Thursday, March 4, 2010

Days Of The New update

I recently popped by the Days Of The New website to see what’s up, and while there wasn’t much info there, I was pleased to see talk of a potential new album – and tracks (!)- on the band’s myspace page.

DOTN came out of Kentucky in 1997 with a solid debut and promising future. Leader Travis Meeks secured a record deal at 17, signed by R.E.M. producer Scott Litt to his Outpost records label, along with drummer Matt Taul, Jesse Vest (bass) and guitarist Todd Whitener.

Meeks built the band around his songs, which feature an intense, acoustic base, not unlike that of the quieter Alice In Chains releases. Three singles from the debut made an impact: “Shelf In The Room” and “The Down Town” were top 40 tracks, while “Touch, Peel And Stand” was #1 on Billboard’s Rock Chart for 17 weeks.

Days of the New - Days of the New - Touch, Peel and Stand Days of the New - Days of the New - Touch, Peel and Stand

Days Of The New – Touch, Peel and Stand (1997)

Trivia: the debut is referred to as the “Orange” album; all of the DOTN releases, to date, have been self-titled, but given colors: 1999’s DOTN II is “Green”, 2001’s DOTN III is “Red.”

Touring with Metallica and Alice In Chains brought the band to the masses, but the group seemed to implode with their success, and Meeks publicly reclaimed his role as leader, with the other members leaving to form Tantric.

With DOTN as, essentially, a solo project, Meeks moved forward, releasing DOTN II (the “Green” album) in 1999, followed by a guest appearance on two tracks for “The Doors: Stoned Immaculate” collection – singing “L.A. Woman” and “The End” – both cornerstones in the band’s history and not easily executed well by most: Meeks, however, shone brightly in this light. In fact, when The Doors announced they’d be hitting the road in 2002 with a singer, my hope was that it would be Travis, as I thought he was the best sonic fit, based on the cd and companion MTV concert special – at times, his voice has echoes of Jim Morrison’s without being a clone.

DOTN III (the “Red” album) hit stores in 2001. Years later, Travis revealed that his life began to get sidetracked by excessive drug use around the time of recording the album, partially due to a pain killer addiction as a result of a kidney stone; alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamines became his demons.

Trivia: reports indicate Meeks auditioned for Velvet Revolver when they were originally looking for a singer…we know how that worked out.

Meeks appeared on a 2005 episode of A&E’s “Intervention” (season 1, episode 6: “Matt and Travis”), where his family worked through the process of trying to get him help for his issues; it’s not a tv show I’d normally watch, but I stumbled across it the night it originally aired and sat through it because I was so impressed with his talents as a musician. Watching the program in shock, my hopes were that Travis would be helped, primarily to get his life on track, but also because I hated the thought of seeing such talent disappear needlessly.

At the end of the episode, Travis went to rehab; this, his fifth recovery program, ended after 73 days when he checked out early, but it was the longest he'd lasted to date. Meeks seems to have come out the other side intact: some reports suggest he remained sober for about 6 months after rehab, before relapsing for a period of about 2 years; in a follow-up interview with the A&E show, he says he’s been sober since the fall of 2007.

Above and beyond his dependency issues (which started during his school years), Meeks has an ongoing health issue to deal with: he attributes his troubled early life and many other events to Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism that causes difficulties in social interaction.

Travis returned to music: recording for the latest DOTN project began in the fall of 2007. “Tree Colors” (the “Purple” album) is said to feature elements of east Indian and classical music, while retaining the group’s core acoustic sound. Six tracks from the record are posted on the myspace page:
"The Question" – a classical-inspired instrumental, complete with strings
"Hold Fast" – a Zeppelinesque acoustic track; the lyrics suggest Travis is exorcising the negative forces from his recent past
"Remake Her" – shared vocals with a powerful female voice (no info posted as to her identity)
"Des’ de’ ‘ol Chicken Bone" – an intimate acoustic track
"Dip" – solo acoustic epic (8+ mins) recalling an early drug experience
"Choke Hold" – aggressive, full band track
No word on when the record (DOTN IV?) might actually be released; the last updates by Travis were posted in 2008. DOTN continue to play live shows; check the sites mentioned here for tour dates and more info.

Days of the New - Days of the New - Shelf In the Room Days of the New - Days of the New - Shelf In the Room

Days Of The New – Shelf In The Room (1997)