We checked in with Whitney and Jesse (Days N Daze) and Jose (MakeWar) on how they spent 2020, what they learned, and their thoughts and hopes for what 2021 will hold, as part of our New Year’s Evolutions Series!
Whitney – Days N Daze
I started 2020 off decompressing on a beach in Mexico, recovering from one those tours you can’t believe you survived. Fast-forward a few months later, I’m rushing to pack up my apartment and within two days I was 2000 miles away straight to the hot zone of the global pandemic.
Moving to New York City is still a continuous maze of figuring out where your corner of the world lies. Which, to be honest, I’m still that hamster on a wheel. When I first moved here I spent my time, not only adjusting, but doing my best to branch out and get to know the community I now call home.
I divided my time between the release of our new album and volunteering at local food drives. Moving forward through the year, like so many of us, we took to the streets to protest systematic racism and the horrific reality of privileged mass murder.
After about 1,000 emails and social media overload, our album was released. Another few months, 3 face tattoos, a shaved eyebrow, and 16 dead friends later, I got a silly cat named Kiko and really like my little life in the big city.
Live streams, of course, have been a huge part adjusting to the new reality and having this new- found time “off” reconnecting with other musicians to collaborate and gain inspiration from has been a really incredible and bittersweet experience.
Besides unemployment and the grant I’ve gotten from MusicCares, my Patreon has not only supported me monetarily, but also mentally. Being a performer without a stage has surprisingly opened my eyes to how (embarrassingly) needy I am for people to notice and give feedback to the art I do my best to create.
During the first phase of realizing tour is forever pending, I started to make postcards, which was fun to begin with, but I unfortunately don’t have the patience or the talent to keep up with visual art.
My partner noticed (as did my neighbors) the ridiculous lengths I’d go through to get the most epic pictures of our building cats, so for my 30th birthday they bought me my first camera. Being able to take the time to learn a new art form with, not only motivation, but genuine positive feedback has been so incredibly amazing.
I’ve also started prototyping a planner that I’ve been spending countless hours designing. After being Days N Daze manager for 10 years and our booker for 9 years, I have this crazy guilty pleasure of spreadsheets and organizing so this has been a really awesome project to work on amid pandemic life.
It might sound weird, but this past year was like we got a chance to experience what “normal” is for most people. Our normal is constantly moving, the only roots we’ve ever grown is with each other, so during this time was really the first time (really in my whole life) that I felt secure enough to unpack. I’ve definitely expressed the anxious need to leave and also the newfound comfort of “home” to my band, but I think after this past year there’s going to be this awesome adjustment of fitting my two “abnormals” into a really amazing new “normal.”
Jesse – Days N Daze
If you’ve listened to or caught a live show from Houston, TX ‘thrashgrassers’ Days N Daze you get the feeling that family is an integral part of everything they do. Jesse Sendejas channeled his inner Bob Ross and found the beauty in being busy, not bored.
My wife, Veronica, and I have been hunkered down at my folks’ place in Houston since March, so, fortunately, we’ve not had too many expenses. We’re lucky to have had some income from merch sales through Flail Records and Punk with a Camera to cover what we’ve needed. Super grateful to have had family and friends to lean on through this shit.
I just tried to keep busy, really. I got some writing done, played live streams whenever I got the chance, got a new Escape From the Zoo album recorded, tried my hand at some painting, caught up on some video games I’d been wantin’ to check out. Better busy than bored, ya know?
Mostly, though, I tried to enjoy spendin’ time with the family while we’re not on the road. I haven’t been home this long in years, and though I love bein’ on the road, it has been nice to get some quality time in.
Learned some painting techniques from Bob Ross videos and picked up some recording know-how from our homie Elliot Lozier of We The Heathens. The piano always has kind of eluded me, so I’ve been honing my skills on the keys. I learned a few tunes from Over The Garden Wall, and I’m about 45 seconds into Vivaldi Variation by Florian Christl. I definitely learned a lot about managing stress and anxiety without crutches this year and how to not trip too much on the future or the past or shit that may never even happen and focus on the present moment.
I’m tryin’ my best to remain optimistic, but it is cautious optimism. Hopefully, we’ll be able to hit the road again or at least play some local shows in the coming months, but gotta be certain it’s safe for everyone before we get back out there, you know?
I hope the COVID vaccine keeps rollin’ out with any hiccups, and we can get back into the “normal” flow of things sooner than later. I have a feeling that shows and tours won’t really get goin’ again ’til maybe September at the earliest, but once we CAN all get together and party down again— holy shit, I bet those are going to be some amazing shows!
Jose – MakeWar
Jose of MakeWar spent 2020 fermenting everything in sight and makes some startling predictions for 2021.
2020 started as a very promising year. Our new record just came out in November of 2019.
In February we played two incredible sold-out shows in Mexico City and Costa Rica. After that, I decided to quit my job because we had most of the year already booked with amazing tours and festivals. We were planning to tour Japan and Brazil for the first time. We also had a crazy festival run in the summer in Europe.
In March we were touring Europe with our new best friends Bad Cop / Bad Cop. Amazing tour. But shit was starting to hit the fan. We had to cancel Italy. Shows that were sold out were starting to get increasingly scarce. Our hands were so dried and fucked from using hand sanitizer every other minute. We were getting calls from our friends and family back home telling us shit was getting worse. We were playing a pretty cool club in Paris March 13th when we all decided it was time to cancel the rest of the tour and try to find a way to get back home. We were very lucky to be able to change our flights and came home the next day.
