Interview: Jesse Sendejas and Whitney Flynn of Days N’ Daze

In the current world where concerts and shows are nonexistent and record stores are nonessential businesses, Days N’ Daze are holing up in quarantine, and their record was released at the beginning of May. Show Me The Blueprints is the first record by the Houston based four-piece released on Fat Wreck Chords. Also, this is the intensely DIY band’s first true, studio release.

Guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Jesse Sendejas and vocalist, trumpete, and ukulele player Whitney Flynn—along with “gutbucket” washtub bass player Geoff Bell and washboard player Meagan Melancon—began preproduction and recording at the now-closed Motor Studios in California with Fat Mike himself.

“We met up with Fat Mike and Baz, this dude that was helping with the NOFX musical,” Sendejas says. “We went into Motor Studios, which unfortunately is not around anymore, but we’ve always recorded by ourselves. We’ve never been in a studio. So, we were like super overwhelmed. They’re really patient. They just had us come out, check out the studio. He laid down a couple of tracks, some of which we ended up using, some of which we scrapped, but just to kind of, like, get us comfortable with the setting. And that’s how we got started. And then we came back, like, a while later and went to Uncle Studios.”

In these times of social distancing and quarantine, music may be as important as ever. Sendejas is in isolation in Texas outside Houston, and Flynn is in New York City. Flynn explains the feeling of distance on the band and the new music.

“I think that’s the hardest thing about this quarantine,” he says. “Jesse’s always like, ‘OK, tonight we have a short set. Whitney, don’t talk a bunch,’ but, it is that 45 minutes of time where you get to seize the response in the people who listen to your music. Putting out our PSAs about harm reduction and being there for people.

“I try to tell my horrible jokes and try to connect with the crowd on a bigger level. ‘This isn’t just one show. This is our life.’ You know, and trying to tell them that it’s a broader, ‘Life still goes on after the show is over,’ but we need to embrace what’s happening now and take every moment and put that back out into the world so we can make it a better place.”

From the washboard to Flynn’s trumpet and the “gutbucket” washtub bass, having unconventional and handmade instruments harkens back to fellow Texan Roky Erickson’s band, 13th Floor Elevators. although the sound and the feeling is very different. It’s picking like bluegrass, but these aren’t bluegrass pickers. They identify as “trashgrass.” To Sendejas, this is what that means and how it all started.

“Whitney and I do all the writing,” he says. “We wanted to start a punk band since [we were] kids, but we didn’t have money to buy the amps and drums and stuff. We saw bands like Blackbird Raum. They were, like, a pretty big influence on us. That’s where we first saw a gutbucket. We’re like, ‘We don’t need to spend, you know, a bill on a bass and, like, another two on an amp; we could just spend 20 bucks on a bucket, a stick, and a string, and there we go.’ Same with the washboard; that was our substitute for a drum kit. So, it’s out of necessity a little bit. And then, we liked how it sounded. So, we just stuck to that, I suppose.”

Sendejas reflects on his early influences long before Days N’ Daze started in high school with Flynn, or the band built their first gutbucket.

“I mean, when I was a kid, my dad brought me up on, like, the Ramones and NOFX and all that stuff. And then I got into the ska, but, like, I think I got, like, a Warped Tour 2007 compilation or something, I kind of liked the Casualties, and then got into, like, Leftover Crack. So, I mean, definitely, the background is punk. I would like to think that the music’s just like acoustic punk.”

The frenetic feeling of Show Me The Blueprints. is matched by unsettled lyrics that are looking to create inclusion. Sendejas says the most important thing to both songwriters is the gravity of the words they write.

“I hope that mainly, people can relate to the lyrics,” he says. “The lyrics are super introspective, and it deals a lot with our mental health issues, with addiction and depression. And it’s nice to be able to just write your feelings and your thoughts down to the void, and then have them echo back at you, and, you know, kind of open up a dialogue with someone that might listen time zones away, but might be going through the same thing that you’re going through right now.”

Flynn explains the depth of the sixth track “Rewind.” One of her favorite songs she’s written, the song concludes this way: “Today means nothing, tomorrow can wait, and yesterday’s a story to tell, just not for today.”

“We kind of put the Days N’ Daze twist on it. I call it my manic letter to myself; I am bipolar, so I just branched off from, through the root of [it], and through my addictions—that processing. At the end of the song, it’s like, ‘I’m gonna make it; I’m gonna make today count.’ We don’t have to worry about the past, but right now, it will be okay eventually.”

In conclusion, Sendejas considers the reality of joining Fat and recording their first Fat Wreck Chords album.

“To sum everything up in one word, it is just ‘surreal,’” he says. “I mean, we were in a major car accident a few years back, right outside of, what’s that alien town in the desert? Roswell. And our car crossed, like, the highway traffic and flipped twice, going 70. Everyone walked away just totally fine.

“I still feel like there’s this like lingering thought in the back of my mind, ‘Maybe we all, like, perished in that terrible car wreck, and this is all just like some crazy DMT trip.’ Because, I mean, Whitney and I just started writing dumb songs on acoustic instruments when we were like 16 and 15 and never thought that any kind of shit like this would ever happen. It’s just so bizarre. But so welcome at same time.”

Show Me The Blueprints is out now: pick up a copy here.

Photo Credit: Alan Snodgrass

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