Driving down a 2 lane road in rural New Mexico, Ran yells from the back, "Hey Svendo, you mind turning down the music?" I've done a lot of interviews, but never from the 4th seat of a giant touring van affectionately known as Blanch. Just days before, she had caught fire driving somewhere along the east coast. "I woke up to black smoke and the boys shouting," says Ran. "I had come out of a dizzying dream, so I figured we were suspended on the rail of a bridge or had just plummeted down a mountainside or something to that effect. All I could think about was that my AAA had just expired." It turned out it was just an electrical fire, and luckily the local fire chief hadn't been asleep too long and was surprisingly quick to respond. A couple days stranded for repairs, and the band was back on the road. - "Svend, can you turn this song up?" and turning back to me, "Sorry, is that too loud?"
The Daylights are a commanding three-piece emerging from Los Angeles, CA. The close-knit group consists of brothers Ran (guitars/vocals/keys) and Ricky Jackson (bass/vocals) and drummer Svend Lerche. Known for their giant melodies and cinematic sound, the band released their highly-anticipated self-titled debut album in September of 2010 recorded in London with super-producer Youth (Paul McCartney, U2) and an all-star cast of engineers and mixers. As an indie band, The Daylights' opportunities have been nothing short of extraordinary, securing coveted spots on sold-out tours with Katy Perry, OneRepublic, NeedtoBreathe and made huge viral impact with the song and video for "I Hope This Gets To You".
The album is a rising triumph, and does much to expand the band's sonic and lyrical identity. At times it's unapologetically bold and stadium-sized, as in the fuzz bass-driven opening track "Black Dove", other moments brooding and vulnerable, most featured in the mic-in-a-room confessional "Quick Fix". "We wanted to make a record that you could put on in your car, drive an hour, and feel like you got a lot more than just 60 miles down the road," explains Ricky.
Lyrically the band is getting comfortable in their skin. "Don't cry with your cinema eyes, you're fine china on a string, you're my zeros and ones and everything in between," sings Ran in the raucous "Digital_Kiss", perhaps the most unrestrained few minutes we've heard from the band thus far. And while there's an obvious, intentional polarity occurring within the record, every song is unmistakable Daylights. The first single "Rogue Machine" features lush backwards synths and a gorgeous string top line, as Ricky pines, "Don't say that you want me, say that you need me, let yourself go...don't try pretending there is no feeling left in your bones." There's a confidence in the writing that has come to bear without boiling over.
One of Los Angeles' premiere indie bands, The Daylights had the privilege of working alongside a critically-acclaimed heavyweight. "I don't know where we got the audacity, but we called our favorite producer Youth and his camp to find out if he would be up for working on the album," says Ran. "We didn't have major label backing, but he was very kind and was a fan of what we were doing as a band, and a few months later, we managed to get ourselves and some gear over to London." The band describes the time in the studio as a very intense and liberating three or four weeks. "I, for one, can probably get a little too analytical during the creation process, and Youth's entire mantra was about feeling and reacting; not allowing the time or opportunity to mull things over too much. We all tracked in the same room, and by the end we were starting and finishing a song a day. I remember we couldn't fall into Youth's pace at first; but it was amazing how we managed to catch up and change our mindsets and work flow. We'd stop pretty frequently for tea and toast- you can't take that away from the Brits- but Digital (Kiss) was tracked and finished in 3 hours, I think." Fortunately and unfortunately, when they left London with the record all but done, the band signed onto a six-month tour with Katy Perry–a strange but beneficial pairing–and the record had to wait for mixing.
The album is admittedly longer than most debuts, at 15 full tracks (w a few experimental bookends). "We've always thought of ourselves as songwriters first," says Ricky, "but there were moments when we were tracking and it was feeling good and I was like, ‘man, let's just make this one an instrumental.' It's great playing with guys that still surprise you musically, even after playing together a while, like they haven't shown all their cards yet or something."
It's an interesting dynamic, the three guys, and even though Svend is from Denmark and unrelated (though he could certainly pass as the third brother), he seems to dial right into the sometimes arcane nature of communication. "It makes sense, me growing up in Denmark listening to American music and the guys growing up listening to stuff from my hometown. I think it's why we play well together...there's this good push and pull going on. I feel like we ended up making a very honest record, with how we were all feeling at the time. That's by far the most satisfying thing for each of us."
The band spent much of last year on the road with OneRepublic and Katy Perry, and they've just completed a tour with Civil Twilight. In a few weeks time, they'll begin a 40-date national tour with NeedtoBreathe- highly coveted spots and abnormal opportunities for an indie band. Now, with a record in hand, the coming year looks to be an extremely promising one. Their single "Rogue Machine" has climbed to the top 50 on the Hot AC radio charts without any backing or label support. "We don't mind being underdogs," says Ran. "Makes for a much better story."