write Crustfall?
(J) “I don’t think that I’m afraid of a lot these days, I’ve kind of learned to work around a lot of the fears that I do have. The one thing that haunts my life is that everyone around me will be gone, and I needed a way to express that, so it wasn’t just bumping around in my head. It’s terrifying, and I try not to think about it. I mean, you wake up, and you go to bed, and you try to save off those existential thoughts, but when they do start creeping in, it’s impossible to extinguish them. Therapy is expensive.” (W) “Talking about ‘Crustfall’ is a really beautiful experience about being a part of a band because I feel privileged to hear a song, and it crushes my inside. It’s everything that I didn’t know how to say. It’s an extension of all our relationships in our life, being able to express all of those things.” (J) “It’s a fear of losing those people and me not being around to take care of those people, if I go before them at least they can listen to this song and hear my voice telling them that I love them.”
What does your creative process consist of doing?
(J) “Typically, when we’re on the road, I’ll jot down little notes. When I get home and settle down, I’ll flip through them and piece them together like a puzzle.” (W) “I can co-write like crazy, but sometimes when I write a song by myself, it can take up to two years. Sometimes when it’s super late, I’ll write like ten pages and get tired and pass out. When I wake up, I go back to it. I have to read through these manic poems.” (J) “And when we come together, she comes to me with these thoughts, almost like a brick of marble, and we gotta shape it down into the statue.”
Has this pandemic helped you artistically?
(J) “I feel like I’ve grown as a musician because of these live-streams and crushing boredom. I have a giant piece of plywood in my garage. I call the song monolith that I’ve meant to record. It’s like seven songs but all mixed in this mashup. I feel like I’m better at the guitar now, and I did just write and record a rap song.”
What is one message you would like to give to your fans?
(J) “You’re not alone. Times are weird; they’re always weird. I mean, this is an unprecedented situation, but when things are “normal” things are still tough. Don’t keep it to yourself because you got family, friends, professionals in this industry. If you need to hit us up, just don’t suffer in silence. Holding it in is toxic, it’s bad news.” (W) “Just make it through the night, even if the night is a year long. From my struggles and addictions and mental health, I feel like I can say this with the most honest heart that I can. There are bad days, and you’re allowed to have them, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad life. That year is not your entire story; it’s just a part of it.” (J) “In short, this too shall pass…you got friends!”
(H) Do you guys have any hobbies to help with creativity or to pass the time with this pandemic?
(J) “I play a ton of video games, and recently I’ve been painting miniatures for tabletop gaming. I love playing and listening to music, and my life has become pretty saturated with it, so it’s nice to take a break from it and paint a little dragon.” (W) “My hobby is super boring. I am a “serial planner.” I love stickers and post-it notes and calendars and spreadsheets. I’m getting a blank calendar in the mail, so I can make my own planner and have that be my next project. My hobby is planning my work.”
(L) How did everyone in the band meet?
(W) “I went over to Jesse’s house, and I ended up telling my boyfriend that I was going to date the fuck out of him. And then we were together for five years.” (J) “We were playing a show, and our gutbucket player couldn’t make it because he just had a baby, so we had an open gutbucket night and found Jess. Unbeknownst to me, Whitney recruited him. Meagan hit me up on Facebook one day and we met up and traveled. I had a washboard that she was playing; when my little sister quit the band, I hit up Meagan, and she was about it.”
Do you have your creative differences when it comes to writing songs?
(J) “Really tiny stuff that no one would care about, and we get over it quickly. We work well together as a creative team.”
What are your favorite and least favorite venues?
(W) “I guess they aren’t places I don’t like; they are places where things have happened. It’s closed down now, but there was a place called Ponderosa, and I fell through the floor! It was right after my car accident and everyone thought I tripped but my leg was actually inside the floor. I lived near the venue, so it was a sentimental place but also a very dark place for me. There was this one time where we were stink bombed at a house show where there were about 100 people. We thought the house was on fire.” (J) “It was a tiny basement too, like 15×15, and we were in the back of the room too, and we had this (what it looked like) military swat smoke grenade rolling in front of us, and it was like this goddamn war movie. They were big smoke bombs too.” (W) “We ended up getting out, but the entire three-story house was engulfed with smoke. We ended up finishing the song, though!” (W) “I do remember this one time at a place that I won’t promote where when we got there, we started looking around, and we knew something was wrong. We looked around and noticed that the bartenders were wearing SS (Nazi) shirts. I just said we will not play here, so we ended up playing in the parking lot in the freezing cold. They ended up threatening us and said they’d call cops. We ended up playing outside anyway and… Nazi’s hate us, which is awesome! When the people you hate and should hate, hate you back, you’re doing something right.” (J) “A good venue though was Super Happy Fun Land (Houston), and we’d play every other day. Bossanova in Portland, The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and the Lookout Lounge were good places too.”
(H) How do you come up with the album art?
(J) “Elliot Lozier from We The Heathens did our last album cover art for us. He’s done design work and posters for us too.”
How do you feel the internet has impacted your musical career?
(W) “Well, GPS is incredible; when we first started doing shows, I would print off MapQuest for the first three months. We would have to follow it from venue to venue until we got to the next show. Which was intense.” (J) “This (our Zoom chat) is cool too, the fact that we can talk to people and have a close relationship with people is a huge deal for me. I love that we can write a song and scream into the void and have it echoed back by somebody who feels the same way as we do and it makes me feel less alone. Hopefully it makes them feel less alone as well. That’s the biggest part for me is the social aspect of using the internet to get our music out there to people who like it.” (W) “People don’t have to go to CD shops to get our music, and it’s available on the internet and iTunes and other outlets, so it’s beneficial.”
What is your favorite song that you’ve written, and why?
(J) “I like ‘Wholesale Failure.’ The day that we were supposed to release ‘Crustfall,’ we wrote that song, and we recorded it the same day and released it. That song sits real deep with me.” (W) “I think the song that I wrote ‘Rewind’ is the closest I have gotten to explaining my bipolar. I call it my manic letter to myself. I wrote it in 30 minutes and it exploded out of me. I was able to express that in a way that people can understand me a little bit better. I also love ‘Shit Luck;’ we all knew my grandpa was about to pass, but before that, he would make me sit down and play on the piano ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow.’ He told me I needed to play this at his funeral, and then he passed. I played the song on my ukulele, and that same night I created ‘Shit Luck.’ I actually had taken some of the notes from that song and switched it around. By the time I finished writing it was when I was ready to head back home. It was this full circle of that moment from needing to disappear to coming back home.”
What is the best advice you have ever received?
(J) “Not every lyric has to rhyme; that has always sat in the back of my mind. It’s a song, and you can say whatever you want.” (W) “My mom gave me the best advice, and she told me that the best revenge is success. It’s torture for the ones that want to bring you down. If you want to do anything, do it for yourself, fuck em all!”
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
(W) “It’s a boys club. When a man whispers, it sounds the same as a woman screaming. There are all these levels of having to prove yourself, and it’s a double standard. Every generation is paving that way for equality and for our screams to be in conversations and be understood. That’s why we have to scream so people will listen.”
I couldn’t be more grateful for the time spent with Days N’ Daze talking about life, music, and what genuinely makes us happy. I found kindness and truth in our conversation and so much more. To top off a fantastic interview, they also touched base about their new album, which drops in 24 hours! Need new tasteful and raw, uncut music in your life? You can grab Show Me The Blueprints here on May 1st!
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