There’s DIY, then there’s DnD. Veteran “thrashgrass” band Days N Daze has spent more than a decade doing it themselves in a way few can match. From the beginning, Whitney Flynn (vocals/trumpet) and Jesse Sendejas (vocals/guitar) have forged their own path—playing acoustically so they’d have less gear and could perform anywhere, booking and promoting themselves, and self-recording and self-releasing their albums. Days N Daze—rounded out by Meagan Melancon on washboard and Geoff Bell on gutbucket—have done it all on their own, thank you.
In the rare instances when they work with outsiders, they stick with people they know. Which is why, after a dozen hardscrabble years, they’ve joined Fat Wreck Chords for their eighth full-length, Show Me the Blueprints., released May 2020. Sendejas calls the decision “terrifying.” Flynn describes it as “massively intimidating.” And they couldn’t be happier.
“It’s been pretty awesome—just the positive reinforcement and the drive,” Flynn says. “They've really pushed us to go that extra mile, to get that confidence in ourselves, to keep going, keep making music.”
“Keep going” may be Show Me the Blueprints.’ biggest message. Its 11 tracks practically vibrate with anxious longing for something better—comfort, stability, acceptance, happiness—and the struggle to find it. Sendejas describes the album’s most prominent themes as addiction, “existential depression,” and appreciation.
It’s all in “Flurry Rush,” which opens the album with Sendejas singing, “I try not to give a fuck about the little things.” Sendejas got sober last year “after basically being drunk for 14 years,” which had some unintended consequences.
“A lot of what I had been suppressing for so long hit really hard,” he says. “I wrote a lot of the songs when I was drinking, but I had the chance to go back and touch them in a clear state of mind. I feel like, if I can write a song about it, then I have all those thoughts in a clear, concise little package, and it's easier for me to unwrap.”
Like previous Days N Daze albums, Show Me the Blueprints. crams more ideas into its 11 tracks than albums twice its length. Flynn and Sendejas’ rapid-fire words dig into addiction and sobriety (“LibriYUM,” “My Darling Dopamine,” “Addvice”), obsessive-compulsive disorder (“Show Me the Blueprints.”), the current political climate (“None Exempt”), old-fashioned heartache (“Fast Track”), and death (“Goodbye Lulu Pt. 2,” a sibling of sorts to “Goodbye Lulu,” from 2013’s Rogue Taxidermy).
Having arduously recorded themselves for years in a closet with a single microphone on an analog machine, Days N Daze enjoyed the relative ease of modern digital recording with John Carey (Old Man Markley) and production by D-Composers.
“I remember so clearly the first time that I got through an entire take, but my thumb hit the strings on my strumming hand,” Sendejas says. “I was like, ‘Well, great, we'll just punch right it there,’ and John was like, ‘No.’ He cut and pasted that same strum from earlier in the song and put it in, and that blew my goddamn mind!” He laughs. “It’s like sorcery!”
In a sense, doing it the hard way for so long made the transition easier for Days N Daze. “Those years of us recording ourselves prepared us for being like, ‘Oh, this is a cakewalk,’” Flynn adds. “Once I got in the groove of things, it was just like, ‘Oh, okay, I know what I'm doing now.’ The intimidation level went way down.”
If anything, the band’s intensity level has gone way up. Show Me the Blueprints. is a bold step forward for a band that has always followed a bold path. “I just feel like this is a new chapter,” Flynn says. “We have so much more to give and to do. Because with these tools, we're only gonna do more.”