Interview with Dayshell vocalist/guitarist Shayley Bourget | By Nicholas Senior
Let your freak flag fly. That’s the unspoken motto of California-based rock band Dayshell and their excellent second album. Nexus—due out via Spinefarm Records on Oct. 7—sees the band doubling down on everything that made their 2013 self-titled debut great: pairing post-Meshuggah djent riffs with the feel and fun of Deftones and Incubus. Dayshell aren’t really like anybody else: their approach is much headier and considerably less dark than other bands who are influenced by late ‘90s hard rock—there is no nu-metal here. After a rocky start and some bad luck, Dayshell decided to dig deep and ended up writing some of the catchiest groove-tastic modern metal this side of Periphery. Seriously, “Low Light” and “Spit in the Face” are truly triumphant and incredibly charming.
Embracing uniqueness isn’t without its challenges. Vocalist and guitarist Shayley Bourget explains, “I’m not afraid to admit that we’re that band that kinda is just smack in the middle of all these genres. We’re metal-y, but we’re not that heavy. We’re fucking poppy, but we’re not poppy enough. We’re sort of radio rock. We’re not defined by one category; we’re that oddball. That’s why I tried to amp it all up on this album, just go all out: make it more energetic, make the riffs heavier, make the kids go nuts at shows. Hopefully, this album turns it around for us [so] that we can really find our niche, because this is it. In my opinion, if this album doesn’t get us to the next level, you gotta cut your losses and figure out plan B.”
“It’s cool that we’re cracking a new combination,” he continues. “It’s a gamble. It’s a life gamble too. I never thought trying to be a rockstar would lead to so many more emotions and doubt. So much goes into it; it’s not just playing shows. It’s a mind game, a mind-fuck. Honestly, I thought I had it figured out. ‘I’m gonna be the best fucking singer in the genre. I’m going to write the coolest, most original tunes, and kids are gonna like it, because it’s different.’ No, kids don’t like different. They want the same band over and over until the next trend comes out. Fuck,” he laughs.
The letdown Dayshell felt after their debut was tragic but not fatal. “When we did the first album, we were all gung-ho about it,” Bourget says. “I wasn’t fully cured with my problems. I was just shoving them in the back of my head and going forward. The people we chose on our team were the wrong people and really put us backwards and hampered us emotionally. I almost gave up 15 times. I was like, ‘I’m fucking done. It’s too hard. I guess me trying to do something different isn’t working,’ so part of me was just ready to give up. The light at the end of the tunnel was our [current] manager, Mike Milford. Prior to that, people were leading us in a wrong direction, putting us in debt, and making us feel guilty about it. That’s the worst thing you can do: make somebody feel guilty for trying. I take that shit to heart.”
That frustration clearly lit a fire in Bourget, who admits, “With Nexus and having all this time to think about everything, we literally had about 40 song ideas. I just hope we picked the right ones,” he laughs. “We’re in a better place right now.”
After the tumult of the first album cycle and readying Nexus, how does Bourget feel? “I’m truly nervous,” he confides. “I’m confident in my music and in myself. Sure, I didn’t nail every song on the album, and there’s one part I completely fucked up [laughs]. I sing it like shit, I think, but I’m very nervous if I’m not looking sexy, then I’m not gonna be seen. It’s scary, but the way I look at it, if this is it, it’s it. We got to make two albums and travel the world, and we made people happy. I just have to remember the good times.”
Bourget is humble and understandably anxious, but make no mistake: Nexus is the type of boundary-crossing album that’s truly special. The singer’s special voice—which made him a scene star with Of Mice & Men—is at its best here, and the music finds the right balance between hard-hitting, smooth, and huge, just as an album influenced by Incubus, Deftones, and Periphery should sound.