Latest release: Welcome to the Show (Better Noise)Website: www.facebook.com/classlessact/
It’s the stuff dreams are made of, the type of story everyone who’s ever been serious about being in a rock and roll band wants to come true. LA rockers Classless Act are five days into one of the biggest stadium tours in North America right now – and their debut album only dropped today.
“You would not believe the day I have had!” cries exuberant frontman Derek Day, hastily tidying up the hotel room before he sits down to chat.
“It’s insane, man. It’s craaaaaaaazy – I can’t even describe it!” he says, with a wild and wide-eyed enthusiasm reminiscent of a young Sebastian Bach. “This is exactly what I thought it would be, without knowing what it would be! Before, I was like, I’m sure this is going to blow my mind – and it does blow your mind – especially singing songs I’ve written. There’s something to that that’s really nice. Sometimes it’s 5000 people, sometimes it’s 8000. But the last show we played in Orlando, Florida, was 21000 people! Which was for our set, at 3pm! It was crazy. I don’t know what to think… there’s so much room to run around!”
Day and the rest of Classless Act will have plenty of room to move for a while as they go through the US with Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts on a massive 36-date stadium tour. While they are still only a few days into it, they have already been warmly welcomed by the Poison camp.
“We’ve only done three shows, so we’re just trying to ease our way in to being friends with everybody,” the singer says. “Immediately, on the first show, Bret Michaels and CC Deville — everybody from Poison — just took us in as their nephews.”
There might be something in the sudden success and brash ebullience of the new(-ish) LA band that reminds the Poison lads of their own youthful explosion onto a scene that spawned one of the music industry’s biggest feeding frenzies back in the 1980s, something in which they can find a kinship. Classless Act certainly grabbed the attention of Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee and Vince Neil. It was Lee who helped them land the tour and Neil does a guest spot on the album’s opening cut. Another of Day’s idols also makes an appearance on Welcome to the Show: Justin Hawkins of The Darkness not only helped them pen a tune, he lays down a scorching solo on This is For You.
“We just reached out to him and asked him to finish writing a song with us. We wrote this song called Time to Bleed, but we couldn’t find the right words for it, so he finished writing it with us, and then we were like, ‘Play a solo on this!’ and he was like, ‘Sure’ and after that we kind of became friends. I grew up with Permission to Land, one of my top five favourite albums ever. It’s so good.”
Day’s excitement level is high for the current tour – something that would not have happened for them had it gone ahead last year, as originally planned – but he is ecstatic about the release of his band’s album that they started recording in 2019 at Tommy Lee’s studio under the eye of producer Bob Rock.
“We’re still excited for the stadium tour, but we’re really excited for our first album! We’ve been wanting to release it forever,” he says. “We recorded half of it in the beginning to 2019, but if you put it all together, we did it in about a month. We did a couple of weeks here, wrote a bunch more songs, took another two weeks and the whole album was done. But it was all about timing and putting it out at the right time.”
Holding off the album’s release is now paying dividends for the new band so far, as they open in front of thousands every day for most of the US summer. Day is having the time of his life, and is completely unable to contain his enthusiasm at any point of the interview.
“I’m just glad we did a stadium show, and we’ve done three! That memory will always be with me. No matter what happens after this, I will be very grateful no matter what. But I have big plans – I think we all have big plans!”
Those plans have been in place for quite a while. Classless Act are newcomers as a band, but this is hardly some Hollywood overnight sensation story, even if they are from LA. Day has been a rock n roll aspirant for at least 15 of his 28 years, he says, and the other guys in the band didn’t just spring up with the last sprinkle of rain, either. With Day already a seasoned LA veteran, he’s been with the group as it has coalesced into the band it is today: himself, guitarists Griffin Tucker and Dane Pieper, bass player Franco Gravante and Chuck McKissock, who replaced original drummer, London Hudson, the son of Slash.
“I must have played in 150 bands, all rock and roll, but this was the one,” Day says. “This was the combination where, you just had to have the luck of the draw, right place, right time, in front of the right management, then Tommy Lee saw us for a second and remembered us and that’s how we got on the tour, and we kept falling into this lucky thing.”
Lee of course saw them for more than “a second”, dropping in on them as they recorded and avidly shopping the album around to the rest of the Crüe when it was done. It was certainly a lucky break, but after being in so many bands, how was Day so sure that this time, Classless Act was “the one”? Before all that stuff he just mentioned happened, there must have been an inkling.
“It sounds superficial,” he says cautiously, “but I think it was the imagery. Like, Dane, the rhythm guitar player, he was this big, beautiful black guitar player, and I thought, this guy just looks like a rock star. And everyone in the band plays lead guitar really well! Even the drummer can play lead guitar! He wrote one of the riffs. It’s weird. And when you see that, that’s one of the hints that this has a lot of potential. This could be not rock and roll, like it could be a flamenco band, or something like that.”
His enthusiasm for his bandmates grows as he continues.
“Everyone loves Queen and The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but I like Devo, and this person loves rock, and this person loves My Chemical Romance… once you see all these weird influences and everyone’s very learned in their instrument and we’re all kind of happy to be here and we’re fans of each other, and everyone has this look – something just clicks, and you think, let’s not mess with this too much, let’s just run with it, let’s just accept whatever happens and keep going and pushing it. It was just the right thing!”
The potential he’s talking about is not only to be a hot rock and roll band, but to also be able to take their music further by incorporating their diverse influences into their energetic format. Work is already well underway for the next album, which Day promises will see a creative shift from Welcome to the Show.
“We’re constantly writing. In the van, on the tour – everywhere. Everyone’s in their own world. We have such different backgrounds. Franco the bassist, he used to write classic, almost Queen-like stuff, and now he’s doing modern, dance music type stuff. I’m doing… I don’t even know what I’m writing! We do realise the importance of a band sending a clear message, and we want it to be Classless Act, so we will put our heads together and it won’t be super different, but it will be a departure on the next album.”