The beginning of the pandemic to me was very scary. I didn’t have a job anymore or insurance and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to receive unemployment since I quit my job. I sent so many emails and texts to everyone I knew or have worked with before. People I haven’t talked to in years. To be honest, it didn’t feel great. I felt like an asshole. I felt disingenuous. “Hi old coworker. how long has it been? So many years! Well, I know I haven’t talked to you in years, but just wanted to say that I am available if y’all need any design help please let me know.”
I probably wrote that to hundreds of people. Only a few wrote back saying that they were either on the same boat or no one was hiring at the moment. Of course, no one was hiring. What was I thinking? Somehow I got accepted to collect unemployment through PUA but that took 3 months to start receiving the checks. I have been on unemployment ever since. I tried to get freelance design jobs, but for some reason, they all fell through. I have done little jobs for friends. I redesigned my friend’s wine company label and he paid me with a lot of wine. That was very cool. We were drinking a lot when this whole shit started, so it was cool to get boxes of wine delivered.
I was doing probably too many Facebook and Instagram live streams. I have a tendency to never say no to shows or tours so whenever anyone would ask me to be part of their “online” festival I always said yes. Playing in front of your computer with no live audience was fucking terrifying at the beginning. I don’t think I have ever been so nervous playing a show before. My hands were shaking so hard. I don’t know why. It’s like when you are all goofing around telling jokes and being silly and then someone puts a camera in front of you and you just freeze. After the third live stream, I got better. I also wrote down a donation PayPal account for anyone that could donate anything for the shows. People were incredibly generous. It really helped me out especially in those first few months when the unemployment system in New York was backlogged and there was no support.
I think the best thing that came of this pandemic to me was getting back into surfing. I loved to surf when I was a kid. Living in Venezuela we spent every summer at the beach surfing, camping, and eating tuna sandwiches and shark empanadas every day. If there are waves then I am there. No matter how cold or shitty it is outside. To me, surfing is the best therapy or meditation. I don’t know where I’d be today without surfing. Expect more songs about surfing from me in the near future for sure.
I also got super into fermentation around April. I was making my own kimchi. Lacto fermenting pickles. Fermented hot sauces. I made so much tepache, which is a delicious fermented pineapple drink from Mexico. A couple of bottles exploded in our kitchen. Live and learn, I guess. I also made a very low- alcohol naturally- fermented wine. But then decided to go crazy and make a proper high alcohol wine using yeast. I didn’t have champagne yeast so I used bread yeast instead. It was delicious but man, me and a couple of friends got really drunk on these country wines and it gave us the worst hangover of our lives.
I didn’t get into making bread like the rest of the world, but got into making flour tortillas. And fresh pasta. And perfecting my sticky rice. My Instagram has more food photos and videos than live shows these days.
I also got back into woodworking. Made my girlfriend a really nice desk made out of pine and a couple of shelves for the house. What else? We finally watched all of The Sopranos. Re-watched Weeds. Cobra Kai is the best show on television. And that last season of the Bachelorette was insane.
Sadly, I don’t think there’s going to be a normal again. Masks and social distancing will be the new normal for a long time. I would totally be ok with wearing masks as long as live music comes back.
The good thing about this is that we probably won’t get sick on tour again! I always, ALWAYS have gotten sick on tour at least once. I haven’t gotten sick in over a year and I think wearing masks and washing my hands constantly have something to do with that and well, not leaving my house at all too maybe. I think live shows with masks are ok. Much better than that silly idea of going to see concerts in your car.
Trying to keep that PMA though. Maybe if and when we all get vaccinated things will be a little normal again. Crossing all my fingers. I can’t wait to travel the world and play music again. I also can’t wait to go out and see a show and grab a slice and sit at any bar and order a Mexican beer and a shot of mezcal.
Predictions for 2021:
Ok let’s try to make this a fun one.
– Donald Trump is gonna go to jail. Melania will divorce him after that. She will then join the nudie website onlyfans.
– The government is finally going to tell us that aliens are real. Tom DeLogne will then rejoin Blink 182. Skiba will be really mad about it, but this will make him write the best Alkaline Trio record ever.
– Joe Rogan is probably going to say something really stupid in one of his podcasts and will get fired from Spotify and then banned from YouTube. He will then say he is running for president. Luckily, he is going to get abducted by the real aliens we learned about from the government and we will never see him again.
– Bernie Sanders will start his socialist record label. It’s going to be called “Bernie Bros.” He will only sign hardcore bands from the Northeast. All his shows will only cost 5 dollars. Door money will be split equally by every band and every person working the show. The bands know that they won’t be making any money on Bernie’s label but they mainly do it because they like him uncontrollably. Oh, and also for the free healthcare. That is a nice perk about being on his label.
– The Lawrence Arms will return to FAT and write a 20-minute song called “The Recline” a satire song about getting wasted on your favorite recliner chair while watching the world burn on your 100-inch flat screen tv. The song will also feature a short film / music video starting Brendan Kelly. Kelly will be sitting on a chair eating pizza and drinking whiskey for 20 hours straight. The video will then be fast -forwarded to fit on the 20 minutes of the song. Kelly goes to the hospital after the shoot for overconsumption of pizza and liquor. He will then quit eating and drinking for over a year and become a national sensation. When asked on how can he survive without food or booze. Kelly will tell you, “this body is a break room where the burnouts are smoking.”