INTERVIEW WITH CLASSLESS ACT FRONTMAN DEREK DAY
Date: March 9, 2022
Photos: Travis Shinn
CLASSLESS ACT ARE ABOUT TO EMBARK ON THE TOUR OF A LIFETIME AS THE GROUP CONSISTING OF LEAD VOCALIST DEREK DAY, GUITARISTS DANE PIEPER AND GRIFFIN TUCKER, BASSIST FRANCO GRAVANTE AND DRUMMER CHUCK MCKISSOCK WILL BE THE OPENING ACT FOR THE STADIUM TOUR FEATURING MÖTLEY CRÜE, DEF LEPPARD, POISON AND JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS. THE STADIUM TOUR WILL BE STARTING ON JUNE 16, 2022 AND RUNS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 9, 2022. CLASSLESS ACT ARE CURRENTLY ON TOUR AS ONE OF THE OPENING ACTS (ALONG WITH JOYOUS WOLF) FOR DOROTHY. THAT 41-DATE TOUR STARTED ON MARCH 21, 2022 AND WILL END ON MAY 27, 2022. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP ITH CLASSLESS ACT’S FRONTMAN DEREK DAY PRIOR TO THE TOUR WITH DOROTHY TO FIND OUT WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE PART OF THE BIGGEST UPCOMING TOUR OF THE SUMMER.
Sleaze Roxx: Thank you very much for doing the interview Derek. First of all, I have to say congratulations! It feels like Classless Act have landed the gig of a lifetime opening for Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Joan Jett. So when did you first find out that you guys would be opening and being part of one of the biggest tours of the summer?
Derek Day: Oh man, I think it must have been last year or even, like early 2021 or mid-2021, somewhere around that time. I don’t know. Time doesn’t make sense anymore [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Right.
Derek Day: Somewhere around that time through e-mail and a series of calls amidst the chaos.
Sleaze Roxx: So how did it happen? I know that you’re affiliated with Better Noise Music but I also know that Tuk Smith’s band was supposed to be opening back in 2020 so somehow there was a change and you guys are on the bill now. So what happened there as far as you know?
Derek Day: As far as I know, I know that Tuk had an album and he was set to be on the bill. I think the pandemic hit and they just had to reschedule. This is one of those tours where they just had to keep pushing and pushing. We just had to finish our album and we just had released a single, and showing it that to the label, and having the label pitch it to the bands and management, and the tour company and everything, it just kind of seemed to align pretty good. Everyone seemed to think, ‘Oh, this is a pretty good fit and yeah, let’s give these guys a chance by coming out and hope they have the right vibe.”
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! You’re probably looking at playing to 40,000 to 50,000 once the stadiums are packed with people. How is that going to be different from the gigs that you have played up to now?
Derek Day: Well [laughs], last week or two weeks ago, I played in a downtown dive bar just for fun. That’s kind of the story of my life, just doing a lot of those. It’s just going to be — it’s going to be a challenge above all else — to really make sure that I understand who people will see, how they will look at us and how we are perceived on that stage. So I think that it will be honestly nothing short of a crazy like spiritual high [chuckle].
Sleaze Roxx: One thing about playing in stadiums is that you’re actually quite far from your fans. Playing in a dive bar, they are right in your face but in a stadium, the fans will actually be quite far. How do you think that you’ll handle that portion of it?
Derek Day: I think that it’s going to be kind of nice and for once, not so intimidating because we can go all out and try out new performance moves and stage antics. Because when someone is right in my face, it’s a little too personal sometimes!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Right.
Derek Day: Now I kind of like the buffer.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of the bands on The Stadium Tour bill, can you tell me a little about they mean to you? Obviously, you’re familiar with them and I am assuming that you have grown up listening to them. So what do you feel about each band?
Derek Day: Wow! So it’s crazy. Just the other day, I was just thinking, ‘Who was the first band that I was ever in?’ I was in this band in sixth grade. I always thought that the first band that I was in was much later but in sixth grade, I was in a trio. There was a drummer, me [as] the guitar player and a singer. We only played Mötley Crüe songs and a little bit of Skid Row but it was mainly Mötley Crüe. It was just this crazy memory that came back to my head. Mötley has a huge place in my heart as far as the first time that I was really ever in a band or picked up the guitar and worked with other musicians. We would play the early stuff like “Live Wire”, “Too Fast For Love” and I think that we played “Kickstart My Heart” which was later. So Mötley is crazy and that’s the first time that I got into Mötley in sixth grade so they have a really special place in my heart.
Def Leppard is a band that I have always super admired. Them and Joan Jett, their songs, their choruses, they are so catchy beyond belief and when I started writing music more seriously, I listened to more Def Leppard, a little more Joan Jett, just to see how can I stay relevant. These guys are just masters of melody and as a singer and songwriter, I am always trying to find the best melody and not have any wasted moods in my songwriting. And of course Poison, you got to love Poison on how deep and honest that Bret [Michaels] writes his lyrics and God, I saw ‘Rock of Love’, and thought, ‘This is awesome’!
