Full Circle 2014: Days of the New’s reunion tour displays familiar talents, familiar flaws.

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Days of the New have had a tumultuous music career. Formed in Louisville in 1995, when band members Jesse Vest, Matt Taul, Todd Whitener and Travis Meeks were teenagers in high school, they experienced nearly immediate commercial success. The song Touch, Peel and Stand is a staple on rock-radio stations throughout the U.S. to this day, and their self-titled debut album quickly went platinum. They spent 1998 as an opener for Metallica and Jerry Cantrell (of Alice in Chains fame) playing large, sold-out stadium shows.

Behind the scenes, all was not well. Meeks, who has reportedly been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, gave several interviews declaring that he’d fired members of the band, declaring that they weren’t on his level as musicians.   Label executives repeatedly denied his claims, but eventually the inevitable happened- Meeks fired the band and went into the studio alone, to create an album more in line with his creative vision.

Days of the New II, or ‘the Green album’, did not go platinum (or even gold!) like the previous debut. Selling around 450,000 copies, it was considered a disappointment commercially, though many fans hold it in high regard.  The lead single, Enemy, features a number of different instrumental elements that represent the significant departure that Green took from the sound of Yellow.

Meanwhile, Meeks’ former bandmates, Taul, Vest and Whitener formed Tantric with vocalist Hugo Ferreira. Their self-titled debut went platinum, before their album sales embarked on the same downward trajectory as Days of the New.

Meeks’ last official album release (Days of the New III, also known as ‘Red,’) came in 2001 and Taul, Vest and Whitener each left Tantric one by one. In April of 2008, Meeks was featured on A&E’s show, Intervention, which covered his crystal methamphetamine addiction in detail. Between his Asperger’s and his addiction, Meeks appears to be difficult to get along with, to say the least, judging by his appearance on Intervention and numerous awkward interviews available through Google.

All of that backstory is necessary to understand the dynamics at play during their show on July 18th at the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Each of the openers preceding Days of the New (Maine’s Sygnal To Noise and Massachusetts’ 4×4 Barracuda) seemed to have sound problems, especially with the monitors. Each of them played through their set in a professional fashion with minimal complaining.

Meeks, however, did not. He angrily yelled about not being able to hear himself repeatedly. During a few tracks, he simply stopped singing all together, walked away from the microphone, and strummed his guitar. When he wandered off, Whitener stepped up to his backing mic and attempted to fill in lyrically. Meeks was incensed, at one point shouting toward the sound guy “This is how you’re going to treat the lead singer of Days of the New? Real fucking nice, man!” over the mic for everybody to hear. At least 5 or 6 times he stormed off the mic, stomped to the side of the stage, and berated unseen people offstage, gesturing wildly. On one of these occasions, he left the stage entirely and retreated to an area of the pub that was blocked off from the crowd by security and sat there for about 5 minutes.

And that’s a crying shame, because when Meeks’ antics weren’t upstaging the show, the band was excellent. Taul (drums) and Meeks (Guitar, vocals) were especially on top of their respective games, with creative drum fills and guitar solos sprinkled throughout their songs. The band opened with two songs from Meeks’ 1999 Green album, ‘Flight Response’ and ‘Enemy’, which is about as far as they got before Meeks started truly fuming during a previously unreleased track while the rest of the band pretended not to notice.

This created an awkward environment in the crowd. It seemed as though half the crowd was very turned off and upset by Meeks’ behavior, with people near me complaining loudly to each other.

“This is why they broke up in the first place, because [Meeks is] an asshole,” said one.

“Just play, asshole!” shouted another.

The other half of the crowd seemed to try to will the band through the rough patch; every solo completed was met with enthusiastic cheering and support. People loudly declared their affection for Meeks, and he even responded with an “I love all of you too!”

They labored through Touch, Peel and Stand and another previously unreleased track. Finally, the sound booth appeared to fix the problems Meeks was upset with- I couldn’t help but notice that the original worker in the sound booth (who I believe to have been a Claddagh Pub employee or contractor, though I don’t know this for sure) had been replaced by one of DotN’s crew members.

The difference was night and day; Meeks immediately perked up and stopped complaining, ceased pacing the stage frantically and locked into ‘the zone.’ He even showed a sense of self-awareness that, 20 minutes prior, had been sorely lacking and apologized to the crowd.

