Knoxville Quartet Day and Age Ignores the Boundaries of Punk

In Music Stories by Carey Hodgesleave a COMMENT

Depending on the day, Day and Age could be could be pegged as everything from post-punk to hardcore to indie rock, but for the Knoxville band, that’s beside the point.

“We could sit here and hash out our influences, but the problem with that is that we’re four pretty different people who happen to have some common interests,” says guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Melton. “We all listen to a lot of metal and indie, and we all listen to mid-’80s and early ’90s punk stuff. But at the end of the day, we’re friends who have been through a bunch of weird shit together and do what we want to do—and that’s what we sound like. Sometimes, that means a lot of stuff out of left field.”

Day and Age’s members—Melton, vocalist C.C. McBride, bassist Mike Kerr, and drummer Tim Lewis—all boast deep roots in the local music community. Combined, their current and past projects span well into the double digits, including Headface, Guide, and Sprocket Gobbler, just to name a few. Each brings his or her own experience to the band, and they spend more time gathering sonic material to throw into the mix than they do putting all the pieces together.

“We try to fuse as many influences as possible, no matter what,” Lewis says. “It’s like collaging different sounds and sections in everything and trying to make something unique out of it.”

Formed in 2014, Day and Age started a side project for Melton and Lewis. Melton, who is originally from Knoxville, had recently moved backed to town after an extended stint in Murfreesboro and immediately hit it off with Lewis. Eventually, the pair reached out to Kerr to play bass. Kerr’s past metal projects had played at Longbranch Saloon when Lewis worked at the Cumberland Avenue punk haven.

Vocals were a serendipitous addition. The trio of Melton, Lewis, and Kerr had been practicing at McBride’s house for a few months, which led to her spontaneously penning lyrics to their songs. “I heard them a million times and one day I just started writing words for them,” she says. “I always joked that I should audition or something, then I just did it.”

“We had a show coming up and hadn’t written any lyrics or anything,” Melton says. “And, obviously, C.C. was around and we knew that she had a good voice and was an awesome lyricist. We were like, well, we have two weeks before we have a show. Let’s give it a shot.”

The band’s first show as a foursome was at the now-defunct DIY venue the Poison Lawn. After just a few days of practice with the full lineup, they quickly generated buzz in the punk community. Equal parts unapologetically aggressive and wistfully melodic, the group’s music moves at a careening velocity. McBride’s vocals hit with conviction through the breakneck riffs and drum fills, but each song brings its own approach. The only common factor is a commitment to no-frills songwriting.

But despite the immediate praise, McBride had a hard time getting used to fronting the band without an instrument.

“It made me incredibly nervous, because I wasn’t used to not having something in my hands to do,” she says. “So it was really weird and I had to break through all of these mental walls just to get to the point where I could do it.”

With McBride on board, the band started working on a demo recording, Looking for a Light On, in late 2014. After some initial trial and error, they eventually settled on an open, collaborative creative process, with Melton bringing a rough skeleton of a song to the group to flesh out a unit.

“If we get a riff or an idea, we pretty much just start layering over it as we’re figuring out songs,” Lewis says. “Whatever guitar or bass riffs are coming in, C.C.’s sitting there listening to it and she’ll be pouring out lyrics all over the ground.”

The demo was recorded live with fellow local musician and Pilot Light soundman Josh Wright at his Rusty Bird Farms studio.

“He’s been our sound guy a million times, so he really knows every detail of what we’re recording,” McBride says.

A little over two years later, the group is currently recording a full album with Wright, splitting time in the studio with playing plenty of shows. They’re always more focused on creating, rather than the end result.

“The point of this band is expression,” Melton says. “And the point where that isn’t fun anymore is the point where we won’t do it anymore.”

Day and Age plays with Lung and Dr. Terror at Pilot Light (106 E. Jackson Ave.) on Sunday, March 19, at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. 18 and up.

Carey started as a lowly Metro Pulse intern in 2009, helping enter calendar listings while learning about the cruel world of independent journalism. Since then, she’s contributed arts/music writing to publications including Paste, Washington City Paper, and more. When she’s not exploring the local arts community, you can find her playing with her cats or attempting to garden.

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