Sleaze Roxx: Right [laughs].
Derek Day: [Laughs] I just loved how he carried himself and how fun it was. How rock n’ roll that he can be. All of these bands played such a huge part in my childhood that I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be a part of just meeting them. They all had their own little compartment in my life. I listened to them at different stages of my life but very thoroughly and heavily, and now they are all coming together. It’s kind of a mind blowing experience.
Classless Act‘s “Give It To Me” video:
Sleaze Roxx: Yes, that’s very cool. One thing about Classless Act is that you’ve only released one single [the group has since released a video for the single “This Is For You” featuring Justin Hawkins]. I know you had that Christmas single [“It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year”] but there’s really only one single out now. Will there be new material released before the tour starts?
Derek Day: Absolutely, yeah. We are going to go ahead and throw out a couple of singles as we go on. We are going to release some singles — maybe once per month until the tour — and then drop the album around mid-June before the tour starts. We really want the fans to listen to us and hopefully try to sing along.
Sleaze Roxx: Right. Do you think it will be a little bit tough though because you haven’t released a lot of material so far and the tour is about to start in June? Do you think that it might be a little tougher playing songs for people that might be hearing them for the first time?
Derek Day: Like performing the songs?
Sleaze Roxx: Not performing but you haven’t released the material [aside from a few singles] in advance of the tour so obviously when people go see Mötley Crüe, they’ll have heard all of the songs already. For you guys, you guys are an unknown band a little bit — compared to Mötley Crüe obviously — and as well, you haven’t released a lot of material, so the material that you’ll be performing night in, night out, for a lot of people, it will be the first time that they hear it. So do you think that it will be a challenge?
Derek Day: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it will definitely pose a bit of a challenge but we have been playing these songs so much everywhere in LA [Los Angeles, California, USA] that they are new songs but they are so ingrained into our bodies that we can’t wait to express something new. There’s always that — it will be like a first date you know? We will be happy to just be a part of it and be in the moment, and relish all of the little mistakes we make even. So hopefully it will be a fun little time.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! I know that you have a kind of warm up to The Stadium Tour because you are actually opening for Dorothy and I think that Joyous Wolf is on the bill as well, and that’s starting very soon I think. So tell me a little bit of that tour and how you were able to land that one as well?
Derek Day: Well, Dorothy is like the sweetest person ever. We actually got to meet with her for a little bit of press and really, a lot of who she wants to go on tour with her, it’s up to her. It’s up to the whole team. It has to go through her and she listens to the bands and she sees if they’re good. It has to be special to them and so we were just sending — what do you call them — EPK materials to all the artists all around in LA — whomever was going on tour, we would send them our stuff. ‘Hey, can we go out on tour with you? Please?’
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Right!
Derek Day: People liked us but unfortunately, they’re like, ‘Unfortunately, we can’t.’ It might be a money thing, the Covid pandemic thing. But Dorothy was like, ‘You guys are good. We’ll go out and give them a chance.’ Out of maybe thousands of bands we sent, just dying to go on tour right away, just so that we can be ready for the biggest tour of our lives. We can’t just go off playing on the LA scene. We want to go around at least once to make sure that we are worthy, we’ve got our stuff together, so yeah, I think that Dorothy acknowledged that and said, ‘Yeah, we’ll give you a chance.’ Meeting her in person also was a big insight on how she accepted us. She is just a sweet awesome person a kick ass leader, and just gave us a chance.
Classless Act performing unreleased song live at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas, USA on March 28, 2022 (video from New Classic Rock in North America‘s YouTube page):
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! That’s amazing! So you have to tell me how the band got the name Classless Act? How did the band get that name?
Derek Day: Oh yeah, totally. We got the name off a news article. I can’t remember which magazine. It was some time ago. It was describing some political figure — something you hear people describe like a sports figure and different types of public figures. We just liked the ring to it. It has this cool kick ass name to it, some bite to it. We thought, ‘Well, we play rock n’ roll. Rock n’ roll is a little sleazy but also on the other side, we write really honestly.’ We are very open with our lyrics and our melodies. We talk about what is going on. Like it’s our duty as an artist to talk about what is going on right now. Classless Act was a term used in that publication at that moment and still being used to this day to say what is going on right now. We kind of wanted to take this “bitey” thing and made it our own and not stigmatize it as something terrible. Maybe you can be a classless act, maybe it can be crazy classless times, weird times? Maybe it’s a time to be a little grunge, a little rock n’ roll, a little sleazy and kind of greasy and oily to fix what is going on.
Sleaze Roxx: Right. Your band is a little different to me because I know that at least [guitarist] Griffin [Tucker] was picked up from a Tik Tok video. So how did the band members form the band in the first place? I am assuming that you are the architect behind it and how did you get the other band members?