“You guys have been putting up with my shit all night, haven’t you? I’m sorry!” he said, receiving enthusiastic applause as a reply.

They played each of the singles from their 1998 platinum debut to large cheers and applause. Several other unreleased tracks were played to great approval from the crowd- it was a snapshot of all the potential this band always had from the beginning. With Meeks as maestro, the band played a fantastic second half to their show.

As a Days of the New fan myself, it was everything I wanted to see from them: Tight musicianship, enthusiasm for the material and positive energy. The guitar tone was killer and extraordinarily clear. The solos were creative and interesting. Meeks’ voice, once he himself could hear it, sounded every bit as soulful, deep and brooding as the Meeks we were introduced to in 1997 via ‘Touch, Peel and Stand.’ The band closed to raucous cheers from the few hundred in attendance, and patrons streamed out the door into the night.

I checked out the merchandise table on my way out the door and spoke with a man handling DotN’s merch. They had no music for sale due to a dispute with their former record label, instead having two different T-shirt designs for sale. The merch guy assured me that new music was scheduled to be released in the fall, but did not have any further information beyond ‘stay tuned to social media for more details.’

“Sure, if they make it that far,” I thought to myself. That Meeks had been able to get himself under control and continue to play a damn good show was promising, but the behavior preceding it revealed the same fault lines that fissured and tore the band asunder in the ‘90s.

Days of the New is continuing on their ‘Full Circle’ reunion tour through August 2014. For tour dates and band announcements, visit their Facebook page entitled: ‘Days of the New Presents Tree Colors’

Cover photo via Days of the New Presents Tree Colors

  • can’t tell if…

    • … I am going….

      • …to need to flush more than once.

        • Steve Smithwick

          …to wash away the fetid odor of McNulty’s worthless opinions!

          *flushed*

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Shit shit shit! Help me! I can’t flush!

          • W.

            This is one of my favorite memes.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            You have a good taste in memes.

      • Mook Styfawker

        YOUR MOVIN’ IN WITH YOU AUNTIE AND UNCLE IN BEL AIR. Killed that shit right away.

  • Dude seems like he needs meds. Serious, I have people with Asperger’s and different levels of autism pretty close to me. He sounds like he may be on the extreme side of the spectrum. Hope he gets the help and support he needs.

    • Steve Smithwick

      I suspect that he’s on hard times financially, although I can’t prove or verify that at all. I’ve seen things on the internet talking about CD’s he sold over the web throughout the Early Aughts that he never delivered on (kinda like Blake Judd from Nachtmystium). The Intervention episode shows him begging his mom to transfer money into his account during filming, which I imagine took place in 2007. Their tour in 2010 (prior to bringing back the original lineup) was cancelled because their touring bassist, Mike Starr (from Alice in Chains) ODed and died shortly before the tour began. He has been promising a new CD and music for nearly a decade, at least! Now that the band is back together, this might be the first time he actually delivers on those promises.

      When I saw him (Meeks and his touring lineup) in ’08, he fucking crushed it. Just absolutely amazing. That guy does things with an acoustic guitar that few people are capable of. His gifts are all on the music side, and it seems that his weaknesses are more socially oriented.

  • Steve Smithwick

    THIS IS WHAT I’M DOING WITH MY JOURNALISM DEGREE, MOM AND DAD

    • Least you have one though.I hate it when bloggers refer to their work as journalism…like they’re working for Rolling Stone or writing columns for WSJ lol.

      • I prefer the term “bloggerist”

        • “JAG is not a troll; JAG is a comment board journalist.”

          …add that to my byline bio.

          • Deputy Dipshit

            JAG, you were awesome on the pudcast! m/

          • I wish they wouldn’t have hung up on me. So many things I wanted to discuss.

          • Deputy Dipshit

            I can’t wait until Flushxl decides another pudcast is a good idea.

          • Fromwisdomtohate29

            JAG is the journalist the blogsphere deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

            Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

        • Mook Styfawker

          I know it’s not relevant to the topic and probably should be posted on the forum, but fuck it. YO, JOE, how do I Register an account for here, or is it not possible right now? Every time I try it says it’s restricted. : /

          • Good question: I fucked up implementing the forum. Right now, the forum does not require registration. Also it is ugly. I plan to fix the forum thing as soon as I can because I think it will be a valuable part of the site. I’ve been a little strapped for time lately.

