Music fans may be quick to refer to Dark New Day as a supergroup, but given the band's storied past, the word “reunion” might be more fitting.
Long before cutting their teeth in such renowned acts as Sevendust, Creed, Tommy Lee, Stuck Mojo, Stereomud, Skrape, Doubledrive and Virgos Merlot, the members of Dark New Day grew up together. “We literally sat on the edge of our beds and learned how to play guitar together,” says Clint Lowery, who along with brother Corey Lowery, grew up little more than a mile from Troy McLawhorn in rural North Carolina. “We literally did,” laughs McLawhorn, “It was like, 'Check out this riff! I learned how to squeal, man!'” It wasn't long before he and the Lowery brothers formed Still Rain in the late-'80s, touring the same Southeast club circuit where they met Brett Hestla and Will Hunt in competing bands.
“We really came into ourselves on that circuit,” says Corey. “It was like going to Rock 'N' Roll High School, you'd always try and turn it up because you wanted to impress each other. I always thought Will and I could be the baddest rhythm section in the world…”
But it apparently wasn't meant to be, as the five men that would become Dark New Day more than fifteen years later, went their separate ways…
When the Creed juggernaut parted ways in late 2003, bassist (and former Virgos Merlot frontman) Brett Hestla turned his attention to family, refocusing his efforts to behind-the-scenes work as a producer.
“After Creed's last tour, I'd resigned myself that I was done, but I think my wife knew I really wasn't ready to be done. She looked at me one day and said, 'Are you ever going to stand onstage and sing again?' It's funny,” laughs Hestla ominously, “I said to her, 'Man, it would take the Still Rain guys, with Will [Hunt] on drums, for me to even consider that…”
Two weeks later, to the day, he received a phone call from Will. “He brought me a CD of the songs they'd been working on, and I didn't even need to listen to itThis is the band I've always wanted,” Hestla recalls. “The bonus was, I put the disc in and, instantly, I had melodies and was thinking of words. I was inspired, and immediately knew that this was where I belonged.”
“This band has taken my game up as a writer, because I know that I've got people in the band, skill-wise, that are at my level and superior to me. I want to impress them.”
And impress each other they have. In a year that saw five hurricanes strike the southeast, including three that intersected over their Florida recording studio, a war in the Middle East, and rock music seemingly get angrier and angrier, Dark New Day are a light at the end of the tunnel. With a sound that the band aren't afraid to admit is a sum of their cumulative parts, they deliver the heavy-handed finesse of Clint Lowery's contributions to Sevendust, Troy McLawhorn's inspired guitar play and melodic infrastructure that marked Doubledrive, and Hestla's soaring, effervescent vocals. Hunt is a rock behind the drum kit, and along with Corey Lowery, just might be the “baddest rhythm section in the world.” They write songs with irresistible hooks and penetrating grooves, and revel in the ability to change the pace from the bitter, metallic muscle of “Lean,” to the pensive, warm embrace of “Follow The Sun Down.”
“Everyone in this band was a huge factor in the songwriting in their previous bands,” says Clint. “I think it's inevitable that those sounds are going to come out when we're writing songs with this band, but that's what I love! All their influences, and everything I love about each of these guys as songwriters, I want as much of as possible in this band. We're all each other's biggest fans.”
In the case of Lowery's departure from his acclaimed band Sevendust, it wasn't because he wanted to write or perform music that he hasn't written and performed before. Rather, it stemmed in his wanting to write and perform with a group of musicians he's never had the opportunity to write and perform with.
“You get comfortable in your certain bands, like it's a formula,” he says of the decision to leave Sevendust in favor of Dark New Day. “With these guys, what was so appealing was the challenge of what would happen when we all brought up best stuff to the table.”
“What are people going to tell us now,” laughs Corey, “that we're robbing from each other? Corey and I grew up together! Our style is more than twelve years old! Are people going to tell us that we sound like ourselves?”