Derek Day: Believe it or not, I am not the first member of the band. I wish that I could say that, ‘Yeah, it was all my idea.’ It’s really not. Every band member, except for Chuck [McKissock] who plays drums, everyone was scouted out through social media, whether it was Facebook, Instagram or Tik Tok. We all lived in California, at least for the most part, except for [bassist] Franco [Gravante] who is from Argentina. We followed people that we really loved. Like I knew the guitar player Dane [Pieper] who was in the band before me, way before he knew me. I just followed him on social media. I was just a big fan of his and loved what he did. He was just a local awesome dude and so it was just a funny and beautiful coincidence that I later auditioned for a band that he’s in. I think their current guitar player at the time hit me up and I came in. There were still a lot of moving pieces but once we had most of the members, we went out and found a drummer Chuck McKissock who was just in a local punk band here in LA. We scouted him and thought he was awesome. And yeah, Franco was on tour with another band at the time from Argentina. It wasn’t going the way he wanted it to go so he saw the post. He saw the commitment. He came out here to audition. This is not really in order by the way. I kind of am throwing it all over the place.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Right, right.
Derek Day: But yeah, this band has been a band for quite a few years. We’ve had a few different band members and we were just really trying to find the perfect members. So we were not afraid to branch out to someone like Griffin. We would see his videos, fell in love with him and asked him to come here. We met him, talked to him and saw if our vibe worked. It was really just a matter of trial and error, trial and error, and use the tool of social media.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, that’s cool. So getting back to your new album, how many songs do you think that you’ll have on it? Do you know?
Derek Day: We recorded maybe 14 songs I think, something like that. I think that it will be like a ten-song album with some bonus tracks. Yeah, something of that nature like a classic album.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So let’s say that you do the whole The Stadium Tour, and that takes us to September , where do you want to be at the end of that tour in terms of where the band is and stuff like that? It’s an amazing opportunity that not many bands are going to get.
Derek Day: Absolutely. I would hope to be on tour again. Actually, I wouldn’t mind continually being on the road. I’m someone who just loves to travel and be one the move. Also, I think the band would love to do some TV appearances and really get on some more media outlets. I love all those really indie things too and I hope to do more video content and stuff, and show people who we are because it really puts the spotlight on us. From the stage, we can’t really show… We want to show them on camera how fun we can be, how goofy we can be, how serious we can be. We’re trying to be all over the place [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that we haven’t mentioned that you’d like to cover?
Derek Day: Ummm, no. I don’t know. There’s probably so much. We are gearing up to tour so much that my brain is all over the place. I would say just thank you for having me. This was so fun. Thank you to the world for giving us a chance. We really appreciate every single listener and we hope it means something to you guys.
Sleaze Roxx: Well, thank you very much for doing the interview Derek and I look forward to seeing you guys on The Stadium Tour.
Derek Day: Alright! Thank you so much!
Thank you to Eliana Núñez from Better Noise Music for facilitating the interview.
Classless Act‘s “This Is For You” feat. Justin Hawkins:
North American The Stadium Tour dates:
June 16 – Atlanta, GA – Truist Park
June 18 – Miami, FL – Hard Rock Stadium
June 19 – Orlando, FL – Camping World Stadium
June 22 – Washington, DC – Nationals Park
June 24 – Queens, NY – Citi Field
June 25 – Philadelphia, PA – Citizens Bank Park
June 28 – Charlotte, NC – Bank of America Stadium
June 30 – Nashville, TN – Nissan Stadium
July 2 – Jacksonville, FL – TIAA Bank Field
July 5 – St. Louis, MO – Busch Stadium
July 8 – Chicago, IL – Wrigley Field
July 10 – Detroit, MI – Comerica Park
July 12 – Hershey, PA – Hersheypark Stadium
July 14 – Cleveland, OH – FirstEnergy Stadium – Home of the Cleveland Browns
July 15 – Cincinnati, OH – Great American Ball Park
July 17 – Milwaukee, WI – American Family Field
July 19 – Kansas City, MO – Kauffman Stadium
July 21 – Denver, CO – Coors Field
August 5 – Boston, MA – Fenway Park
August 6 – Boston, MA – Fenway Park
August 8 – Toronto, ON – Rogers Centre
August 10 – Orchard Park, NY – Highmark Stadium
August 12 – Pittsburgh, PA – PNC Park
August 14 – Minneapolis, MN – U.S. Bank Stadium
August 16 – Indianapolis, IN – Lucas Oil Stadium
August 19 – Houston, TX – Minute Maid Park
August 21 – San Antonio, TX – Alamodome
August 22 – Arlington, TX – Globe Life Field
August 25 – Glendale, AZ – State Farm Stadium
August 27 – Inglewood, CA – SoFi Stadium
August 28 – San Diego, CA – Petco Park
August 31 – Seattle, WA – T-Mobile Park
September 2 – Vancouver, BC – BC Place
September 4 – Edmonton, AB – Commonwealth Stadium/Stade du Commonwealth
September 7 – San Francisco, CA – Oracle Park
September 9 – Las Vegas, NV – Allegiant Stadium