Words by Jonathan Stout
“Rock ‘n’ roll is dead.”
It’s a statement that’s become more and more popular, and yet, I have trouble believing it. The greatest argument for its case is that there is nothing new to do with the genre that hasn’t already been done. However, the very concept of a musical genre being dead is absurd, as nearly every genre will arguably continue to have listeners as long as the public at large continues to listen to and be inspired by different sounds new and old.
Enter Dazy, a contemporary rock act that relies as much on early indie rock influences of the late 80s and 90s as it does the youthful energy of today’s leading young punks. Picture a sound akin to if the members of The Jesus and Mary Chain collaborated with Wavves. Dazy’s newest collection of songs, MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD, sounds familiar while also being fresh and crisp. By acknowledging the classics while also applying it to a new age, Dazy’s James Goodson proves that rock n roll is still influencing younger generations and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make it compelling or worthwhile.
Off Shelf: When I listened to MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD I was amazed that I’d never heard your music before. There’s something familiar about it, while also incorporating refreshingly contemporary nuances. Excuse me for not knowing, but what’s your musical background? Have you played in other bands?
James Goodson: Thanks so much! I always appreciate when folks say the songs have a familiarity to them, I think that’s just sort of the magic of big guitars and big melodies—it’s a recipe that really works. I guess my musical background is also pretty familiar—I got into punk as a kid and that kind of simple/direct stuff got me started with making music. I’ve been in lots of bands ever since, right now I play in a couple bands here in Richmond: Bashful and Teen Death. Dazy is the first time I’ve ever done anything that was just me by myself.
OS: What was the inspirational catalyst for the large number of songs you wrote over the course of the last year? Did quarantine help or hinder your process?
JG: I’m usually always working on new songs, it’s just my favorite thing to do so if I have spare time I’m probably trying to write something. The part that I used to get hung up on was releasing them. I’d get stuck overthinking the “right way” to record/release things to the point of having a pretty big surplus of songs demoed out and just sitting on my computer. The turning point was realizing that maybe the difference between a demo and a “finished” song isn’t that big to me. I like when things sound homemade, I like tin can drum machine beats, I like noisy guitars—why not just lean into that? I also have a soft spot for singles, I think the A-side/B-side format is really fun and I like that smaller releases give you more opportunities to make cover art. Finally I decided to just run with that, to do exactly what I personally think is cool, and that’s it. If the pandemic played a part it was mostly that it suddenly started to feel very silly to wait around in the weeds instead of doing what I wanted to do. So I put out the first single in August of last year on a whim, and now I can’t stop.
OS: You compose at a prolific rate. Do you have more new releases coming down the pipe for this year?
JG: Not sure! I definitely have a lot of new songs, so it’s always just a matter of choosing which ones to polish up a bit and figuring out when to do it. I do see the MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD collection as marking the end of the first chapter of Dazy and I think a lot of people are hearing those songs for the first time now that they’re all in one place—so I’m ok with letting them get absorbed for a little bit. I’m trying to find a balance between putting music out as fast as I would like to and not being too overwhelming.
OS: Your album is filled with crunchy feedback and blown out melodic guitar riffs. What was your favorite, or go-to, distortion pedal, or pedals, for these recordings?
JG: Hmm, that’s a tough one. To be honest, I’m not the biggest gearhead in the world, so I’m not super picky as long as it sounds cool. The big thing for me is that I like a lot of feedback, so I tend to stack several fuzzes and overdrives to make something sound extra gnarly or feedback even more. As far as specific pedals, I get a lot of mileage out of that $25 dollar Behringer Super Fuzz that’s a clone of the Boss Hyper Fuzz. I was recommended the Permanent Electronics Silver Cord fuzz by Justin Pizzoferrato – the incredible engineer who mixes and masters the Dazy stuff after I make a racket tracking everything at home – and that’s on a lot of the songs too. Also my not-so-secret weapon is sometimes just going straight into a preamp and making some bizarre computer-y tone. I like when there’s a weird clash of digital sounds and amped-up sounds.
OS: How did you link up with Convulse Records for the cassette release of MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD?
JG: My friend Ian Shelton, who plays in Militarie Gun and Regional Justice Center, was one of the first people to get into the Dazy stuff and he mentioned it to Adam at Convulse. Ian’s always inspiring me with the way he approaches music and he’s super encouraging, I really appreciate him spreading the word. Adam got in touch about maybe doing something right when I was starting to think about making a collection of all the songs I’d released so far. I was already a fan of the label so I jumped at the chance to work with them. When I first started putting these songs out my only goal was to eventually make a collection cassette, so it was incredible to get to accomplish that with such a cool label.
OS: It’s still a weird time for live music. Some musicians have planned tours only to have to cancel for various reasons, most commonly for the sake of public safety. Are you planning to tour with this material at any point?
JG: Yeah I’ll definitely be playing shows eventually.
OS: Do you perform with other band members or do you perform solo as on your records?
JG: I want the live version of Dazy to be as flexible as the recorded version, so I like the idea of sometimes having a live line-up and other times doing something a little off the wall—like just me and a drum machine or something. I like it when bands sound different live than they do on their albums, so I’m not interested in directly recreating the recordings. We’ll see how it all turns out!
OS: What are you listening to right now?
JG: Well as far as newer stuff goes, as mentioned I’m definitely a massive fan of Ian’s bands, Militarie Gun and Regional Justice Center, and I think Convulse is consistently putting out great music. I really like the Candy Apple album ‘Sweet Dreams of Violence’ and the Gel live record they did recently. I’ve also been listening to The Reds, Pinks and Purples album ‘Uncommon Weather’ and the Golden Apples album ‘Shadowland’ a lot. And as far as older music, I’m on a pretty big kick with The Bevis Frond lately. Although they just put out a new record that’s great too. Needless to say, a band like that who have been loud, catchy, and prolific for 30+ years is pretty inspiring to me.
OS: There’s a lot of turmoil in the music industry right now- from tour cancellations, to low paying streaming woes, and the dissolving relevancy of major record labels. What kind of changes would you like to see happen in the music industry moving forward, post-pandemic?
JG: Jeez, big question. I guess it’d be great to see more opportunities for people to make the art they want to make without having to compromise or make choices out of fear. You should get to do music the way you want to.
OS: Do you have any upcoming releases or events you’d like to mention?
JG: Not that I can share right now but there’s always something in the works!