Dark New Day Biography
Long before cutting their teeth in such renowned acts as Sevendust, Tommy Lee band, Stuck Mojo, Stereomud, Skrape, Doubledrive and Virgos Merlot, the members of Dark new Day grew up together. “We literally sat on the edge of our beds and learned how to play guitar together,” says Clint Lowery, who along with brother Corey Lowery, grew up little more than a mile from Troy McLawhorn in rural North Carolina. “We literally did,” laughs McLawhorn, “It was like, ‘Check out this riff! I learned how to squeal, man!’” It wasn’t long before he and the Lowery brothers formed Still Rain in the early ‘90s, touring the same Southeast club circuit where they met Brett Hestla and Will Hunt in competing bands.
“We were playing a circuit that had a lot of older people in it, in their twenties, and we were all kids, so we could identify with each other,” says Hunt. “We really came into ourselves on that circuit,” adds Corey. “It was like going to Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, you’d always try and turn it up because you wanted to impress each other. I always thought Will and I could be the baddest rhythm section in the world…”
But it apparently wasn’t meant to be, as the five men that would become Dark new Day more than twelve years later, went their separate ways…
Brett Hestla achieved formidable critical acclaim as singer/guitarist for the alternative rock quintet Virgos Merlot, and later spent three years performing in front of sold-out arenas with Creed. When the band parted ways in late 2003, Hestla turned his attention to family, refocusing his efforts to behind-the-scenes work as a producer.
“I’d resigned myself that I was done, but I think my wife knew I really wasn’t ready to be done. She looked at me one day and said, ‘Are you ever going to stand onstage and sing again?’ It’s funny,” laughs Hestla ominously, “I said to her, ‘Man, it would take the Still Rain guys, with Will [Hunt] on drums, for me to even consider that…”
Two weeks later, to the day, he received a phone call from Will. “He brought me a CD of the songs they’d been working on, and I didn’t even need to listen to it -- This is the band I’ve always wanted,” Hestla recalls. “The bonus was, I put the disc in and, instantly, I had melodies and was thinking of words. I was inspired, and immediately knew that this was where I belonged.”
“This band has taken my game up as a writer, because I know that I’ve got people in the band, skill-wise, that are at my level and superior to me. I want to impress them.”
And impress each other they have. In a year that saw five hurricanes strike the southeast -- including three that intersected over their Florida recording studio -- a war wage in the Middle East, and rock music seemingly get angrier and angrier, Dark new Day are a light at the end of the tunnel. With a sound that the band isn’t afraid to admit is a sum of their cumulative parts, they deliver the heavy-handed finesse of Clint Lowery’s contributions to Sevendust, Troy McLawhorn’s inspired guitar play and melodic infrastructure that marked Doubledrive, and Hestla’s soaring, effervescent vocals.
“Everyone in this band was a huge factor in the songwriting in their previous bands,” says Clint Lowery. “I think it’s inevitable that those sounds are going to come out when we’re writing songs with this band, but that’s what I love! We’re all each other’s biggest fans.”
In the case of Lowery’s departure from his acclaimed band Sevendust, it wasn’t because he wanted to write or perform music that he hasn’t written and performed before. Rather, it stemmed in his wanting to write and perform with a group of musicians he’s never had the opportunity to write and perform with.
“You get comfortable in your certain bands, like it’s a formula,” he says of the decision to leave Sevendust in favor of Dark new Day. “With these guys, what was so appealing was the challenge of what would happen when we all brought our best stuff to the table. The biggest kick is seeing some of my favorite players take one simple riff and turn it into an incredible piece of music.
“What are people going to tell us now,” laughs Clint, “that we’re robbing from each other? Corey and I grew up together! Our style is more than twelve years old! Are people going to tell us that we sound like ourselves?”
Given the extensive history of the five members of Dark new Day, you’d expect there to a be a small degree of resignation when it comes to starting another band, on another label, with a whole new level of expectations. But the members swear that’s not the case.
“This band is actually an escape route for all of that jadedness,” says drummer Will Hunt, whose previous credits include the metal band Skrape, as well as being the drummer in Motley Crue skinsman Tommy Lee’s latest solo project. “Personally, if there was a neck in this music industry, I wanted to put my hands around it and choke it. But when I met these guys, it wasn’t about that -- I got goosebumps again.”
With three guitarists, and five guys capable of laying down vocal harmonies, there’s a lot to get excited about in Dark new Day. Even if there aren’t many, if any, bands in the mainstream with that depth of talent.
“It’s about learning how to play from your soul, rather than just learning a scale and trying to play like Yngwie Malmsteen,” says Corey Lowery, who rose to prominence as the bassist in Stuck Mojo, later becoming a founding member of Stereomud.
“This is a deeper thing that we’ve all come to, and that’s what I’m most impressed by. Those guitar players that can hold a single note and make your eyes water? That’s the vibe that we’re trippin’ on, Everybody in this band has written a song, by themselves, that has gotten on the radio,” says the bassist. “This band isn’t about that. We didn’t go around in public and boast about what we were doing, and we could have done that for a whole year. We wanted to hear what our music sounded like, first, because that’s what we’re all about. We had no agenda about getting a record deal when we first got together, we just wanted to finally get together and play some music. That’s all it’s supposed to be about. What makes this band what it is right now, is that everybody has a high respect for each other, pushes them to keep their personality, and bring that different thing that they are to the table.”
“Like Will said, being together has just taken all the jaded feelings out of the music,” says Troy McLawhorn, the creative force behind Doubledrive, and the member of Dark new Day who the band views as their greatest untapped asset.
“Back when Troy was putting Doubledrive together, I was telling everyone that he is, by far, the best guitar player that I’ve ever known, as far as natural talent goes,” says Clint, who refers to McLawhorn his musical “soulmate”. “In this business, people don’t always get the credit they deserve -- When this band came to be, I was just so fucking happy to finally be a part of exposing Troy’s talent to the world. I’m so proud to play beside him, and we’re all excited about introducing him to the world.”
“He’s our secret weapon,” adds Hunt.
“When Clint and I stopped playing together in Still Rain, after all these years of being in other band situations, that was one of the things I missed most about music—The connection he and I had, and feeding off of each other the way that we play,” says McLawhorn. “I feel more creative now than I’ve felt in years. When you can feed off someone the way that we do, it’s a whole new ballgame.”
You can relate it to a sports team that’s great,” sums Hesta. “You can put any one of these guys in a band, and they’ll be great. But together, that’s where the talent really surfaces. The way we all work together is what makes this band so exciting.”