          • Mook Styfawker

            Oki doki loki! Thanks again for making this site, by the way!

          • Deputy Dipshit

            I’m stoked for the integration of the forum; I think it’s going to be another one big thing about this whole idea that will be incredible. Bravo, Papa @joethrashnkill:disqus! m/

        • i prefer “bloglitist”

          • W.

            Yup, we’re just a bunch of secret-handshaking a-holes.

          • JWG

            Secret handshake?

            I’m not a Mason, Freemason, nor a Stonecutter …er… member of the Ancient Mystic Society of No Homers.

          • But you let in Homer Glumplich.

          • Sponge Of Mystery

            that sounds like a disease that would cause you to write shitty articles..that must be what axl has

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            Sounds more like MS than ToH. At least the writers of the articles on here will converse and debate with the readers, and welcome ideas for articles and such.

          • it was taken from MS earlier today. someone posted the link to this site, and that was some MS fanboy’s reaction! hehe

          • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

            I’m about 90% sure that all the comments talking about how shitty ToH is are written by Axl and Vince from guest accounts, lawlz.

          • Fromwisdomtohate29

            Pfft!!! Is that the best those flushtards can come up with? Not “Your blog looks ugly” or “Your Disqus section isn’t working on mobile”, or even “No one cares about those topics” (The latter is obviously not true)? No, just “What a circle jerk.”

            I have high hopes that the toilet will flush the shit quality of Axl and his blog, if it hasn’t already.

          • There’s a workaround for Disqus on mobile! Flip your phone horizontally!

            Can’t help the ugly right now, though.

          • flip flip, flipadelphia!

          • Steve Smithwick

            The poison at the end. So good! “You guys poisoned me!”

          • Fromwisdomtohate29

            Ha no worries. I was simply throwing out hypothetical insults. The site is a work in progress remember?

            The horizontal thing is working however. I feel like I have one of those stupid Sidekicks when I text that way though.

    • Mr. Bojangles

      This is what I’m doing with my Computer Science degree. Commenting on metal blogs, pretending to be a cat that is hell bent on destroying the human race.

      -Mr. Bojangles

      • W.

        Guys, I think Mittens has a hairball. That’s why he’s so cranky and evil.

        • Sight Vnseen

          Mittens is dead, remember?

          • W.

            Yah, dead to me.

          • Mr. Bojangles

            Barney did not die of lymphoma.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barney_(dog)

          • Mr. Bojangles

            STOP TALKING ABOUT MITTENS
            *ENTERS BEAST MODE*
            *ATTACKS RANDOM STRANGE AND CLAWS EYES OUT*
            *RIPS OUT HEAR WITH CUTE WHITE PAWS*
            *POOPS ON HEART*

            *HOWLS TO THE MOON*

          • Deputy Dipshit

            No fuckin’ way, Mr Boflushles can howl?! Now THAT’S METAL! m/

      • Sponge Of Mystery

        wait…you’re not actually a cat? my life is a lie

    • Stephen Smithwick

      Was not too bad. I guess doing something applicable with that degree is better than nothing…
      Dad

    • meke delabonte

      hey hey hey

  • I remember this track being big regionally where I lived when it came out. Anyway I just listened to it for the first time since I was 12. It’s not bad!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33DESFnpvb0

    • Steve Smithwick

      This is probably my favorite song on the Green album, but I like a whole lot of others also. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rVMUTTsRAg

      Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV4O7uP37Yo

      Fun trivia fact: The female singer on the Green Album tracks (including both I link here) is Nicole Scherzinger, who went on to be in The Pussycat Dolls.

      • nicole is relatively easy on le eyes.
        i’m going to give a few of these songs a listen. if there’s one thing (of many) that i’ve learned from you handsome devils, it’s that i gotta give it all a chance.

        • Steve Smithwick

          Now you’re talkin’!

          It’s pretty folksy at times. If you like twanging, acoustic guitars, this is probably for you. If you like lead singers that Yarl, this is probably for you. If you hate both of those things, this is probably not for you.

