Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr, | We Bring the Energy

DaleEarnheardtjrjr 75It’s a really weird moment when you are onstage performing and someone is about to destroy equipment. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr 500

The band’s name will grab your attention, but their sound is even more intriguing:, some of the most vibrant noises I’ve ever heard, blended with biting lyrics to create music of actual substance. I spoke with one of the duo, Danny, to gain insight on their sound and tour.

What are you most looking forward to on this tour?

Well, really, this is our first tour. We’ve obviously toured before, but we would only play 30-minute sets, so I think we are most excited to be able to play the whole record. And also, for people who are actually there to see us.

What makes an ideal performance for you?

We bring the energy. There has never been a time where we are like, ”Oh, we didn’t bring it tonight.” But I think a good show is a good crowd. When there are some great moments between us and the crowd, I think that’s what differentiates a bad night to a mediocre night to a really great night—how much the crowd is going to interact. That’s a good show to me.

Are you going to hang up on me if I ask you why you named your band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.? I know you get asked that a lot.

We do. We were just goofing around but now, to me, it’s just sort of the spirit of the band. We got together and didn’t really think we were going to be a real band. We just started making music without any boundaries. We were having a lot of fun and not really thinking about it, and I think our name comes from that spirit. Our sonic qualities don’t seem to really fit in the box, either, and so the name is a good representation of how we don’t sound like what we look like—you have to listen to our record to know what we are like. You really have to seek out the music to be able to judge us.

You address a lot of societal flaws in your lyrics. What has been your biggest ”stick-it-to-the-man” moment?

One of the things we love to do is take lyrics that have meaning, or commenting on something and tune it to music that is fun to listen to and happy to sort of contrast it. A lot of my favorite bands have done that. Like Motown songs—you just feel so good but the lyrics can be really dark, so that’s one of the things we try to do.

Where do you draw influence?

Everything: our personal world views, our family life, traveling. We went to Iceland and it was this beautiful trip. We got to see some of Josh’s family and the nature that is out there. Even a small trip like that can inspire anything. There’s even smaller things, like walking down the street or watching TV. You see something that bothers you and you feel like you want to say something about it. The best thing for me is to put it in a song, because I’m not that great with words in a large setting, and even in an interview like this. But if you give me time to write it down and create a song, then I can find things all around to inspire and create.

What is your creative process like? Since you have such a complex sound, how do you bring everything together?

It’s different. It’s different every time. Sometimes Josh will bring me a song that’s completely finished and I’ll change some lyrics or chords here and there. And vice versa, because sometimes I’ll have the whole song and Josh will come in and mess it up in a good way. And now we have some bandmates, so we’ve been trying to just jam and see what happens. That’s new, because it’s always been just Iosh and me; it’s always changing.”

You have a new song entitled “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Would on the Dance Floor). What is your go-to move on the dance floor?

Oh, man. I only have really one move;  if you come to the show you will see that because I do it a lot. It’s sort of like a—you would have to talk to a dancer, because I don’t know what to call it. I basically take my right leg and step on my toes and kind of push out, and it makes my left leg kind of kick out so it looks like I’m sliding. And it’s sort of like the one thing I can do to fake people out and make them think I can dance, when really I can’t.

If one of your songs were to play every time you entered a room—like a theme song—which one would it be? What energy would you want to bring with you everywhere you go?

I think it would be a song which exemplifies what I’m about and encapsulates what we do. I think it would be “Nothing but Our Love,” because it’s one of my favorite tracks we’ve ever made and I love the lyrics. I guess it isn’t really a sort of pumping-up-myself type of song, but it’s the type of song where if you were walking into a room, you would be very conscious of “I’m not the best person that is here right now; I’m not the most bad-ass person and everyone should just listen to me.” It’s walking into a room and knowing someone needs to be loved, or someone just needs a conversation, or someone just needs a friend. I just love that song. And I think it’s one of those songs that, when you get to 50 or 60 years old, it still has meaning, or maybe even more meaning because it has so much truth in it. I don’t know—that would just be my song.

Most uncomfortable moment on tour?

One time people were onstage just knocking over stuff. I was so uncomfortable that they were going to break something. It’s a really weird moment when you are onstage performing and someone is about to destroy equipment. | Claire Musial

You can catch Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in St. Louis on Sunday, January 16, at the Old Rock House. Doors 7 p.m., show 8; all ages; $12 adv/15 dos.

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