          Each of the albums has a pretty distinct sound. The first album is stripped down and features the acoustic twang (with standard rock-band backing pieces) pretty exclusively.

          The second album is the most ambitious and features organs and all kinds of various instruments (some I can’t even tell what they are), Nicole as backing vocalist. Some of the songs sound like things pirates would listen to on the high seas.

          The third album eschews that acoustic feel in favor of amps and plugged in guitars. It’s the most depressing, and probably the least good… but I may only feel that way because it’s the most different from what I enjoyed in the first place.

  • Deputy Dipshit

    It was refreshing to hear that he finally got his shit together once the sound issue was corrected. Clearly, Travis will always have some issues with flying off the handle when things don’t go as planned. Still love DotN and Yellow is timeless.

    Great review, Smitty! m/
    0/5 Flush, Clean Wiperoo!

    • Steve Smithwick

      Bingo. The flying of the handle was really awkward and uncomfortable… for everybody, really. Venue staff were running between the crowd and the stage. Meeks was running on and off-stage, back and forth, looking very angry. Taul, Vest and Whitener were pretending they didn’t notice any of this and just kept playing (there’s no way they didn’t notice, especially since Whitener tried to pick up the vocal slack.)

      And yet, all of the things I (and presumably, you,) like about the band were tight and well-done. They sounded exactly the way you would want them to. From the 5th or 6th track on, it was completely smooth sailing. Without the bitching about the monitors, the show would have been an A+, 0 flushes. With the bitching, the first half was probably 2.5/5 flushes, the second half was 0 flushes.

      • Deputy Dipshit

        Props to the rest of the guys for trooping it through like that, though I suspect that they’ve had practice with this in the past. It still takes a lot to push on like that while someone is losing their collective shit on stage and all over the venue.
        m/

  • W.

    Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I honestly think this is the very time in my life I have ever seen or heard anything about Days of the New.

    • I remember hearing that Touch, Peel, and Stand song in the nineties.

    • Mook Styfawker

      You and I both, Dubya.

    • Steve Smithwick

      I can see where that could happen, if you never listened to alternative rock radio at all. Touch, Peel and Stand is all over rock radio always, even to this day, but without radio listening, I could see where you’d miss them. Depending on whose story you believe, the band members all quit (unlikely) or the lead singer fired them all (much more likely) after they finished that Metallica/Jerry Cantrell tour. Then Meeks essentially disappeared.

      • W.

        Gotcha. I hate radio, so there is that. I’ve probably heard the song but never knew who it was.

        • Steve Smithwick

          I also hate radio, but I have a girlfriend that hates metal (generally speaking), so I’m mired in something of a 50/50 compromise. Which means that I listen to a lot of radio.

          • Flush her.

          • W.

            My better half listens to the polar opposite of metal, but thankfully she only listens to radio in the morning to hear a certain radio show.

  • WHO?

  • Mother Shabubu III

    Tss, more like Days of the Old or sumptin’

  • No idea who this is, but good write-up, Steve!

  • Brian_aka_Guppusmaximus

    Actually, the only song I like from them was “The Down Town”

    http://vimeo.com/26276727

    • Steve Smithwick

      That’s my favorite single of theirs, so you’ll find no argument from me!

      • Brian_aka_Guppusmaximus

        Sorry I didn’t respond sooner…Disqus didn’t post your reply. Their website fucking sucks!

        Anyhoo, I tried listening to most of their work back then and could never really get into them. It always sounded, to me, like they were trying too hard to fit the Grunge expectation… Just my .02

  • Gorgasm

    I remember browsing my parents cd collection as a child and finding DotN:II among the fleetwood and aeorsmith. I was young and could not understand why i liked this vs the classic rock my parents listened to.

    and now after all the years of ganj, sonic abuse, and fuzzy waves…
    to revisit this is refreshing.

  • Always had a soft spot for this band myself. Feel bad for Meeks, I think hes a talented troubled soul, and its amazing he didn’t already go the way of others like Stayley, Starr etc…

  • Chino’s shoe

    I was a rodie for this band while I lived in the US. I love them. always have. Travis “gave me the job” just because I was a fan and I came from Brazil just to see him play. This was around the time the Red Album was released.

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